Posted on Posted in Screenwriting Tips
Nollywood a decade ago….

I thoroughly enjoyed the few movies that were produced in Nollywood over a decade ago. It appeared they underwent a form of noble craftsmanship, and majored in passing across valuable messages. Although, not fantastically produced, it was much pardonable; Nollywood was fairly new about the industry. What isn’t pardonable is how much a huge part of the industry has thoroughly deteriorated in recent times mostly in the aspect of message, even with its modern exploration of technology and ideology. It seems Nollywood has dropped the message aspect in an Era where it is expected that the messages would even now be ultimately resounding.

How does one evoke a resounding effect with message in movies?

While we are engrossed with that new movie idea, or the few concepts and techniques we would love to use to flesh out our unique idea, let’s not forget that movies, like literature, mirror the real world. We should be able to pass across a message with all our concepts, scenes, and conflicts that is relatable to the current, past or future human condition.

We often see Hollywood movies make use of very simple or banal concepts. It appears we do not fully understanding that these simple concepts aren’t just simple. In fact, they contribute to the things that we see as more important in that movie.

Let’s take a basic, hypothetical war film as an example. A soldier who lives in the countryside has to leave his wife and  son to go to war in the city. Usually, we explore the war, itself, as the major event, explicitly. What we most times forget to observe is one or all of these:

  • Life was perfectly fine for this soldier before war. His terminally ill wife had his support in training their son, and the boy was well-behaved. They were a somewhat happy family before the war started.
  • The soldier at war is struggling to survive. His son is also in a sort of rascally war, venturing into the forest knowing his terminally ill mother won’t notice so much.
  • While at war, his wife now has a bigger challenge of managing her son in her deteriorating illness without the presence of her husband.
Observing these, we can now truly pass across a resounding message of War and its Effects.

Let’s say the seemingly dangerous elements in the woods/forest means nothing to this child. This rascal child who would run freely into the forest. He would trip and fall against, say, a bed of nettles (spiky plant), and sustain some bruises. Maybe, just maybe, breaks a bone or two in the process. Some children may not be as lucky in this dangerous woods. This sort of sub-story, of how this child rascally ventures into the “forbidden” forest in the absence of his father, and at the expense of his mother’s health is beautifully thematic:

  • At war, the soldier fights through a danger zone;  the boy invades the forest; the mother manages the home only to notice her son’s absence. SCARY.
  • The soldier gains some injuries from bullets, explosions, or just a generally unfriendly environment; the boy gets wounded by the dangers in the woods; the mother swaddles up because of her illness, and starts a painful search for her son. DISHEARTENING 
  • The soldier might die; the rascally son might be as unfortunate; how the mother would feel on hearing this news. TRAGEDY
  • The soldier might come out victorious; the son may discover something really precious in the forest; the mother might pull through the illness. VICTORY
So many possibilities, with each character fighting his/her own war.

All these speak to the audience. They feel varying emotions. There is a resounding effect of message. In a thematic manner, passing a message about what war is and the effects it could have in ones life.

Let’s imagine she searches for the lost boy in the woods and finds him on the ground somewhere, weak and terribly bruised. She has to carry him home. He probably’s got a huge weight, and so she struggles through the forest. This, until she’s able to reach the safe house, and manage his weakness and wounds. Let’s also imagine that while all that is happening, we see the soldier get injured and lying hopelessly in the fields somewhere. Luckily, his fellow mates find him. They then manage him back to the safe house to manage his wounds.

WAR AND ITS EFFECTS. And we see the message every where we look in this movie.

Having treated these, Nollywood movies now appear to not be in the category of movies that do pass across a resounding message. Maybe the real issue is they just don’t know how to. Majority of the movies lack sub-texts and end up not being as convincing. We find audiences having to meet the movies half-way in their emotional attachments to that movie.

Though, after over two decades of existence, some people can proudly talk about unforgettable NOLLYWOOD movies.  Awesome list, by the way. However, there’s a seemingly more captivating list of unforgettable Hollywood movies.

Some may argue that Hollywood didn’t start making proper movies as we know for decades, the real defining difference was really only between 1890-1906; there was significant improvement within this 18 year period; they never deteriorated; they kept improving in a brilliantly documented manner.

They’ve now established a magnificent industry that is meant to make an impact in other off-set film industries. For example, Nigeria and India. Regrettably, it appears India’s taking it more seriously.


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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