Oluseyi Asurf: Profile of a Self-taught Award-Winning Filmmaker

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Oluseyi ‘Asurf’ Amuwa is no more as strange on the Nollywood scene as a camera on a filming set. Anyone slightly conversant with the Nigerian filmmaking industry will have no trouble identifying with him or his work.

Like every other filmmaker, Asurf is burdened with the task of storytelling through the use of a camera amongst other tools. That he is skilled at what he does is without a doubt, yet the silent question which begs here is; what is Asurf’s story?

Oluseyi Amuwa hails from Ondo state in the southwest of Nigeria but was born in Zaria, Kaduna state. He did not live long in the north before relocating to Lagos where he would eventually enrol and complete his secondary education.

Though he was interested in pursuing a degree in microbiology at the University of Lagos, paucity of funds robbed him of this dream, but being creatively inclined, he reached a quick decision to switch career paths and ventured into acting. Eventually, he entered a talent hunt for Yoruba-speaking actors organised by ‘Yotomi TV’ entitled ‘Yoruba Movie Star’. Although he was fortunate to be selected for a role after the auditions, it did not bring about the big break for his acting career.

A few shambolic attempts in front of the camera convinced Asurf he was in the wrong line of business and he took the bold decision once again to change career paths. With the camera he had purchased after his selection for the talent hunt, he began to make short video documentaries and record other things he found interesting. As his new-found love for cinematography grew, he realised how essential it was for him to undergo professional training in filmmaking, unfortunately he could not afford to pay for it.

During this trying period, Asurf discovered the Internet and with it, Google. Through which, he found a way to attend film school online despite his limited finances.

He started frequenting Internet cafés to gain filming tips online at the cost of N100/hour. When this did not suffice, he upgraded to all-night browsing binges from 11pm-6am, considerably cheaper at N300. His final promotion arrived when he secured a job as a computer operator. This gave him unlimited access to the Internet; Google and Youtube whenever he was on duty. Perhaps, what sets Asurf apart from so many others is his strong sense of purpose. With his earnings from his new job, he enrolled for a part-time programme in computer science at the Polytechnic of Ibadan. Thereafter, he took a course in editing at the Pencil Film and Television Academy in Lagos. Even with that, he still felt compelled to resort to Youtube to perfect his video editing skills.

Since then, he has worked on a myriad of projects including a stint as the in-house video producer for Google Nigeria – who would later use his story as a case study to inspire young Africans on the power of social media.

He floated his own production outfit – Asurf Films Ltd – in 2011, which he started with a staff of six; 1 production manager, 2 editors and 3 camera men. Asurf has to his credit projects like Wizkid’s 2012 UK Tour road trip documentary, as well as Simi and Dr. Sid wedding coverage. He has also worked with household brands and acts in the Nigerian entertainment industry like Soundcity, Flytime, Psquare, and Basketmouth amongst others.

Oluseyi ‘Asurf’ Amuwa was also the proud winner of AMVCA’s Best Short Film award in 2016 for his first short film, A Day with Death. His latest efforts are Hell or High Water, another short film and Hakkunde, his first full-length movie starring the likes of Frank Donga, Toyin Aimakhu and Ali Nuhu.

Tomiwa Yussuf has a background in History/International studies. With a strong bias for fictional art of varying forms, he contributes to a couple of literary blogs and is an in-house editor at nantygreens.com. When he’s not writing, he pursues other interests like digital marketing, social work and sports.

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