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‘Infrastructure, aesthetic appeal responsible for Nigerian artistes shooting videos in South Africa’

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
03 June 2018   |   3:27 am
Stanley Obiamalu Somadina, also known as Director SOS, is South Africa-based Nigerian, who has garnered expertise in the production of music videos and films. His craft has earned him a place in the industry both in South Africa, Nigeria and elsewhere. As a one of Africa’s talented and creative directors, Obiamalu is an item in…

Stanley Obiamalu Somadina

Stanley Obiamalu Somadina, also known as Director SOS, is South Africa-based Nigerian, who has garnered expertise in the production of music videos and films.

His craft has earned him a place in the industry both in South Africa, Nigeria and elsewhere.

As a one of Africa’s talented and creative directors, Obiamalu is an item in Africa’s creative industry.

With his company SOS Media Pro established in 2014, he has produced works with such notable names as Vanessa Mdee, Zani Challe, Ice Prince, Anati, Burna Boy, Patoranking, Vector, Orezi, CDQ, Scobby Nero, Ikiri, Donald, Victoria Kimani, Nasty C, and DJ Maphorisa.

Obiamalu spoke to The Guardian about his still evolving video art, “I get my inspiration from a vast variety of things that I see, hear and surround myself with.

I can’t point to one thing but I love the feedback I get from people I work with, including the audience that watches my videos.

​A great video is known from the quality of the shots, the equipment used, the coordination of those on the set of the shoot, set design and the interaction of the cast members with the props on set.

I believe in adding a little extra for every shoot; it makes all the difference in the end.”

He is currently working on the post-production of Reekado Banks and Sean Tizzles’ new tracks and said SOS Media will come up with a TV series that will redefine people’s experience of that genre.

Obiamalu said living in South Africa has its added benefits, as most Nigerian artistes choose to shoot their videos there because of its added aesthetic value and the comfort that come with it.

“You must understand I have lived in Nigeria and so the fact that these artistes have known me from way back has benefited me,” he said.

Although he did not choose to live in South Africa because of his line of work, he said he had lived there long before venturing into directing and production.

​“I was raised in Lagos and I eventually moved to South Africa,” he said. “I had my degree in Nigeria at Redeemers University, but my desire for music videos and motion picture increased and with that I have become the director that I have always wanted to be.​”

Obiamalu has his own views about shooting Big Brother Naija reality TV in South Africa.

According to him, “This is probably the most economically viable way producers could​ make the reality show work without going bankrupt. I won’t say that it is a good thing, but it is definitely not a bad thing.

Nigeria does not give you the enabling environment. There are certain infrastructure that should be available in Nigeria, but unfortunately they are not.

The cost of running a generator alone for a full season of BBNaija will set the production budget of the show back by millions of naira.

I believe that this is what people don’t understand; the cost of producing a motion picture, whether musical videos or reality shows like Big Brother Naija, is insanely high in Nigeria and until something basic like electricity can be fixed, then there is no better choice than shooting BBNaija in South Africa.​”

While Nigeria is the envy of motion picture production on the continent, South Africa leads in terms of technical expertise, and this is a concern for Obiamalu, who stated, “Nigeria needs to do a lot and this may not even manifest in the next decade.

Nigeria is my home and I visit every few weeks even when I am not shooting a video.

I see what can be fixed right from the airport down to my street and if I am being factual, I would say that we have a very long way to go. Most Nigerian big artistes prefer to shoot videos in SA and elsewhere.

This results in loss of money to the Nigerian economy and job loss as well to citizens. There is no way anyone will be comfortable with any form of financial losses to one’s own country. But there is little or no allowance for proper shoots, as you would have in South Africa.

“I shot a music video in Nigeria recently; it was shot at Ilashe Beach. I had to use a generator to power the shoot from 7am – 9pm; I had to pay double of what I would usually pay​ if I were shooting in SA. To top if off, every body wanted me to pay them, even those who were not part of the cast and crew.

I even had to hire three armed MOPOL guards for fear of being robbed by the locals.

This is just one of my recent shoots in Nigeria. I can’t tell you about the other videos that I have shot and the obstacles that I had to overcome.”

Obiamalu, however, said that creating an enabling environment and creating employment for graduates are some of the ways out, noting that there is so much yet to be done.

The SOS Media Pro boss is currently in partnering BET, NETFLIX and FOX LIFE to produce interesting series in the coming months.

Also, he is passionate about living a legacy beyond making his own videos, which is why he established SOS Rescue to help in developing individuals with genuine interest in filmmaking by giving them training and real life onset experience.

Accordingly, he stated, “This initiative is beneficial to individuals who have little or no means of getting hands-on experience and would like to learn new skills that can be monetised and eventually that can help them be independent.

SOS Media Pro has been nominated for Marquis’ Who Is Who awards and has won the award for Johannesburg 48 Hours Film Project.”

Obiamalu also made comparative assessment of Nigeria’s current music scene with what obtains in other African countries, when he said, “Nigeria’s music is hot right now! There is no place in Africa where Nigerian music is not appreciated and our artistes are in high demand.

However, when it comes to comparisons, music from other parts of Africa is also pleasing to the ears. You can see that some Nigerian artistes have collaborated with South African, Tanzanian, and Kenyan artistes. We even have some Nigerian artistes, who have remixed some South African sounds.

Take a look at Patorankings’ ‘I’m available;’ its beat is recognizably South African local style. I believe that Nigerian music harmonises well with ​music from other parts of Africa.”

Obiamalu also spoke about the bright future lying in await for Nigerian music industry, when he noted, “Nigerian music industry is getting better and bigger.

The talent in Nigeria is amazing and artistes or aspiring artistes are hungry!

Nigeria is a very vast, volatile and creative place and in spite of the fact that it is a stifling environment that lacks basic things like electricity and access to funding support from the government, the music industry in Nigeria is still thriving.

This goes to show that against all odds, the music industry in Nigeria is getting bigger and better. The fire of Nigerian music industry is great.

Obiamalu then advised government to create initiatives that could help propel musical talent in Nigeria to a new frontier, adding that support from the government towards the development of music industry would be a great boost to what already exists.

He also commended multinational companies implementing initiatives to promote Nigerian musical talent, saying it is the right way to go.