By Olisa Jr
Drawing on periods in his life, fragments of his memory, and moments of his existence that offered him a sense of true joy, Ademola is painting a narrative that expresses true appreciation for his culture — and him being a Nigerian — while creating a sense of community through his work. As the nature of Nigeria’s landscape goes through a constant, and very much tumultuous shift, finding an avenue of relief and rebellion can give for a beautiful experience in itself.
MSM sat down with Ademola to discuss his new fashion film, finding his place in the industry, and portraying his Nigerian heritage through his work.
Who is Ademola Falomo? And how did he become who he is today?
Ademola: Right now, he is a 23-year-old filmmaker, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Before starting my film career, I was originally into music and dabbled a bit in photography. I was trying to merge sound and pictures into one because constantly going back and forth on both wasn’t working for me. And when I first started, I referred to myself strictly as a cinematographer.
And I’m guessing being a Nigerian, myself too, going to university to study film wasn’t exactly encouraged at the time…
Ademola: I mean fast-forward to uni life, I went to school to study International Business. And at that point in time, my parents were more open with what I chose to study, in comparison to what most people would assume about Nigerian parents. I think I made that decision at that point because film came easy to me, and I wanted to be able to expand on it globally and financially when I did come out of university. At the same time, that was really the period where it took of for me because that year I met Santi, Odunsi, and the rest of their crew which really kicked off my career and now we’ve worked on so much together.
I want to talk about your latest film, Identity — What was the inspiration behind its making?
Ademola: Firstly, I wanna shout out the guys that presented us with the brief and opportunity for the film. Identity was a fashion film project created to celebrate independence and solidarity. We got the brief two days before the deadline which was also crazy, but I wanted it to feel real so I tried not to add any unnecessary stress to the crew. Speaking on my creative process, I would say I try to make my films very raw and emotional. We also wanted to highlight and appreciate the people behind the scenes...the people who actually made the pieces of clothing featured in the film.
“There was a sense of us attempting to capture the black body and its essence.”
Watching the film, I also noticed that you chose to have the voice of the film speak in Pidgin rather than English, why impacted that decision?
Ademola: For me, I felt like using Pidgin instead of English was to solidify the fact that WE made the film — WE being Nigerians. I wanted that to really stick, and I wanted to push that form of narration to the world. It also reminded me of my time in uni when my friends were first exposed to Pidgin through me. It was also nice because people, non-Nigerians, found it a lot more interesting in that form. And simply, it contributed to us celebrating the uniqueness of Pidgin.
Being from Nigeria, as a director, does your work tend to pull on inspiration or references from Nollywood?
Ademola: I think when I first started as a director, I would say yes. Now, however, I’m starting to see that not much of my inspiration comes from it as much as I thought. When I was younger, I hardly watched any of it because my mum thought it was very inappropriate, especially popular movies like Aki and Popo. My mum thought they were disrespectful. I think most of my style was pulled from videos outside of Nigeria, and then I tried to see how I could take that foreign element and shape it into something that represented Nigerian culture. Being honest, I think what really propelled me to do what I’m doing now, was lowkey watching 50 Cent’s Candy Shop music video when I was 14, on MTV. They showed the bts and how the process of music videos really worked, and that gave me clarity on a lot of things.
How would you describe the nature of Nigeria’s film industry currently? And what do you think the next few years entails?
Ademola: 100 percent I think it is very very promising. I think it’s one of the reasons why my friends and I are trying to build a community within it because it certainly going to become much bigger than what it is now. Now, in comparison to back then, people are less focused on just video quality and are starting to pay more attention to how we can create a solid project. The film industry is starting to prioritize meaning and insight in videos instead of just looks. At the same time, I also praise the fact that there’s much better equipment, in regards to cameras, lenses, lighting, and simply the whole landscape of things. And everyone is also really just motivated and eager to make dope stuff because I think there’s definitely a lot of eyes on us right now.
Is the growing scene of filmmaking in Nigeria being noticed on the smaller scales within society?
Ademola: Definitely, yes. I think this year I’ve noticed it a lot more. I go out from time to time, or even my surroundings when we shoot on the street for example; you hear people say “I want to be a screenwriter, or a set designer, or a director,” because now the opportunity of film is really expanding and people can now see it’s a realistic path to take on. People have realized that even though we aren’t as developed as most countries in regards to film, there’s a mindset to try and match what people outside the continent and country are doing.
When creating films, where do you think operating under the notion of diversity or capturing the uniqueness in culture most expressed?
Ademola: That’s a really interesting question because I’d say I’ve never really thought about it...or approached my work in that way. Anytime I work with someone like an artist, I would say I let them decided what the story or vision behind a video is. However, I think the most important is that I work in a storyline-based approach. I can say that each one is different, and that I like to follow the sounds of the different artists and who they are as people too for me to begin directing a video. So answering your question, I think the concept of diversity comes down to the different and unique personas or sounds of each person I work with.
It’s amazing to see how your work complements the artist’s style instead of trying to strictly impose your own, and I think it shows in your videos… the nature of creative collaboration. So, what can we expect from you down the tunnel?
Ademola: I’ll still be shooting music videos and accepting commissions, so please hit my line. Though for the rest of the year, the most important thing is creating a sense of community within the industry through my brand Family Inc. So recently, we started a new camera program where we offer fast-rising filmmakers a chance to shoot any project of their choice. The reason was back when I was younger, Santi gave me a camera to start up shooting, and I want to do the same for someone out there. Also a lot of putting out good content. There’s also going to be a bit of tech work in the next few months.
Watch Ademola’s film Identity now on Nowness