PREPARE YOUR OWN NOLLYWOOD BUDGET by Niyi Akinmolayan


Hey guys…today, we look at Nollywood budgets! I will be sharing ideas on basic setups to help minimize cost, a breakdown of different sections of a budget and some smart things to do while costing stuff. You will be able to download a sample template that you can tweak for your purpose. Note that the figures in the budgets are based on costs as at the time of this write-up. 

Hopefully, as Nollywood gets better and bigger, these costs, especially for crew and cast will change for the better. Quick one!. I have added a “subscribe” button to the blog. its on the top menu. Click on it and send your email address to join my mailing list and always get the latest blog post. You won’t have to miss a thing! If you are reading from a phone, the subscribe button should be on the top right dropdown menu.

Oya…enough talk…lets fight…kichaooooo!!!

First, some Things to get us started

STUDIO FILMS VS INDIE FILMS 
Oya drop that your oyinbo film book for now and come back home. Every nollywood film is an independent film. This means they are largely self-financed with money from personal savings, Family, friends and probably stolen from your local co-operative society (na joke o). We don’t have the standard hollywood studio system here for now. I know some initiatives are beginning to think in that direction but for now, omo you must go and look for that money yourself. This then makes the next issue a bit confusing.

HIGH BUDGET AND LOW BUDGET NOLLYWOOD
I have decided to put this into subsets based on experience and findings. There are four types of nollywood budgets; a.Very Low Budget, b. Low Budget, c. High Budget d.very High Budget. Let’s break them down.
The Champion is a very low budget film.

VERY LOW BUDGET 
Generally, these budgets fall within 2-3million naira. They are the films mostly called Asaba; which should never be used derogatorily. Films made solely for DVDs and VCDs will fall under this category. They are also likely to make it to some streaming websites like irokoTV or a cable TV like African Magic Igbo or AFMAG yoruba for a small price. What they lack in production value, they compensate for in excessive melodrama and comedy which people love. Most of the marketing is via posters

Clueless is a low budget film. loved on IrokoTV

LOW BUDGET 
These will fall within 4-6million. Usually they would never exceed 5million except the producer wants to spend a little on marketing and publicity. These films target Web streaming platforms and Cable channels mostly. They would usually try to make good looking family dramas or comedy that can earn some good money on those platforms. They are able to use at least one Popular face amongst other upcoming ones. They would most likely sell DVDs too. Now some of the movie producers with this budget will also try for cinema, but except they have a very compelling film or some relationship with the distributors, they won’t get good times and can only hope to be sleeper hits (a sleeper hit is a film that’s sells a lot over time with very little publicity). I don’t recommend cinema for this kind of budget though. I’ll explain later. Out of Luck is a high budget film Out of Luck is a high budget film

Out of Luck is a high budget film

HIGH BUDGET 
This usually will range from 7-15million. 90% of all the films in Nigerian cinema were made at this budget range. Yes..You heard me…including all my films and the films you’ve all enjoyed in cinemas. For now, this is the Cinema safe zone for optimal profitability. If i was doing 7m, I’d probably be smart with 6m, use a star with 1-2 known faces and use 1m for marketing. If I had 15m, I would use about 12m for the production, use 2-3 stars, some fancy rigs, 4-5 other known faces, some cheats with location and extras and use 3m for marketing. These films can get good cinema time slots and if the marketing is on point coupled with a good story, can last up to 4 weeks in cinema. Some have even managed to cross 6weeks. After the cinema run, the producer can bargain for good deals with cable TV stations and web platforms, even NETFLIX!. The films can also make it to festivals abroad because most festivals would consider them art-house type films. If you want to make your first nollywood cinema film, fall within the range and you will be safe, except you do a terrible job or your people from the village are on your case. ’76 is a very high budget movie. $2m

’76 is a very high budget movie. $2m

VERY HIGH BUDGET 
This is the realm of the big boys. Any film above 30million in my opinion is a very high budget nollywood film. It’s very risky but if done right, can be very profitable. These films would usually have high production values, A-list cast, maybe even some international cast and crew members, multi-platform marketing and publicity and even international premieres. It’s exciting to know that some films coming out this year fall within this range. While I cannot say for sure if they will make profit, they are gradually improving nollywood’s image home and abroad. We need more films with very high budgets. una we get bastard money…epp us…abeg…we will make u proud 🙂

Always remember though, that even with all these, Film and art generally is unpredictable, a very low budget film sometimes will outsell a very high budget film but stop thinking like that. It’s not a smart way to think. Plan properly and you will be fine. Also, not all films are meant for cinemas. It’s not helping nollywood. If your story and premise doesn’t have a scale that fits a big screen, biko, don’t put it there. You will just be letting all these small children abuse us. please na…e joo…nitori anobi. For the sake of this post, we will look at Low and High budget films.


a nollywood Low budget film setup

A SAMPLE LOW BUDGET PLAN: Please download the attached word document BUDGET FOR – Ogbonge small movie You can re-edit in MsEXCEL to access the Sum function if you sabi that thing. Basically, you would divide your budget into Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. Let us look at key parts of this budget.
* You can do all the location recce yourself and save cost. ** most low budget films have writer/producer credits. ***Don’t do open auditions for a low budget film. thats stress. its better you get actors by recommendation or from watching other films. and you can do your close auditions in your house or office.
*I recommend 4 Lenses to go with your camera: a 24mm or 35mm for wides, 50mm for mediums and 85mm for closeUps. in a two cam setup, You will roll the wide (24 or 35mm) and medium (50mm) at once then re-block for Over The Shoulder (OS) shots or CUs with the two 85mms. ** the camera and lenses will usually come together. same as for sound which in this case will include 3-4 lapel mics, 1 boom mic, 1 digital recorder and one audio mixer. ***LED light are more cost effective now than KINOS and they don’t flicker and they use batteries. ****Always put your star in a separate, moderately bigger hotel. It helps their ego…lol. *****Your data wrangler should work with the continuity guy and you should check footages every night. ******You can cut down location costs by using family and friends. don’t be rowdy and always pay something…even if its to buy fuel for their generator or cookies for their kids.
*Don’t Touch your post money. **Have at least Two hard drives, One for the edit. and one to keep. Village witches are real o. *** Always try look for a good song in your movie. It will make it look expensive. Get a music producer to create a song for you.


a nollywood Highbudget film setup

NOW, LETS DO HIGH BUDGET: Please download the attached word document BUDGET FOR – Ogbonge big movie You can re-edit in MsEXCEL to access the Sum function if you sabi that thing. Basically, you would divide your budget into Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. Let us look at key parts of this budget.
*You have some money now. Hire a good location guy and a good writer. You will get a good award winning script for this amount. You should be willing to spend even more. **You can find an open space or studio to do your auditions. Also make sure you have a cast and crew meeting ahead of the shoot. very important.
*You should add an addition lens to go with the one above. maybe an 11-24mm if you want some really wide shots or a 70-300mm for some delicious close ups. depending on style, you might want to get some macro lenses too. **You will need more lights and i recommend HMIs. Very good for fighting the sun and cool night exteriors. Your Gaffer should be able to arrange a deal specifically for days you need the HMIs. They are expensive so don’t keep them when you don’t need them.***For Cinema, Camera style is very important as using it well can add scale. combine steadicam, dollies and cranes to create some good cinematography. the audience will love it. spend that money baby! ****Hire a professional AD this time around. You will need it.
same as above. don’t touch it!

SOME SMART POINTERS TO CUT COST – Be smart with your story. The real difference between cinema and small screen is the world in which the story is told. For instance, James Cameron’s Titanic is the basic nollywood story. Rich family don’t want their girl marrying a poor boy but love prevails.

We tell that story all the time but tell that story on a sinking 882feet long Ship and you have Oscar winning Cinema. If you are doing low budget, give us a story to die for. Even if everything happens in one room, people will love it.


  • – Hire an Ijebu Production Manager…lol…ok so what i mean is, you really want a production manager that is very thrifty and smart. He should be very proactive and know where to be smart with cost. For low budget films, crew members can share hotel rooms. You can also be smart as a producer and make your home comfortable for some key crew. I didn’t stay in a hotel while doing make a move, the producer’s cousin had a fine house with Playstation 4 and a kitchen. With games and jollof rice, who needs hotels. 
  • – Avoid using Family members – This is very important. I know people want to save cost on this but as a matter of principle; I never hire someone i know i can’t fire. So stop using your immediate family members or that chic you had an affair with and left her for her hotter friend as crew members o. She might be an evil edo girl o. hmmm. It’s a serious job and someone’s money is on the line. Even if you want to use family member, do not use them for key roles 
  • – Plan all your Locations around a region. Nothing delays a shoot as much as moving from one location to another. Plan smart. Look for locations close to each other and find a hotel close by too. – Use at least one star. Don’t believe all that “ it’s only the story that matters” orisirisi talk o…na lie. irokoTV will offer you crumbs if they don’t see a known face. Cinema distributors too, the same. So you ask, how do new people now enter. Remember i said, use a star. This does not necessarily mean he/she has to be lead. They just need to be there to give the film some credibility. Subconsciously, distributors will think, if this star agreed to be in this movie, it must be a good one. Also they bring a wealth of experience to a production particularly if it’s your first. Again, stop putting your friend as cast in a movie you want to make money from. Those of you that like putting your actor girlfriends in your films …who you epp. 
  • – Keep your postproduction and marketing money aside. I have plenty producers owing my studio money. They all come crying that all the money finished while shooting. Stories that touch. Before you start shoot, keep the money for post and marketing aside. Maybe with someone else so you don’t touch it. Your zeal to sell a film can disappear when it spends forever in post. Bad things too can happen like missing files, editor disappearing…etc. use a dedicated post production studio like Anthill for your films. its safer and smarter and they are very nollywood friendly. 
  • – Hire a Director who understands this is business. If you are serious about making money from a film, please high a director who is willing to work with your budget, your team and with you. Don’t hire someone who is stubborn to work with and does not believe in collaboration. A film is hardly a director’s film in nollywood. Everybody dey chook mouth small if it must to sweet. Find a director that believes in the project as well. It matters a lot.

So there you have it. Shoot me questions or opinions or jollof rice and don’t forget to add your email to the list by clicking subscribe on the top menu. Interesting things are coming soon with the blog. Stay committed to learning.

This post was first published on NiyiAkinmolayan.com on Sunday, July 17, 2016.

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