By Anote Ajeluorou
The excitement in their voices was palpable as they gushed about what they had learnt from Hollywood award-winning scriptwriter of Pride, Michael Gozzard. From still photographer, Charles Okolo, Josephine Jinuje, actor, Steve Ogunleye and writer and producer, Amaka Aniodi a new approach to scriptwriting had been wrought in them in the weeklong iREPRESENT International Documentary and Film Forum workshop on Story Telling, Scripting and Content Management.
The workshop was in collaboration with the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the United States Consulate, Lagos.
And, as the curtain fell on the weeklong workshop, and participants were getting ready to shoot a short film as example of what they had been taught, they took out time to have a brief telephone conversation on how the workshop had succeeded in achieving for them.
Indeed, what they had been doing would appear like a fumbling in the dark while the real light was somewhere out there. Now, light had finally come and they had been shown the way to writing a successful film script. For them also, Nollywood will never be the same. And for all the Hollywood system of scriptwriting they had learnt, they had paid nothing.
For Okolo, the workshop was a great one and an opportunity of a lifetime. He said it was fulfilling, revealing and definitely worth the while. He said, “Nothing can be more than this, for somebody to come from America’s Hollywood. It’s simply great. The workshop enabled us to network. It means for us to begin to do better movies in Nollywood”.
Jinuje could barely contain her joy at being a part of the workshop, which she described as awesome. “It’s been a great experience. She enthused, “No amount of money could have done this for me. I’m not a filmmaker, but I plan on teaching other people what awesome things I have learnt about making movies so that they too can write better scripts for movies”.
National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) member, Ogunleye also found the value of the workshop unquantifiable in monetary terms just as they had got it for free. He stated, “It’s a wonderful thing what this workshop has done for us. I’m a member of NANTAP; this is something you can quantify. We all know that storytelling is the bane of Nollywood. That is why this wonderful, experienced scriptwriter, Gozzard, came here to teach us.
“His teaching is wonderful. We’ve all benefitted from him. How to turn our stories into better films is the challenge of Nollywood. Now, I’m sure we know the techniques, and we can write Oscar-winning scripts. What we lack in Nollywood is the technique, the artistry and the craft of writing scripts. In fact, it’s been a wonderful experience. Kudos to iREP and PAS. The workshop will go a long way to set our writers in the right direction and to help them make better movies”.
On what he felt about the absence of those who currently write Nollywood scripts, Ogunleye could only express regret at the unfortunate development. “It’s an unfortunate thing, a very sad thing, indeed,” he said. “In every workshop they are invited, Nollywood practitioners always ask to be paid. Money is not everything. What you can gain from this kind of workshop can’t be bought with money. I’m not happy saying it but I have to say it anyway. This attitude has to change.
“If we can apply the procedures we’ve learnt into story telling, there is nothing greater than it. My joy is that the budding writers that attended the workshop and got taught the terrific Hollywood system will go on to change the face of Nollywood, and influence its direction”.
Also for Aniodi, the workshop was awesome, an experience out of this world. She gushed, “We got to being taught how it’s done out there in Hollywood. And the class was quite interactive and we practicalised everything. We got to hear coach Gozzard himself teach us. It was really fantastic. Gozzard’s a wonderful guy. I say kudos to iREP and PAS.
“I’m so excited. Now, I’ll go back and work on what I’ve been doing before and make them better. We’ve been deconstructed and reconstructed. You get to know what real professionalism is. Now, I’ll go and do well what I used to do. It will enhance me and my job”.