The 14th edition of the Abuja International Film Festival (AIFF) was held between the 9th and 13th of October at the Silverbird Galleria. The theme for this year was: "Film as a tool for national security and patriotism". I was there at the invitation of the initiators of the festival, Fidelis and Temitope Duker.
On the 11th of October, Kathlyn Horan, Director/Owner, TinFish Films, USA, anchored the session on "Self-financing for independent film makers". Kathlyn was of the view that it's possible to manage a combination of self-finance, crowd funding, donations and grants in the process of producing a film. She was however reminded by her enthusiastic audience that the Nigerian environment was not as organised as is the case in America when it comes to funding films. The "starter film maker" is almost always up against a formidable brick-wall in this country.
Kathlyn showcased snippets of her flagship project: "The IF Project", which is a Logo Documentary Films/TinFish Films Production. The film tells a moving story of a cathartic writing workshop at the Washington Corrections Centre for Women (WCCW), near Seattle, where the inmates explore the cause and effect cycle that landed them in prison and the big "IF" of what might have led them down a different path. The brainchild of one of the incarcerated women, Renata Abramson, the programme is overseen by Officer Kim Bogucki, who invests an enormous time and energy to help these women help themselves. (See www.hammertonail.com/interviews/a-conversation-with-kathlyn-horan/).
Kathlyn said that the film maker needs an "elevator pitch" snippet of his/her film, probably on YouTube (which could be sent to potential sponsors) in order to get them interested. Like the IF Project, such a film should have a strong theme to which the average member of the targeted audience could relate. Then there was animated discussion about the film: "The Wedding Party" - a Nigerian film which is the brain child of the delectable internationally acclaimed film-maker and entrepreneur, Mo Abudu.
Kathlyn was told that what made "The Wedding Party" such a colossal success was a combination of factors:
*Four prominent and successful studios came together to produce the film.
*Each of the characters in the film is a "veteran" in his/her own right.
*The average citizen could relate to the theme of the film.
*The acting was top notch/sophisticated.
*The investment in marketing the film was massive before and even after its release.
*The film is social satire/comedy. This kind of film lights up the spirit of citizens in a depressed economy.
There was however a note of caution that "The Wedding Party" (TWP) should not be seen as the gold standard for aspiring film makers who don't have studios and therefore cannot attract the kind of funds the sponsors of TWP could in one fell swoop! The consensus was that there should be constant networking among relatively unknown film makers so as to identify specific talents (e.g. producers, script writers, actors, actresses, make-up artists, sound engineers, etc) from among them before seeking funds. In fact, such positive networking began right there in the hall and Kathlyn Horan was glad to witness same on Nigerian soil...