Ademola Falomo: Documenting Nigerian Pop Culture Through Film

In our ‘Projector’ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, etc., who produce original and dynamic works.

It is said that when a magician succeeds in a trick, he will certainly repeat the same trick. This was the case with Ademola Falomo and time After creating the eccentric visuals for “Try Me,” no one else was better suited to film his music video for “Damages.” It is exactly this positioning that makes the 24-year-old music video director and creative entrepreneur special.

“I am a collaborative spirit,” he admits. “My business model is that I like when an artist sees me and says, “Ademola, I like your shooting style. Let’s work on a video.’ The problem with just being a regular video director shooting for multiple artists is that they see you as a means to an end. But if they come to you based on ‘I want this person to shoot my video’, it’s because they trust your work. They believe that no other person can provide them with the quality of work they are looking for. That’s what I want.”

It works for him because, even before Tems, the filmmaker collaborated with the pioneers of Nigerian alternative music at a time when the work they were doing was crucial. Ademola has credits on several Santi recordings, DRB Lasgidiit is
problem” and boj’s “Abracadabra” of 2020 with davido and Mr Eazi to only cite a few.

“Gangsta Fear” by Santi. This is what introduced me to the alter scene and earned me so many other important recognitions. One day Santi needed a videographer and a friend of mine showed him a video I had shot for a dancer at the time. Santi had just played a snippet of ‘The Running’ at a club and it had gone crazy. So he was like ‘oh, bro, show me your stuff’ and that’s where it all started. It was one of those moments,” he says with the same passion still very tangible in his voice as he speaks.

In this Spotlight interview, Ademola Falomo talks about the growth of cinema in Nigeria since he burst onto the scene, his most treasured career moments and how he works so hard to leave an impact on the world.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your journey as an artist and how far you have come to get to where he is today.

Cinema for me was like a transition. I went from music to photography, then to filmmaking. My brother also has a huge influence on my life. He came out one day in 2011 and I went to his computer to check out Adobe Photoshop, which he used to make calendars at the time and saw where all the other Adobe software was. This is where I came across Premiere Pro for video editing and it was light bulb moment for me. At the time, I was very fond of music and I was also interested in photography. So I thought about how to merge these two passions and cinema came to mind. I started making videos with my phone until Santi lent me a camera and I’ve been making videos ever since.

When was your first big project and what was it?

2018, “Fake ID” by Kahlo. Kah-Lo is a Grammy-nominated singer. It is a hit song that has been featured on a number of Netflix movies.

Between yesterday and today, how do you assess the growth of cinema in Nigeria?

It’s a very good question. When I started making videos, a lot of artists didn’t use videos as visualizers. That’s when people started realizing how effective videos were for marketing. And the idea at the time was that we didn’t have the best cameras, nothing. We just walked around Magodo and filmed random cool shots. And looking at the growth of cinema since then, it’s actually been amazing. At the time, the videos shot mostly had only fast cars, beautiful women, and Adìré clothes. They weren’t bad, but that’s what Nigerians were open to.

But when I started filming, I was inspired by outside Nigeria. We took inspiration from that and merged those ideas with our culture. It was just weird. But we were creative and never thought anything was weird.

So going from there to seeing how much attention people are paying to music videos now, it’s like there’s been a lot of groundwork. I think even the alté community, and even us – the people who started making videos back then – contributed to that growth.

What do you think is the secret to staying relevant as a music video maker in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, I think it’s a question of supply and demand. The more work you produce, the more your audience is like ‘ah, here’s another video.’ The same thing happens in life. If you come to my house too often, after a while I will “watch you finish”. It’s the same approach in the music video industry.

I wasn’t as motivated by money. My business style or my approach in life is more impact-oriented. I want to make sure that I leave an impact with what I do. I will tell you the truth. I had job offers for mainstream artists, but I turned them down because they didn’t correspond to the positioning I had in mind.

Doesn’t that reduce the number of videos you have in your catalog?

I always say this: it’s not about the amount of work you produce, it’s about the quality of the work you do. Remember that you are working with your brain. You are thinking and your brain needs to relax. If you make multiple videos and brainstorm multiple ideas, after a while you will feel exhausted.

What is a family studio?

In fact, I would call Family a home for independent filmmakers. So while we want to tell stories and all that, the heart of the business is more about providing services to up-and-coming directors and filmmakers. If you listen to some directors tell their stories, they’ll tell you they had to use their phone to shoot in their debut and everything. I had to use my phone at one point, but I had the opportunity to buy a camera to test things I was watching on YouTube. There are plenty of up-and-coming filmmakers like this out there who need to test things they’ve verified online. It’s one of the reasons why Family as a company has launched a free camera program where up-and-coming filmmakers can just email us and get a camera to test out what they see. on line.

So what would you describe as your most important project of all time?

I think this will be the project I photographed for Paris Fashion Week. This is my biggest project because it was about celebrating black culture. And it was amazing that they selected people from all over the world and I was named one of the directors from Africa. Remember, this was 2020 during the pandemic.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

Only very few people shot videos during the pandemic. But I’ve always been a person of times and seasons. There is a time for everything and there is a season for everything. The whole world felt like it had stopped and I took that moment as an opportunity for me to wonder what was next.

During the pandemic, there wasn’t so much money and stuff, but I found that a blessing in a way that I could actually restructure my goals and whatever I wanted to do. And that’s when ideas like Family were born.

What does your creative process look like?

It depends on what particular project it is. For different projects, there are different processes. Take a video clip for example. I get the song, listen to it a million times, check out the artist on social media and just check out what kind of brand they have and how I could best represent them through video.

And the reason I’ve always had this form of thinking is because the guys I started working with – Odunsi, Santi and tastes – have always been very important to brand image and how they are perceived. Then I take inspiration from things ranging from the title of the song to a word in the lyrics, to my immediate surroundings or an experience I’m going through.

What new ways do you envision expressing your creativity beyond making videos?

I consider myself an artist. So I will most likely do exhibitions at some point, where I’ll probably show stills from videos I’ve worked on in conjunction with the DOPs I’ve worked with. Also, I think in the next two years I will probably focus more on supporting independent filmmakers in Africa. I feel that is my only goal. This is exactly what I want to do with my life.

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