Saturday , May 21 2022
Dear Netflix, is it a series or not? [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]

Dear Netflix, is it a series or not? [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]

I’ll like to think that I once was an avid believer in Netflix as the Messiah that Nollywood desperately needed to save it from itself. Nearly four years since their first Nigerian original film ‘Lionheart’, we can all agree that it takes more than just glossy ad campaigns to save an industry.

Lately, it seems that the streaming service may have come to the conclusion that some of Nollywood’s shoddy and unscrupulous business style is unbeatable and have decided to join in. How else does one explain this ‘series not series’ conodorum?

In 2020, Netflix partnered with famed filmmaker Kemi Adetiba for the sequel of her acclaimed feature crime thriller ‘King of Boys’. There is nothing unusual about this as the streaming giant has tested this licensing to acquisition style with many of their successful shows outside Africa.

Fast forward to 2021, months after principal photography in October of the previous year, Netflix and Adetiba co-announced a seven-part limited series.

A series? Was a series the original plan or something that had to be the final option given the amount of content Adetiba had shot? I remember asking her in an interview, if a series was a part of the plan from the get-go. Her response was something along the lines of wanting ‘elbow room’ to create followed by profuse gratitude to Netflix for the chance to be unhinged.

Till date, neither of the parties have bothered to publicly address rumours that the cast and crew were hired to shoot a feature film and found out shortly before we all did that the film was to be made into a limited series. It is rumoured that actors had to sign an addendum to their contracts stating that it was now to be a series with no additional remuneration.

In September 2021, Netflix announced its collaboration with EbonyLife studios for an original film titled ‘Blood Sisters’. EbonyLife CEO and the project’s Executive Producer, Mo Abudu revealed that they had wrapped production on the Netflix original film.

“I am super proud and pleased to announce that production has wrapped on Netflix’s latest Original film titled Blood Sisters and produced by EbonyLife studios,” the media mogul wrote in an Instagram post dated September 3, 2021.

I was just as stunned as many to once again read, a few days ago, that Netflix had struck again, turning the project which was first announced as a film into a four-part series with the ‘first original series’ brand they tried so hard to shove down our throats.

The question of whose original is truly the first will probably lead to more questions like what truly happened to the Akin Omotoso series which was killed under the guise of the pandemic? How about the original series created by Naz Onuzo and Dami Elebe and announced by Inkblot Productions in 2020? These, indeed, are million dollar questions for another day.

The question for today is how this game of peek-a-boo affects the livelihood of cast and crew members working in an industry infamous for exploitation. Is this new norm of negotiating and preparing cast and crew for a film then turning it into a series, not actionable? Isn’t it unfair business practice or duress of some kind? What do the guilds think about this practice? So many questions to ask.

It is unconscionable to have Nollywood practitioners swim from one form of exploitation to another. At some point, they will have to speak up against these crippling practices personally or through their professional guilds.

*Pulse Editor’s Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse.

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