Doris is the best thing that ever happened to me – Daniel Ademinokan
Daniel Ademinokan stands out among the cream of directors in Nollywood. His versatility in handling screen efforts both in the Yoruba and English sections of the industry is notable, as reflected in works like Omo Iya Kan and No Jersey, No Match, which earned him nomination for the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), this year, including Bursting Out, which he co-directed with Desmond Elliot and others.
Having worked lately on some of the best movies in the land, he is no doubt gradually etching his name into the consciousness of critics, followers and historians alike.
With a new Yoruba flick entitled Asiri, which also has the potential to be a blockbuster, Ademinokan feels like a mother who just delivered a child that is described as bouncing, hale and healthy.
Feeling light-hearted and cool with how it has all turned out, Ademinokan told Saturday Independent the brief details about how Asiri came to be, as well as the inspiration behind it, not forgetting to reiterate the fact that the script of the movie was written long ago.
“Funny enough, I wrote this script a long time ago, since 2005, I can't remember well enough but I remember what I set out to do. It was just my own way of telling a simple story and not the regular action or complicated stuff, I said let me just do one simple story from one or two personal experiences of some people I know and that is what led to what we have now,” he said.
Known as a director of flicks, a reputation that is soaring by the day, his appearances in movies like the Asiri, Too Much and a few others, as an actor, might be conflicting to some.
He answered in a manner that shows he does not fancy the tag of an actor much, saying acting is only an avenue of gaining entrance into Nollywood.
“I don't see myself as an actor, I just did one or two things in this movie and a few others and that is something you can call advanced 'waka pass'.
“I actually started out in the industry as a writer, but I have always wanted to be a director. But at the time I came into the industry, you know you have to come in one way or the other. So I entered as an actor and although my first movie was a major role I didn't want to pursue acting at all. What I have always wanted to do is to just direct and so for me, there was no case of transition from acting to directing. I didn't transit from being an actor into a director, acting was just a way to get into the industry,” he said.
There are many in the industry that would readily say they learnt their craft on the job without any academic ground, and many more say directors and producers especially must have obtained education in an ongoing debate. Without getting drawn into an argument, he said he got educated, albeit in high places and distant lands.
“I went to a directing school in Madrid, Spain and later attended another course in America, which is needed to really understand what it is all about,” he quipped.
More noted as a director in Nollywood, he once joined the list of those who hold Kunle Afolayan, director and producer of The Figurine in awe and he said that remains unchanged long after.
“You know what, I love challenges and I love it when guys do real stuff that seem to blow one's mind. Kunle is a guy that actually took everything beyond our understanding in terms of movie making and productions. I am not the kind of guy who beefs people, if you have done a good film I would come out and say it just as it is. He is my friend and a colleague, a director like me and I feel he has done a good and so should commend his job. And we all know Kunle did that and everybody became aware and then there was Ije, which came and blew everybody away. Now, there are Anchor Baby, Mirror Boy and the others as people are now firing from all cylinders. So, we keep challenging ourselves on and on, now Toyin Aimakhu just shot a movie, Red One, these go to make everybody believe we can do it and the real aim is to make the industry improve the more,” he added.
But, aside doffing his hat for Afolayan, the handsome young director said he has done a lot and come very far since then.
“I think Asiri is the latest movie from me that people are seeing now but funny enough, I made that statement after we just shot Asiri. I even asked Doris, 'why did we shoot Asiri before Kunle shot The Figurine?' I said, 'I for don wait.' But even after that, I have done Unwanted Guest in the United States of America, Omo Iya Kan and now I am shooting Ghetto Dream.”
Just while the interview was going on, Ronke Ojo, popularly known as Ronke Oshodi Oke who stars in Ademinokan's new movie, ran to grab him, thanking him profusely for the opportunity, which only reflects his standing more profoundly. But all he has done before now seemed to pale with the huge and challenging task of putting the life of late rapper, DaGrin, in moving pictures.
“The movie I did in New York is also big but Ghetto Dream, which I am shooting now, is very challenging because it is my first time of shooting a biopic, about the life of somebody who is dead. Ghetto Dream is about the life of DaGrin, and this is someone people already know and as such, it is a huge challenge. And the whole noise that has been made about the film makes it more difficult because you are on location and all the press guys are there with you. They are busy scrutinising you but that is not what I like; I like to shoot my film outside the radar where nobody will see me but when I am done, they would be wondering and how and when I did it,” he said.
As challenging as that is, the issue of the job of directing the movie, which moved from Lancelot Imasuen to him, is there with many waiting to see if he will justify the rating. He calmly said he is not competing with Lancelot, revealing details of how the job came to him.
“Lancelot is my big brother, he is my oga in the industry and he is a big brother to me on the whole and we even talked about it before I got onto directing this film. Yes, I know people would say why would they leave a very experienced director and go for a younger director. People can talk about me being up-coming and fast rising but let us use the word, younger for now. The thing is for someone to think of Lancelot and think of me is a huge measure of confidence and I should be able to justify that by doing the most I can to get a great film done.
“We will not leave any stone unturned and believe me, we shot through 5 am even this morning and I have not even slept yet. We had to buy the exact car of DaGrin's that got crashed to make sure we get the film right. I get it that no matter what I do, people will still have to criticise but I am not all that bothered either they write scandalous stuff about me or not.
“For the job, I was just in my house and my phone rang and the words were my name is so and so from Stingomania Records. That was how it went and I never knew the man from anywhere before then. But then I showed the man my film reel and after playing only the second, the man just told me to stop, that I have got the job,” he rcounted.
Married to beautiful actress and producer, Doris Simeon Ademinokan, he spares a thought for her, eulogising his wife in a way that would make the heart of any woman flutter
“Doris is the best thing to have happened to me in my life. As I am alive today is by God's grace, sustaining it is by Doris. She is my life-wire and there is nothing I can do without Doris and she is only the perfect person for me. There are many times that I am directed by her even when I am shooting. We just have the same and right chemistry, she is a wonderful person and I am just blessed having her. I am just so happy that the other guys left her for me,” she said.