The Nollywood Upgrade Project (Nollywood UP) was officially launched in September 2012 by Nollywood Workshops in partnership with the Lagos State Government. The initiative will support the Nigerian Film Industry to withstand challenges presented by digital piracy. Nollywood UP will spark sustainable growth in the Nigerian film industry through training, capacity building and innovation in film financing and distribution. Ultimately, Nollywood UP serves to legitimize Nollywood as a compelling space for investment and collaboration, and as a model for emerging creative industries worldwide.
Nollywood Workshops, a non-profit organization comprised of a global team of filmmakers, has been collaborating on film productions and trainings in Nollywood since 2005. NW Director Aimee Corrigan says “When we discovered the Living Labs Global Award for Lagos, we were so encouraged. It meant that the Lagos State Government cared about solving the problem we were passionate about – tackling piracy - and that we could share our solution with the people who could actually scale it. To engage with the government on this issue would offer us an incredible opportunity to make a big impact in Nollywood. Living Labs Global made it all possible.”
Nollywood Workshops was shortlisted for the Living Labs Global Award in May 2011, and the team was invited to visit the Lagos State Government to present a proposal in January 2012. During that trip, Nollywood Workshops Directors Aimee Corrigan and Bond Emeruwa met with local stakeholders including filmmakers, distributors, private sector partners, academics and government officials. Together they generated a proposal, and the Nollywood Upgrade Project was born. The team was invited to Lagos again in May to present the proposal to His Excellency Governor Fashola and the Executive Council. Present at the meeting to endorse the Nollywood Up proposal were prolific Nigerian filmmakers Tunde Kelani and Kunle Afolayon.
In June 2012, the Lagos State Government officially awarded a contract to Nollywood Workshops and the project launched in September 2012. Throughout the proposal process, Living Labs Global was instrumental in the collaboration, providing guidance and support at every step.
The Nollywood Upgrade Project is comprised of three phases:
Phase 1. Building capacity through training and community movie theater development, Phase 2. Cultivating opportunities for innovation in film financing and distribution and Phase 3. Helping to legitimize the Nollywood industry as a space for investment, sponsorship and collaboration.
According to Moji Rhodes, Deputy Chief of Staff, Lagos State Government, “Our intention is to help the Nigerian film industry continue to thrive, despite the challenges of digital piracy. In collaboration with Nollywood Workshops and a diverse team of filmmakers, academics, and local stakeholders, the Nollywood Upgrade Project will ensure that the Nigerian film industry remains a global leader in entertainment.”
Ultimately, if we are successful, revenues will rise in Nollywood to withstand the impact of digital piracy - and Nollywood will remain a global example for high quality independent filmmaking. Bond Emeruwa, Award-Winning Filmmaker and Director of the Coalition of Nollywood Guilds and Associations (CONGA) says “This is the most promising intervention Nollywood has seen to date.” Nollywood UP!