Capital Film Productions, a film financing firm co-founded by a former tech professional, has launched a new fund to invest in Nollywood movies.
Capital Film Productions, a film financing firm founded by Adim Isiakpona, a former Google employee, and Hamza Kassim, a business opportunity manager at Shell, has launched Act 3, a ₦500 million fund, to invest in a lineup of Nollywood movies. Both co-founders were executive producers of the Nollywood hits Gangs of Lagos and Brotherhood; Isiakpona was also an associate producer on Sugar Rush.
In the past three years, Capital Films has raised $800,000 across two funds to support the production of seven films. The company said it saw a 37% cumulative return on both funds. Capital Films pools funds from retail investors—it had 37 investors in the last two funds—and accepts a minimum investment ticket of ₦10 million. The company invests a minimum of ₦50 million and a maximum of ₦100 million in each film.
Isiakpona, the firm’s CEO, told TechCabal that it picks the movies it invests in by reviewing the history of the filmmaker and their business model. The average budget of each movie “depends on the movie and story,” and the average return cycle for investment is 24 months.
Nollywood is currently on a path to globalisation, with new films backed and licenced by international streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime. Gangs of Lagos ranks in the top 10 non-English movies on Amazon Prime, while The Black Book was watched more than 70 million times in less than three weeks on Netflix, the biggest streaming platform.
Capital Film also offers advisory services to filmmakers and works with filmmakers on the scripting and casting stages to ensure the film’s marketability and a viable return. “We want to understand the distribution model, the production timeline, and the cost. We always try to ensure that we keep our investment to 50% of the project’s cost, but it can vary from 25% to even less than 25%. We don’t go beyond 50% to ensure that we are not overindexing in one field project,” Isiakpona said.
Tech-focused professionals are increasingly investing in Nollywood
Capital Films’ launch comes as more tech-focused professionals are increasingly financing Nollywood movies or even creating them. The Black Book was directed by Editi Effiong, a former software engineer, and was financed by African startup founders and investors like Nadayer Enegesi (Eden Life), Olumide Soyombo (Voltron Capital), and Ezra Olubi (Paystack). Nollywood appeals to these investors as the return cycle on investment—often 24 months—is shorter than the return cycle on startup investments, which happen in exits and IPOs that are few and far between in Africa’s tech ecosystem.
“Nollywood is on the precipice of growth, and we see ourselves contributing to this growth by providing structure and increasing capacity, either through funding it or through the process of producing the films,” Isiakpona told TechCabal.
For filmmakers, introducing outsiders can offer a new perspective and bring change to an industry that is only beginning to entrench itself in the global economy. Tolu Awobiyi, a filmmaker with a decade of experience and the producer of Bling Lagosians, told TechCabal in September that the VCs have helped filmmakers with business advisory, investment risk management, and stakeholder management.
“I have learned more about navigating the pitfalls of our business from my interactions with my VCs. You find that the VCs who traditionally are interested in film investments are usually very hands-on because they usually have a creative leaning; that is why they are attracted to film investments in the first place, and their experience investing in other industries gives them critical knowledge relevant to managing the risks of a high return environment such as ours,” Awobiyi stated.
As the firm launches, it is closing its third fund, which will fund six movies in 2024, and Isiakpona told TechCabal that the fund will grow to $50 million. “In a way, CFP is a dream come true for us. It all started off as a scrappy idea with ‘Our First Act,’ raising funds from our personal finances to support film projects, to a ‘Second Act’ that saw us managing Liquidity Provider’s funds. From these experiences, we’ve seen firsthand how access to adequate funding and support can uplift the entire production of a film and potentially the industry,” he said.