In Nollywood, it is always a happily ever after story. The girl will always get the guy. The filmmakers judge the bad guy in their narration of a story, while also predicting the audience reaction and creating stories to suit this expectation. The beloved character always survives. We are too conscious of our audience expectation and this usually defines how we tell stories. I’ve realized that this affects the stories we tell.
Our foreign counterparts create characters without judgement, and without allowing audience emotion dictate the future of the character. Just ask any “Game of Thrones” fan of how the show has played with their emotions but they viewers continue to increase per season. There is also “The Walking Dead” or even “How to get away with Murder”, characters in these shows die to the shock of many, but that is the beauty of make- believe. Did you see how “Scandal” killed a major character? Twitter will mourn but we will continue to watch these series. It is easier to enjoy a show if we cannot predict it.
In Nollywood, we create characters that are predictable and that takes away from the experience of enjoying the art that we create.
We need to learn to flip events, do the forbidden, and create more aggressive stories that are heartbreaking.
So how do we learn from the death of major characters in foreign productions?
See what we need to do;
Life is not always a fairy-tale and we must learn that: We like to think of life as a fairy-tale, but the truth is, it is not always so. Life can be mean and if you feed too much on Disney films, you might just be living in a bubble, when it cracks it might be too much to bear. We need to be truthful with our stories. It is okay to show the world that life is not always a fairy-tale. The good guy is not always happy. The bad guy could live a very happy life despite all the evil he brings The hardworking person might not live the life of their dreams. We need to normalize stories that reflect our society and also shape what we want our society to be.
People die and that is okay: Why are we so scared of killing our main characters? Why must they live and make merry? Why is it so hard to kill them off and give the audience something different. Have you seen The Lion King, it is not just any animated film, it teaches a lesson on death and how we should learn to accept it. For a movie targeted at kids, it was a bold move to create death as part of life. Death is part of life and more of the films and series that we create must learn to adapt this.
Love does not always win: We all love Titanic, don’t we? In such a happy-mushy love story Jack still dies. Why does every couple get married and enjoy years of uninterrupted happiness in Nollywood? What happens in the midst of these marriage and happiness. There are many dimensions to explore.
Be conscious of the audience while creating your art, but do not always give what they expect: In Nollywood, the audience always comes first. The eagerness to make back the money spent on a film rules and it is why we are so conscious of not killing our main characters. They live; they never die, because we are scared of upsetting the audience. I will love to watch more challenging films. Where the lovers do not always win. Where the beloved character is killed. If Ojukokoro was successful, then we can make successful tragedies and our audience will live through them.
These are our suggestions to show creators in Nigeria. The unpredictability in shows make it more thrilling.
Do you have any suggestions to make on how we can create better shows that are not predictable? Let’s talk about it!