I should start this piece by giving credit to Dr Noel Akpata, my multi-talented Chief, from whom I got the term ‘SABIFICATE’. Sabificate is a term created from the pidgin word, ‘Sabi’, which means to be proficient. Unlike its cousin, ‘certificate’, which means an official document attesting a fact of being schooled or being given a ‘paper’ as a proof of a skill or knowledge gained, sabificate does not require a paper to be issued.

Nollywood grew in the hands of some determined and creative Nigerians who made films by experimenting and learning on the job with the available equipment. Some of these veterans who had some exposure through the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and some other television stations were able to make films and TV shows without any formal education on filmmaking. Over time, they mastered the ‘craft’ and were able to make an industry out of it. Though some later acquired film education, but most of their trainings were by learning on the job informally. With time, they trained many others who themselves became masters of the craft. That was in the days when film schools were practically non-existent in Nigeria. Our early directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers and editors were mostly trained this way.

Although in recent times there has been a proliferation of film schools in the country, many filmmakers are graduates of this informal school, which means, they are sabified and not necessarily certified.

From reading of books, online videos, on the job trainings, these tested hands have gathered so much knowledge that you may need to hear from them before you can conclude that they are not products of film schools.

This, however, is not peculiar to Nollywood as many famous Hollywood filmmakers have also come out to say that they are not products of film schools.

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Even with the numerous film schools, many filmmakers today are unable to afford a formal film education either because of lack of finance or time to go to the four walls of a school. Though film schools have numerous advantages, prominent amongst which is acquiring time-tested knowledge and getting opportunities to network with other filmmakers, many sabified filmmakers have been able to do same informally on film sets.

Film festivals and masterclasses have also been a major contributor to the democratization of film knowledge. The film apprenticeship system in the industry is also worthy of mention as some exceptional filmmakers are products of this ‘school’.

So when next you see a Nollywood film that impresses you, check carefully, the makers may not be certified but sabified.

*Osaigbovo writes from a pepper soup joint at Wire Road.