Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WHAT NIGERIAN CHILDREN WANT FROM AFRICAN INSPIRED ANIMATION


Chief Okoro in the animated series by Quadron Studios

In the past 4 weeks, I have had the privilege of screening my animated short film Tejumade and those of others, to over 150 boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 17 at different times and locations. 
Having attended several film fora, festivals and academic discourses over the past few years and more recently, the C3 conference (read my previous post), I decided to take my film to the primary audience for animation and cartoons: children. 
This exercise proved rather successful and my findings are what I am sharing here.
While working on my debut film, which I was advised against by some professionals working in the film industry because of the complexities and costs of animation, I knew I really wanted to get to children. 
There was no way I was going to continue keeping a 23 year old dream/project within me anymore (I will give you the full story of the journey of Tejumade in another post). 
I needed to get it out! 
The market for African inspired family films, series and animation content for children is under served and I have chosen to work within this terrain. 

On the last day of submissions to the 2nd edition of Real Time International Film Festival (RTF) 2017, I submitted the black and white animatics style version of my film and just hoped for the best. 
I wanted to share the full project with people irrespective of the style as didn’t want to submit just a teaser trailer for Publicity and Advertising. 
I was happy it made the final selection and happier that the head of the animation selection jury is an animator and a lecturer in this field at a University in Cyprus. 
This was a major boost for me.
I was further encouraged by the reactions to the film and the comments I got from the audience at first screening during the festival (it was screened a 2nd time on another day). In total about 250 adults and some children saw it. 
What I learnt from the audience was the fact that the story and the way it is told is key in any film project. 




Storyboard panels for the animatics version submitted for RTF


My style was the least ‘polished’ among the other 2D and 3D animated films screened  but people still connected to it. I told the audience before the screening that it was work in progress and I would love their feedback in the Q and A session. 
I have worked on the film since RTF and taken it to colour. 
Even though it’s not finished the way I would really want it due to lack of funds, I however, decided to share it with the world even in that state.  
Tejumade has been submitted it to over 30 international film festivals and uploaded on Youtube and Vimeo. 
It was tough working on the project and I am not done yet, but I am happy I embarked on the somewhat crazy journey. It has been a great learning curve and also put me also in a position of supporting and sharing information with other creatives. 
Sorry I had to bore you a bit with tit bits from my animation journey but I thought it was important to share. Now back to the matter.

Pretty Lily poster

 

A still from PULL

Someone from Nicademia saw my film at RTF and sent me an email saying it could do well on their platforms. I had interviewed the founder last year for omenkaonline.com, a platform I contribute to, so I knew a bit about the company and its founder. 
In order to test the waters, I got invited to Nicademia screenings at some Summer schools. The first one I attended was at a private nursery and primary school and the boys and girls were between the ages of 3 and 10. 
I went along with my film and those of 2 colleagues who worked my own project. 
It was interesting to discover the kinds of stories and duration the different children could handle. 

After Valentine of Nicademia did an introduction and usual ‘cute’ stuff with the children, he screened 2 episodes of his yet to be released 2D animation title; Pretty Lily which is an educational cartoon targeted at younger children. 
All of them watched but I noticed the younger children paid more attention. 
This was followed by a Q and A which came with gifts for correct answers. 
It worked like magic! We all like presents don’t we?
Next, I screened Onome Egba’s PULL and Brian Wilson’s Water Wahala which are 3D short films without dialogue. These films are 4 minutes and 1 minute respectively. 
All the children connected to them and they understood the message the filmmakers were trying to pass across. Lastly, my 19 minutes film screened. 
After some 7 minutes, I noticed some of the younger children were restless but the older ones were attentive throughout. 
When the Q and A session came up, many hands were up. Since my film was the longest,  I wanted to know how they found the length and if they followed the story. 
A 4 year old girl said it was too long and a 10 year old boy said it was too short. 
My film has quite an amount of dialogue so I was happy to get feedback. 

Interacting with the 3 to 10 year old children

Moral of the story, for younger children, break things up into say 5 minutes shorts or series while older children can take much longer screen time at a go. 
Now concentrating on the older ones, I asked them how they found the films screened. They said Valentine’s Pretty Lily was for children! 
I had to laugh and I asked them what they were exactly if not children as well. 
They laughed and said they meant it was for ‘little’ ones. 
They liked PULL a lot because it was humorous and the sound design and score worked well. Water Wahala was more serious but they liked it and talked about the lessons they learnt from the 2 films. 


Coloured panels from Tejumade

 






Tejumade is mostly serious with some humour. Since my film was the longest, I asked if they prefer it broken up into a series or made into a full length animated feature. 
Most of them said they wanted a series while some said they wanted to watch it like Moana and also have the DVD in their homes.
Interestingly, the teachers taking care of the children wanted the Pretty Lily DVD if available so they could use as teaching aids. How cool is that? 
The children said that was the first time they were seeing productions done in Nigeria and would like to see them on Cable TV and free to air stations. 
We were asked us to come weekly to their summer school for film screenings. 
Most of them mentioned their favourite cartoons on Disney XD, Disney Junior and Cartoon Network. I didn’t take note of them but I will be more attentive next time.
Only a 10 year old had seen Nicademia’s Mudi Goes To School on Wazobia Max. 








Prior to the Nicademia screening, I had given a mini Film Appreciation/ Introduction to Animation session to about 30 children between the ages of 11 and 13 from a mix of private schools . 
It was a 2 hour session and I showed them some foreign animated short films and Behind The Scenes of some animated feature films as visuals for my plenty talk. 
Lastly, I screened my film and they were quite attentive. 
In the Q and A, they told me what they liked and didn't. 
None of them had seen any Nigerian or African inspired animation on the channels they watch and said they would love to.
Most were also in favour of TV series over animated features, even though they had seen the likes of Zootopia, Moana, Despicable Me, Emoji Movie and Boss Baby in the cinemas. There is a limit to animated features that can be churned out yearly but they will always have the TV series with them in their homes.
They told me they would love to have a channel dedicated to animation series and films from Nigeria and Africa like Cartoon Network. The organizers of the Summer school where i gave the first session, told me the children included the main evil character in my film in the play they presented to their parents at the end of the camp. Cool stuff! 

Mudi and Scholastica

A still from Onome's CARWARZ

The next Nicademia screening i went to was for about 50 children between the ages 10 and 17, at a Summer programme organized by an NGO for children from public and private schools. Since they were older children, Valentine decided to show his secondary school inspired educational title; Mudi Goes To School.
Before the introduction and screening, he asked them if they had seen any African animation on TV or elsewhere and about 10 of them said yes. 
Interestingly, what they had seen on TV was his Mudi Goes To School
He asked them if they knew the name production company and they mentioned it. They were asked who their favourite characters in the series were and they said it was Mudi and Scholastica and stated the reasons why. I was happy to see the faces of the children and the filmmaker during this conversation. When Valentine revealed it was he and his team behind the series, they yelled and gave a standing ovation! 
Pure bliss I say! It couldn’t have been better. 
Connecting with your audience doesn’t get cooler than this. 

Moral of the story, children would love to meet the creatives behind productions.
Three episodes of Mudi Goes To School were screened and I was impressed many of the children took notes while watching because it is educational. 
I learnt a few things myself.
Next, I showed them Brian’s Water Wahala, Onome’s PULL and his sleek new, work in progress production;CARWARZ which he was not so eager to show. 
According to him, it was an experiment which did not really have a story. 
I told him he had nothing to lose and that the children would give him the feedback he needed. The children loved the production values but said they could not really make out the story. One of them said he understood the concept which he thought was about competition. My film screened last. I normally take this position in screenings because of the length and like the audience to see the films of the others first.

They liked all the films screened and pointed out the lessons learnt from each one. Most of them said they wanted Tejumade as a series while some said they cannot bear suspense and just want to watch in one go. They asked if there was a continuation of the film and when I said no, their faces fell. A 15 year old girl said she loved all she saw and asked if the films were online. I told her mine was and that she should search for it. Hopefully it should come up. Nicademia also has an online VOD platform so by now she should have seen what’s on offer. 
Moral of the story, suspense is good as it will keep anyone and especially children wanting more. It will also be great if animation creatives share some of their productions be it an episode, a teaser, clips or the full thing online to generate interest. If children like something, just like adults, they will share it.
Prizes in form of comics, educational DVDs and books on exam study tips were given out as prizes to children who answered questions correctly though in the end, every child got a gift. 


Chief Okoro in 3D




The most recent screening I did personally was for 30 children between the ages of 10 and 17 on Monday this week. By this time, I had 2 episodes of the Chief Okoro series from Quadron Studios. I didn’t remember to ask Nicademia for theirs but I am sure I’ll be able share his work at other screenings I am invited to. 
I screened PULL, CARWARZ, one of the Chief Okoro episodes, Tejumade, the second Chief Okoro episode and lastly Water Wahala. I turned things around this time. 
These children are observant. After screening the first Chief Okoro episode they asked for the second one. I teased them saying there was none and they said they saw it among the titles in the flash drive I was playing the films from. They caught me! They liked all they saw and when I asked if they had seen any films or series from Africa or Nigeria in particular about 5 of them had seen Turtle Taido and Mudi Goes To School on TV. 
A 12 year old asked if Walt Disney’s Lion King counted as African animation but I said it didn't. A few of them preferred the traditional 2D animation to 3D while most loved 3D. They liked the mix of the two in the Chief Okoro episodes.
Just like the other children, most prefer a series to feature even though they would not mind seeing some African titles in the cinema. I told them animated features are not a walk in the park.They said they normally checked end credits of the animation films so they knew a lot of people worked on the projects. 
When I told them the production duration of each of the Nigerian short films I showed them, and that other big studio shorts like Disney’s Inner Workings, they were stunned. Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I told them about some full length animated features.They liked the humour in the Chief Okoro series though some of them found the title character’s speech fast and sometimes inaudible. 
They laughed a lot at his antics. 

A still from PULL




They found the old man in PULL rather foolish and they were actually screaming what he should do at him.They could not understand the bully in Water Wahala and were annoyed with the two girls in the story. They hated the evil water spirit in mine, sided with Tejumade,praised her bravery and liked her side kick Tiroko who provided some of the comic relief. 
An 11 year old said she liked the story because it was Nigerian and Yoruba in origin. 
I asked what her tribe was and she said Igbo. I loved this! She said she noticed that the lead character’s look was inconsistent in some scenes but didn’t know if that was how it was meant to be. A 12 year old said the thrones of the King and Queen in the palace looked wrong and she felt they should have been switched.

The abrupt end in Tejumade

They did not like the abrupt end and thought I was playing another deception game by not showing the part 2 of the film. I told them I did not have more to show and asked them to pray I get the funds required to make the series they want to see. 
A 10 year old said she was sure it would end well because she saw Tejumade carrying her side kick Tiroko on the outfit I wore so she was sure they made it safely out of the dreaded forest. I told her that was not necessarily correct. Hehehe!
It was great to see their interactions with the characters in the films and their conversations among themselves. It was obvious they had a good time and they looked forward to seeing more. 15 of them said they wanted to watch Tejumade again if it was possible and I told them it was online and shared the links.

I have some invitations already to some schools when the new term begins so if any animation production company or individual is interested in getting feedback from children after seeing their films or series, send them to me while the offer is free. 
I will soon start charging for these surveys.
Dear Nigerian creatives working in the animation industry, it seems we are a bit ahead, continue the work you are doing. Before long, you will get battalions of supporters and lovers of your creations and you will eventually laugh hysterically to the bank! 
Now is the time to sow the seeds. I see a bountiful harvest! 
Thank you for reading this rather long post. Phew! 
I always have so much to say and this is even a summary. Peace out!

Tejumade screening uniform





Thursday, August 10, 2017

THROUGH LARA TIAMIYU'S LENS



Lara Tiamiyu

Its being a while i did a feature and i thought it will be great to start August with some beauty, brains and talent. I plan to do a proper interview so keep your eyes peeled but in the interim, you can get acquainted with Lara Tiamiyu and some of her work.
Several years ago at the second ARISE Fashion Week held in Nigeria at the Federal Palace Hotel, i saw this unassuming lady with a beast of a camera and tripod. 
She stood out because because as fashion events go, even people with gadgets and press people sometimes compete with guests and models on the runway. 
'No dulling' please as you do not know where your photo will end up. 
You don't want to make the worst dressed column even while on duty.
Lara was not shabbily dressed in the least bit but just simple and classy.
I love photography and when i see women handling gadgets and equipment seemingly for men, it gets me quite excited. 
I am usually drawn to professions and skills that are 'usually' dominated by or associated with men.
I suppose that is why i studied visual art specializing in painting (we were only 4 girls in my class all through my 4 years in art school) and i am now entering into film with my debut project being an animated short film. I also wanted to study architecture because i had an aunt was stood out and was a great architect. 
Let's return to the story at hand. 

I approached Lara and we chatted for a while and started asking questions in my usual style. I was curious to know why she was there, who she was covering the event for, whether it was a newspaper or magazine and how she got in, in the first place. We all know how getting into these kinds of events go in Lagos because at times,even for getting press passes, you need to sweat it out or know someone that knows somebody.We were waited for the show to start and we the people in the industry know this 'fashionably late' syndrome(sadly, the show never started because it got postponed till the next day)
It happened that she was covering the event or rather she was going to photograph an international designer's presentation and i got even more impressed.
I remember asking how she got called by this designer and it even made me more curious to see her work. As said earlier, the show never happened that night but i decided to leave at some point because i got tired of waiting.
I gave her my card and asked for hers and when it was handed to me, i thought to myself, i am surely going to work with this lady. 
Her card was like a transparency or slide. So creative and apt, i thought. 
It really got me. What was more, the card read-Photographer and Makeup artist. 
This was a 'ghen ghen' combination and i knew i was surely going to knock on her studio doors for a photo shoot for my collections. 





Turning models into her experimental canvas

Lara Tiamiyu is a graduate of English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a professional photographer and certified makeup artist and creative director of La 'Royal Photography and Makeup studios. She started off as a makeup model and later developed a keen interest in working behind the camera. Her love for all things beautiful soon transitioned into being in high demand behind the lens and bringing out the best in best people through the art of makeup.





Some of Lara's old makeup and 'gele' tying work


Apart from studio sessions, she covers weddings and other social functions. 
She has also worked with organizations like Zenith Bank, UBA, Total, Fortis Group, LTC Agency and British Council where she is an official photographer. 
Her work also cuts across editorials and feature shoots for lifestyle magazines. 
Last year while we worked on an inaugural Film Issue for the Omenka magazine, i suggested to the Editor-In-Chief Mr. Oliver Enwonwu that we work with Lara. We needed to work with 2 photographers in order to have a seamless shoot since we were photographing about 12 extremely busy people working in the film industry,on the same day. We were happy with the outcome. It was a 360 degrees capture of the Nigerian film industry so we decided to also focus on film technicians who do not enjoy so much spotlight like their actor counterparts.

Omenka magazine Film Issue 

Pat Nebo- Production Designer/Art Director


Michael 'TRUTH' Ogunlade- Film Composer and Sound Designer

 

Lola Maja- Okojevoh-Makeup and SFX artist


Obijie Oru- Costume Designer and Kunle Idowu- Actor



Wedding Coverage

Coverage of Heineken Lagos Fashion Design Week

Light and Shadows


She has also lensed artists like Tiwa Savage, Oge Okoye, Skales, Seyi Shay, Yemi Alade, Provabs and Ade BANTU. Lara also believes in empowering the younger generation so she organizes workshops in photography and makeup occasionally. 

Ade BANTU in Beampeh in the days of his dreadlocks!


Remember i said earlier that i planned to work with her? 
I eventually did and in fact, i have worked with her four times on two collections a personal photo-shoot and promotional shoot done for Michael 'TRUTH' Ogunlade.
It was great working with Lara and i look forward to more collaborations. 
My first job with her was in 2013 when there was a break from the film set of Tunde Kelani's Dazzling Mirage movie where i worked as a debut costume designer. 
I had been working on a unisex collection of clothes and accessories inspired by Jamaica and its legends which i tagged 'Jamaican Vibrations' and wanted to do studio and outdoor shots. 
Ade BANTU was the face i chose to work with for the menswear section because he reminded me of Bob Marley.
When he could not make it to the studio, we headed to his space found an interesting corner and shot away! 

I'll just share a few photos from the shoot here. It was an awesome time working with 4 great girls and my reluctant male wardrobe assistant from the film set. I wanted to throw a young chap into the picture because i  wanted them styled as a family of 5 siblings with an only brother.  I will share the full shoot and story in another post. 

Sister Sister

3 is company

 
As i said above, look out for an interview with Lara.Several times it rather tough to get creatives interviewed and i have been on her case for some time.I will hopefully get to share her story here soon.Stay tuned!


Lara Tiamiyu


 
Photography Credit: Lara Tiamiyu
 

Monday, August 7, 2017

CREATIVE CONTENT CONFERENCE C3 2017: MY EXPERIENCE

Somto Ajuluchukwu, Zubbi Emodi and David Anga

I must commend and congratulate the VEXPO Africa team headed by Somto Ajuluchukwu for putting a successful,well attended, debut content market event together. It looks like this might be a great start to our own version of DISCOP.
If the team can sustain it, they have a good product going.
In an era of millennials, it is heart warming to see that some are not only just causing trouble on social media but putting in the work and adding great value to the film,television and entertainment sector. 
This was the case of the Creative Content Conference C3 which took place at the Oriental Hotel Lagos on Friday, 4th of August 2017. It was organized by the VEXPO Africa team and i heard about it from a colleague and i in turn, spread the word. 

VEXPO Africa headed by young and dynamic Somto ( he could pass for an 18 year old and i wonder how old he really is) put together an interesting gathering of industry stakeholders,established,emerging and aspiring filmmakers, intellectual property lawyers, festival directors and personnel of credible film festivals in Nigeria,content buyers and producers, television and broadcast stations and others interested in the entertainment and burgeoning film and TV industry.
Anybody who is anybody in the film and entertainment was in attendance and i am sure the organizers did not expect they would have so many people in attendance. 
At a point, when i looked behind me, quite a number of people were standing.
I was happy to have arrived early.


i-REP banner at C3
Movers and Shakers in the industry!


 Somto Ajuluchukwu

The conference kicked off with an introduction of the C3 by Somto Ajuluchukuwu. There were different sets of panelists brought up at different times to the hot seats, cutting across an intellectual property lawyer, executive director of a multimedia hub, movie directors, actors,government stakeholders, directors at independent TV stations,content producers and they all dropped nuggets of wisdom like it was hot! The first set of panelists were introduced and talked a bit about the companies they represented. Somto as the moderator asked each one, relevant questions and the audience listened attentively.

First set of panelists

Participants listening attentively

Some tit bits from panelists
Eunice Omole
Michael Williams
Eunice Omole the Chief Strategy Officer at EbonyLifeTV talked about what made The Wedding Party successful and Michael Williams the Head of Business Development and Media Sales corroborated. Michael also talked about Mo Abudu's story and vision when he met her 7 years ago while he worked with the Cross River state governor. She talked about starting a television station then. 3 years after their meeting, her station became a reality. He advised content producers and creatives present to follow their dreams and maintain uniqueness if that works for them. Only time will tell since some visionaries might not have their vision understood at the moment. 

Jane Maduegbuna
Jane Maduegbuna the Executive Director of Afrinolly talked about their Afrinolly Hub which was set up to get creatives in the Film and Television industry to collaborate in order to get better projects from pre-production through production to post production stage out there. She also shared the problems they encountered with their online platform which is being revamped so it comes back bigger and better.

Matthew Okoduwa


Matthew Okoduwa the Zonal Director of Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) spoke about the much talked about the Digital Switch Over (DSO) concept we have been hearing about for the past few years and why it is taking so long to actualize.  There are some challenges they are trying to surmount. Apparently, the corporation wants to get Nigerian companies to manufacture these DSO boxes so that we are not just importing and swelling the GDPs of other countries.Nice idea but can they let us know exactly when this will come to pass? Content providers also need to get ready as there is going to be a huge demand for content once all the bottle necks are sorted. He also advised content producers to be methodical so as to be able to monetize their content.

David Anga


 David Anga the Head Producer at White Fox Films United Kingdom,talked about opportunities for selling Nigerian and African content in the UK. It seems a hard nut to crack but mentioned some bodies and organizations supporting such Black film and TV initiatives. He also talked about making the most of online channels like Youtube and international film festivals to distribute and sell content.  

Zubbi Emodi the founder of RDM digital marketing illustrated the power of social media marketing and how maximum benefits can be derived and gave some instances of successful projects. 

Chuka Ajuluchukwu a business development manager with Olajide Oyewole LLP and a lawyer working in the field of intellectual property and brand protection told us a bit about this tricky IP terrain and some of the pit falls within the copyright and trademark laws. Who owns the content produced? Is it the producer, director, scriptwriter, lead actor? He also talked about Chain of Title and the fact that even if buddies want to partner on projects, it should not just be gentleman's agreement but produce 5 to 6 page shareholders agreement documents stating intent of the project. Chuka said some existing laws where outmoded while some have to be effected and penalties for offenders taken seriously. Oby Asika from the floor contributed to this but also gave hope that work was being done in that regard. We were also told that the Minister for Information said recently that tax breaks will be given to people working in entertainment. Let's hope this really rings true and reality comes.

Dare Olaitan the director of the Lagos Big Boy LBB NdaniTV Original Series shared his experience with respect to content development,business side of things and distribution. We were given insights into how they got their project on the Ndani platform which all started from the production of his film Ojukokoro. 

I learnt from the experiences shared by the panelists and looked forward to the Question and Answer session since i had questions to ask(as always!) 
I knew the section was going to be highly charged and i was so right!
There were varied questions about successful movies,best ways of marketing and raising funds for productions, pitching projects to existing platforms and execs, showing and selling content to buyers in the United Kingdom(one of the panelist works within that terrain), intellectual property laws (i asked a question about this and so did one of the panelists who had a bad experience in this regard), whether TV stations aired documentaries and why they were unwelcoming towards homegrown animation content.

Question Time!

Valentine Ubalua of Nicademia cartoons 

Ekene Mekwunye a filmmaker
Asking mine
Sadly, i gathered that several TV stations and Nigerian cinemas in general, are NOT interested as such, in animation content produced in Nigeria for children and the films for the whole family. They would rather just air and exhibit 'adult' content from Nigeria or international ones across board since they are more commercially viable.
This is rather unfortunate that children who are the future of tomorrow are under served because of the complicated lives of adults. 
Foreign content imported for 'children' is not always the solution as they are often laden 'inconvenient' and out rightly strange stuff. We should also encourage them to take pride in what is ours.

Some Nigerian and African animation

The Legacy of Rubies directed by Ebele Okoye-Weber

Water Wahala directed by Brian Olaolu Wilson 

PULL directed by Onome Egba

Agorkoli directed by Francis Y. Brown

POP directed by Stephen Shima Iosun

Black Barbie directed by Comfort Arthur

Dawn of Thunder directed by Kola Olarewaju

Mudi Goes To School directed by Valentine Ubalua

Play Thing directed by Eri Umusu and Nurudin Momodu

Brian Olaolu Wilson a content creator


Let me share a personal experience. I visited some friends recently and the adults were watching CNN.Then came the couple's 5 year old and he begged his father to change the channel to Cartoon Network which he did.  
The little boy watched for 2 minutes and disappeared so we continued watching. 
20 minutes into the programme, us adults watching were DUMBFOUNDED AND WEAK! What we saw was a combination of strange philosophies, subliminal bestiality, homosexuality and adultery all rolled in just one cartoon. 
When the boy returned, his father with a shaky voice(he was still 'weak') told his son not to watch that programme again. I wish i noted the title so i could share. 
My friends just happened to be home and see this particular cartoon!
Let's not even imagine what this boy and his siblings have seen on their own.



Don't get me wrong. There is also great foreign content but while we grew up on programmes like Sesame Street, Voltron, Danger Mouse, Casper The Friendly Ghost and co, there was also Tales By Moonlight, Storyland, Puppet Africana Theatre and  many others. We did not have Nigerian cartoons and animation then but it is different now. Of course we live in a complex world and also have to be 'hybrids' but what percentage is Nigerian? Our children need to know who we are. Some of our languages are even going extinct.
We will reap what we sow and let's not complain when we raise a generation of brainwashed and oversexed children that will think foreign is always better.
Culture Vulture syndrome 101 being taught free of charge without classroom walls!

We know businesses need money to run and stay afloat but will developing and supporting our homegrown talents and portraying our uniqueness as Nigerians be left aside for foreign content or Nigerian adult content all the time? 
Children will always beat the system and satisfy their curiousity with 'adult' stuff if they do not have theirs. 
This does not mean if they have theirs, they won't sneak upon adult stuff but this will be greatly reduced if they have theirs and it is our duty to provide for them. You don't feed a newborn with slices of boiled yam o!
It seems there is a some unwritten disdain for Nigerian creatives working in animation and it will be sad if our own content only sells outside our country. One of the participants at the conference said most TV stations he took his cartoons to said they would do him a favour by airing it free as they don't pay for 'local' cartoons. Meanwhile, they air foreign ones which i doubt are pirated copies.
Maybe it is when our animation and cartoons 'blow' abroad, the stations here will start looking for the content creators. Colonial Mentality 101! 
Many Nigerians have American accent these days so maybe we just continue watching this film in Cinema 4D,Blender or Maya with 3D glasses. 
We the people working in these fields will keep working hard at it.

My debut animation short film
I was invited last week to give a session on film at a summer camp and i showed some foreign animation short films, BTS of animated feature films and my own debut animation short film: Tejumade a story i wrote 23 years ago.
I told the children aged between 10 and 14 to tell me what they liked and found 'dumb' about my film and they did. The likes were 80 percent and dislikes were 20 percent.
I had never met these children prior to screening my film to them so i don't think they said good things just to please a grownup. Children tell you as it is and they were quite direct in their criticism which i took seriously. I edited the film immediately as a result of the points raised. 
I asked if they watch Nollywood films and they said no because many times, the films age appropriate so they have to wait till they are 15 or 18 to see some of our productions. Hear, hear!, Nigerian filmmakers. Out of the mouth of babes!
It takes more to produce content for children and family and it is so easy to go the VSNL route. Can we task ourselves more and think outside the box?
Did we not enjoy New Masquerade or Village Headmaster with our families growing up or is that era long gone?
This conversation will be continued another time but let me return the the other happenings at C3 before i bore you out of your skulls. 

Abba Makama
Abba Makama filmmaker and director of the award winning Green White Green film which interestingly is his debut feature film, talked about the concept, and distribution of his film. Somto the C3 convener told us that the film was turned down by FilmOne distribution but despite that fact, Abba made and is making great financial returns from his debut.
Abba said the film currently shows on the inflight entertainment of Air France, United Arab Emirates and Ethiopian Air, has done and is still doing rounds at international film festivals where screening fees have been paid for his film. You will remember that last year, his film was one of the chosen 8 to screen at the City to City programme at the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF which gave his film, others selected and Nollywood films in general a major lift. 


A representative of FilmOne distribution /Film house cinemas decided to speak on behalf of her companies on the matter of this film. 
Please note that i have serious respect for Mr. Kene Mparu the Group Managing Director/CEO Founder of both companies,a visionary creating jobs for thousands of Nigerians across the country and promoting creativity in this industry. 
I have interviewed him and Don Omope who is the Head of Production at FilmOne at different times about their projects so this is not a personal attack.  
The aforementioned rep told us she personally rejected the film. 
Some things she said were contradictory and in my opinion unnecessary. 
In as much as i hold the companies she represents in high esteem, there was no need for her to have shot down some Nigerian productions especially our animation. 
She asked us how we expected their company to exhibit a film shot with a phone. 
Was Green White Green shot with a phone or was she talking about another film? 
I got confused but did not have the chance to clarify the film she meant.

Her statements drew angry comments and snide remarks and if people had a chance with the microphone, it would have been a very heated session. 
Different animation studios have different design aesthetics and character designs. Dreamworks has a different style from Walt Disney and these are not the only studios. 
Even Walter Disney started from somewhere.Steamboat  Willie (1928),Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs(1937) which was even termed Disney's folly( because he used all his savings to get that project out) laid foundations for the animated features we enjoy today. Snow White was a hit and part of the funds realized built his Walt Disney Animation Studio in Burbank.
She went on to say someone sent her a cartoon that bored her from the first few minutes and all she saw was just big eyes and she could not imagine her children watching that. 
She also compared our animation with the ones been made by Disney and Pixar and went on to say that even with Disney's Moana staying in the cinema for 4 months, it made only a few millions. There is no basis for comparison. 

Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie Image Credit : moma.org
 
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs Image Credit: Cartoon Research


Moana Image Credit: ebay

Moana (2016) took 70 animators working on this project alone and there would have been more if the other animators were not working on Zootopia (2016) around the same time. We are not even talking about hundreds of other creatives that worked on this project. I am sure she must have seen the end credits of Moana.
Special software programmes for hair, ropes and raffia skirts were developed. 
I did a lot of research on this film,saw some of the BTS,have the original DVD, follow a number of creatives that worked on this project on social media and i am also in conversation with one of the heads of story at Walt Disney so i know exactly what i am talking about!
We don't have render farms here and we are still trying out best to produce what we can with limited skill set, resources and funds.
Hollywood films distributed in cinemas are not the same as Nollywood films so they should not even be compared. We have some different stories to tell even though some are also universal. Filmmakers are working on technical aspects of their films so production values are getting better.

There is improvement in our productions and if the new Nigerian cinemas do not give our films a try and keep at it, how will they know what is possible?  We cannot all be doing comedy films.
Everything big starts small and if we don't support our homegrown talent others will. 
Let me just leave it here.

Chioma Omeruah and BB Sasore
The icing on the cake for me was bringing in Banana Island Ghost (B.I.G) lead cast and director as panelists. It was great to have BB Sasore, Chioma Omeruah(Chigul) and Patrick Diabuah the lead actors speak with us the very day of the film release. 
In addition to helping them sell their 'makate'(several participants at the conference went to the cinema straight after conference) sharing the story and process of the film with us was quite refreshing. 
BB's debut feature film is making serious waves and it is also the first time both actors have lead roles in a feature film. Plenty firsts and nice ones at that.
He told us he had this idea about making a film about a ghost and he actually thought about Chigul's character and wrote the story for her. Convincing her and her manager was another matter but they both agreed to work on the project and the rest is history. The technical crew was made up of passionate and young people in the industry so this just shows that it is not always or only about known names. 
Some diamonds in the rough need cutting and polishing to let their brilliance shine forth. 

 

An accident scene in the movie


BB said it was only Kulanen Ikyo, the award winning Film Composer and Sound Designer that was a relatively known name. Meanwhile, all the reviews of the film pouring in have been talking about the cinematography, visual effects, colouring,film score and sound design.
We were told that only in two instances did sound department have do ADR in the entire film. Bravo Kulanen! Proud of you. So i need to get the colourist and cinematographer on my to do interview list. The director enlightened us about  support/sponsorship for the film, how Biola Alabi got involved and how casting was done. You will have to wait for another article and his interview which i plan to conduct so watch this space. I have already said so much in one story and i have not even finished yet! Phew!


Feemoverse meets i-REP

There was great networking among the participants but what was missing which i think the organizers should work on another time, is to set up the content market zones in booths outside the conference hall so that each exhibitor can show their products to interested parties.
This time around, there were just tables which had the names of the companies and platforms with some of their staff sitting around. People still approached and engaged them but it was a bit distracting since some of these engagements went on while the panelists spoke. 
There was a section in another room for children to watch animated content from some of the content creators and some display of their merchandise like comic books, books, t-shirts. There were some activities for children to engage in which was great but i would have been better executed with slots properly apportioned. Some companies did not get to show their content properly because there was no demarcation so one did not know exactly were to focus on. Several participants at the conference were not aware of this space and some happened upon it by chance.
It think it will be great if next time, a segment is created in the conference for invited content creators to screen their productions.This can be done in blocks and doing this will also enrich the future conversation and encourage participants to visit their booths. The Ebony Life TV section was right beside the panelists and i personally felt their programmes playing in a loop on their own screen the whole time during the conference was a bit distracting. It have made more sense for me if each panelist had a compilation of their videos showing behind them as they spoke to give a multimedia effect.

Congratulations again to Somto and his crew. They did a great job for a first time and it can only get bigger and better. They will also hopefully get more sponsorship and support for the 2nd edition because they have proved their mettle. 
Getting all those creatives in the conference was huge because it they thought it was not worth their while they would not have shown up. 
You already have my support for your 2nd edition as i would love to assist in any way i can.
Do keep up the great work you have started and see you next year!

Dami of i-REP and a participant from Rwanda
Jane Maduegbuna


Photographs by TOJ Photography/i-REP and Pulse Ng