Raindance Film Festival 2021
Nigerian musician Burna Boy’s video for the track Monsters You Made, from his Grammy-winning album Twice As Tall. Chris Martin of Coldplay appears on this song, which focuses on how systemic racism and inequality lead to trauma and violence, and shows images of racial injustice in both Africa and America.
Hey Meji it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
Thanks for having me! Yeah, you know it’s been strange because I was immobile for the first year of it. But since the worlds opened zip I’ve been home for probably 15 days in the past 8 months. It’s been a super busy and exciting time to create.
Has this time offered you the chance to find some new inspiration or opportunities?
I actually haven’t had that much free time actually...I’ve been back to back on mainly commercial and a few music projects this year. It’s been interesting going from being stuck in the UK - and being busy on remote shoots - to being on the road and busy. I guess being at home allows you to have your cake and eat it...staying close to family and friends. But shooting on location beats a remote shoot anyway.
Congratulations on having your Monsters Made By You at Raindance 2021, what does it mean to you to be at the festival?
I’ve heard so much about Raindance and for me it’s an honour to be a part of the programme and the lineup and for the video to be impactful enough to be included. The team worked really hard and the cast gave their all so it’s great to see it’s being received well.
How much does your background in photography influence your style and approach to directing?
Having a shooting background is invaluable really when it comes to directing because it helps you communicate your ideas with your DOP which makes your collaboration stronger. If you know what you need
Can you tell me a little bit about Monsters Made By You, what was it about Burna Boy's music that connected with you?
Burna Boy’s music is powerful, engaging, and it’s also bold. You can feel his music spiritually and on a deeper level and Monsters You Made is one of those songs that lives in that space. You can see the passion he delivers in the performance scenes in the video —— so you can imagine how it was in the studio. When you’re given this type of music to create something with...it’s a big responsibility so I’m always trying to see how far I can take it.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
The most challenging scene was probably the whole video. This was filmed at the height of lockdown so we had to shoot remotely. It was probably one of my first remote shoots so there was a learning curve. Always thankful to the JM Films team in Lagos for pulling off such an ambitious shoot with a large cast.
How important is the collaborative partnership between music video directors and musicians?
I think this is something that should be developed more and more. Some artists love music videos and for others it’s a process but I’ve been lucky to work with some very creative artists who tend to be a part of the process which is beautiful. At the end of the day, the director is making something that represents the artist so the stronger and more frequent the collaboration - the better music videos are produced.
Where did your passion for directing and photography come from?
My passion definitely grew as the years went on. The main catalyst was realising that I could bring ideas to life. And the ideas started from small shoots and small ideas and grew and grew as more and more people got involved. I guess the beauty is that I had friends who allowed me to experiment and try things out with them.
"Don’t get caught up in being popular on instagram. Be a nice person in real life."
How much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
The main thing is more preparation and more resources to bring ideas to life. When a lot of us start out we’re creating on our own - being the director, producer, dp , art dept, lighting, editor, colourist...and the list goes on. Now I get to define the parameters and work with great collaborators in each of these departments which allows me to focus on the directing side of things.
Do you have any advice or tips you would offer fellow photographers or directors?
Keep creating and stay true to yourself. Don’t get caught up in being popular on instagram. Be a nice person in real life. And reach out to a lot of people!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Monsters You Made?
I hope that people learn oppression and greed isn’t the way forward.