“Scene 19:21:23, set two!” Shouts the assistant and indicates the clapperboard. Rita Dominic, a star in Nigeria, sits with her stage husband and her stage mother in law, in a Chinese restaurant. She can’t believe what she hears:”Mother,” the man says very seriously, “you can always stay with us.” Dominic’s face speaks volumes. What an absurd idea! The old mother in law is depressed because her husband, the senator, is sleeping with a younger woman. Nevertheless, she is a witch! Rita Dominic struggles to stay composed, she tilts down a glass of champagne, with angry eyes. ˝
A riot storm the room, the actors’ voices drown in the noise. Someone has mistakenly opened the door to the post-torn barroom, where a flock of pretty drunk Chinese celebrate a Karaoke birthday. “Cut! Dammit, Cut! “Shouts director Teco Benson. “Dear God, these Chineses can not sit still for five minutes?”˝
It is evening in Lagos, the seventh and last day of shooting for the film – “Mr. & Mrs. Revolution”-. The nerves are on edge, the crew has been working daily 14 hours, fatigue is written on every faces. Also Benson, a tall man with smooth shaved head , has circles under the eyes. ” If someone stands at the door, let him out,” he ordered, then turns apologetically to the Stars. “The money is out, we could not rent the entire restaurant. Let’s repeat the scene quickly.”
Benson is a veteran of the Nigerian cinema, he made about 50 films since 1994, first as an actor then as a screenwriter, director of photography and producer.
Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan has commended him for his work. He got decorated with the Order of the Federal Republic, one of the highest awards in the country. Benson smiles half-proud, half ironically: “A great honor, no doubt! But if I need money from the bank for a new production, the Order does not matter. “The business is difficult in Nigeria every year, 2,000 to 3,000 movies a reproduced. About 50 of them coming every week on the market. Maybe even more. Nobody knows precisely. Many smaller productions are not even registered with the competent Nigeria Film Corporation.˝
Nigeria, the most populous country Africa has overtaken South Africa two years ago as the largest economy on the continent. The central government budget remains completely dependent on oil exports. The film industry creates new jobs. Up to a million people, from actors to VideoCD dealers earn their living on the films. This is Nollywood, the African Dream Factory as it is popularly called. It is the largest private employer in the country. In 2013, the industry generated about five billion dollars -1.4 percent of Nigerian GDP-.
Text written by Andrzej Rybak for Terra Mater