Ramsey Tokunbo Nouah is one of the frontliners and pioneers of the Nigeria movie industry called Nollywood. With over 500 movies to his credit, the word veteran rightly describes the position he occupies in Nollywood. Speaking on the sidelines of the unveilling of the Africa Cinematography Festival Ambassadors, the award winning thespian, in this interview with Happenings Magazine Assistant Editor Eniola Awokoya, talks about his perception of the concept of the old and new Nollywood. Enjoy.
What impact do you think the Africa Cinematography Festival is going to have on Nollywood and African movies generally?
The impact I see and I keep talking about is broadening our cinematography horizon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if we don’t know but there are few who know and now we are trying to make more people learn the processes of proper film making.
Critics of nollywood have said that costuming and picture quality have improved but the storylines in most Nollywood movies still lack depth and are watery. What is your take on that?
I will like to analyse this, from the understanding that there is a disconnect between the technical works, technical outlooks and performance between the actors and the subjects. There is a bit of disconnect and right now, we have good camera works, flashy lights but there is no connection between the cameras and the actor, because the camera is also an actor.
However, because we just show all the flamboyance and beauty of what the camera looks like, we are forgetting that the camera also needs to tell the story like the actor, the depth of the camera needs to connect with the actor.
It’s not just about showing that I’m a fine boy and that’s it, just fine and no depth, and that is what is happening in the technical world now. It’s beautiful but it has no depth because it has not tapped into the depth of the storytelling. That is what is happening.
How does this your submission affect storytelling because it is always most often the same story but different actors?
Stories are pretty saturated but it’s the way it is being told that matters. Even in Hollywood you see the same stories over and over again but the way its told is different, they captivate the audience with the way they tell the story.
It is important that producers make the stories feel brand new continuously, and ensure they do not disconnect the camera from the actors just to show that they have fine shots and fine everything.
Not knowing how the camera should perform in a story is also always a problem. Stories are being recycled every other day but once you have that together and the story is well told, you will still enjoy it.
Africa is made up of people with several languages, how do you think a conference of this nature can deliver its promises across its several audiences, language wise?
In film making, there are no barriers. You want to tell a story, language shouldn’t stop you from telling that story. If you’re a good film maker, whether you tell your story in Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or in Ghanaian or Kenyan language, any of the languages, what matters is the messages you pass across to your audience in a language that most appeals to them.
Nollywood has definitely come of age. How would you compare the old and the new?
I am not in accordance with the old and new Nollywood, because as far as I am concerned, it is still the same Nollywood.
The only difference now, is that it is capital intensive to produce cinema standard movies these days. Hence it takes some weeks, months to get such movies done and this means that you cannot be having as many movies as before.
This is unlike previous time when it took us just a week or two weeks maximum to finish a full film that just goes straight to DVD.
Then also, you had constant scripts waiting for you but right now because DVD market is being pirated and nobody can get anything from it, film makers are now trying to do cinemas and because of that, the concept of new Nollywood and old Nollywood became prominent which is a no.
They are all the same, the old gave birth to the new and cinema is an alternative market, internet is an alternative market compared to what we had then.
And when you have an alternative market, it doesn’t mean that the industry should change or have a new name because it got better. The truth is that we are growing, this a growing period, the beginning of Nollywood was good, somewhere along the line there was a nosedive and then we recoup and came back together and everyone is thinking there is a new Nollywood, I think it’s still the same thing.
Ramsey Nouah is mostly known as an actor. Do you have plans to diversify into production?
O yes! There’s a couple of things that we are working on as Ramsey Films. We have a project that we would be starting in 2018 so my fans should watch out.