Niyi Akinmolayan…the big spender movie director
Niyi Akinmolayan a household name in Nigeria’s film and Animation industry. He is one of the country’s movie industry sought after filmmaker, director.
He is best known for directing the highest grossing Nigerian film of all time, The Wedding Party 2, which starred R&B music star, Bankole Wellington, well known as Banky W; Adesua Etomi, Sola Showbowale, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Ireti Doyle, Enyinna Nwigwe and humour merchant, Ali Baba, a follow up to the equally successful film The Wedding Party, which was released in 2016.
Niyi as he is fondly called is the founder and Creative Director of Anthill Productions, a media production facility he set up in 2008. At the start of his professional career, he worked as a graphic designer, website designer, and as an apprentice to Nollywood filmmakers, during which time, he hone his skills in video editing, animations, after effects and visual effects.
His debut film titled Kajola, released in 2010, was an experiment in visual effects, but was panned by filmmakers and critics alike. In 2014, he directed the Nigerian dance movie Make a Move, which starred Ivie Okujaye, Tina Mba, Beverly Naya, Wale Adebayo, Victor Godfery, Helga Sosthenes and Eno Ekpenyong.
The movie was nominated for the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) for Best Movie (Drama). The same year, Akinmolayan also directed the movies Falling featuring Adesua Etomi, Desmond Elliot and Blossom Chukwujekwu, and Out of Luck, which featured Linda Ejiofor, Tope Tedela and Jide Kosoko.
The film earned him a nomination for Best Director at the 2016 Nigeria Entertainment Awards (NEA) and the lead actress, Adesua Etomi, won the award for Best Actress at the 2016 AMVCA for her role in Falling.
In December 2016, Akinmolayan released a short film titled PlayThing a 3D animated movie, which was premiered at the FilmOne IMAX cinema, Lekki, Lagos to rave reviews. In 2017, his movie The Arbitration featuring O.C Ukeje and Adesua Etomi was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Following the success of The Arbitration, Akinmolayan began a competition on his blog for prospective writers, receiving over 300 entries; this led to the production of the short film Room 315.
With the successful reception of Plaything, Akinmolayan in 2017, produced an animated series in collaboration with FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, titled Adventures of Lola and Chuchu.
The filmmaker shot EbonyLife film’s Chief Daddy, which is currently in the cinemas. The movie is touted to have grossed over N100 million since its release in December 2018.
With a growing interest in Nigerian animation both for consumers and the animators who have been challenged to step up their game by improving on the qualities of their works, Akinmolayan, launched Anthill Business, a web application designed for potential users to create personalised videos at a reasonable financial budget, and help the Nigerian youths to put their creative mind to work.
According to him, the platform is designed to help everyone know that they can create their video content by themselves at very affordable rates, rather than consistently being ripped off by advertisers.
“Everyone can make money on this platform through the affiliate programme. All you need to do is sign up for the affiliate marketing programme and get a unique code to share with your friends where you get five percent in cash off every video made using your code,” he disclosed.
His company having sealed a collaboration deal with a Tunisian game studio, Saphir Production, Akinmolayan announce that a budget of N120million is earmarked for the execution of his animation film, Frogeck.
Giving details about the film, he said, “the initial budget was N120million in development, that is about 300,000 Euros. We have opened up for people to have equity of 35 percent. We are looking at a N30million budget for marketing amongst other things.”
“The second teaser of the movie will be released in February. We are not creating only Nigerian characters but adding characters in French and Swahili names as well as distributing internationally. We need Frogeck to travel and reach every part of Africa,” he added.
Frogeck is a Nigerian full feature animated film directed by Nurudeen Momodu, a CG artist and lead animator at Anthill studios. It tells the story of a young alien who was abandoned on a hill somewhere in Ibadan, and found by three kids living in an orphanage.