By Yetunde Adeyeri
Award-winning Nigerian Filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan had a recent interview with Variety Magazine has opened up on his latest feature film “Mokalik” amongst other topics. Afolayan is the CEO of Golden Effects Pictures, a Nigerian film, and production company incorporated in 2005. The company’s feature films include Irapada, The Figurine, Phone Swap, October 1, and The CEO.
The 44-year-old producer and director identify himself as a free-thinker. His views, when asked about Nollywood, are usually controversial. Years ago, in an interview with Cable magazine, Afolayan was quoted as saying he does not watch Nigerian movies, and this led to him receiving several heated responses from fans and some colleagues in the Nigerian movie industry. Although days after this News broke, he shared a video on social media where he announced that he had been taken out of context and then tried to set the record straight.
This is probably why the filmmaker has been very selective with the interview he grants. But in this interview with Variety Magazine, he spoke freely on his upcoming projects and Nollywood in general.
Speaking on the progress of the Nigerian Movie Industry in 2019, he said
‘I think it’s more dynamic now, it’s more interesting. A lot of people now see the need to pay more attention to details. The cinema chain has grown from what it was a few years back, and it’s still growing. I know quite a number of people who are currently building more screens. I think the business side is very good. There seems to be a return on investment. Beyond that, the number of productions has reduced, but it’s better now in terms of quality and production values. Some people are just going for the commercial. “We put good money in a film, it’s going to be all glamorous and bling. We just want to do a cinema run, and maybe, if we’re able to get Netflix, fine.” They’re not really interested in seeing the film as art. To them, it’s about, “What are we grossing?” As soon as they’re done doing this, they move to the next one. We still have the likes of myself and other filmmakers who say, “Look, you can be commercial and still be arty to a certain extent.” Because you want to go to festivals, you want these films also to be written about, to be talked about, and still enjoy the commercial platform. We have a lot more commercial films now. They’re doing their route, and they’re making money. I think that’s really good for the system.’
When he was asked about his view On African filmmakers feeling that streamers undervalue African content, he said
I don’t think it’s a level playground. For one, Africa is still being seen as a developing market in terms of film and television. Because they’re trying to grow, whatever they’re offering for the film must be justified by what comes back to them. I will clearly say at this point, there is no comparison between what they offer for content from here, and what they offer for content in Europe and America. Because they always say that they’re trying to build the African market. I think Netflix is the only one that is at the moment really trying to embrace Nigeria and the rest of Africa, more than the rest of these platforms. But I want to believe it’s going to get there at some point. I have a series I’ve been developing for three years that I believe will take African film and television to another level—level of “Game of Thrones.” It’s very original and very big. I believe anybody who would take chances on that would not regret it. I think they all need to be more open now. [Africa] is such a big market. But these are stories with universal appeal that would do well anywhere in the world. They should not see Africa as a second- or third-class audience. I think that needs to change.
Fingers crossed on this new series he is working on that will wow the world.
Read more on the interview here