A very large number of young men and women turned out for the private screening of Wami Aluko’s first documentary video in music titled, For Those Who Listen, inside Cappa Estate, Maryland, Ikeja. It was a good way to start the year what with music conversations and movie screening that demanded rapt attention.
No doubt, Nigerian music is one of the fastest selling cultural exports in Africa and Nigerian youths have revolutionalised music across several genres. Recently, most foreign critics class Nigerian music as “Afrobeats’’ thus making it necessary to rethink what Nigerian music content encompasses and how it has evolved overtime. The conceptual photographer and filmmaker, Wami Aluko sought to do this with this 34-minute video.
Wami became a professional photographer only two years ago as an A’ level student in England. Before then, she enjoyed taking pictures of her friends and posting them on her blog. Later, she used the photography more as an art form than just a pastime.
“I started using the pictures to tell stories,” she explained. “Recently, I did something on Funmilayo Kuti and feminism. I started doing film last year. Meanwhile, I had always had a passion for music so I thought of doing documentary on Nigerian music. I haven’t seen much done in that area. I also appreciate the import of music cycle not just the musicians who sing the songs. Without the other people in the music production, you can’t have good music. I also wanted to show how Nigerian music is so diverse right now compared to what we earlier had.”
In March 2017, she came up with the idea and commenced filming in May. Wami is a one-man movie squad-scripting, shooting and editing.
“I did it alone for about ten months. I handled the camera and did the scriptwriting. I have been taken pictures of artists especially young up-coming artists so I met with Lady Dunli, Idris King, Odunsi the Engine, Ray Taiwo, Mojo Kojo and DJ Femo so through that, it was easy to contact them and do the interviews. I interviewed music curators, DJs, music promoters and video directors, and friends who appreciate music a lot.”
In her pre-production, she found out that music, fashion, dance and other elements are also very essential to music. In post-production, she would probably realise why various personnel handle different aspects of film production. For instance, screen writing is a much-needed framework to organise the thoughts conveyed in all the shots taken and in the conversations with the resource persons in either linear or episodic sequence. The result of her hard-work is a quick mashup of videos, a few lead-in texts and footages of live performances.
The young filmmaker had to tap from her personal income from the money she earned from her photography business. Inspite of the challenge of good funding for the movie, Wami displayed amazing cinematographic skills in the way she followed her subjects with the camera. In more years, she would have strengths in editing with voice overs or telling more with camera than with words from the interviewees. For those who expect her to show the leading pop music artistes in the video, she has promised that in future, she would expand the scope of the documentary.
“The idea was not to showcase the people who are at the forefront of the Nigerian music industry but more of how their music had been influenced by other music genres across the world. We needed to show the world that Nigerian music is more than Wizkid and Davido. I wanted to show how the music has impacted on the lives of the youths and I will still do another documentary on other generations and how it has trickled down to now. I think Nigerian artists are doing amazing things.
“I thought it would be nice to introduce other artists who are also very good through this short video. I feel like Nigerian music isn’t one genre. We have other genres, call them afrofusion. During the course of the documentary I discovered more about the breadth of Nigerian music. Nigerian music also has a big influence in world music and airplays in the UK.”
She also advised that youths should stay focused and do whatever they set out to do inspite of any challenge. At the moment, she is preparing to do more screenings in the UK and push Nigerian narratives across the African continent.