Scriptwriters in Nigeria should be accorded their due honour – Dominic Ajayi
BY CHRIS ONUOHA
Dominic Ajayi is a film maker, script writer, translator, Sub-titlist and actor. He works with April TV, an online TV and producers of Yoruba program, “Gbajumo Show”. He has also worked with notable film producers in Nigeria. In this chat with Vanguard during the just concluded Nigeria Creative Summit in Lagos, Dominic expressed his views about the film industry in the country, the challenges and way forward. Enjoy him:
When and how did you start scriptwriting?
Often, most people go to school to learn about writing scripts for films, but for me it is a passion I developed from time, based on talent. Scriptwriting, I would say, started right from my secondary school days when I participated in writing poems and articles that won award in competitions. I studied philosophy at All Saints Major Seminary, Ekpoma, Edo State, a catholic institute affiliated to the University of Benin. I was also writing poems and contributing articles to the school magazine.
After graduation I began to put my thoughts together to toe a line of career where my passion was strong. I then went online, did some research on articles and scriptwriting for movies. Thereafter, I wrote my first movie script which I took to Alaba market for production but was met with less encouragement from the producers there. I went back to Ibadan where I based and was introduced to Ayo Banjo, producer of ‘Olaniyan films’. He also introduced me to some other filmmakers like Fani Tijani and Dele Gbadebo who showed me how to navigate in the industry.
I have subtitled 3 home movies to my credit. I have also written 12 scripts for Nollywood alongside 7 future-specs films for Hollywood. Some are in Amazon while some are with Film One House production, Lagos. Future spec is a term used by filmmakers to describe non-commissioned scripts that will be used or sell in future. The films are based on your own idea and remain your right. I have also produced about 15 series for ‘Gbajumo Show” and have worked with Rukky Sanders, Adebayo Salami and others. Presently I am writing a Yoruba film subtitled ‘Esentaye’ owned by Otunba Adebayo Salami, a movie that speaks about destiny and one’s luck in life. I also have a comedy series that is not yet produced.
Challenges in the industry
A script writer is the maker of a film because he put his intellectual ability into script with his pictorial sense of arrangements into work to create content. Take for instance, if Amazon is paying a film maker a total sum of $610,000 for a particular film, and the movie alone is able to generate $85 million in box office, that alone can never be compared to intellectual capability of a script writer. As a scriptwriter, you are a creator. What you write determines how the film actually looks at the end of the day. Although, with a director’s discretion, the film may take another line, but a director will not have anything to work on if the film does not have a script. In Nigeria, everyone can tell story, but not everyone is a scriptwriter. A scriptwriter has in his capability a talent of a storyteller and writer. That is the major difference between both. I would rather say scriptwriters in Nigeria should be accorded their due respect and honour.
How do you see the film industry in Nigeria today?
In Nigeria the industry is growing, although you may not rank Hollywood and Nollywood together. They are on different pedestals. With my experience so far, I give credit to Nollywood, looking at the crop of internationally recognised films they have produced. Nollywood has its own right, standard and achievements. I was opportune to be at the Creative Summit where I listened to an Indian Bollywood director who talked about his own experience of film making and it was fantastic to listen to him and how films are produced in India. If Nollywood can, at that level, produce a movie that has film, music and book as a single project, then we know we are improving. For the actors, they are equally good. What I see in Nollywood today is that your craft must be up to standard to be approved for production which depicts the level of standard the industry has raised.
What are your goals?
My goals are actually moving to Hollywood from Nollywood. I have a trust with Hollywood for now because some of my scripts are being reviewed by Amazon, all meant for Hollywood. I have a deal with the CEO of Water Stone Entertainment, the producers of ‘Bodyguard’.
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