Nigeria, to put it blatantly, has the reputation of a no-go-turf and scares off even experts, including those from other African countries. Yet, there is a small group of people, who grasp every possible opportunity to go to Nigeria. This rather strange phenomenon is hard to explain since one goes astray when portraying Nigeria. This very fact was the starting point of this film.
This West-African country is vast and rich. If a generalisation of its population is permitted: Nigerians are famous for their exceptional flair for words, entrepreneurial creativity and lack of fear when the use of dramatic style is required in everyday business life. Very much in contrast to Germany, where these skills and means linger on, if at all, on the verge of extinction like rare plants. What strikes me whenever I visit Nigeria is the prevalent self-confidence of many Nigerians when dealing with "whities" like myself. They seem to ignore post-colonial barriers that in other African regions often seem insurmountable. This attitude - and if only at the surface - invites rather spirited forms of collaboration. Having praised the bright sides, I am as much aware like any Nigerian of the related dark aspects of their eager business culture. When Nigeria is mentioned, many investors simply refuse, as a matter of principle, to look into existing business opportunities. My film takes a new approach by providing a "lab-situation" for real experts in the field: We invited our protagonists from Nigeria and Germany to meet in a real-life rehearsal space, which - for the film's duration - set aside the tremendous political problems of corruption and nepotism to allow a fresh start. In doing so, we wanted to find out, for example, what German economists and businessmen could learn from their Nigerian counterparts.
DramaConsult can be regarded as the sequel to and product of a variety of projects that I worked on in Nigeria or with Nigerian partners since 2004. It is Peace Mission, my documentary that depicts the Nigerian filmmaking scenery 'Nollywood' and its ongoing cruise of the international festival circuit, as well as my work for the African Movie Academy in Lagos that inspired me to make this new film.
Despite what I wrote earlier about the difficulties in talking about Nigeria: lastly, a brief anecdote, which first gave me the idea for the film:
I was in Lagos on a film related mission, a business trip, so to speak, except I wasn't doing business. A cultural institution had paid the expenses for my trip. Many Africans, however, would look at such a trip as a unique chance to explore business opportunities along the road. Foolish, who doesn't ... that was exactly what my driver thought. He works for a car rental service and entertains excellent contacts to the container docks at the port of Lagos, as he proved with insightful stories. He told me about a highly attractive market niche, one of his contacts had recently made him aware of. Over lunch, he presented me with a business plan - although the idea could only have sprouted when we first met that very morning - the foreigner from the far away "car country". Instinctively he glimpsed my admiration and pounced on the opportunity. While I was attending meetings in the afternoon, he made further calls. By evening, I was almost ready to embark on a lucrative deal with him on forklift-rental services. It sounded really great - all it would take was a bit of courage, time and not even so much start-up capital...
Instead, I made this film.