What makes a good music video? the song, story board, hype atmosphere, the director, or the concept? Indeed, music videos as an art form are as important now as they’ve ever been. They form part of our visual language, a significant part of the culture of our consumption of music, art and entertainment. From a publisher point of view, an artist needs something bigger than social activity to get noticed, they need strong creative visuals to give them a substantial competitive advantage over their peers. They also need to be able to tell stories in way that they’ve never been told….that’s the kill!
“Even if everything is now digital, who doesn’t want to have more than just the track…I would say the track is the burger and the music video is the full meal deal with fries and Coke.”Simon Cahn.
In November 2019, I joined Lady Donli and Shaun Kalu, a budding film director who was in charge of the artist’s video for Corner on set at a location in Yaba before moving to the University of Lagos and Mushin for more footages. If something was different from all other videos-in-the-making, it definitely had to be the cast. At first glance, it was easy to tell how much thought-process was put into the selection and curation of the elements that revolved around the idea they were trying to juxtapose. According to Shaun, the song gave him a feel of an old Nollywood movie released in the early 2000s, and that inspired his direction. He also wanted to make it more occurrent with patterns that are relevant to us today – gender, inclusion, equality and women. All of this he did whilst taking Donli’s audience into consideration.
The time of the video shoot coincided with the release of Kiki Mordi’s #SexForGrades documentary on BBC and the video was shot in the University of Lagos, where Kiki uncovered sexual predating lecturers. This gave it more essence.
“It felt like we were having our own protest in the middle of the reportage of one of Nigeria’s most groundbreaking documentaries,” Shaun added.
In Shaun’s head, Enjoy Your Life campus was going through dystopian challenges at a time when Lady Donli was leading a student rebellion against Base Boys– a group of hyper masculine bullies over the mistreatment of women and people who were expressing themselves freely.
The Alfa Babes who happened to be strong supporters of Lady Donli is a group of women passionate about creating a safe space for all. The group fought against equality, zero violence, or sexual harassment on the campus. There was the Zee Boys too, a clan of effeminate men who weren’t going to be suppressed by the toxicity from their fellow men. Shaun noted that he scouted for people who were already lending their voice to these issues in real life and assigned roles that they could relate with.
This is why I wanted to do this piece with Morebranches, because it is the hub of young voices today, telling the story as raw as it is. The characters have real life and are doing stuff for the society and young people.Shaun Kalu said about sharing the idea behind the video with More Branches.
Tell us about your cast?
Shaun: It was very intentional. Vivrella does a lot of empowerment work for women and outreach programmes for kids, prison inmates. So she played the role of a sex worker fighting for the rights of women. Chris and Fola are very expressive folks, effeminate and exotic with their lifestyle too. It was great to see Chris add so much life to the video. Enkay was confident with her body despite public opinions. She recently led a #NoBodyShaming movement on twitter. For Bammy, I found her via Instagram alway putting up posts about her parents conservativeness, she happened to be a fashion forward person but still struggles with her mum. We wanted the video to mean so much more for everyone that was watching.
What was Lady Donli’s reaction to the idea?
Shaun: Donli was very open to highlighting such messages in her work, unlike most people she was so down with it the moment I shared with her. Before now, she has used her art and social channels to speak on these issues so it was easy to get her approval.
WITH THE CAST.
We discussed their roles, in contrast to their real lives; how they are able to navigate a conservative society or family in the pursuit of being their true selves. They also had plenty of advice to give.
People call me the BIG CHIEF. I am a plus size model and body positivity advocate. In Donli’s Corner video, I was a member of ALFA BABES. I specifically walked up to the group of cultists who were fond of bullying others they considered as weak. We ordered for their beating as a show of vengeance. I’m not a bully or into violence in real life but I stand to fight against oppression. When I evolved into the person I am and still becoming, it was kinda hard for my family to understand what I was doing at the beginning, but they had no choice but to grasp it along the line.
What we are doing today is for the kids, for a better future, for them to be exposed to the realities of their life and the structures that stand against them.
My advice for women is to get involved in destroying the patriarchy. It doesn’t matter the privilege you have, consider the billions of other women going through all sorts of abuse everyday. Men need to understand feminism better too.
I played the role of Liz – a fire dresser, head breaker and patriarchy smasher. I was the babe who went with Lady Donli to rescue another girl from a sexual predating lecturer. In real life, I’m not that violent because I don’t even have the energy but when it comes to speaking against mistreatment of women, I’m very vocal, especially with my social media. Despite all odds and limitations enabled by my parents, I see my family as the first society so it makes it hard to turn my back from them because I’m also dependent on them for some things so I have to be well behaved.
Liz and I are more alike or like two sides of a coin. I’m into full expressionist fashion but I’m not in my full form yet because of family but I also make sure that I am still giving myself space to breathe and not tone down my freedom. I just tweeted ‘there’s always a way out’ and that came from the understanding that no matter what circumstances or box society puts you in, your role is to scheme well and get out of it.
Be true to you fxcking self – you’re your own protagonist so write your story how you want it to be written.
(If my mum ever sees me in Corner video, my head is going to get broken).
I played myself (literally) in corner video. I was part of Zee boys, a group of femme boys on Enjoy Your Life campus. It was amazing because I enjoyed being my natural self while acting. From the very beginning, I fell in love with the concept, it was a story worth being part of. Of course I love Lady Donli and my group was in support of her government and what she stood for. She spoke for women and the oppressed, she was such a progressive and inclusive leader. You’ve to follow good leaders and that’s what I did.
The role was a little bit similar to my real life because you’ll usually find me among women. I love everything about them and I’m a feminist concerned about female empowerment and seeing women play the same roles as their counterparts on the global stage.
I wasn’t swayed by the antics of the Base Boys. Our mission was to destroy the group and make other students on campus feel free to be who they want to be. I particularly loved the styling by Hexafae and AAA3StudiosLagos, it was brilliant how they were able to pull up clothes that portrayed our real selves.
As for dealing with family, we all come fro different backgrounds. My family has been very supportive, in fact I don’t even know how I managed to get them play in my court, but it’s more than a blessing to have loved ones that don’t judge you. My advice to anyone is to keep your joy. When you’re non conformist, people will try may try to make you feel less but stand up for yourself. I feel like the world is opening up people are beginning to understand that all we want to do is live and enjoy the moment. Keep on pushing and strive for greatness cos that’s what we were made for. Enjoy your life!
I was one of the effeminate boys on campus – the Zee boys. Lady Donli had been going around fighting against inequality, so my group and I got liberated and joined the movement. In real life I am a feminist and i’m aware people hate to see anything different. It hasn’t been easy as an effeminate male but I’m just glad I have really thoughtful and caring people around me. Regardless of my sexual orientation, they have chosen to see past what they see first.
My family also allows me to be my true self, they have never discriminated me or say ‘oh tone it down’. I’ve been so blessed to have genuine friends around me who appreciate and celebrate my entity.
One advice – be true to yourself, never suppress yourself for the contentment of others. Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.
In corner video, I played the role of a prostitute and member of the Alfa babes. It was fun doing that because even if I’m not into sex work in real life, it put me in a position to speak for women who were trampled upon by the same society that patronises their services. I’m a feminist and very much into outreach programs for women, kids and vulnerable people, so doing this felt like channelling my energy in more creative and interesting ways. It doesn’t stop here, I don’t intend to back down in the movement of making the world a better place for women and I was more than happy to portray that.