Book review | ‘The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood’ by Nadia Denton

Living In Bondage (Dir. Chris Obu Rapi, 1992)

Living In Bondage (Dir. Chris Obu Rapi, 1992)

I interviewed Nadia Denton—author, consultant, programmer, and more—for this site around the time of the release of her excellent last book, ‘The Black British Filmmaker’s Guide to Success’ (2011). Denton has applied that book’s insight and practical rigour to a new subject for her latest project.

‘The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood’ is an extremely well-resourced and -structured reference manual designed for a new generation of ambitious Nigerian filmmakers who, says Denton, “want to have theatrical runs of their films, compete on an international level, tour festival circuits, secure favourable distribution deals and win academy nominations.” In her introduction, Denton argues that Nigerian cinema is on the brink of a renaissance, and primed to move beyond the stereotypical landscape of straight-to-video/TV histrionics. The book does a fine job of illustrating how such a revolution might come to pass.

It’s neatly and helpfully divided into distinct sections in accordance with the traditional chronological process of getting a film out into the world: finance, development, marketing, exhibition, and distribution (plus a generous index full of helpful weblinks and references.) Each segment opens with a digestible, informative breakdown of the subject’s key issues before segueing into a series of in-depth (but never overly heavy) interviews with industry experts—there are a whopping 78 interviews in total. The talent roster that Denton has assembled is impressive, and speaks to her standing and experience in the field. Particularly informative contributions are made by Kunle Afolayan (The Figurine, Phone Swap) and Chris Obi-Rapu (director of the first Nollywood film, Living In Bondage), who speak in detail about their careers and the subject of financing. It’s notable, too, that Denton has assembled experts from around the globe (Africa, USA, Europe), giving the book an international, accessible flavour.

For anyone interested in the business of Nigerian cinema—at whatever level—‘The Nigerian Filmmaker’s Guide to Success: Beyond Nollywood’ is a must. It’s of equal use as a handy reference tool to dip in and out of, and a book you can read from cover to cover. It comes highly recommended.

Find out how to purchase the book on Nadia’s website.

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