FACEBOOK AND 35MM CRAZE IN NIGERIA
My very good friend, Olumide Iyanda, the editor of Saturday Independent is not on facebook. He likes to deceive himself that he is still anonymous and faceless, so he shies away from these networking sites that request for your pictures, date of birth, and allow remote friends access your virtual world. So for him, facebook, myspace, hi5 or Linkedin are no go areas. Another mutual friend of ours is about quitting facebook. Why? He says we’re all mugus (what does that mean in proper English?); that Mark Zuckerberg, the 23 year-old whiz kid who owns Facebok is worth over $1.5 billion – thanks to you and me and every other mugun who’s hooking up with friends on the network. I don’t particularly agree, not just because I don’t find that word mugun complimentary, but because I believe that life is all about give and take. Yes, Zuckerberg and his buddies at facebook are building a fortune, having now lured over 64 million people all over the world to be on facebook. But, does the site give us value? Come on. The answer is yes!
That’s the value to seek for; to use in making yourself, or your business better. For example, as a very nosy, restless reporter, I steal loads of information daily from people’s profile on facebook and myspace and hi5. I’ve gotten leads to major stories from these sites, and God knows how many of my subjects the networks have helped me establish contact with.
So I like facebook. No apologies. Okay, looking at it again: $1.5 billion is A LOT of money. A lot! And to think that we all helped the guy amass so much fortune. Now, Forbes is rating him as the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. Now, Microsoft is buying into his business, and a couple of other conglomerates are dangling a couple of more billions in his face, begging him to sell his baby. But, next time you think of these kind of figures (try finding out how much the guys at Google are worth now, or how much the owners of Youtube sold…), no need to fret. You’re helping others make money. You’re getting value in return. And then, you also have an opportunity to CREATE your own idea, see it to fruition and turn us all into your muguns. We won’t mind, trust me. For as long as you give us VALUE.
In my opinion, it’s better to be a mugun to David Filo and Jerry Yang (the founders of Yahoo!) or to Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google). Imagine a world without Yahoo!; a world without Google. Truth is, we’re all muguns. I’ve thought about this carefully. All of us – that’s what we are – MUGUNS! But let me console you: one man’s mugun is another man’s Zuckerberg. So while there’s nothing we can do about we all being muguns, we can at least ensure that we develop and nurture the Zuckerberg in us.
So it was, that as a bonafide mugun on facebook, I logged in on Tuesday morning to discover the angst of another friend of mine, Ayo Shonaiya. Shonaiya, a filmmaker, talent scout and promoter, enjoys the best of three worlds – shuttling between Lagos, London and Atlanta. On a post titled ‘Tool or Toy: the 35mm craze, Shonaiya poured out his soul, lamenting bitterly about the sudden craze by Nigerian acts for celluloid. ‘I am sick and tired, not to talk of embarrassed, by the new craze in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Yes folks, never thought I’ll see the day when shooting on 35mm IS the main focus in a film or music video. Only in Nigeria!’, writes an embittered Shonaiya. He goes on: ‘I swear, 35mm is the new Hummer Jeep, everybody wants one! As it happens, the effizy kings of Nigeria, Kenny and D1, who tuned Nigerians in to the Hummer Jeep craze were the first cats to hype music videos on the cost and also claiming to have painted a whole aircraft in Kennis Music colours for Eddie Montana’s video. Where is Eddie now? I think I better leave that one.
Just like most things Nigerian in the entertainment world, we tend to make a lot of noise about unnecessary features; so and so artiste’s wardrobe was imported from Germany, hey, but he’s singing crap but who cares, I say his jacket was specially flown in by Gunther Jacketmaker himself!
Shooting on 35mm is good if you can afford it, or know how to use it for that matter, it does not however make your video the best or anything special if your concept is not tight. If you can afford to shoot 35mm and produce a good video, the good video part is what we should applaud, not the fact that it was shot on film, or it cost so and so amount to make, or it was taken to Los Angeles to edit, you can edit as good an hour away in Ghana.’
For someone who is not known to be so radically vocal, a lot of us have been shocked and surprised at Shonaiya’s outburst. But did he make any sense? Absolutely! He hit the nail on the head; doing at the same time, the job of a seasoned filmmaker (to guide), the job of a journalist (to inform and educate) and the job of a critic (to critique). And if we keep sentiments or pride aside, it’ll be easy to see that the dude only wants the best for our emerging industry.
Let me give you a bit more of his venom: ‘A little Film 101 for all the 35mm “wannashoots” out there, It’s all about the LENS and LIGHTING! You can get crisp pictures with a good HD body and some cool Canon lens for a quarter of the cost of shooting and developing 35mm, unless the South African guys are giving you rock bottom bargains (which I doubt, they know you don’t know). 35mm is industry standard for film set for theatrical release (the big screen), music videos are often set for television (the small screen). If you want to shoot on film, you can shoot on 16mm or even 8mm if you want to really rough it. Your fans don’t really know the difference between video and 35mm, all they want to see is YOU, the artiste, because they love you, they want to see you dance, sing, rap, show off your 12-packs (note to P Square) and so on, please stop insulting their intelligence by telling them what you shot the video with or how much it cost, even though it’s true, let us enjoy you and your art.’
The argument is still on-going. For and against. Many are lending their voices to the discourse. And a lot of artistes who hitherto knew next-to-nothing about the difference between HD or DV or celluloid are joining in. in her comment, Lara George, a gospel singer says : ‘Brother, I bless God for u and this write-up. Thanks for making some sense. Please send this page out to everyone because I only stumbled on it by chance. We all need to wake up some!’ in Qudus Onikeku’s words : These are the sort of effort we need, let people understand that the art is not for business men and vulgar opportunists who call themselves pro-whatever… promoters or producers.’
And Bayo Omisore, the editor Of Soundcity Blast writes: ‘I was speaking with my good friend Clarence P who is one of the biggest directors in Nigeria about this whole phenomenon yesterday. He insists that they will all come back when they realise the folly in shooting on film. I spoke with Olu maintain just last week and it was about the same thing. The problem most Nigerian artistes (all, in fact, save three or four of them) have is that they do not in fact know anything about the business in which they are, and would not bother to arm themselves. They lack education. You know what Fela said, ‘follow-follow’. That’s the Nigerian way. One day perhaps…’
The responses are numerous and all so convincing that I’ve had to add my voice. My verdict? We’re paying too much (unnecessary) attention to the COST of videos; too much attention to the glamorous lifestyles (cars, houses, designer accessories etc) at the expense of CREATIVITY and ORIGINALITY. If only homeboys will spend half the amount of funds, attention, time and energy spent on videos and cars, on songwriters, beatmakers and producers. If only people like Ayo Shonaiya will voice out more often.
But that’s not my point. See the kind of creative-constructive discourse even muguns can chart? Thank you Zuckerberg. Thank you Facebook!