Kunle Afolayan has fast become a pacesetter in the Nigerian film industry. Over the years, he has evolved from being a profound actor to becoming one of the best filmmakers of his time. Recently, he sat down with entertainment and lifestyle platform, Variety Magazine and had a chat about the industry. He spoke about the impact of Netflix on African filmmaking.
***Plat4om giveaway: Check the picture at the end for a surprise.***
The filmmaker also spoke about his latest feature film, “Mokalik.” Mokalik is about an 11-year-old boy, Ponmile, who is from the middle-class suburbs. He is forced to spend the day as a lowly apprentice at a mechanic workshop in order to view life from the other side of the tracks.
Through this experience, he is exposed to the rough life of living in that section of Lagos. When his father finally arrives to take him home; he has to make up his mind. His choices are to return to school or to take on the apprenticeship full time.
During the interview, Kunle Afolayan also shed more light on the changing face of Nigerian cinema. Furthermore, he gave insightful reasons why more international players need to recognise the continent’s untapped potential.
The film screens this week at the Durban International Film Festival.
When asked how he would rate the progress of the Nigerian 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 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 of the commercial films now. They’re doing their route, and they’re making money. I think that’s really good for the system.”
When asked if there’s enough support from the government, Kunle Afolayan said:
“In terms of government support, to an extent, I would say the government is trying. Recently the federal government through the central bank introduced another loan scheme. You can get a loan to build a cinema, or to make a film, and the interest rate is a quarter of what you get in commercial banks. And the flexibility is better. You can pay within 10 years.
“No commercial bank would ever give you that. That’s one aspect of support. Also, the Lagos State Government just commissioned six theatres that would double our cinemas [in Nigeria’s largest city], and four of them have been completed. This will also help the monetization of content. In those areas, our government seems to be doing well.
“If you compare Nigeria to a lot of other African countries, I think we’re way ahead. A lot of other African countries look up to Nigeria. They also want to emulate our spirit and our attempt in terms of monetizing content. I would say we’re not doing badly. Government is supportive, and I think they’re trying to understand how to put the best structure that would help develop the industry more.”
Asked about what inspired the film, Mokalik, he said:
“Sometimes we evolve in an environment where you haven’t paid a lot of attention to things that go on around you. I hadn’t been to a mechanic workshop in a long time. And at that time, I wanted to properly restore a vintage car—that’s what took me there. I ended up spending a week, going every day. Every time I was there, I saw different things, their way of life. Most of them are not university graduates. But somehow, they train on the job, and they’re getting things done. I thought it would be nice to tell their stories from a different point of view.”