Kannywood; consumer or producer's market?


MA Iliasu


Kannywood, the northern Nigeria's Hausa film industry has over the years been at the centre of brainstorming discussions. One of the most interesting is on why film consumers are attracted to the industry and otherwise. Oftentimes the analysis of such magnitude is drawn in relation to the industry's rivals, both foreign and domestic, because they provide an alternative to what the industry produce, which poses direct effect on it's local market. And like in any other industrial conglomerate, the sustainable conduct and development of Kannywood as an industry thrive on the quality, affordability and viability of it's products.

As the so-called king of the arrangement, it's impossible to conquer any market without exploring the psychological drivers of consumer's preference. That being said, the primary concern of the teeming film consumers who boycott Kannywood movies revolves around the appeal, quality and uniqueness of storylines, and whether it connects with the inner cravings of a modern watcher. A film consumer demands an illusion; one that not only tells him 'this is the movie he wants to watch" but also if "it's the one he should be watching". An illusion that challenges his status quo, one that creates a reception for the new order and pave the way for a route to escapism. In fact, most people watch films to escape from their core reality. Which occurs either by consuming movies that aim to rediscover an old order, ones that aim to reflect on the currrent order or ones that wish to rewrite the order itself in the forms of fantasy movies, futuristic science-fiction movies, historical fiction and nonfiction movies, among others.

In the case of Kannywood, it has done fairly well in producing movies that reflect greatly on the dynamics of the current order. But then that's an order which it's potential consumers happen to be physically part of. In which case, most of the content would appear familiar and cheap, that will not only bore the consumers but hand them the warranty to look elsewhere. Meanwhile, Kannywood competitors have religiously developed the culture of challenging the essence of everything a watcher stands for. Which makes them a more viable even if more costly than Kannywood, because they satisfy consumer's utility.

Interestingly, Kannywood's content has been profiled as the one that agrees with it's watchers demand. Which is indifferent to saying the industry produce only the content which it's watchers want to consume. But if that's any good, why has the industry been economically stagnating and remain vulnerable to the invasion of it's rivals? To be fair, Kannywood and it's rivals aren't of the same financial muscle. Which plays vital role in the distinction of their products. However, it is equally valid to mention the fact that all other industries rivalling Kannywood had, at some point, been where it is today. So the most important point is how did they move forward?

Revenue, which is the excuse of Kannywood in comparison to it's rivals, in the context of production is a bi-product of the initial measures that a producer put in place to ensure the success of his product. That's to say as far as the producer has the initial capital, what happens next is dependent on him. And start-up capital is hardly the problem of Kannywood producers. The actual problem is recouping the expenses and profiting from the venture. Which is what confesses it's erratic market viewpoint.

If certainly Kannywood produce only the films that'll appeal to it's watchers for the fear of losing revenue, then It's vivid that the industry perceive film market as consumer's market rather than producer's market. Which is definitely why they produce movies that watchers' want rather than the ones the watchers' think they want. And there's good difference between the two. Failure to dissect which creates a dilemma that's so sensitive it makes or break the possibility of any market dominance.

For instance, the romantic, singing and dancing genres that Kannywood produce at more regular rate is what Hausa watchers want. But the more adventurous and dynamic contents being produced in other film industries are what Hausa watchers think they want - hence they rush to. And the ability to deviate the latter from the former ensures whether a consumer illusion is created or not. Illusion is so important in production largely because it makes people consume something with the belief that it'll satisfy their utility when in fact it won't. It'll only makes them crave for more. And the more is being craved the better is the chance of getting addicted, and that's the trap of every capitalist producer.

Hollywood and Bollywood industries come from a well-equipped capitalist societies where consumer psychology is conquered. Down there it's a producer's market. Which is why the curve of their revenue never stop rising Their movies are regularly subjected to sequels and prequels, defending on what the producer wants. The great author Mario Puzo, in the build-up to the preface of his critically acclaimed novel, "The Godfather", confessed that a producer's girlfriend can demand a movie scene to be filtered out. And the consumers would watch nonetheless. In my opinion, there's no bigger evident of control. Which greatly unlocks creativity and unhindered filmmaking viscosity.

Kannywood on the contrary produce what completely annihilate the utility of consumer instead of what'll make him crave for more. Capitalist experts assert that if a consumer gets what he asks for, he'll be satisfied. And if he gets satisfied, he'll have no need for the product again. That's why a wise producer never allow consumers to ask for products. He creates the product questions for them. And in turn answer the questions in a way that'll make them even more curios. Kannywood does the opposite. Producers obeying the trend of a narrowly imaginative consumers is why the watchers don't find the films as special as the foreign ones, which is also why the industry is painfully stagnating.

To clear doubts, how the dubbed versions of foreign movies are being consumed at equal if not higher rate than Kannywood movies in it's native domain should erase any iota of doubt on film market being producer's market rather than consumer's. For if it was consumer's, who researched the interest of a villager in Kano before making a movie in Hyderabad, India, that enables him to watch the movie with keen interest?

At the end, movie producers need to conquer the fear of losing market. Film market is a producer's market contrary to their belief. Agreeing with that would be a new phase for creative filmmaking. They should sharpen and unlock their imagination to produce what watchers would marvel at. Hausa-Fulani society is rich with contents that are more than capable of creating consumer illusion. Ranging from history, culture, geography, economy, politics, anthropology, etc.