Building Capacity in the Nigerian Film Industry

Building Capacity in the Nigerian Film Industry

The Spanish philosopher, Maimonides of the eleventh century said, “You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” To empower filmmakers, as well as upcoming talents, 5-day training and workshops on several aspects of filmmaking and branding, were held as part of the recently concluded iREP International Documentary Film Festival. The directors of the festival have since inception, organised these initiatives to build capacity across the Nigerian film industry, which in the past few years has witnessed exponential growth, and is today not only one of the highest employers of labour of young people in Nigeria but also the third highest producer of films annually, in the world. At the 2017 edition of iREP, there were three different workshops running simultaneously at different locations with participants shortlisted from a large pool of received entries.

The First Steps Documentary Storytelling Workshop held at the Goethe-Institut, Lagos with award-winning German documentary filmmaker-Florian Schewe as facilitator. This workshop, in collaboration with Dok.fest Munich, was attended by 15 emerging Nigerian-based filmmakers and held over 5 days. It aimed at getting participants to develop a treatment for a short documentary for an international audience, at the end of which, 5 outstanding projects would receive support for development into documentaries. After production, they will be screened at iREP 2018 and within Dok’s Network Africa programme during Dok.fest 2018. Schewe advised the aspiring filmmakers not to be discouraged but to go out and make films. She continued that if raising finances was a problem, they should seek collaborations to get their projects completed, especially if the story is not complicated. “Film is a team effort at the end of the day.” Barbara Off, a co-ordinator of Dok.fest Munich was also on hand to guide participants during the workshop. She encouraged them, “We need to engage each other more. iREP is concerned with development and democratisation, and I think documentary can do that. You are responsible to change something; think for yourself, double check. Documentary beautifully does, when it follows one character around in his or her daily life, to show what is real, it’s not fake. It’s not reality TV, it’s not TV.”

Trainees at the DOK.fest supported First Steps Documentary Storytelling Workshop at the Goethe Institut, Lagos

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Florian Schewe facilitating the First Steps Documentary Storytelling Workshop at the Goethe Institut, Lagos

Barbara Off with iREP Volunteers at Goethe Institut

On the last day of the film festival, certificates were awarded to the participants and the winning treatments were announced with a supplementary selection in addition to the pre-planned 5. Schewe who was one of the judges acknowledged that it was great there was a diverse array of ideas. Winners were asked to give a minute presentation of their projects to the audience. The winners and their projects are as follows; Stella Oluoma (Bottom Power), Temitope Aluko (Surviving Child Hawking), Ronya Man (Fair Finian), Funmi Eko Ezeh (Blood and Water), Gabriel Emmanuel (Bone) and Emeka Loveday (Farlon).

A second training for young filmmakers was a 6-day Canon-iREP collaboration at Afrinolly Space. The Canon Basic DSLR Filmmaking Workshop sought to guide participants in the production of documentaries, using the Canon DSLR camera. Raul Gabat and Katie Simmonds facilitated the workshop. Gabat is the business development manager at Canon Middle East with vast experience in professional product development, business development and sports photography. He also manages Canon Professional Services (CPS), as well as the support programme in the Middle East and Africa region. Simmonds is Canon’s strategic operations professional – Emerging Markets Africa/Sustainability Projects. The first 3 days of training were spent in the classroom after which participants were shared into groups to carry out field work, shoot and edit the documentaries. Nollywood actress, producer and filmmaker, Judith Audu-Fought described her experience as an exhilarating one, from which she learnt so much. “We are already used to working quickly in Nollywood and I worked with a great team. I am privileged to have participated, and grateful for a new skill to develop. May God bless Femi Odugbemi and his team, our facilitators and Canon for this opportunity given to us young filmmakers”. Odugbemi also remarked that the facilitators were impressed with the intelligence and hands-on approach of the participants. “They all happened to have used Canon so it was not new to them. It made their learning quite fast and we are proud of our young filmmakers. The Canon-iREP collaborations will continue.”

Canon DSLR training with Raul Gabat at Afrinolly, Lagos

Participants of the Canon DSLR training with their certificates and the Canon representative and facilitator Katie Simmonds

Festival founder and director Femi Odugbemi facilitating a branding training session with the students of Orange Academy at Freedom Park

Femi Odugbemi facilitated a third workshop for the students of the Orange Academy, a private brand school in Lagos, where Odugbemi serves as provost. It took place on the Freedom Park grounds, and covered different areas of the art of compelling storytelling. With Odugbemi’s invaluable years of experience in the world of advertising and film, he took participants through the process of creating memorable brand experiences, from ideas through execution and product.

At the end of the workshops, the young filmmakers and creatives were encouraged to think globally while working locally with a sense of history. Brimming with confidence, they are already looking forward to iREP 2018.

Image credits: TOJ Studios for iREP


Adebimpe Adebambo is the Business Development Officer at Revilo, an art and culture publishing company. She studied Painting at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. Adebambo is also a fashion and accessories designer, and her work is concerned with environmental sustainability and recycling. She debuted as a costume designer on Tunde Kelani's award-winning film Dazzling Mirage, garnering for her efforts, 2 nominations in 2015 for an Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Award and an African Movie Academy Award for Best Costume Designer and Achievement in Costume Design, respectively. Adebimpe Adebambo loves to write and is presently working on a storybook.

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