My Bro is a weekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
Many things don’t gel well in my book: Garri and milk, trench coats and the Nigerian sun, and running a business with your friend. However, after spending over an hour getting to know directors-turned-friends-turned-business-partners, Dare Olaitan and Kayode Kasum, I may have to rethink my list.
These two are responsible for directing the 2021 comedy, Dwindle. And this year , Kayode was a producer on Dare’s Ile Owo, while Dare was Executive Producer on Kayode’s Obara’m. How do they separate their friendship from their work? And most importantly, how do they work together without throwing hands?
In this episode of My Bro, they talk about how they moved from creative partners to friends, avoided fights on set and learnt to support each other without crossing boundaries.
Our origin story
Dare: We met for the first time at the Paris NollywoodWeek Film Festival in 2018. I remember getting to the festival and thinking, “Oh, I’m at another Nollywood thing with old people.” LOL. But then I met you, another young filmmaker, and we just clicked. Honestly, I didn’t care enough to have an impression of you at first. But I saw your film, Oga Bolaji, and that’s when I was like, “This guy has sense.”
Kayode: Meeting you was different for me. I’d been making films for a while, but I’d never met someone who tells stories like you do without relying on a “Nollywood” formula. I also really liked how blunt you were about everything. You didn’t try to be political, and that’s rare for our industry.
Part of directing is revealing some aspects of yourself through your work. We were both young directors showing our work in a different country, and we didn’t know what to expect. We could comfort and compliment each other in that place of discomfort and weirdness.
But we didn’t hang out again when we returned to Nigeria. We just called each other once in a while. I don’t think we hung out or became friends until we made Dwindle.
The movie that brought us together
Dare: We lived a roundabout away from each other, but for some reason, we kept posting our hangouts. Then in 2020, you randomly sent me the Dwindle script to edit in, and before I knew it, you’d convinced me to come on board as aco-director and producer.
Most people don’t trust me with conventional Nollywood films, but here you were giving me the opportunity to try something new. We both put our money into the project and spent a lot of time trying to make everything work.
When you make a film with someone, you either walk away hating them or they become your family. For me, Dwindle brought us closer and made us friends.
Kayode: I always knew you were the right guy for the job. After seeing your films, Ojukokoro and Knockout Blessing, in Paris, I was inspired to make This Lady Called Life. So as soon as Dwindle came, I knew I’d found the right project for us.
Making Dwindle was also when I felt like our friendship became rock solid. Guy, we didn’t make that film under the best conditions or with a huge budget, yet we didn’t fight once. Creating something with you, and doing it peacefully the way we did, was all I needed to know you were my guy.
Sharing the director’s chair
Dare: When I signed up for Dwindle, I hadn’t been on a set in about two years, but in that period, you’d built a rep and shot a ton of movies, so catching up was hard for me physically. I was tired, my feet hurt, and I was working with a crew I wasn’t used to. But because you were there, it got easier and became fun.
If I was the only director on that set, omo, I’m sure I’d have walked out and told everyone to fuck off at some point.
Kayode: LOL. The hardest part of co-directing for me was not being able to do things at my own pace. There were scenes you’d want like 17 takes of and six hours to get it right, and I’d have done it in two hours. There were days when you shot a scene in 30 minutes, and I’d have used the whole day to get it the way I wanted. I didn’t have full control.
I was looking forward to experiencing your process and learning from you. It was a challenging shoot, but we both pulled through, and you killed it. I could tell when you were tired, and I’d step in. You also did the same for me. It was about mutual respect for each person’s process and filmmaking style.
Dare: And trust too! It’s crazy because we work together but haven’t had to sign a contract. I trust you’d do it if you say you’d do something, and vice versa. That trust is vital, especially when we’re out making ambitious plans for the future. If I fuck it up now, what’ll happen when we have to handle those multimillion deals in the future?
But to be honest, from the start, there was always that fear we might not work well together and shit would fall apart, but we couldn’t let it stop us. I knew I couldn’t achieve my dreams on my own because I was getting burnt out.
I needed a partner. We agreed we’d work on more stuff if Dwindle worked out.
Supporting each other’s vision
Kayode: There were times when you had issues with something I did on set, but one thing I like is you always brought it up. I appreciated the honesty.
Dare: Yeah, it’s not a thing of ego for me. I just want to understand your process behind things. We never have personal beef, and if there’s ever an issue, we can talk and see things clearly. It’s all in favour of the other person’s vision.
Kayode: That’s true! For instance, we had a budget for my new film, Obara’m, but I kept having these big ideas. You called me and said, “Guy, how far this budget?” LOL. I had to explain it to you until we were on the same page.
Dare: Me that I saw the script and thought we could run it with ₦20 million, but you were like, “No o!” You did the same thing when I was making Ile Owo, and I wanted a helicopter. You reminded me that renting a helicopter is about ₦2 million per day.
It’s never a thing of trying to reduce your vision. It’s just us knowing each other’s capabilities and doing whatever it takes to help make the best version of what we want to create. We sha understand each other.
Kayode: And we understand the importance of boundaries too. As a producer of your film, Ile Owo, I didn’t want to make it look like a Kayode Kasum film. I understood it was your film, and all I did was support you in making the best one possible. The same thing happened with Obara’m. We’re supportive, but we still give each other space to shine.
I also like that I can trust you to give me your unbiased and unfiltered opinion of my work.
Dare: Mehn, not everyone likes that I’m blunt sha.
What I appreciate about our friendship
Kayode: I can always trust you to tell me exactly how you feel. People sugarcoat a lot in Nollywood. I could be talking to someone for one hour, and the conversation is just them looking for ways to avoid telling me my film is bad. But when it comes to you, you’ll always say it like it is. I need people like you around me.
Dare: A lot of people think I’m just rude and mannerless. My bluntness is a big problem to most people, so I’m not always in Nollywood circles. Life is short; if I died tomorrow, I’d like to have said everything I wanted.
Kayode: I’m more emotional in my thinking. I rely on you for balance. And you can be so logical sometimes that I have to help you bring it down.
Dare: There’s a balance for sure. You help me see things differently. Someone told me recently that I’ve become much nicer because of you. Like, you’re also honest, but you know honesty is not always the best policy so you just choose to be nice instead.
I’m not perfect, and I appreciate that you can see and understand who I am without trying to force me to be someone completely different.
You came through for me
Kayode: You came through for me by agreeing to make Dwindle with me. I know you weren’t planning on making a film, but you jumped into the pool with me, and we faced it together.
Dare: You made me fall in love with filmmaking again, and I’m eternally grateful. I was out of the industry because I was unhappy, but then, you came with Dwindle and dragged me back.
With you, I found someone who understands the type of films I want to make. People tend to say my films won’t work in the Nigerian market, and no one else would’ve done Ile Owo with me. I don’t think I’d be making films today if you hadn’t hit me up to make Dwindle.
I want you to know
Dare: I’ve told you this a million times, but Kayode, your talent is incredible. Your ability to translate emotion into a film is incredible. We just left the Obara’m premiere, and I knew it’ll make people cry. I don’t think I can make a film that emotional. I don’t know how to do that shit. LOL.
I will forever be astounded by that, and I know you’ll only get better.
Kayode: Thanks, man. You have a brilliant mind, and I’ve always said I don’t know how your brain works when I look at the characters you create and the stories you want to tell. I also admire how you chase your dreams without complaining. You inspire me.
Dare: Thanks, my G. The work must be done.