Dear Africana Woman,
I have been keeping myself busy with learning how to write screenplays. This means that you have to read screenplays. Only problem is the ones that are readily available are from Hollywood. Urgh. I am so over Hollywood. I want to read something from an African writer or South Korean writers.
You see Hollywood no longer cares about a strong story line. As long as there is violence and sex that is what keeps the momentum going. If you think about the last three movies you watched and you took out the violence which inclusive or car chases, shooting scenes, mixed martial arts scenes all of that. Then you took out the sex. What would be left. Would you still be able to watch that movie? Are the lines intelligent, Is the plot unsuspecting, can the actors actually act. Coz let’s face it a lot of these so called stars are not actually talented, they just have a well-oiled machine backing them up. Pushing crap onto our screens. I remember when I was in primary and my English teacher, Ms. Mulenga, made us do exercises where we had to guess the missing word in a sentence. So it would be a sentence with a dash somewhere in the middle. She taught us that our brains fill in the blanks for us. That exercise has always just stayed with me. When I watch movies I am always finishing sentences accurately to the point where people question whether I have actually seen it before. Therefore, you can imagine how boring it is to watch something where you can always guess the plot and what people are going to say. I can’t do it anymore. I need more from story tellers.
I want to be delightfully surprised. I want to believe in the characters. I want to swept in a wave of emotions. And be able to retell the story long after I am done.
Enter K-DRAMAs. Now guys as with any film industry there is going to be amazing content and then really bad content. I am not saying that everything South Korea produces is amazing, no infact, I have become an expert at sussing out crap. But the ones that they do well, they do REALLY WELL. There is actually an art to K-Drama’s that I have even seen copied by the West in some of their well performing shows. The first thing you need to know is that 90% ok the majority of screenwriters in South Korea are women. What does this tell, women are natural born story tellers, who get to the crux of a story and not try to sully it with foolish details. It also means that women are not made into sexual objects. You will not find a woman stripping, wearing ridiculous clothes, having a camera zoom in on her ass or perky boobs. Let alone there be sex scene. Sex is always implied. Now here’s the thing everyone is having sex in the world. When sex is not shown in my opinion it does not deny that sex happens, it just says that it is something that does not have to be witnessed by millions of people. There will be implied sex between married and unmarried people. Anyway, moving on, a Korean drama is a sow burn. They take their time to build up the story and really get you to know the motivations of each character. But where they are unbeatable is the Cliffhanger. No jokes I watched one series in one sitting because of the cliffhanger Each episode is 1 hour, and a season is between 16 to 22 episodes. I did not close my eyes until I was done because of the cliffhangers. In South Korea once a series starts its either one episode per week, or two episodes on one day. SO I don’t know how they survive, because Netflix has spoiled us with having everything there at once. THE WORST. The suspense will kee you. Watch at owners risk. I also really like the way they focus on one industry and go real in depth about the ins and outs.
Let’s bring the conversation to the African continent. Of course, the giants in the film industry are South Africa and Nigeria. Old Nollywood was not my cuppa tea. Extra long story lines, with unnecessary details. You know things like watching a car drive from point b to c for 5 minutes, dramatic crying and praying for another 10 minutes. I can forgive the bad special effects because the industry just had not reached that level. But the story telling was awful. That said many a pipo love a Naija movie. What do I know? Then you come to South Africa. I think they have produced quality content for a while now. Some of the things that they have pioneered, is telling stories in the local languages. They speak very good English but when it comes time to depict a story it will be in their native tongue. And guess what, as outsiders we have read those subtitles and still fallen in love with their shows. Now is that reflected in our productions say for example in Zambia. NO. Because English is our national language. Hmmm. I also like the way they embrace the diversity of spiritual practices without demonizing the African beliefs that predated Christianity hitting our shores. Let’s face it, Christianity came on a boat and we had deities and beliefs before we were told they were demonic. It was a spirituality that was deeply connected to nature and protecting it. And now look at us but that’s a story for another day. What I am driving at is that South Africa is not afraid to normalize less mainstream spiritual practices, even though as a society we all believe in it. SO here comes New Nollywood, and guys the picture quality is so much better, the script writers are a thousand times better and I am their target market because of my demography. Which is why I think there is room for diversity in the type of stories being told. You know be it stories that appeal to younger generations or older generations. But it’s amazing how far we have come.
To sum up, if you have a connect for quality screenplays about African content please let me know. I challenge African Story tellers to take keep pushing the envelope. In as much as I lover how far we have come there is a part of me that says in my head, I forgive them for that weak plot. Why because in this day and age where there is globalization, we have to assume that the characters we create are also exposed to the globalness. Take for example the two female leads in Blood Sisters, I kept saying to myself, have these girls never watched CSI, Law & Order, Dexter, Criminal Minds….should I go on. They are the dumbest criminals I have ever seen. With whole phones connected to the internet. What I am saying is I want to watch our home grown content and not have to make excuses. I know we will get there. I cannot wait. By the way I wonder if there is a name that we can call all films coming out of the continent. Because let's face it most countries do not have as big a market as Nigeria or SA. To a certain extent I think storytellers who are not from these countries, we have to think about creating stories that are local yet appeal to the region.
The final thing I want to say is that I hope that you are exposing yourself to a variety of films. Hollywood has positioned itself as the expert, the saviours, the best at everything. I mean why is it that aliens always land in America? We have been conditioned to think their way is the only way. I am challenging you to, every now and then, throw in cinematography from another part of the world. You will be delightfully surprised.
It is at this point that I have to sign off. Hello and welcome to all the new readers. Please click the subscribe button so as you can get a love letter directly. Lots of love to all the Live Hard Readers. Take note Africana Woman is a blog, podcast and community. During the week you can find me on Instagram at ChulubyDesign. Remember I want you to love yourself flaws n all and attract the life that you truly desire. Day 4 done. #30DaysWriting