Nollywood Directors: The Vision before the Lights.

By Yetunde Adeyeri

The first time I visited a set, I couldn’t help being marveled at all the camera and the lights and makeup and the actors and everyone just doing something. Being behind the scene where magic is created had me gawking like a child. But one I noted though was that someone was in charge. Of the intensity of the lights, the sound, the delivery of the actors, the ambiance around the set, this person was in charge of how the story is told and what we will see. The vision before the light.

Film making is one of the biggest business ventures in the world. From the scriptwriting to casting, production, and post-production, the process is a long and complex cycle where one inadequacy in the chain will result in a ripple effect. The vision of directors is what they bring to life through the actors, lights, and props. And these visionaries should be celebrated.

So, today we are going to celebrating five directors out of the numerous talents that we have in Nollywood in no particular order.

Tunde Kelani

This veteran 71-year-old filmmaker and director has been directing for over 35 years. There is usually an artistic lingua in all of the directorial works.

When he was five years old, he was sent to Abeokuta, to live with his grandparents. The rich Yoruba culture and tradition he experienced in his early years, coupled with the experience he garnered at the London Film School where he studied the art of filmmaking, prepared him for what he is doing today.

Tunde Kelani has become a household name in Nigeria as his movies received positive acclaims over the years. Some of his directorial works include Ti Oluwa Nile 1(1992), Ti Oluwa Nile 2(1993), Ti Oluwa Nile 3(1993), Ayo Ni Mofe(1994), Ayo Ni Mofe 2(1994), Koseegbe(1995), O Le Ku(1997), Saworoide(1999), White Handkerchief(2000), Thunderbolt: Magun(2001), Agogo Eewo(2002), The Campus Queen (2004), Abeni (2006), The Narrow Path (2006), Life in Slow Motion (2008), Arugba (2010), Maami (2011), Dazzling Mirage(2015)

Kemi Adetiba

Kemi Adetiba was born on 8 January 1980 in Lagos, Nigeria. The filmmaker started out professionally as a radio presenter with Rhythm 93.7 FM where she shortly after became the voice behind two nationally syndicated hit shows: Soul’d Out and Sunday at the Seaside. She was also a presenter on Soundcity TV and hosted Maltina Dance All for three consecutive seasons. This filmmaker has also directed some award-winning music videos including TY Bello’s Ekundayo and Tiwa Savage’s My Darlin

She enrolled in the New York Film Academy to learn the ropes about being behind the cameras and today, her bodies of work as a director are spread across the African continent and beyond its borders.
Her short film titled “Across a Bloodied Ocean” was screened at the 2009 Pan African Film Festival and at the National Black Arts Festival.

The 39 year old director’s first feature film “The Wedding Party” (a Nigerian Rom-com film) premiered opening night, at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as the opening film of the City-to-City Spotlight a become the second highest grossing movie in Nigeria that year making 450 million in the box office. Last year, her “king of Boys” grossed over 200 million on its opening night. It’s safe to say that everything this filmmaker touches becomes gold.

Izu Ojukwu
Izu is probably one of the most gifted directors in the industry right now. This Nollywood director won Best Director for Sitanda at the 3rd Africa Movie Academy Awards, which received nine nominations and won five awards at the event, including Best Picture and Best Nigerian Film.

He directed ’76, a movie 2016 Nigerian historical fiction set six years after the civil war, a young officer from the Middle Belt gets into a romantic relationship with an O-level student from the South-eastern region. However, their relationship is strained by constant military postings. The movie was in production for five years and when it was finally released in 2016 and it received quite a lot of international acclaims praising the efforts of the visionary director.

Last year, he directed Power Of 1, a movie aimed at preaching the strength of each individual Nigerian, highlighting the power of 2Baba speaking out against the country’s morally corrupt leadership.

Tope Oshin
This women has risen to be one of the best of the directors in Nollywood. She directed the sequel The
Wedding Part 2 which went on to gross about 500 million in the box office, the highest for any movie in

She started out as an actor but she made her debut as a director a few years ago. She became more interested in
Filmmaking and later studied Film Production, and Cinematography at Colorado Film School of the
Community College of Aurora, Denver, and Met Film School, Ealing Studios, London respectively.

The 40-year-old mother of four has always promoted women as directors in a male-dominated industry.
Some of her notable works include Fifty, Shuga, Tinsel (TV series), New Money and short films including several introspective short films such as The Young Smoker, Till Death Do Us Part, New Horizons and Ireti, she is known for her 2012 feature film Journey to Self.

Tope also has a thriving career as a Casting director and has cast for several film and television projects including all 3 Nigerian seasons of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation drama series Shuga. She is indeed a woman worth celebrating.

Kunle Afolayan
Quite surprised that he majored in economics and started out working in a bank while doing some casual acting, before deciding to move into full-time filmmaking and taking a course at the New York Film Academy.

The first son of Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan (Ade-Love) a Nigerian artist of the second half of the 20th century who worked in traveling theater popularly known as “Ade love”, it’s no surprise that his siblings are also doing amazing feats in the industry.

As the CEO of Golden Effects Pictures, a Nigerian film, and production company incorporated in 2005, he has produced and directed award-winning movies like Irapada, The Figurine, Phone Swap,[22] October 1, and The CEO. In May 2013, Phone Swap premiered in France at the first edition of Nollywood Week Paris and won the Public Choice Award.


Dare Olaitan

Dare Olaitan one of nigeria’s youngest filmmaker

Barely four years in the industry and this young man has already imprinted his name in the Nollywood filmmakers. His creative and eccentric style of telling stories makes him stands out.
He studied Economics and Business Management in Illinois for his first degree, but his passion for movies made him attend Colorado film school for two years before returning back to Nigeria.

His debut feature movie, Ojukokoro was one of the most successful last years, solidifying Dare as one of the most compelling young filmmakers out. he released a second movie last year ‘Knock Out Blessing’ which is an intriguing tale about three girls on an adventure to survive, which takes them down a path that leads into the criminal sector of Nigeria’s political underworld. Another internationally successful movie which adds more feathers to his cap.

With his desire to build audiences in foreign markets—to become a truly global filmmaker and “economically, get the World to know that there’s a viable film culture out in Nigeria, this young man is surely a new generation filmmaker to look out for.

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