As a creative person, are you of the school of thought that supports being auto-didactic or you’d rather cut the long process and learn from a structured environment?
By Lucy Onuorah
The Nigerian film industry has grown astronomically from a period when it was almost an abomination to aspire to a career in the arts, to a phase where parents encourage and support the development of their children’s artistic talents.
Coming from an era where the like of thespians were largely from the theatre art departments or people who couldn’t afford a formal education, there is a rise in the number of trained engineers, lawyers and folks in other unrelated fields in the film industry. This raises the question of filling the knowledge gaps in the new generation of actors and filmmakers.
There is also the argument that much of what needs to be learned can be self-taught, and money spent on training geared toward actual production. While there might be some logical sense in this, there is no doubt that training in a structured environment will fast-track the process and also reduce common mistakes.
With the growing interest and participation in Nollywood, several film institute’s have been birthed to train, facilitate and cater to the needs of individuals interested in pursuing a career in the Nigerian film industry. While many believe that the schools in Nigeria are not yet up to standard, we would like to celebrate those putting in the work to improve their offerings. Here, Brand Spark reviews two of them.
Wale Adenuga Productions ruled the airwaves as far as TV shows were concerned in the 90s to 2000s. From comedies like Papa Ajasco to Binta and Friends and dramas like This Life and Super Story, the company showed advancement in storytelling, technique and audience retention that was ahead of its time. In 2004, Wale Adenuga thought it wise to extend this to more people in the industry with the birth of a film academy – Pencil Film and Television Institute (PEFTI).
They offer eighteen different courses in various disciplines of Film, Television and Music Production, with duration ranging from three months to two years, and are accredited by the National Board of Technical Education to award diplomas for Filmmaking, Performing and Media Arts and Music Technology.
The cost is relatively affordable to middle-income earners, and there is a provision for accommodation for interested students. The entry requirements are also not steep, giving opportunities to both the intellectually sound but structured standards and those who would rather express their creativity in other forms.
In April 2018, the institute entered a three partnership with Canon Central and North Africa to facilitate a direct knowledge transfer from technical experts within the company. The company also provided photography and filmmaking equipment to ensure practical production work by the students at PEFTI.
On the flip side, there is a great room for improvement on the website and digital representation of the institute. The search for alumni of the institution came back with no names, although this is obviously not correct. Hopefully, this is taken as a project for the coming year.
With a determination to keep improving professionalism in Nigerian creatives, we look forward to how the school grows and what they achieve in the coming years.
ROYAL ARTS ACADEMY
Riding on her years of experience as a producer and director, Emem Isong established the Royal Arts Academy (RAA) in 2010 to train and nurture individuals in different areas of the filmmaking industry. With programs ranging from 3-months classes on Acting, Screenwriting, and Directing to a 2-year diploma in Film and Television Production, the school is poised to provide the right platform to kick-start a career in the Nollywood film industry.
In addition to these, the school also offers a 1-month summer program for children actors, giving them a chance to be well grounded in the techniques of acting and other aspects of filmmaking from a young age.
Tuition is also quite affordable, and the admission requirement provides a low-entry barrier, and is open to all ages, with five credits in O’Level results being the common denominator. Accommodation facilities are also available for students who prefer to avoid the distractions of living at home and can afford the fee.
To ensure a practical and immersive learning experience, the academy runs a YouTube channel, giving students a chance to practice what they learn and put themselves out to the public for feedback.
The Royal Arts Academy is obviously working to be well-positioned with regards to their digital presence and the YouTube channel is a fantastic move. Their website is alright aesthetically and has all the necessary information about the school. However, navigation can be improved for a better user experience, and many might have to strain to read the mission and other company ideals because of the colors used on the lower frame.
RAA has already begun proving itself by producing fast-growing talents in the industry. Lotachukwu Ugwu, Theresa Edem and Etinosa Idemudia are some of these. With consistency and incremental improvements, the school should be able to help students compete favorably on a global stage.
While there are factors of cost and depth of syllabus to consider, there are obvious advantages to attending a film school instead of being self-taught. For individuals with self-discipline and research skills, and those who do not perform well in structured environments, schools like RAA and PEFTI may not be attractive. But when you consider skipping the line and getting opportunities for practical and impactful jobs straight out of school, it might be worth considering.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.