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Improving Nollywood 2

Nollywood-Improving the film industry by creating an efficient film market-part 2.

In my last post i showed how a volume based business model would improve the quality of films made and at the same time  deter piracy.In this post,i would like to show how intelligent regulation aimed at helping consumers make informed choices will lead to differentiation and branding in the industry,two desirable traits that Nollywood needs to grow.

The thinking that Nollywood produces too many films is wrong.Nollywood appears to produce too many films only because the industry is undifferentiated and unspeciallised and everybody is doing the same thing as everybody else.Ideally,there should be a hierarchy of quality such that there would be films of different categories with category “A” films no more than ten percent of current output.We have to remember that elite films are positional goods:the desirability of the films will rise with increasing scarcity.If Nollywood were synonymous with these category “A” films(just like Hollywood) ,no one would complain about over-production.

To achieve this happy state,first of all,we need to understand that movies are information goods with the peculiar problem of uncertainty of utilities:unlike other material goods,the process of ascertaining the value of  these goods is bundled with the very  process of  consumption.In other words,unless you have watched a film you cannot know it’s value.But you can get a fair idea of the quality of a film through advertising,branding and third-party reviews/previews.

Having understood this,we should take advantage  by crafting regulations that take this knowledge on board.We should have a college of reviewers made up of our best newspaper,radio and television outlets(heck,we might even include the likes  BBC Africa,MTV,Channel O).This college would have access to the  censor’s board movie library.Each newspaper,radio or television house would rate every film before release according to a set of agreed criteria drawn up by the great and good of the theater and film fraternity.The censor’s board would then take an average of these scores for each film and rate the film on a scale of 1 to 5, according to which 4 and 5 would denote category “A”  films and anything less is mere “video”.These scores should be displayed at the front of the film covers prominently.

Care should be taken to ensure not more than ten percent of the films fall into category “A” so that there is scarcity value.Also,the bigger the college of reviewers the better so that no one newspaper,radio or television outlet has critical mass:it should be made  obvious to a justifiably cynical public,and to the corrupt film maker who might be thinking to co-opt anyone on the college,that no one outlet or two can change a low rating to a high rating given the size of the college.Obviously you cannot have a hundred outlets on the college,but you get the point.

To ensure that reviewers representing these outlets are kept honest,the scores given by the individual outlets should be displayed at the back of the films prominently.The public would have to be educated as to the significance of these ratings.Equipped with this information,i believe the public would respond by rewarding excellence  while penalising mediocrity.As the mediocre is thus chased out of the business,there would be fewer players , with larger market shares,and thus the necessary resources to make the investment in talent and technology that will take Nollywood up there.Make no mistake about it,this is sorely needed investment.

Investment,in any industry,is an act of self-fulfiling prophecy:Prospective investors will invest only if they believe the returns will justify their investments.An efficient film market that richly rewards excellence will send a clear signal to these people  that they will find irresistible in a way that preaching to them,in whatever shape or form,cannot ever  hope to achieve.For example holding seminars for banks here or abroad that are intended to encourage them to invest under  current  market conditions will not have the desired effect.Nigerian investors are not going to throw their money away out of patriotism and,of course,foreign ones  are clearly going to be even more commercial.We should grow up.

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