Homeboy, Matesun cooks big with Emmy
On a breezy afternoon, Abiola Matesun sits comfortably in front of a computer. The atmosphere is calm, and the only noise is the buzz from the computer. He is enthusiastically touring the Internet regions; logging on sites offering new programmes and software. Matesun is a filmmaker, and only recently, won the Emmy Awards in two categories: editing and photography or cinematography, as well as directing.
An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognises excellence in the television industry, and is the equivalent of an Academy Award (for film), the Tony Award (for theater), and the Grammy Award (for music).
Because Emmys are given in various sectors of the American television industry, they are presented in different yearly ceremonies held throughout the year. The two events that receive the most media coverage are the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Daytime Emmy Awards, which recognise outstanding work in American primetime and daytime entertainment programming, respectively.
Other notable Emmy Award ceremonies are those honouring national sports programming, national news and documentary shows, national business and financial reporting, and technological and engineering achievements in television, including the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards. Regional Emmy Awards are also presented throughout the country at various times through the year, recognising excellence in local and statewide television.
Surprisingly, at the Awards, there had been a sudden surge of adrenaline. A man, who came before his award was announced, took 19 years to get the Emmy.
He whoops in a welcoming relief, “winning such an award is not in anyway by your own doing alone.”
“And here we were, less than five years with same award that took some so many years of trying,” he says.
With a cackle that seems to lift out of the pages, the creative lead at Malekfoto Films says, “God is good, that’s the grace of God. After the best you can do, the grace takes it from there. Without Him, we couldn’t have won. We had a lot of TV stations, major networks competing and see me, a Lagos boy, how e no be grace?”
Matesun continues, “God is a multiplier and this is dangerous for people who do not do much work. We put in a lot of man-hour, into the emotions that we wanted to convey and His grace saw us through. This is what we need (pointing to the award, which sits on box, breathing the air of Lagos), as a nation to give younger generation hope.”
Beaming with smiles, Matesun appears simple like a teenager. If you didn’t look closely, you’ll hardly believe his age. But sure, he is not a teenager. He has two kids and whispers, “I’m married to Sunbo Matesun, the lady I met 25 years ago in secondary school, that’s Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Ojo, Lagos.”
The Ijebu Ode, Ogun State-born filmmaker says, “we deliberately wanted to make a statement with the film. We spent hours on light, everything that will make it come out fine.”
Matesun says he is a born dreamer. Everyday of his life is a dream and the Emmy was dream.
He sings in an upbeat demeanour: “Emmy is a personification of dreams come true. When you look at the competitors and the resources available, it seemed impossible, but this is a symbol and it gives hope of what can be achieved if you dream. There is a small possibility. That’s all you need, only a small spark that causes fire.”
Before he left for America, he was in Yaba College of Technology pursuing a diploma programme in Quantity Surveying. When he got to the U.S., he switched to Management Information Systems (General) at the University of Texas, Dallas.
“Our system of education does not allow you to get the best of your potential,” he adds briskly, letting the sentence to hang, as he looks out of the window.
Fate clearly has a sense of humour. And for the youngman, who says he quarterbacks a team of extremely talented filmmakers with a passion and the skills for handcrafting and developing quality content, he never planned being a filmmaker.
Perhaps, a shocking release.
He was contented with being a photographer. He was doing his thing with a camera he got as a gift in 2000.
“I was a still photographer before I went into video making,” Matesun confides in his bemused guest. “I was working on a project on HIV/AIDS/Poverty and children. I had so many images, but there were a lot of stories behind these images, which couldn’t be told. So, I figured out that he needed another medium to be a more effective storyteller.”
The video maker does not feel guilty about his relationship with his camera. He adds, “I thought of videos, but noticed that lots of works were involved and is very expensive to get equipment. I wanted to talk myself out of it.”
As a photographer, it could be one-man show, but for video, you need a team, because of different aspects that require different things.
But one day, he couldn’t make excuses again.
“It came to me that I should continue on a path or make a detour. I made the move,” he muses.
He started building a team based on certain qualities that he required to make the dream a reality.
“I am a super hero. My special ability is to enable people travel back in time to relive a special moment. Filmmaking is not what I do; it’s who I’m,” he says.
According to him, “my team and I run a boutique video production company based in Dallas, Texas, but we travel around the world. We produce emotion filled videos that resonate with customers and re-enforces and differentiates their brand from the competition. We are able to streamline from preproduction to postproduction. We have created content for brands in the fashion, beauty and technology industries and welcome the opportunity to partner and work with businesses and brands looking to take their visual production to the next level.”
He says, “our company is young, its just five years old, but we are not small. The team is made up of dreamers.”
He is confident the African film industry is the future, because of its rich content. “Africa is a continent of stories. We have fantastic stories such as, Tales by Moonlight, Village Headmaster and New Masquerade,” he breathes. “Our culture is a collection of stories. Our dos and don’ts are full of stories.”
He, however, is not comfortable the way stories are treated here. “A lot of these stories are not properly told. Others are telling our stories, which is not good. We have to change the narrative, because we are the only people who can tell our own stories,” Matesun quips.
“The problem here is, the way we tell them. Our dream is to have more African stories told in a way that is ready for the world stage. It’s being done with music; I believe it could be done with the film. Thank God for Mo Abudu, who is trying to put us in the world map with what she is doing.”
Matesun likes action movies a lot, and also, intelligent movies. “From the story to the camera angles, you’ll feel the work that is put into every aspect of the movie. That’s the kind that win awards,” he says.
Any roadblock on his road to success?
He laughs. “The same challenges everybody faces. But I had to persevere. The Nigerian spirit kept me going. I was pushing and pushing,” he confesses.
Upcoming project? “No one, for now.”
“Growing up in Lagos was interesting,” he tells his guest. “I had amazing parents. I didn’t understand them until I was exposed to other values in America. The first time I came back home, I was thanking my dad in tears. I was happy I did not piss off my life. In America, if you don’t train your children, the court system and society will, which is harsher and harder.”
His advise for the young ones is to dream. “It doesn’t cost you anything to dream. In any industry you find yourself, dream, then work harder and believe with this combination any day, anything is possible.”