Nollywood Exclusive Interview With Oluseyi Asurf – Where I Grew Up Birthed My Love For Film Making

From humble beginnings to Award Winnings, Oluseyi Asurf’s story would be an inspiration to many who seek out a life in the world of film making but are still scared no one would give them a chance. From just being a film fanatic backed up with a die-hard hustle, he has built himself a name and a brand which everyone wants to associate with lately. Even after winning the best short film at AMVCA 2016 with his film A Day With Death and also NEA best short film with Hell Or High Water Oluseyi Asurf is still as humble as if he hasn’t achieved nothing. In an interview with Chiazor Daniel Of Glamsquadmagazine, he opens up about his growing up,his recent movie Hakkunde and the his life as a film maker.
Earlier this year, your short film A day with Death won the best film in the short film category at the African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards and just recently your new short film Hell or High Water did same at the Nigerian Entertainment Award. That’s quite impressive. So how does this make you feel?

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Just like every other winner, I was stunned! Not because I didn’t see myself winning but because every other short film out there were amazing and deserving too. It took a while to sink in though, but then I enjoyed my moment of glory and so far those moments grew my passion for not doing less.


What was growing up like for you, did you ever think you would one day end up in the movie industry?
Growing up was fun for me, I grew up in Ipaja part of Lagos and it was a community where real life was tested. I got to experience church life which helped build my knowledge about God and life, my street life too helped define how i dealt with situations in real time. There was no active social media app at that time so our best form of socializing in the community were visiting houses, playing football on the tarred streets exchanging foreign VHS tapes, applying for foreign schools online even when we couldn’t afford an international passport; entering for international essay contest online via cyber café and visiting friends to share in their foods, real life, real connection, real people. All of these helped build up my passion into the amazing world of creativity, I love to watch Mainframe Films a lot. Shaworo Ide was my favorite, that film influenced my passion to do films. At first, I wanted to be an actor but then I realize I’m too shy a guy so I settled for a camera and a pc. I started with shooting myself and my cousin with our friends in the house and editing with Pinnacle software, and then playing them back after some funny unexplained cabling from system to VHS to TV, we get to watch ourselves on our TV screen which was amazing. This was like a new game player for me. I never for once saw it as a job or a career path, it was just what I enjoyed doing and I was super willing to learn how to make it better via the internet, and that’s still the way it is till today, the only difference is now I get paid to do things I love doing for fun and I’m gradually growing on it.

Hell or High water has got such a controversial theme which our Nigerian film makers these days are shying away from are you trying to set yourself apart with this short film?

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Not really setting myself apart, I just realized as a filmmaker, my job is storytelling and it can be a powerful educational tool. A film does educate and influence perception; every story is worth telling as long as it’s a true story. I love stories that connect life, love and fear, and when I saw the script, I didn’t realize it was that sensitive until I started casting but I was not bothered because I felt if we all shy away from it, then we are not helping in building am informed society. Just like Clarissa Estes, a story is not told to lift you up, to make you feel better, or to entertain you, although all those things can be true. The story is meant to take the spirit into a descent to find something that is lost or missing and bring it back to consciousness again, and I’m happy I did Hell or High Water, because it’s already driving engagement and discussions.

So what kind of stories interests you?
Human interest stories

You made a name for yourself shooting funny skits for the likes of AY, Basket Mouth, Funny Bone and also shooting music concerts; is this also a side of Asurf that you hope to keep on a low now that you are fully into movies?

Not keeping it on the low, as you know I run an Independent production company, Asurf Films and we do all sort of videos, the only thing is, I’m just exploring films as you mentioned but it’s not going to affect other forms of video production that we do, we are probably just going to be a bit busier which is good as we can now take in new hands and in between creating job opportunities.

Tell me about your recent movie project Hakkunde which was a huge trend on social media due to its crowd funding campaigns, what inspired the movie and how was the experience for you?

I’m the first child from my parents and I’ve got younger ones who are graduates and some undergraduates. They all have this idea that I know some influential people and that  I can easily link them up for jobs, but unfortunately, I can’t. Every time I try talking them through about how to not to rely on certificates alone, it doesn’t make sense to them. I fought my brother for two years to try something new after applying for different failed jobs, I even at some point told him to go and learn auto mechanics, I’m very sure he assumed I hate him so much until recently when he started buying some food products in Ondo state and bringing them to resell in Lagos with a capital of less than N30,000 today in less than 6 months, the business has grown 300% return and he’s now an advocate of entrepreneurship. I saw him defeating his fear and exploring opportunities that existed in changing his life and now he’s a case study i use in convincing the ones still in school. I looked through him, and that birthed the concept “HAKKUNDE” as it’s a story characterized by actions and reactions that defines the everyday Nigerian society, with its ups and downs and with a particular focus on the life of a job hunting graduate “Akande” who found himself in totality while searching for a job and a better life. It highlights the merits of steadfastness, humility and self-denial and also espouses the gains of harnessing opportunities, delimiting the much-celebrated mediocrity of high handedness, divulging the demerits of pride, greed and inconsistency. It was short majorly in the Northern part of Nigeria and Lagos, and my life changed during the course of the project. My orientation and perception about the Northern part of Nigeria changed, and it all boosted my belief that we are amazing people even in the face of many challenges. It starred actors like Kunle Idowu (Frank Donga), Toyin Ahimaku, Mama Bukky Ajayi, Rahama Sadau, Ali Nuhu, Ibrahim Daddy, Maryam Booth, Tuby Aiyedehin and lots more.

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There had been some speculations that your movie Hakkunde would be the biggest movie in 2017, how true is this?


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I’ll be super excited to see that speculations come to life “smiles”, this is my first feature and I put in my life in it. We had a fantastic cast and crew with a great story, so I have strong conviction that this is going to be a mind blowing experience for the audience.

When should we expect Hakkunde in the cinemas?
We intend rolling some private screenings by end of 2016 and should be in Cinema by 1st quarter of 2017.


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Why was Frank Donga the perfect character for this role and how was your experience with the cast and crew?

Frank Donga is amazing individual, prior to casting him, I’ve seen some of his comedy skits and after developing the character “Akande” I didn’t think twice about him, I just followed my instinct but guess what, my first meeting with him in person made me realize I couldn’t have gotten someone else to play the character better than Kunle. His first question was “Sorry bros, how much of me do you know before writing this script?” and I laughed and was so honest to tell him little than just his videos on Instagram but my instinct struck with you when I was building the character and that’s it, then he opened up that, “This is actually his true life story”. There is a lot of coincidence between The Real Kunle Idowu and Akande in the movie Hakkunde, from his struggle to what he actually studied in school to his growing up and all, but I’ll leave that for you all to discover in the movie “Hakkunde”. He and the rest of the cast and crew took the project like they owned it, and even in the middle of challenges, everybody pull in their best to see the success of this amazing story.

What is the most important aspect of building a great character?
For me I think, conflicts, fears, flaws and emotions are key elements I mostly considered when building my characters. Basically, what makes them human and worth believing of existence for the audience to relate.
What has kept you going all these years?
Prayer, Hard work and fear of failure.

How is your relationship with your family despite your workaholic schedules?

I have a wonderful family, and they have full knowledge of how demanding my job can be and I try so much to make sure there’s no conflict between my work life and family life. When I’m not working, we do have our little ways of hanging out, gossiping and sharing real life.

Your son currently has more than a thousand followers on Instagram, is this a way of you putting him out on the limelight just before he becomes of age?

Yes, like every parent, we want our children to be more than us, I would love to see one of my children explore my industry in future, although my son pose to be a good physiologist as he observe and study people around him a lot in his shyness, but I’m open to support them in any career path chosen, they can always ride on the brand “Asurf” anytime.

What has been your biggest challenge in the industry?
I don’t really see challenges honestly, I’m pretty much young in the industry so I see every blocks a stop to break to move to a bigger block. I love challenges, it makes me better.

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If you were to pick between movies and any other profession, which would it be?

Story-Telling “Smiles”

Do you have young people you mentor, those who look up to you for advice and motivation?

Yes I do have some I actually trained and mentor, and I’m open to guide more with my little understandings in film and life.


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What does it really take to be successful in the film industry?
Explore, be a partaker and not just talkers, shoot and keep shooting even if they are very bad and be smart about monetization.

What are your two favorite quotes and advice to struggling talents?

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear – Jack Canfield”
“ It always seems impossible until it’s done – Nelson Mandela
And my advice for struggling talent is, if you truly love films, then study films, watch movies, explore free tutorials on internet and shoot, don’t stop shooting even when people say it’s crappy, shoot another one and make it better. Be aggressive in learning and have an open mind to information of things happening around the world.

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Glamsquad magazine is an independently operated online fashion, beauty, style, entertainment, and health blog. Its features are both inspirational and accessible, giving our followers a scoop on what's trending now in the fashion, beauty, style, and entertainment industry.

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