Open Video Workbook

Case Study - Straight-to-DVD Distribution

 DVDs continue to be a vital tool wherever decentralized, off-line distribution is key.

Nollywood pioneered the straight-to-DVD production, bypassing the centralized distribution via big-screen releases - mainly because there are too few cinemas to rely on them for distribution, but also because the entire film industry is built around the small-scale production made possible by the (comparatively) low cost of digital technologies.

"I think Nollywood is so successful because it has already anticipated and reacted to the future of moving image distribution that the rest of the world, particularly Europe, is yet to recognise. By this I mean that Nollywood has understood that the distribution of information benefits from freer, looser forms of control, and that the way Nigerians distribute materials; by pirating, sharing, hosting screenings, actually works in the service of the production companies, rather than the other way around. By releasing films straight to DVD, Nollywood has flooded the market of African film and thereby ensured its dominance. This, clearly, shows that the system works. It challenges the European distribution model very profoundly." 1

Small scale screenings rather than cinema distribution suit a different cultural context for viewing video. They are a better fit for cultures where oral narratives are stronger. 2 DVDs are sold on the streets and to cars in traffic and there is a widespread rental system. This profusion of DVD a distribution medium creates a relatively level playing field and low barriers to entry for young film makers and those working on low budgets.

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