How Baba Suwe influenced my career – Nollywood cinematographer, Ashimi Azeez
Fast-rising actor cum cinematographer, Ashimi Azeez have spent close to two decades in the film industry.
He has worked with numerous all A-list stars and directors, though he started as an actor, but was advised to concentrate on cinematography which he loves so much.
Azeez cut his acting teeth learning from the like of veterans actors, Babatunde Omidina also known as Baba Suwe and Kunle Adegbite, who he viewed as a father figure.
During his learning process, he came in contacts with many directors in the industry and Baba Suwe’s name paved way for him.
In this interview he spoke to Adelowo Adebumiti on his journey in the movie industry, challenges, some of the movies he worked on and his hope for the future in the industry.
Tell us about your journey into the movie industry?
I started learning acting from Baba Suwe in 1999, before I later went to a man I see as a father, Kunle Adegbite to learn about working behind the camera.
What is your experience like learning under Baba Suwe?
When I was with him, it was all just about the camera. At the time, he bought different cameras so I had the opportunity to see more cameras and even know about them. He employed Blessing Adejumo and me as camera assistants. We were told to take cameras to every location and that was how I started learning more about it and in the process of learning and handling cameras, I even got the nickname Azeez Baba Suwe.
How did learning under Baba Suwe impact your career?
It did help my career because Babasuwe is a veteran and highly respected in the industry and also Kunle Adegbite, the director of production (DOP), who taught me how to operate cameras then. So it really helped me come in contact with almost all the big directors in the industry and everything I gained from them, plus everything I learned is helping me in my career.
Do you combine acting with cinematography?
I am currently concentrating more in cinematography. Back then, when Odufuye Niyi popularly known as Aare, the producer of Gbomogbomo, a popular TV series on Africa Magic Yoruba took me to Tajudeen Gbadamosi, I concluded on my own that it was better I concentrate on acting. But these two great people advised me and insisted that I should learn cinematography. So today, I only get to feature in minor roles in movies. I eventually made up my mind and decided to dedicate more of my time to cinematography and I thank God for that decision, I enjoy what I am doing.
Can you talk about the movies you have worked on?
I have worked on countless number of movies, but I am the DOP of Kenny George, Afeez Abiodun, Mide FM Abiodun, Yomi Fabiyi, Funke Akindele, amongst others. I have worked on movies such as Jenifa Diary, Aiyetoro town, Mejimeji, Adun, Oriki Meji, Eje Aburo, Agbofinro, 77 Bullets, Four Couples, Diary of Hamzat, Kogbagidi and many others.
Which has been the most challenging movie for you and why?
The most challenging project I have worked on is Chronicles, which was my third cinema work produced by Frank. It was challenging because we had weather crisis from Oyo State, the rain was much that we had to wait for the rain to stop. Unfortunately, everything we shot there was deleted because the foreign crew members didn’t get what they wanted in terms of locations. So we then moved from Oyo State to Ibese town in the east, that was the first time I worked with the director, Uzar. So on getting to that town, we had to reshoot everything again from the beginning, so that’s my most challenging project.
How did you get your stage name ‘Cisse cam’?
I was formerly known as Azeez Baba Suwe all because of Babasuwe, then later when I became a DOP, I changed my name to Az. Then at that time, we were two in the industry bearing the same name and there was always a mix up, so I decided to change it to Cisse Cam, which I formed from my name and it stuck immediately and people started calling me that to date.
What is your greatest dream in life?
My greatest dream is to become very great in life, learn more about cinematography and start shooting movies in Hollywood and Bollywood standard and also work with both A-list local and international stars.
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I look up to the very best in the industry, Uncle Tunde Kelani.