Bringing the art of the remake into Nollywood

Film camera Photo: Josep Monter Martinez / Pixabay

Whenever a remake of a film is announced it either raises interests to the possibilities or gets fans in a tizzy. Some remakes are cash-grab based, allowing the studio to capitalize on existing Intellectual Property (IP).

However, remakes aren’t always as bad a thing as social media rants would have you believe. While some are unnecessary, some are updates which take advantage of the change in film technology since the original film was made, and also the changing times. Not many fans of The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Ocean’s 11 (2001), The Italian Job (2003) know that they are remakes of films of the same title from 1968, 1960 and 1969 respectively.

Sometimes Hollywood remakes a film from another country. The Departed (2006) which finally won Martin Scorsese a Directing Oscar is a remake of a Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs (2002). The Magnificent Seven (1960) is a remake of Japanese film, The Seven Samurai (1954). Chris Nolan’s third film Insomnia (2002) is a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name from 1997. Bringing it closer to the Motherland, Boda Boda Thieves (2015) is a remake cum adaptation of Vittoro Da Sica’s classic, Bicycle Thieves (1948), transplanting it from post World War 2 Italy to working-class Uganda.

It is even more interesting to note that some filmmakers have remade their own films. Alfred Hitchcock remade The Man Who Knew too Much (1934) in 1956. Michael Haneke did a remake of Funny Games (1997) in 2007; the first in his home country of Austria and the second after he was established in the United States.

Do you love the movie Heat (1995) which put Robert De Niro and Al Pacino together on screen for the first time? Fun fact, it’s a remake of a TV movie called LA Takedown (1989). Both were written and directed by Michael Mann. With Heat, Mann now as a more experienced director, had more creative control, a bigger budget and two of America’s finest actors as his leads.

This begs the question, What if Nigerian filmmakers had the chance to revisit and remake some of their films?

The earliest days of Nollywood had many limitations in terms of know-how, equipment and other restrictions. Big budget films could afford to shoot on Betacam SP. Intermediate budget, U Matic. Low budget: Super VHS, No budget: VHS

Today some Nollywood films are shot with the same cameras and lenses available to Hollywood and Bollywood productions. What would some of those classics look like with the equipment available today and recontextualized for a Post Military Nigeria?

What would a Diamond Ring, Silent Night, Rattlesnake, Hostages, Karashika, look like with today’s working cinematographers and dynamic range of today’s cameras. How would they feel with grading and colour correction not available 15- 20 years ago?

Why remake?

Well, a lot of things have changed over the years in terms of what’s possible in filmmaking in Nigeria. A filmmaker with a DSLR, good prime lenses and Adobe Premier on a high-speed laptop can achieve a lot more than what was possible between the mid-90s and early 2000s on built-in single-lens cameras and Non Linear Editing (NLE).

Also, many of those films would look terrible if attempted to project theatrically due to pixelation as they weren’t shot with the dimensions of a cinema screen as the primary place of viewing. Some of these films only exist in VHS and DVD form as the masters are either degraded, recorded over or are lost, so digital remastering is not even possible.

So, let’s take a flight down to the land of imagination, picture this:

Tunde Kelani working with cinematographer, Yinka Edward (76, LionHeart) to remake Saworide or Thunderbolt.

Tade Ogidan working with Adekunle “Nodash” Adejuyigbe (Isoken, The Delivery Boy) on Diamond Ring or Dangerous Twins.

Chika Onukwufor working with Mohammed Attah (The Set Up) on updating Glamour Girls.

Would the first generation Nollywood directors and the millennial cinematographers with very different schools of thought and exposure to film making techniques and training be able to work together? Would the cinematographers be allowed to bring their input or will Egbon-ism get in the way?

Ok, lets snap back to reality.

While it would be interesting to see some the remake of films by their original directors, the reality is, many of them are no longer in the game. Several filmmakers from the 90s to early 2000s haven’t made or been involved in film making in over a decade and have moved on to other things.

So. What if these films were remade by today’s hot and upcoming directors both at home and abroad?

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