Adams Abdulfatai Ayomide, a Nigerian documentary filmmaker with an eye for capturing the nuances of the country’s southwestern region, has garnered critical acclaim for his thought-provoking documentaries. With a lifelong passion for storytelling, Adams aims to shed light on underreported and everyday stories to make a meaningful impact and preserve the Yoruba language and culture. While he faces the ongoing obstacles of insufficient funding and limited access to subjects, Adams remains steadfast in his commitment to telling compelling stories that inspire and inform. As his star continues to ascend, the world eagerly awaits what he has in store for his next project.
I’ve been creating since I was a little kid in primary school. I was always into the theatrical world, and my teachers always gave me the lead roles. That trend continued in secondary school, where I was in the art department, participating in extracurricular activities like valedictory services and musical performances. The spirit of acting was just in me, you know?
But it wasn’t just acting. I was also drawing. I loved the Super striker character and found drawing to be exciting. I even read playtexts, like Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin. Art was just a massive part of my childhood.
Fast forward to my university days at the University of Ilorin. I’ve been directing since I was an undergraduate. In my sophomore year, I directed a practical class, and everyone was surprised at how well I did. From there, I was the stage manager for the induction exercise in my third year, the assistant director for 303, and the director for my 400 level final project. I’ve been building on those experiences ever since.
I love historical plays and have a special love for Tunde Kelani. I studied Saworo Ide for my mini project in my third year and directed Akinwunmi Ishola’s Herbert Macaulay and the Spirit of Lagos in my fourth year. After the performance, I took the disc to his house at General Gas and through that, I got to meet Baba Akinwunmi before he died, and he advised me to keep promoting the Yoruba language, which I’ve held dear.
I tell community stories because I want to create an impact and help people. I keep my stories simple and relatable, digging deep to ensure my audience can connect. I wanted to be a journalist, but now I’m making films, and it’s all about telling a story that can influence society.
When it comes to location, I go where the story is. I don’t care if it’s in Lagos or Ibadan; I’ll tell it. I search everywhere for stories that can influence a generation. And finding a suitable location is all about researching and building relationships. You can’t just show up at Ooni’s palace with a camera. You’ve got to know the requirements and study the environment carefully. That’s how you get it done.
Favourite Bodies of Work
I desire to tell underreported stories. I like everyday stories. I love it when people plug into a movie and see the reality of everyday life. For years, I’ve been observing drivers in different places, and I realise that one can express the collective stories of Ibadan people through the lens of the city’s drivers. This is what inspired my Awako series.
The premise of another series titled Uncensored is to shed light on the unspoken truths people tend to hide in their relationships, particularly regarding sexual matters. These are questions that are often left unasked, leading to crises and misunderstandings among couples.
One day, I thought that finding individuals who were bold enough to share their experiences could help others struggling with similar issues. I approached Omolewa, who was willing to participate, and others soon joined.
The response has been positive, and I believe this series will help break down the communication barriers around sexual issues in relationships. As we await the next instalment, I am taking the time to reflect and prepare for the next phase of this project.
On Use of Language
I’m telling stories to make an impact and preserve language and culture. As a Nigerian, I fly the Nigerian flag as I fly the Yoruba flag. People should see the language as beautiful. I identify that this is our root; if we don’t promote it, it will just be there and eventually go extinct. Of course, there are other people who are committed to this course, too, but I’m coming forward to contribute my quota to the preservation of the Yoruba Lineage. I see myself as a collector of data and resources for the future of the Yoruba Community and Nigeria.
The Journey So Far
It has been an exciting and interesting journey, one which requires lots of creativity and effort because if these are not there, you will mostly find it difficult. However, when you can impact one or two people, Mission is accomplished.
It has been quite challenging for me to pursue this career. My biggest hurdle is the lack of adequate funding, but I have found ways to navigate this obstacle. Before starting any project, I always begin with a cost estimate. If the estimated cost is high, I work with available resources. In many cases, I use my savings to fund most of my projects.
Occasionally, I even save up for several months to gather enough funds to cover the cost of a story. To supplement this, some of our friends also contribute to support our cause.
Another challenge I face is planning stories without direct access to the subject. I don’t offer monetary incentives for individuals to tell their stories, which could create bias. Instead, I invest much time building trust and establishing relationships with people before pursuing their stories.
In addition to these challenges, I also need to factor in other risks, such as harassment from local street gangs, aka area boys.
Most Rewarding Moment
It brings me immense joy and satisfaction when others acknowledge and appreciate my achievements. It is heartwarming when my loved ones, like my parents, express their pride in me. The fact that I can bring happiness to my siblings, family, and everyone around me fills me with gratitude and a sense of purpose.
Of all my recent experiences, the highlight must be the Oriogbade story. It was an opportunity to create something meaningful and impactful, and it’s fulfilling to know that others appreciated it too.
My ultimate goal is establishing a production house in Africa as a hub for mentoring aspiring individuals in media, storytelling, and journalism. I want to create a platform where people from the theatre world can also come and learn, and I aspire to be their source of inspiration and motivation as they embark on this journey.
Doing this will create job opportunities and open doors for talented individuals in Africa and beyond. My dream production house is a place that embraces innovation and advanced technology, where we can explore the latest gadgets and tools to elevate the quality of our work. I am passionate about creating a space that empowers and uplifts the voices of those often marginalised in the media industry. ∎