Ladder, Lex & Booker (LL&B): Young Entrepreneurs Elevating Visual Productions in Nigeria

//
This story was supported by Heirs Life, Heirs General Insurance, and Africa No Filter. Produced by Nasir Ahmed Achile.

In the ever-evolving tapestry of creativity and innovation, Ladder, Lex, and Booker (LL&B), a highly capable group linked not only by familial & friendly ties but by an unwavering fervor for creative exploration, have embarked on an awe-inspiring journey.

Their voyage has led them from the dramatic stages of theater to the captivating realm of commercial production. Founded by the visionary of Ebuka, Chisom, Damola and Cheese, this production powerhouse stands as an emblem of unrelenting growth, ceaseless curiosity, and an innate ability to surmount challenges.

Ebuka Nwobu

At the epicenter of LL&B’s artistic universe is Ebuka Nwobu, the lead producer, who possesses a great ability to find innovation amid chaos. Nestled in the heart of Lagos, LL&B has carved an indelible niche for itself within the creative and entertainment industry.

Chisom

Beginning their odyssey in the eclectic altè scene, they have transcended boundaries and ventured into diverse sectors, leaving an indelible mark wherever they tread.

Damola

Their illustrious portfolio gleams with the credits of iconic projects such as Tems’ soul-stirring “Try Me” and Ckay’s enchanting “Emiliana.” Beyond these musical marvels, LL&B has also lent their creative prowess to commercials for renowned brands such as Guinness, OctaFX, and ThePocketApp, among others.

Cheese

In an industry often marred by chaos and a lack of structure, LL&B hasn’t merely survived but flourished, crafting a sturdy path for future generations and offering abundant opportunities within the entertainment industry.

However, LL&B is more than just a production company; it’s a collective of young visionaries determined to push the boundaries of media and entertainment. As we embark on this captivating journey, we will delve deep into the challenges they’ve fearlessly conquered and the countless opportunities they’ve artfully forged.

Their story is an ever-evolving narrative of creativity, innovation, and boundless possibilities – a testament to the indomitable spirit of artists who transform dreams into reality.

Can you speak a bit about how you guys came together.

Ebuka Nwobu: We’re a production company based in Lagos, Nigeria. It started out with me and two of my friends who are no longer in the country, so it has evolved into somewhat a family business run by Chisom Nwobu and I, and also Damola and Cheese

From our very early years of experiencing creativity, we’ve always sort of done things together. From children’s drama in church and things like that, cause our dad is a pastor so we’ve always been involved in those things.

So, at the point where I started venturing into content creation and production, the earliest shoot I did was an interview with Falz many years ago, and I remember that Chisom was also a part of that. So it was kind of like a natural evolution into what we’re doing now, and eventually the Gen-Zs among us eventually joined. Cheese and Damola were classmates in secondary school, so it’s kind of like a family thing by blood or by bond.

Did you guys see a particular gap production landscape that needed filling?

Chisom: I feel like we were just drawn to it and felt the need to do

Ebuka: I’d say there was a gap, but the gap might not have been the reason. The reason we’re doing this is because this is what we’re meant to do, but then in terms of seeing a gap, there’s definitely a gap in quality and excellence in different industries, whether fashion, film, live experiences, etc, because we’re a developing country there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Personally, I used to watch a lot of E! growing up, and a lot of other things. I always felt like how come we don’t have these things here, the kind of things that I personally found interesting, there were a lot of shows, but there was nothing that was speaking to me in the way that those American ones were speaking to me. I guess in the corner of my mind I thought to do something that felt like that.

There’s really nothing else that we would have done other than this because from when we were young we were always doing things like this, so even being able to recognize that vacuum is because we were already in it.

How is it like running a production company in Nigeria?

Cheese: First of all you need to hold your mind firm, cause when you come on set, even before the actual shoot, things are often going up and down, left and right, so if you’re not in a sound mind and organized, you’ll struggle.

Ebuka: Yeah, I think that’s the key thing you need to handle a project anywhere in the world but especially in Nigeria, through pre-production, production and post-production.

Pre-production is pretty much visualizing the project in your mind, working through all the steps, and as a producer, your job is to figure out everything you need at any given point, and make sure that the things are ready before you get on set.

And when you get on set, that’s the actual production, you’ll find that some things you prepared might not work in real life, or the person that’s responsible for it just fucks you up, and that’s where your damage control instincts kick in.

And whatever you’re able to do in production, post-production is where everything comes together. That’s speaking for film in particular, but there’s things like events which we also do these days, but essentially if there’s anything you need, it’s organization and balls.

Chisom: And the ability to think on your feet. Someone said production is 40% preparation and 60% damage control. You finish planning things to go some way then it doesn’t happen when you get on set so you have to think on your feet.

Ebuka: Even the one that we’re doing today, we’re in a round of damage control, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that shit is going left, but that’s because of how often shit goes left.

How different is it from when you first started to now?

Damola: When I joined the company we used to do music videos, and other smaller forms of content for brands, but now we’ve progressed to TV commercials and a production of our own event.

What’re some significant challenges that you’ve had to overcome that?

Ebuka: I think the most significant challenge is the lack of structure in Nigeria. Cause with everything in Nigeria, there’s an industry but there’s no industry, so you have to create the industry in a way. For example, there’s directors unions and all those things but they do’t really hold sway, so who’s representing your interests. There’s no defined way to do a budget, there’s no defined way to go about getting jobs. You pretty much have to figure out everything yourself. There’s no defined way for productions to work. SO if there’s any big challenge, I’ll just say the lack of structure in Nigeria.

It’s a challenge but also an advantage because it also means that anything goes, like you see four people who have no degree in filmmaking, are now running a very successful production company in Nigeria. That can only happen because of how crazy our country is, but that craze also poses a challenge to doing the work as well

Chisom: There should be a balance to the craze.

You guys are brothers and close friends, how does this come to play in terms of acting as support systems?

Cheese: We’re used to each other so it just makes things move easier, without stress. If there was bad blood we wouldn’t be able to handle high-stress situations together.

Chisom: It just comes naturally cause we’ve known each other for so long, and even before we started the company, we’ve always been supporting each other, so we’ve just kept to going.

Ebuka: So we’re a big family, apart from the three of us biologically, there’s three others and so it’s a very close-knit family, and it was such that in the places that we are up in, our parents didn’t really let us socialize because they weren’t the smoothest neighbourhoods so we became our own community. We’d play ball together, we’d do things together, and I guess that kind of made us bond as brothers.

I feel like that’s the reason why with Vogue Boys events as well, I feel like the energy you see with everyone, we plant the seeds of that, because as brothers we’re just doing what we usually do, and there’s so many more of us that are now like brothers. So however the party goes, as long as there’s music, alcohol, and it’s just us there, it’s going to be lit.

I feel like that energy that we have now translates to other people and they feel like they can tap into that energy. I feel like that’s what makes Vogue Boys parties like that, cause we’re usually lit on our own. It’s just a support system that happens by nature I guess.

What characterizes some of your most memorable projects?

Ebuka: Money (Laughs). But on a more serious note, the reason why we exist as a company is to redefine the face of filmmaking and experience production in Nigeria, so whenever we have any project where we’re able to push something different into the world, that’s something that’s special to us. So there’s projects like Cruel Santino’s “Raw Dinner”, like Tems’ “Try Me”, these are old projects but since those projects you’ll not see any videos that have come out like them.

When there’s an idea that’s unlike anything else, those are the ones we’re most passionate about.

Before you started this journey, and even till now, are there particular narratives that you think make it difficult for people to take chances on young entrepreneurs from this part of the world?

Chisom: I mean, the former president said Nigerian youths are lazy, so there’s already existing stigma for young people. But it’s changing gradually, teenagers these days are taking on a lot of creative practices, so I feel like people used to think young people don’t know anything, but now we’re seeing those ideas change.

Ebuka: I think the reason why people looked down on the youth before was because there wasn’t a lot of evidence of youthful people being successful. So all the reference points that our parents’ generation had, were professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, that’s why they discouraged their children from pursing these things.

But with my generation pushing these things and showing that it’s possible to make a living with dreadlocks, earrings, doing media, and it’s all legal. In my family, it gives my parents the reference to allow the younger ones pursue a creative career path as well. So I think that translates on a larger scale around the country.

Advice to aspiring filmmakers/ content producers

Ebuka: I’d say just do you, and be very stubborn about what you want out of life. If you’re the kind of person that seeks motivation from other people, then this is not the line of work for you, cause it can be a lonely road where you’re the only one that can motivate yourself, you’re the one that knows what you want out of life, and you just have to keep going at it with everything you have. If you can do that, you’ll be successful

Chisom: And also, find ways to improve yourself, find ways to make yourself better. If you say you want to be a director, watch other directors that inspire you, see what they’re doing and see whet you like in them and how you can make it better for yourself.

Tell us a bit about Vogue Boys

Chisom: Vogue boys started when one of the projects we did appeared on Vogue, and we just started calling ourselves Vogue boys.

Ebuka: After we did a fashion film in partnership with Paris Fashion Week, and it aired at the fashion week. Someone said Vogue boys once and it just caught on. In January 2020, we did a new year’s party, it was a thank you party for everyone we’d worked with the year before, and it was so lit that everyone kept asking ‘when’s the next one?’ And that’s how we just started doing parties.

Chisom: We started planning it on Easter Sunday and did it on Easter Monday

Ebuka: Vogue Boys is the lifestyle facet of LL&B and what we do, so it’s kind of the avenue for us to explore non-film ideas, lifestyle experiences, fashion merchandising. It’s an experimental place where we play. It’s experimental creative.

Chisom: And where we finish LL&B’s money (Laughs)

More Branches.

Internet Company Reaching Young & Smart Africans from Lagos, Nigeria.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Spotify Unveils Jam, a Personalized Way to Listen With Loved Ones

Next Story

Rising up the ranks, Novvo returns with sophomore single “Laide”

Latest from Culture