“Mister Johnson”, a novel by Joyce Cary was converted to a film. The movie was partly shot in Nigeria and was released in 1991. It was directed by Bruce Beresford and starred Mister Johnson (Maynard Eziashi), Harry Rudbeck (Pierce Brosnan of the James Bond 007 fame- Die Another Day (2002 amongst others), Waziri (Femi Fatobi), Brimah (late Chief Hebert Ogunde), Ajali (Sola Adeyemi).
Hollywood movies shot in African countries are carried out to recreate events that occurred at one time or the other (in a country, its people, or life of an individual) or simply because certain Natural sceneries are considered ideal as the setting for original / adapted works.
“The Ghost and the Darkness” (1996), starring Valkimer, Michael Douglas, was based on a true story in1898 with regards to Man eating lions which killed the men laying the Railway tracks. It was shot in South Africa. “King Solomon’s Mines” (1950) starring Deborah Kern and Stewart Granger was shot in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo and the U.S.A. “Congo” (1995) directed by Frank Marshall was shot in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.
“A Far Off Place” (1993) was shot in Namibia and Zimbabwe, “Sheena” (1984) was filmed in Kenya, “Black Hawk Down” was shot on location in Sidi Moussa, Morocco. “Blood Diamonds” (2006) directed by Edward Zwick, starring Leonardo Di Carprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, was shot in South Africa and Mozambique. “Tomb Raider” was filmed in Kenya, “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford was filmed in Kenya and was based on a true story.
“The Last King of Scotland” (2006) directed by Kevin MacDonald, starring Forest Whitaker, was filmed on location in the U.K and Uganda. “Hotel Rwanda”, was a true life story about Paul Rusesabagina, a Hotel Manger who hid Tutsi refugees from the Hutu militia during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It was filmed in Johannesburg, (South Africa), and Kigali (Rwanda).
Unfortunately the movie “Tears of the Sun” (2003), starring Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, was not filmed in Nigeria as most thought since it projected a Nigerian story line. It was shot in Hawaii with Non- Nigerians playing the native roles in the movie.
The Northern African countries have been known to host the shooting of popular movies. Jesus of Nazareth, Lawrence of Arabia, Othello, and The Gladiator were shot in Morocco. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and The English Patient were shot in Tunisa.
The movie “Phat Girlz” (2006) had a spicy, romantic, Nigerian undertone to it with the presence of Dr Tunde Jonathan from Nigeria, played by Jimmy Jean-Louis. The movie was filmed on location in L.A / California U.S.A and at no time was any scene filmed in Nigeria. The average Nigerian might be puzzled over the consistent preference for a few selected African countries, with Nigeria excluded from the filming location list, despite being endowed with abundant Human and Natural resources.
Good image, International exposure of great Tourism spots, creative stories spun around us, safe and conducive environment to shoot in, willingness to extend hands of fellowship brokering into good partnership deals, support from relevant Government bodies, can stimulate the interest of Hollywood film makers(and those from other movie bodies) to come to Nigeria to shoot movies.
Let’s consider the hit film “Slumdog Millionaire” which was directed by Danny Boyle, produced by Christian Colson, and filmed in India. It portrayed the Indian version of the Game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” (Ironically we have the Nigerian version actively sponsored by Telecoms giant MTN). In the movie, the Show plays host to a poor young man from the slums of Mumbai, who relies on his experiences to answer the questions correctly, exceeds people’s expectations, arises the suspicion of the game show host and law enforcement officials in the process based on his outstanding performance, with the juicy package within his reach.
To say the least, the movie was shot in India, woven around an Indian plot and played by Indian thespians. The movie won an enviable number of Oscars, and has opened greater doors for Indian thespians (adults and children alike) with its Industry inclusive. I hope that our local Industry will not fold their arms and adopt a lackadaisical attitude, and watch as other movie bodies harness the products of a symbiotic relationship with the trail blazers of movie productions.