Achieving success in the movie industry may seem like a herculean task sometimes. To truly distinguish yourself, you need more than a modicum of talent and large social media following as the award winning filmmaker Kunle Afolayan outlines here:
- Your product must be the foundation:
Your product, which is the film, has to be the foundation. In making that product there are things you have to pay attention to – one of these is the story. You have to be able to tell a story that will appeal to people – a story that people will understand and see a reflection of themselves in it.
- You have to understand your market:
Who are you making this film for? Your target audience is critical.
- Build a brand around you:
Some people believe a lot in star power – that is using a known face in their films. That works in a lot of cases. However, if you build a brand around yourself, whether as an actor or filmmaker, then you can use your name solely to always push the brand, regardless of who is in it.
- You need to understand the distribution framework:
You need to understand the distribution framework that is available to you. You cannot make a low quality film and take it to the cinema or explore platforms like Netflix and Africa Magic, etc.
- You need to understand the business:
When raising a budget for the film, you have to find a way to commercialize especially when it is not a free funding; no grant of any sort and the money has to be recouped. I take loans from banks when I am shooting. I have to always find a way to get return on investment and pay the money back. So understanding the business aspect of filmmaking is also critical.
What about Film School?
Kunle Afolayan: There are two kinds of film school: the formal and the informal film school. It is so essential to go to film school. A film school could be learning on the job, or a film school could be a place where you get training and a certificate. I went to the New York Film Academy, where I got training and a certificate. For me that was where you learn the basics. For you to learn the proper art of filmmaking, it has to be on the job. You have to understand the terrain where you operate. In Europe or America, when you go to film school, you do an apprenticeship after graduation. They can do that for 5 years before earning money. But in Nigeria it is different; anybody who has an opportunity of being on a movie set for one year would just leave to become a producer.
Critical factor for his success?
Kunle Afolayan: I would say being able to balance art and commerce. That means seeing art as a business. From when I started I knew where I wanted to go without being distracted. When I set out to do this, I said I was going to build a brand around myself and my brand will push the other products.
Kunle Afolayan is set to release his new movie The CEO on July 15.