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Esther Kemi Gbadamosi is the CEO/ Media Consultant of Radioxity Media. A writer, cinematographer, editor and animator for over 15 years. She is fully involved in independent filmmaking as producer and director. Her films have received 4 international filmmaking awards including the Independent Short Awards Los Angeles for best female director, the best documentary at the Lake International Pan African Film Festival Kenya, Semi-Finalist at the African Animation Awards Kenya, Award of Exceptional Merit at the Docs without Borders Film Festival and has emerged with over 15 official selections alongside those from the Hollywood Verge Awards and Roma Cinema DOC Italy. She was recently runner up and third place at the Allianz Explore with Us Film Challenge, Germany. Her Documentary Film ‘OMOLARA’ is currently distributed by the ISA TV channel Los Angeles. She is also profiled amongst Africa’s leading women in Animation by Basementng 2021.
She’s looking forward to premiering ‘Agbero’ her debut feature.
July 10, 2021, we had a brief chat with Kemi Gbadamosi to understand her journey through filmmaking and stop-motion animation.
It all seemed to start when I was in school studying engineering. I wanted more people to see the see the stuff we were doing as engineers, lots of designs wasting away in workshops. Hence the decision against all advises to do my IT in NTA. I felt documentaries would do justice to telling our stories. So my first approach to filmmaking was the documentary genre. After a few years, it wasn’t challenging enough. Amidst other things, I decided to specialize in 3d animation when I left school. It was a natural for me. I have worked for about 8 years doing various projects; designing, modeling, texturing, rigging, animating etc. Family responsibilities made it difficult to keep working. So I went back to documentaries. I quickly discovered our people don’t fancy documentaries, so I added drama. I have made lots of short films and a first feature. However animation remained a part of my work. Hence, stop motion animation has been a hobby. In my free time, I work on small projects.
Why do you think our people don’t fancy documentaries?
I find that because most documentaries are very informative, the average Nigerian finds it boring. There’s usually no engagement. The vast majority want entertainment. This made me adjust into docu-dramas.
Often the case. How do we find the balance? Because documentaries as to what we are currently doing with film in our industry, can enter certain territories and evoke drastic changes where our films cannot.
True. My documentary ‘OMOLARA’ which was about Coastal Poverty, Distributed by ISA, This native ground, for a fee, seemed to have done well internationally, in festivals and distribution. Adding dramatic elements to a documentary would help engagement here and still have international relevance in terms of facts, flavour and depth.
Is Tomati your first attempt in stop motion animation? What inspired the short film and why stop motion to convey the story? And how relatable is this form to audiences, do you think this form sells the story better?
Tomati is the fourth short stop motion film. It was inspired by the current economic issues. Stop motion is the dream for me and I’d love to take it beyond being a hobby. For Tomati, the story was beautifully suited for stop motion. The characters, props, costumes and set. The subtle nuances, the ground breaking sequences made it an absolute pleasure to work on. With stop motion, every detail finds expression. Audiences pay attention to stop motion nuances. It would have been a bit more basic if it was live action.
Okay. What were the challenges of making Tomati and what is your process in creating this kind of work?
Hmmm…Like all stop motion projects, time. Time is big challenge. Tomati took 7 weeks of principal photography. That’s almost 3 minutes of clip and help wasn’t always available, most of my staff found it boring. Good financial incentive may have helped which wasn’t available. The process involved concept development for tomato farm, set design of the farm and its evolution, character customization and evolution as well as designing and creating the props. Animating/capturing pose to pose, one shot at a time. Any mistakes required starting again and then the final stage of post-production.
That’s clearly a lot of work. How far do you intend to take this form? Are there bigger projects we should expect?
Yes. I’m hoping to work on an Animated Feature like Chicken Run (2000) as soon as I get partners. I’ve got a bigger one coming up though, been working on it for over 3 months already. We are creating the set, props and characters at the moment. You can find more details on my IG page (@estherkemigbadamosi), the working title is Prepare to Die.
How do you hope to sell these products to our market?
The Nigerian audience is becoming increasingly sophisticated. They love good stuff. Interesting stop motion animation feature will fly in the cinemas or/and online, especially if we partner with a reputable production company with marketing weight. Target audience; Animation enthusiasts, kids included. Target production company would be mnet original series or netflix original.
Did you see get to see Bisi Adetayo’s Lady Buckit and the Motley Mopsters in the cinemas?
No, I didn’t.
It didn’t do well in cinemas, the african report reports it to be made with a budget of $1m and was made over a period of 2 years. How do you hope to manage such films in our cinemas and the audience?
Wow, there are lots of elements to the success of a non-animated film, so there’s no guarantee either way. Promoting extensively on critical media is effective.
Okay. What is fulfillment/success for you as a filmmaker?
Inspiring individuals positively with our stories. The more the merrier.
The governments support can go a long way in developing such art forms especially as it often concerns education and entertaining children at the least. But even such platforms or stations are not available for kid content. Such films can only go as far as showing during the day in cinemas, reducing profit drastically. How do you think adults in our society can be made or inspired to see such films in that form. I know how our audiences have come to attribute animation to be for children.
Well, practical reality. Things keep changing. We never used to watch Nigerian films in the cinemas. We just have to keep doing it.
How’s been the review of Tomati?
Great. I’m pleasantly surprised. And that means a lot.
The form gives it some more interest. It takes a certain artistic courage to manifest. I found it interesting. Well done.
Yes it does. Thank you so much.
See Tomati (2021), let’s read your thoughts