Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pacesetting: CCDP Transforming ‘Nupewood’

It was sincerely meant to be a faction from the northern film industry widely known as Kannywood because the movies produced in the north are predominantly in a local Hausa dialect, making the industry one of the largest in sub Saharan Africa. It blossomed to trigger the invention and reinvention of other ethnic group debuts with ‘wood’ as the tag to show affiliation.

Kannywood is purely Hausa speaking, depicting the culture of the people and loved by other Hausa speaking countries like, Niger, Ghana and Chad.

One of the tags that came out of Kannywood is ‘Nupewood.’ While the former is in the forefront producing home videos in Hausa language, the latter is producing in Nupe language. The Nupe film industry dates back to the year 2005 with the production of a tragic comedy titled, Teacher Yekondunu, by Mazariyya films. The hit movie became the floodgate of Nupe movies that is widely distributed in Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos, Kaduna, and Kano states and even outside Nigeria.

The tonic of these productions is the music genre. Unlike Bollywood and Kannywood that music and film are fused as one, ‘Nupewood’ has both as independent of each other. This was made manifest during the 2011 presidential campaigns of the PDP.

Another eye-catching side to this phenomenon is the music of Clean Videos Production, Nanvo Yizheci, by Abubakar N. Kutigi. His has the verve and sonority of a masculine vocalist garnished with profound lyrics of traditional oratory. Abubakar’s campaign songs attracted a lot of attention and provided useful catch points in the minds of the high and mighty.

These impacts metamorphosed into the call for capacity building by Hon. Mohammed Sani Kutigi few months after the elections. According to him, raw talents should be harnessed and projected. Hon. Sani believes that quality knowledge of a vocation entrenches self worth, material independence and productivity for an egalitarian society.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, one of the beneficiaries, Sadisu Mohamed shed more light on the mode of selection by the sponsor of Constituency Capacity Development Programme (CCDP). He said, “Hon. Sani Muhammad Kutigi barely knows any of us. He made no fuss of his intention up to the time we departed Nigeria. Only Abubakar N. Kutigi had met him before our departure.

“Until now, we knew nothing of the hassles of our trip. Everything was done for us. This is a rare disposition in Nigeria. First of its kind and can hardly be copied.”

Also speaking on their first experience at the institute, Abubakar N. Kutigi, said they were received on arrival by the Director and CEO of International Animation and Media Academy (IAM), Aaron Ong. “It was really fun. Our plane touched down at the Kuala Lumpur Airport at 6pm (Malaysian Time), Mr. Ong drove us straight to the beautiful KL Central area of Malaysia’s capital.

As we moved into a lift to the 8th floor of a fifteen-storey building that housed our apartment, our anxiety grew as my eyes locked with Abubakar’s and swiftly moved to the already fixed ones of Adamu. We entered our apartment with our hearts in our mouths. The place is heaven on earth. Completely a home for leisure with pleasurably stationed gadgets for home study and research. Our host took us out for dinner…. The rest is history.” He said.

What is new? At the IAM, the three CCDP beneficiaries were cut in by their well determined and high spirit to explore and satisfy their curiosities. Teacher Yekondunu said, “In less than an hour, we were taken around the spacious and architecturally marvelous academy. There was an assemblage of state of the art equipments as well as a multitude of ready experts. Introductions were made quite briefly.

“There was also a hot encounter. An impromptu class-test on digital imaging and film making! The aim was to assess our previous knowledge on film-making. In the end, Abubakar N. Kutigi topped in digital imaging while I took the lead in digital film-making. Adamu was pegged at infantry level requiring thorough drilling in the nitty-gritty of film-making.’’

What was the shocker a? This question was swiftly answered by Kutigi, saying, a special class was organized for them by the IAM boss himself, “A multi-media class to x-ray to us the dynamics of movie making. Aaron shocked us when he announced that samples of our movies he had watched lack the entire ingredients of a real movie. From script to production; camera techniques to post production, we watched and listened breathlessly to the animation and 3D guru of international repute Aaron Ong as he took us through the steps of high-class movie-making with ease.”

The three Nupe youths created a niche for themselves at the IAM ahead of many foreigners and students in their class. They were commended by all. Abubakar N. Kutigi’s mastery in Fruity Loops and Sonar Software’s in composing music thrilled all.

The two-hour contact with Aaron, according to them has remained the most memorable since their arrival. “Mr. Ong once said to us, ‘I will customize your programme based on your previous knowledge” said Mohammed.

Their success story? The three wonderful Nupewood ambassadors have been exposed to the world of movie realism with copious examples from works carried out by IAM Academy. It will be recalled that Hollywood’s The Kingmaker had all its special effects and animation designs done in IAM Academy. The movie became a guide and reference for our lectures. Emphasis was place on the pattern through which most of the effects were achieved.

“It is worthy of note to state that lectures are both theories and practical on same equilibrium,” noted Adamu Baba Abdullahi.

Adding that they have so far shot a number of scenes as test exercises like the one we titled The Loop, a 5-minute non-dialogue movie of magical realism that starred all the students as cast while he did the shoot.

“The art of doing a story-board for movie before going into production is where we are now. It is such a wide field that appears to be the secret of most Hollywood blockbusters,” said Abdullahi.

What next? How time flies! The eager-beavers have already spent a month out of their 90 days stay at the IAM. Their classes were meant to last for a month. The second month shall be individual application of knowledge acquired so far via practical. A short film, documentary and a musical video are the projects before them now.

What would be the final package?

The boost this training will give the emerging Nupewood may be unquantifiable. No doubt, arbitrariness will be a thing of the past. The knowledge shall not be monopolised. They shall impart on other budding practitioners to heighten professionalism, by implication, their movies will wear new looks of exceptional quality and patronage will consequently swell. Youthful exuberance and restiveness will decline and the society will be better for it. Nigerian motion picture industry is surely on the forefront to the climax. Only time will tell.
Published in my LEADERSHIP WEEKEND Column, December 3, 2011.