too on the nose, show


Posted on Posted in Featured Articles
To Women:

With the application of wisdom, marriage is a beautiful union that works extremely well in helping to get through this thing called life. We are all wives or spinsters waiting to get hooked to our dream men.  We,  therefore, must learn to imbibe in us certain rules to live by, so that we can enjoy our marriage union in peace and harmony all through the years that would be. One of such rules would be to learn not to be too on-the-nose.

If there are set advices the mature and experienced give to a wife or a bride-to-be, they would be these:

  • shut your mouth;
  • don’t be a wailer or a nagger;
  • walk away;
  • stop the pettiness;
  • avoid being too smart;
  • don’t make your husband a sadist;
  • find a balance;
  • behind every successful man is a wise woman.

Filmmakers should learn to see themselves as the wife or bride-to-be, and see the audience as the husband and head of the house.

The husband has entertainment needs that his wife must fulfill without making such a fuss or so much noise about.  This, unlike how the dialogues in Nollywood movies are too on-the-nose:


1.   The characters don’t walk away when they should—silence sometimes is the best answer:

Not every statement or action requires a response in a movie. Silence (and good acting) could very well send the message across especially in that heated moment.

A sophisticated audience wants to see the cool, calm and calculated way a woman in the movie handles a drunken husband, a wife-beater, or a cheater. It is normally expected that a woman would wail or nag, or throw things around, and that is why as creative writers, we need to take the audience by surprise. Spare us the clichéd drama and show us the unexpected way this woman deals with her husband. Allow her keep quiet and keep us in suspense; don’t be too on-the-nose. Then BOOM!


2.   They repeat what has been said before; making the conversation about what is already obvious

This is the filmmakers seriously nagging, like a wailing wife to her husband. Nollywood movies get obsessed with saying the same things over and over again, with no new information attached each time the statement is made. They also get obsessed with repeating what has already been shown in action.

This is the oldest trick in the book to padding up your script; making it look bulky; being too on-the-nose. It is more than enough if we see the house-help vocally sprinkling or pouring poison in the food. The child in the house who caught her could explain briefly to her mother what the house-help did when no one was home−that could pass a little. What is not acceptable is the audience having to sit through the same nagging lecture− the mother telling her husband what happened.

The end result? They send the house help packing.

I’d say instead, that the house help gets shocked having been caught by the child. Next scene, the family sends her packing. This would help create space in the script for other important talks and sub-stories.

3.   They sometimes get obsessed with the use of too much register language (jargons)

Some unique filmmakers, in the bid to not be ordinary Nollywood practitioners, go over and beyond in being too on-the-nose, forgetting that the audience is the husband of the house, and the wife should know her place. Why would this wife want to prove that she knows more than her husband? I understand that there are some really bright wives who manage well with their not-so-bright husbands, but with tact. They understand the ability of their husbands, and play accordingly. These former wives need to learn respect before they get kicked out of the house by unsatisfied husbands for being too on-the-nose.

4.   They are too preachy; telling the audience what to think in a way that is propagandist; not employing irony

It is true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The filmmaker (wife) conceives a satirical idea and shares in a movie, say about the non-availability of jobs that needs to be blamed on the government. The audience (husband), on the other hand, may have its own opinion on the same subject matter, say about praying and hoping for a better living condition.

But soon, because of the movie, and because change is far-fetched,  the audience (husband) starts to think like the filmmaker (wife), and both start walking around with the same opinion, and not really having a creative solution to the situation.

A filmmaker (wife) is to help proffer solutions with Dialogue by showing constructive methods of how the government could ironically be successfully  persuaded, or showing how the citizens could evolve with start-up businesses. And not allowing herself and her husband be an “amebo” couple that never progresses.

Ever wondered why almost everyone in Nigeria believes so much in witchcraft? Where has being too on-the-nose brought us?


5.   They try to consume time with meaningless and unprogressive small-talk

This is particularly something that gets the men worked up easily. While they are thought provoked about the more important matters of life: the kid’s wellbeing they aren’t doing a good job with by their standards; the financial needs for the house rent or building construction that intensifies as the year draws to an end; the trouble-making jalopy car that has consumed too much money to no avail, and what not about life, some wives come with petty issues that do not help solve the problems on ground. Issues so petty I’m too ashamed to mention−you know them.

In a movie, a filmmaker should stick with the issues on ground all the way, and if any pettiness should come in, it should be in an associating and progressive manner.

6.   They allow the characters talk on for too long—certainly too on-the-nose

When the message is clear already, there really isn’t any need going on and on about it anymore, especially as what you’re on about doesn’t add a fresh layer to the matter. Husbands (the audience) would know how annoying this is. The most effective messages are those that are short and concise (lean and mean), then you move on. Whatever the message is you want to pass along, make it brief, and if it can’t be brief, ensure there are associating progressive beats and actions to make the audience understand that something relevant is also happening with all that talk.

Mind you,  a woman setting the family dining table,  serving them,  and then clearing the plate after they’re  done,  while giving a lengthy speech,  is not proper beats and actions if it’s not progressive; the audience knows when you’re killing time.


The ruthless truth is this:

If Nollywood movies weren’t too on-the-nose, our 2-hour movies would be 20-30 minutes shorter. This would mean that the recommended 120 pages of script would now be less than a hundred. Any feature-length script that is less than 100 pages needs tons of fleshing out with character development and maybe sub-plotting.

For those about to produce their scripts (get married), you just might need to sit back and take a second look at that baby of yours. Your husband wants you at your best always; sophisticated husbands are not taking rubbish from their wives anymore, and divorce rate is high these days.

Think about this too on-the-nose matter.


Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.

She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.

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