Anytime I’m privileged to be in the presence of any of the filmmakers in Nigeria and Africa who inspire me, the first question I always ask them is, “What are the challenges that come with being a filmmaker, especially in Nigeria or in Africa? How do you scale through them to get to where you are today?”

I remember when I wrote a big budget screenplay and pitched it to one of the sought out directors in Nigeria 2 years ago. I was so excited when he asked me to send the screenplay to his mail, but a few weeks later I was told they won’t be shooting it. I nearly got depressed. I however reached out to my mentor, Anthony Kehinde Joseph. I’ll never forget what he wrote back to me, “This is the necessary teething stage of your career, there’s nothing to worry about. The most important thing is KEEP LEARNING and KEEP WRITING. Your moment will come if you persist in spite of the odds. The journey is rarely easy for anyone, it certainly wasn’t for me.”

That was when I realized that filmmaking is a ‘JOURNEY’. And like my mentor said, “The journey is rarely easy for anyone.” And for every journey, there must be “SURVIVAL KIT” you need to have before you start. This is what incited me to delve into the lives of filmmakers I admired, and study how they are surviving in the turbulent waters of Nollywood.

Surviving in the film industry can be challenging, as it is a competitive field with many talented individuals vying for a limited number of opportunities. However, there are a few things I’m committed to over the years, which would definitely increase my chances of success:

Develop your skills: Whether you’re a director, actor, screenwriter, or cinematographer, it’s important to continually improve and hone your craft. Take classes, workshops, and seek out opportunities to practice and learn from others in the industry.

Network and build relationships: The film industry is all about who you know, so it’s important to make connections and build relationships with people in the industry. Attend film festivals and industry events, join professional organizations, and reach out to people for advice.

Be persistent: Filmmaking is a tough business, and you will likely face many rejections and setbacks before you find success. It’s important to stay focused and keep working towards your goals, even when things get tough.

Be open to new opportunities: Don’t be afraid to try new things and take on projects that may not be exactly what you had in mind. Sometimes, these unexpected opportunities can lead to bigger and better things.

Stay current: Keep up with the latest trends and techniques in the film industry, and be open to learning and adapting to new technologies and approaches.

By developing your skills, networking, staying persistent, and being open to new opportunities, you can increase your chances of survival and success in the film industry.

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Kolapo Mustapha

Kolapo Mustapha is a Writer, Director and Film Analyst. He's also a Story Consultant and Script Editor who is passionate about storytelling and filmmaking. An Alumni of EbonyLife Creative Academy, where he studied "The Art of Screenwriting" (2021), "Visual Post-Production" (2022) and "Directing" (2023). He also studied "Sound Design" at Terraculture Academy and "Introduction into Filmmaking" at KAP Academy. He also works as a freelance Content Creator and Political Analyst for Opera News Hub Nigeria. He has written several films, both short and feature length (and TV series), with the likes of "TAINTED LOVE" "SCARRED" "LOOSING BATTLE" "TAINTED BLOOM" "ELASTIC LOVE" "TWO WRONGS" "MISDIRECTION" "OMOLASO" and "FOREVER SO LONG(Season 1&2)'. He has directed three short films so far. "JOURNEY TO FREEDOM" "ENIGMA" and "IMOLE." ENIGMA has received official selections from film festivals beyond African countries. It's his passion to tell (make films) that will captured the African society and tell our unique stories with global audience. He has also received training in various stages of film and television production and subsequently got involved in various productions at different capacities, which has made him well-versed in all aspects of filmmaking process, from pre-production to post-production. He also believed that film could be used as a tool for social change, because visual storytelling do not only possess the ability to change an individual but a nation.

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