Onye Ubanatu is a producer, director, content creator and creative facilitator. He has worked in a diverse range of television shows, produced documentaries, local and international events, corporate videos, international news features, award winning short, feature films and many more. Onye talks to Tosin Clegg about how his journey started in Warri, climbing the ladder of greatness, his numerous works, being a creative entrepreneur and a lot more
I’m a Multi-disciplinary Creative Entrepreneur
I am an inquisitive collaborator with a lot of content creation and strategic event production experience on some of the finest brands and projects that are part of our daily life. My trademarks and customer experience are wrapped in the following words, excellence, going the extra mile, passion, and the ability to communicate the value of every brand I work on. Some would describe me as the creative beast and seer with an Octopus skill, who is constantly searching for an opportunity to inspire many with his story and process.
From Nothing, I Can Build Anything
I grew up in the historic city called Warri and that was where I got my predestined creative and fiery vibe all wrapped in a cool dude’s appeal form. We all seem to have a common idea of what a Wafferian is and yes, you are looking at one who from nothing can build anything. I have always dreamt of creating things, I have always dreamt of inspiring people with content. As a child in primary school, the girls would gather around me just to hear the lyrics to the latest songs and in exchange, I get to have lunch packs. Other kids used to come to me to help them communicate their heart to their crush using sketches. I did all of these things naturally and the joy comes from how good and fulfilled it made people feel. In my primary school then called Ogbe Primary School, other kids used to think of me as slightly disturbed mentally because while others used their books for study purposes, me, I spend more time outside with my exercise book using it to chase birds in the sky. Little did I know I was already training myself to be a fantastic shooter (videographer) with a fantastic speed when following a fast moving object.
Classroom was tough for me. That’s because my way of learning was different from the others. My way of retaining things had to be more visually driven and also, I had a thing for questioning the norm. Like, why is 1 + 1 = 2, why not 2.0. Oh my teachers never liked that. So, literally I devised a way of learning things myself, and invested more in studying things around me using characterisation and visual illustrations. My parents wanted me to be an engineer but the first time I got into the petroleum training institute in Effurun, I knew it wasn’t my thing. I ran away and never looked back. I created and chased the dream and vision of what I saw in me tenaciously and here we are today.
I Served in Church for Years As a Camera Assistant
My mother introduced me to the TV department of Church of God Mission after she got tired of me destroying TV sets just to find out how people appeared on our TV set without our permission, or how I would spend more time alone drawing imaginary subjects on my school books. That singular act opened my eyes to the world of TV production basics and to think that it happened in church was a blessing. I served in church for years as a camera assistant and was fondly mentored by someone called Julius Idowu, who was like a big brother to me. From there I moved to Lagos to increase my learning capacity. I gained my first corporate working experience at AV.COM and PREX advertising where I started as a production assistant, and moved up the rank to a lead camera operator and production executive. I later became a freelancer after building capacity and serving for more than eight years.
Over the years I have been blessed to bring value to people as well as collaborate with great people on diverse range of television shows, produced documentaries, features and award winning short and feature films. Projects such as the 24hr Emergency medical series on maternal and child mortality (ABIYE); the first ever Nigeria Football Federation Awards (Night of Legends); the prestigious ‘Warri Again; BUA Group’s $350m 1.5 metric tonnes cement factory construction documentary, Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency’s intervention projects; Akwa Ibom State Government’s development stride; the Brazil 2014 World Cup; TedX Youth at Maitama; Video Biography of HRM Oba Yekini Elegushi (Kunsela II) and lots more.
I was given the opportunity to work as technical director and led a technical team of over 20 Nigeria creative personnel across the desert alongside Dr. Newton Jibunor on a project on climate change and desertification.
I Do What I Do from My Heart
Truthfully, I love what I do and there is always a sense of purpose to every working opportunity. I do what I do from my heart because I feel a sense of purpose and that in itself translates to every visual product created. From photography projects to video projects and to every event I get the chance to produce, there is a strong sense of purpose. I am very passionate and very detailed oriented, which forces me to look in the direction many will ignore or overlook.
Producing the First Ever NFF Awards
Producing the first ever Nigerian Football Federation awards is a privilege. I will forever be grateful for such an honour. I must say a big thank you to the forward thinking leading team at NFF led by Amaju Pinnick. I am very pro-Nigeria and her amazing attributes the world is yet to discover. Last year my team and I made a decision to focus on the overall goal which was to celebrate the legends. The 2nd edition was a good one. Every aspect that came with planning the event was a beautiful one including the sleepless nights, harmonising vendors, managing expectations and also factoring how to express the essence and beauty of what makes a night designed to celebrate the legends of Nigerian football a night to remember.
My goal and purpose is to constantly tell the Nigerian and African story and that’s from a place of strength to inspire greatness. The African narrative is an inspiring one and this is what is reflected in my visual products, projects and also my working process.
There is Nothing Compared to Finding Purpose in Life
I believe my work and my job is an opportunity to serve in creating value for humanity. Doing this gives me great joy. What I do is very critical to human existence. Without communicating, we can’t coexist, so being part of an eco-system that brings solution through the power content creation and event experience is blissful. Creating products that drive our narrative from a place of strength and beauty is something my team and I are committed to. We do have a couple of concerts lined up for the year and commissioned projects as well and these projects will be unveiled as we deliver.
I Was Once on Wheelchair and Clutches
I was involved in a work related accident two years ago where I fractured my bones in two places while trying to film a story. The process was tough for me to handle at that time because I had to go through the recovery process of using a wheelchair and clutches but it didn’t stop me, while going through recovery on wheelchair and clutches, I still was working. I even got on a plane to Katsina State to work. That process taught me the reason why we must daily train our minds to be resilient.
I Am a Very Positive Guy
I like to see every mistake as an opportunity to learn something new. So at the moment, I am quick to tell every upcoming creative entrepreneur to master the art of discipline on time, master the art of financial management on time. It is helping me a great deal right now but I wished I knew this way earlier in my teenage years.
Being Recognised as Hennessy Ambassador
I am relatively strange when it comes to identifying high points because every opportunity for me, I treat them with equal enthusiasm and expectations. But I will say being recognised as one of the top seven creative entrepreneurs in Africa by Hennessy international to become a Hennessy Never Stop Never Settle campaign Ambassador was a big one for me.