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FORLORN GAZE

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I was too young to understand the incident that changed my life. It was a cold harmattan night, early December 1993, and my mother was in our open-yard kitchen making dinner with my elder sister Nneoma. My brother and I lay on our backs side by side beside my father’s rocker chair, staring into the starry night sky while waiting for the food to get ready. I was hungry, but I dared not say it lest my mother scold me for being “such a foodie”. So I diverted my mind from the hunger to my family’s recent relocation to my home town. I wondered to myself- we have returned early to this village for Christmas; does this mean we would be leaving for the city before new year?

All of my attempts to divert my mind from food proved abortive because the delicious aroma of my mother’s cooking kept me constantly aware of the hunger pangs that was practically chewing my stomach. And by this time, I could not keep it to myself anymore as I complained quietly to my brother. But he was quick to remind me that even if dinner were to be ready in the next second, I would not still have it until my father returned from wherever he had gone to. By this, my heart sank with sadness.
But my father did return soon. Unfortunately, I wish he never did! Trouble started the very moment he walked in. I could tell by his staggering movements that he was drunk. Moreover, the reeking smell of alcohol that exuded from him as I embraced him confirmed my worst fear. I hated to see my father drunk because he acted erratically each time that happened.  His drinking caused a lot of problems between him and my mother, and that harmattan night was no exception…

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Culled from a manuscript of the same name written by: Emmanuel Abara Benson

WHAT REALLY MAKES A GOOD FILM?

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Nollywood is notably one of the top three film industries in the whole world. Now that is huge, right? But let’s speak clearly, this ranking is due mainly to the number (quantity) of “films” produced in Nollywood and not necessarily due to the quality of said films. Many Nollywood critics have already made similar observations, but I have a slightly different perspective- the only thing that would really qualify Nollywood to rank alongside Hollywood/Bollywood is the quality of films produced in Nigeria. And I stand to assert that what makes a quality film (among other components) is the quality of the story being told.

In the last two years, thousands of films were made in Nigeria. And frankly, out of those thousands of films, you could probably recall just a few as you read this. This is because out of the many films, it is only a few that meet the standard for “a film”; the majority lacking the basic thing that make a film good which is a good storyline. The necessity to work with a good screenplay in a film project cannot be underestimated. The screenplay is like the lifeblood of the film. In my list of very successful Nollywood films (2012-2014), what makes the films on the list so successful is simple: there were stories to be told, and there were told well.

THE MEETING

Films such as ‘When Love Happens’, ‘Ojuju’, ‘October 1st’, ‘Phone Swap’, ‘Figurine’, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, ‘Mrs. & Mrs’., ‘The Meeting’ etc all have relatively good story lines. It therefore goes to show that what makes a good film is basically the story/screenplay. Unfortunately, most people in Nollywood have not yet realized this basic fact. They still go about recycling mediocre stories that are literarily dead and should be buried.

It is high time Nollywood reaches its fullest potential;  becoming a truly international film industry poised to produce Oscar-winning films and making global stars. Until then, a say a very big kudos to all those trying hard to change the trend. Filmmakers like Kunle Afolayan, Mildred Okwo and Seyi Babatope have really contributed a lot. The more others contribute towards revamping our very own Nollywood, the nicer it becomes.

-Emmanuel Abara Benson

HOLLYWOOD’S CRAZE FOR TELEVISION: A LESSON FOR NIGERIAN FILMMAKERS

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Undeniably, a good TV moment is fun for almost everybody.Little wonder in the entertainment capital of the world (Hollywood), this truism was recognized and taken advantage of a long time ago. As blockbuster films were made and continues to be made, chart-topping TV shows continue to be produced to match the delight the cinemas offer. In other words, the small screen is just as vibrant as the big screen, even as the Emmy is just as celebrated as the Oscars. Hence, major Hollywood stars such as Taraji P Henson and Kerry Washington have successfully made transitions from films to television.

EMPIRE

Popular TV series such as EMPIRE and House of Cards have become international  sensations. More so, Shonda Rhymes is just enough heavy weight (on the TV side) as Steven Spielberg is on the big screen.

In all these beautiful developments, one thing that puzzles me is why same can be said for the industry supposedly the world’s second largest. Except for Sugar, Tinsel and perhaps occasional Super Story, which other Nigerian content really makes TV moment special in this country? Hardly any… The point therefore is the need for Nollywood to improve fast and diversify. TV channels need to also learn how to cater to the screen needs of their viewers by entering more into partnerships with Nollywood studios. But wait, we hardly have Nollywood studios in the real sense… Anyway, they need to partner with producers then to create very nice TV shows. We really need that right about now.

-Emmanuel Abara Benson

WHAT INSPIRES ME

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In the film industry, writers are often the ones not quite treated specially. I find this ironical if not UNFAIR, because these writers are the ones who come up with the stories without which they cannot be blockbusters films. But despite the unfair situation, these writers keep writing. That has been the situation in the past, and it continues to be the situation.

Now as an upcoming writer in the field, I take solace in the fact that several people have threaded the paths I am just about to begin threading. And if they could excel, and produce magical tales like Scott Alexander’s and Larry Karaszewski’s Big-Eyes, then I can indeed do same. That is what inspires me to pursue this passion of mine.

OUTRAGE (SYNOPSIS)

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We understand that to successfully pitch and possibly sell a screenplay, the synopsis has to be good. That is why here at NSM we painstakingly write our synopsis following the latest international trends in order to meet standard. Here is an example of our style of synopsis OUTRAGE SYNOPSIS.

UNRAVELLING MYSTERIES

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Apparently, story-telling comes in different forms; some are expressed through songs, some told verbally and others written. But then again, the writing varies, because while some write prose, drama and poetry, screenwriters write scripts. It is this last category of story tellers that I represent here at Nollywood Scripts Merchantile.

We write as well as market screenplays to producers/directors alike. Do have a glimpse at what we do- SAMPLE SCRIPT. Thank you for anticipated patronage.

Emmanuel Abara Benson

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