Lessons from a Movie Set

Many of us love to hate our Nollywood movies and would rather be caught dead than at the cinemas watching one. We thumb our noses at them and ne’er a good word for it even if we do. On the other hand, a few of us champion them and can reel off the names of not only actors but some directors too. Whatever category you belong, it is old news to say that Nigerian movies are here to stay but more importantly they have become a force to be reckoned with.

My first lesson before I left the urban sprawl of Lagos, was that the devil is in the details. The nitty gritty of making the story come to life is in drilling down and taking note of them. The equipment, location, scenery, costume, camera, lens, weather, the particular dialect in an area, the background of the characters etc counts. In breaking down a script scene by scene, these are brought to light and if there’s any conflict, it’s noted and must be resolved.

The lengthy pre-production meetings were mind numbing because these details were discussed, aired, flogged and rehashed again and again until a satisfactory resolution was reached. I became intimately familiar with the script and at that time I would have been able to quote many scenes verbatim.

Attention to the most intricate detail must be taken into cognisance in every single aspect of producing the film. I kid you not when I say there’s nothing, absolutely nothing like TMI when referring to making a film. At times I could not absorb any more and became dulled with capturing them, despite the pen and paper I always had at hand.

This is one of the most important aspects of film making…every little thing matters. For instance check out some home grown productions where the hair style of an actor or the costume of a character is not consistent between scenes it’s not only annoying but begs the question as to why it was released to the viewing public with such glaring errors in the first place.

Yes, details are part of the life’s blood of a movie production and getting it right one of the most critical success factors. Every person that works on a set is saddled with this task in one form or the other and is a mantra to which they must adhere. It takes some getting used to I confess and the insane environment in which these people work does not make it easy! I’m used to details, or so I thought but in this context the fine points and all it entails was on steroids to the power ten thousand.

Working in this topsy turvy environment was an out-of-body-experience like I’ve already confessed. Howbeit, the fixation on getting those specifics right is a cogent lesson I’ve taken away from the magic world of make belief. So what did you learn at work today?

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