• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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KUNLE AFOLAYAN: Persistent display of unrivalled brilliance in movie production

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Kunle Afolayan is of Igbomina- Yoruba descent, from Kwara State. He is the son of the famous theatre and film director and producer Ade Love. He majored in economics and started out working in a bank while doing some casual acting, before deciding to move into full-time filmmaking and taking a course at the New York Film Academy. Since 2005, he has been active in the Nigerian film industry. He has made several extremely popular titles including: The Figurine: Araromire which was in the Yoruba and English languages and Phone Swap which featured Wale Ojo, Joke Silva, Nse Ikpe Etim and the legendary Chika Okpala. The Figurine won five major awards in the African Film Academy and experienced tremendous success in the Nigerian movie theatres.

Kunle Afolayan appeared at the Subversive Film Festival in 2011 where he represented the second largest film industry in the world, the Nigerian film industry, with his colleague Zeb Ejiro. In May 2013, Phone Swap premiered in France at the first edition of Nollywood Week Paris and won the Public Choice Award. Afolayan’s father Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan (Ade- Love) was a renowned Nigerian artist of the second half of the 20th century. He worked in traveling theatre and turned to the film making industry. Afolayan’s father felt strongly about education and therefore Afolayan completed his studies in accounting. His award winning movie October 1st was released in 2014 and in 2016, another intriguing one is set to hit our screens titled The CEO. Kunle is a recipient of several awards and was recently awarded an honorary Calgarian certificate and the Chief White Hat, making him a member of the city of Calgary, Canada. Kunle is married to Tolu and they have 3 kids.

Early years

Growing up for me was normal. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon. My family was just an average family. Whatever we see on the table is what we eat. My father married many wives and we the children were many as well. The street was part of the place I learnt things. I guess that was what made or part of what made me to be who and what I am today. It helped to shape my thinking and my ideas for the movies I produce today.

Journey into movie making

I started acting in 1998. I started my own company in 2005. First of all, I retired as a banker, then, I went into acting and later into making my own movies.

Movie makers have their peculiarities

Everybody has their own ideas and what prompts them to make their movies. It’s what and how they think that makes them produce the movies that they do. Everybody can’t think the same way or alike.

Secret to your successful movies

Truth is there is no secret. I do a lot of thinking. My mind does a lot of thinking. I look at the way things are, the things happening around me and I don’t stay idle. Just barely from thinking alone, I construct movies in my mind. My background and where I am from also influences the movies I create. Whenever I want to produce a movie, I make sure that I leave people thinking, I make them ask questions, I usually don’t conclude my movies, I let viewers talk about it, I leave them wondering. I try not to entertain alone but also to get them thinking.

Choice of characters in your movies

Once I have a script, I already have an idea of what I am looking for. Sometimes, I already have established actors in mind. Sometimes, I just want to throw it open and have new characters come try their luck. It’s important that you must depict the characters that you want. Even if you don’t have all of it, once I see an element in you, I can groom you.

After October 1st, did you fear expectations for your new movie?

No I don’t fear anything! Most times, I have movies in mind. Just like now, I have 2 to 3 movies already in my head. Really intriguing movies. So I have no fear whatsoever.

What was different in production of October 1st and the CEO?

October 1st was a good movie. It got people thinking and asking questions. So also the CEO as well, it’s a really fascinating movie. Something that will keep you on edge and make you ask lots of questions. Both of them have good productions. Everything about both of them was good.


It is a movie full of intrigues and suspense which all begins after five top executives embark on a week-long business trip. The trip was intended to elect the new CEO for the company but things turned out differently. The mystery begins to unfold when the executives arrived at their destination for a business meeting and suddenly began to die one after the other through mysterious circumstances, leaving only two behind, a situation which led to suspicions.

Cost of producing CEO and official release

The cost for CEO is around 2 million dollars.

The official release is going to be on the 15th of July. That is the cinema release.

Cost of producing October 1st and how much did you make after the release?

It cost about 2million dollars as well. I can’t really lay my hands on how much I really made from the movie. I guess I made quite a lot but can’t say precisely.

Endorsements and alliances

At the moment, I am brand Ambassador to Air France, Peugeot Nigeria and Hebron (they own an estate). It’s a good thing that these industries are seeing value in Nigerian films and industry. It’s something that is really good for the industry and majority of them are not even Nigerian companies. They have their head office outside of Nigeria and they still see the need in engaging and adding value to Nigerian film industry.

Advice to actors, producers, directors who are discouraged and struggling

My advice would be that they shouldn’t give up, be persistent and put in your best.

How can film makers truly make money for their gift?

I think producers should look at the way things are in Nigeria first. Even those producers that studied abroad, they should also assess the environment first, then add the ideas together. It is not enough studying abroad, it’s necessary that you look at the environment you want to produce that particular movie. It’s not enough making movies, but then you should take into consideration what the viewers like and their expectations. This would help tremendously.

Influence of Nigerian economy on film making?

The economic situation is of course not easy but then, I thank God for those industries that help to support the film industry. Truly, it hasn’t been easy. The economic situation hasn’t been fair too but God has taken full control of all of it.