#Watchlist: The Alien On Directing BOJ, Ajebutter22 & Falz’s “Ronaldo”

December 6, 2019

For creators, inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. That’s why we created #Watchlist — a series that asks Nigerian video directors to list the most interesting things that influenced their creative choices while shooting.

A week ago, BOJ, Ajebutter22 and Falz dropped their collaborative EP, Make E No Cause Fight 2 — a worthy follow-up to BOJ and Ajebutter’s 2018 release of the same name. On the same day, they shared the captivating video for the project’s standout track, “Ronaldo”.

So, we decided to sit down with the man behind the clip, Adebayo Fakiyesi aka The Alien, to find out what inspired the delightfully original video. From Django Unchained to Falz’s white beard, here’s everything that influenced the fast-rising director.

On main inspiration:

Earlier in the year, I created a video mock-up for another song, which wasn’t approved, but I’d discussed that concept with my producer, Ebuka Nwobu. On hearing ‘Ronaldo’, he reached out to me with an idea built around that pitch, and I saw that it was perfect for the song.

On intended narrative:

The narrative was built off the simple idea that anyone can be a baller. Regardless of what you do for a living, everyone unwinds somehow. Based on this simple idea, we thought about a random Friday evening in the life of three low-income artisans and let our imaginations run wild.

This idea of depicting regular neighbourhood artisans living it up in their own way was based on the song’s lyrics about balling like Ronaldo. We sought to present a different kind of baller than the ones we’re used to seeing in the media.

On visual references:

For the earlier sequence, I referenced a Guinness documentary about the  ‘society of elegant persons of the Congo’, otherwise known as the ‘Sapeurs’. They’re a group of everyday people in Brazzaville whose way of life is not defined by occupation or wealth.

For the barbershop scene, I reimagined a popular New York barbershop with an oversabi Lagos barber at the helm; and the Dambe fight scene was inspired by the Mandingo wrestling sequence in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning Django Unchained.

Sapeurs: A Short Documentary by Guinness

New York Barbershop Rotterdam

Django Unchained (2013)

On styling:

The Congo Dandies were the main inspiration for the looks. However, in order to make ours more relevant to our Nigerianness, we aimed for looks that felt like they could’ve been thrifted. We wanted to give our characters the sartorial edge without tending towards unrealistic.

You had to believe these were 3 low-income artisans from Okokomaiko with an impeccable taste in fashion, balling out in the best threads they could afford. My producer forwarded the treatment and styling brief to Morinsola Hassan-Odukale of MOMO, and she did her magic.

On casting:

For the talent show, we went for the kind of people we would expect to see at our imaginary party, on both sides of the stage. The party cast included friends of the artists, as well as filler extras vetted by us and hired by our casting guy.

The Dambe fighters were scouted with the help of the guys behind Dambe Warriors; the burlesque dancers consisted of some Lagos-based dancers, led by Tiwa Pearl; and we found the fire-eater and contortionist by scouring the internet. 

Dambe Warriors

On the oddest influence:

Falz’s beard. Falz wasn’t originally supposed to be in the barbershop scene, but seeing his look on set and considering his comedic antics, I immediately felt like he would bring more to the scene, and he didn’t disappoint. It was hot as an oven in that scene, but Falz had us in bits.

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