How to Film in Nigeria and still be human by Niyi Akinmolayan




one of the robots in Kajola. A Viperbot

“If no one is going to do it, it probably means you should do it”. This had always been my self-imposed life code. Whether it was walking out an RCCG Area Pastor at age 15 from my church because he was been fraudulent…or Confronting my Rector and other senior staff at Yabatech for doing a terrible job since the SUG excos were mute…or making an action/sci-fi movie for nollywood as a directorial debut. This mantra gets me into trouble all the time. But for Kajola, it almost killed me.
  1. I called some friends of mine to join me in being awesome. We all had a passion for animation and visual effects. We were doing stuff for advertising companies, music videos etc. we were learning a lot and making stuff. We worked round the clock. We were making money. We called our house an anthill. I had learnt directing and done some documentaries but I didn’t care about nollywood. Those yeye people that don’t know how to do cool stuff. God forbid I made anything nollywood. We decided to work on an animated show for kids. We hoped we would make an animated feature too.
Late 2008, 2am. Four armed robbers burgled the house. They tied us up like goats. Beat us and almost broke the head of my lead 3d animator. I thought he was dead. They robbed the house for about an hour. Packed everything, ate the rice in the kitchen and messed up the toilet and left. In one moment, everything we had worked for over a year disappeared. I had let my team down. I had let myself down. I told all of them to leave and go start their own stuff. They refused.
I imagined a destroyed Lagos mainland

In dealing with my depression, I imagined a destroyed Lagos mainland in the future

I was depressed so I started writing. The only nollywood films I had seen were Tunde Kelani’s films. I thought they were unique because he used film as a metaphor for society. He was the only Nigerian filmmaker I cared about. I decided to write a dystopia about Nigeria. Using the future to reflect the present. I thought maybe I could make it a graphic novel. I couldn’t let depression win. I had been influenced a lot by the Matrix trilogy and other films like Vexille, Final Fantasy:Advent Children, Minority Report, Equilibrium and Gataca. A lot of development was happening in Lagos island and it didn’t seem anything was happening on the mainland. So I thought to myself. Wouldn’t it be cool to blow up the third mainland bridge and let all the rich folks move to the Island, start a new government and consider mainland Lagos as rebels. This of course would mean a major war had happened and only Lagos survived. The idea was so cool it kept me awake at night. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I called it “The BlackHole”
i was an expert in green screen work

i was an expert in green screen work

I had some savings then but advertising companies owed me money. It was crazy. I hear they are still like that. I went to meet the main one owing me and the the oga told me.. “guy, you lack packaging, you don’t look like someone we should pay money ”. He was being funny but to me I figured he meant I was a nobody. So I got back that afternoon, coincidentally, the generator at home had broken down so all the boys were idle. I told them. Fuck this! We are going to make the greatest Nigerian movie ever, it will be action/sci-fi with lots of effects and we were going to win an Oscar. Fuck these advertising people. I told them I had about 400k and that would do it. We would borrow Camera from Church, set up a green screen in the house and call for an audition and make a movie. We don’t need any star. The effects will sell the movie. We were the change Nigeria was waiting for. I called up my friend James Oludare to help call for an audition. He did music videos so he knew people. He was in on it. Almost everyone I invited to the project didn’t have a second thought. We were all young and crazy. We found Keira Hewatch at the auditions. She said she had always wanted to do an action movie, she was going to do it free. She became family. We started with concept art and storyboards. Jide Olusanya drew great ideas. Different robot concepts based on the story. Bisi Adetayo showed us some simulation he had done and started working on the 3d models. We were ready. Remember we weren’t making a short film o. we were making a feature.
James Oludare and Keira Hewatch

Keira Hewatch and James Oludare

James had a music video job in PH and he wanted to do some green screen work. I used to be one of the go to guys then for green/blue screen work. The music video needed a crowd scene and they asked if I could create crowd with a few people. I went to PH and I did it. I met the record label producer. His name, Adonijah Owiriwa. He loved the work and accidentally heard me talking about my film to the guys in the music studio. I wanted them to create a score for the film. Adonijah called me aside and said, Hey, an action/sci-fi movie, please I want to audition for a role. Of course we all thought he was joking. We came back to Lagos.
we made our own

we made our own kevlars…lol

We started fight rehearsals, costume making and creating props. We made everything ourselves, bombs, guns, even cool looking Kevlars. I ran out of money but I wasn’t ready to quit. Almost like he was watching from PH, Adonijah called and said “ hey its been 3 months since you talked about shooting. What’s happening. You haven’t invited me. Have you guys run out of money”. I told him yes we had. He begged to come audition for the role and promised to support us. He was such a humble dude. He came and auditioned. He did everything we asked him. He got the lead role. I got money. He suggested we find a star to play the bad guy. We thought about Eedris Abdulkarim. We visited him. He was high and was just rapping so we left. We called Van Vicker, he wanted lead role so we yanked him. We finally settled for Desmond Elliot. Everyone wanted to be part of the movie. The ideas were very revolutionary. Somehow they all actually believed we could do it. We didn’t bother doing any test to even see if we could pull some of the ideas in the show. Everyone was telling me I had a great story and a great idea. One veteran compared the story to a wole Soyinka work…Ha!! I believed we would figure out the rest. We shot for about 12 days at Veritas studio Yaba. We shot with Panasonic P2 cameras. We shot on DV tape. Adonijah suggested we come to Port Harcourt to finish the work. He rented an apartment for us and told us to take our time. He wanted to be part of history. We had a cook and 24-7 electricity. We too were set to make history. Then the post production began.
the movie was 90% greenscreen

the movie was 90% greenscreen

I edited the entire film. All Greenscreen …about 42 DV tapes. If you were an editor then, you know what that meant. The first problem was DV noise. I had read so much yet made a huge mistake of shooting chroma on DV. I wanted to make the film so bad, I forgot the basics of handling chroma. I spent months trying to fight the DV noise. Then it was time to start creating the CGI and effects. Bisi had shown us some cool stuff before filming but when the time came to do the real thing for the film, I started seeing how bad the effects were. Some of the ideas I put in the story required computation that we weren’t capable of. Because it was film, they had to be photo realistic. This was mid 2009. I was going to loose my mind. I was mad at my 3d animator. I believed he lied to me about what we could do. I had shot greenscreen blindingly and couldn’t fix it. But we couldn’t tell Adonijah. He would come to the house and we would lie that the renders weren’t ready. He never put any pressure on us. I’m yet to meet a more passionate lover of nollywood like that man. How do I solve this problem. All my cool robots, explosions etc were looking terrible. I had believed effects would sell my film and here I was.
we were careless with handling the greenscreen

we were careless with handling the greenscreen

I started cutting off scenes from the film. About 40minutes of film. Scenes that were crucial to the story were also scenes that had the most visual effects work. I found some young guys in PH led by Bobby Rak. They wanted to make chinese type kungfu films. I decided to write some new physical action into the movie to replace the scenes I had taken off. It didn’t save the movie. I changed the title to kajola. I thought that would make it more Nigerian. Adonijah kept spending money to keep 5 of us. Word had gone out. People were excited about what we were doing. I wanted to run away. Adonijah thought we should put out a teaser. That was my specialty so we did. He took it to silverbird. They had never seen anything like it before. Without asking for money, silverbird put kajola on TV. The teaser ran almost every hour. At the premiere of a major Hollywood film at silverbird Galleria, they showed the kajola teaser first. Ben Bruce spoke with me on phone commending the work. The nollywood revolution had started. Everyone wanted an interview with me. All they had was a teaser. They believed I was the shit!. I wanted to just eat shit and die. The more people were excited for the film, the more depressed I was. I became a wreck. Fought with all my guys. By December 2009, we decided to show Adonijah the film. war He didn’t get mad. He asked if we had a solution to the bad effects. We suggested more computer power. He bought them. Millions of naira. He sold a property just to have us do our best. We couldn’t give what we didn’t have. We decided to jump on the hype the movie had and release the film. We chose July 30th 2010. The Abuja cinema was new then. Ben Bruce decided we could use it for the premiere. Free of charge. I prayed for an alien to abduct me. Adonijah had been so kind to me and I had let him down. I decided to just go with it.
my body was in this photo but my spirit was somewhere else

The kajola post production team L-R: Rume Omojituko (music), Charles Paulinus (Motion graphics), me, Bode Adewole (Matte Painting), Bisi Adetayo (3d animation)

The Man who paid for everything

The Man who paid for everything

The opening weekend was something else. Lots of people queued for tickets. It sold out. Everyone wanted to see what the buzz was about and then the worst happened. People were expecting the Matrix and I gave them Kajola. They stormed out of the hall. Threatened the ticketing guys. Demanded for their money back. People found me on twitter and facebook and cursed me to death. At a press conference, a reporter threatened to slap me, a small boy for claiming I made a movie. After two days, the movie was taken off cinema. If i had a gun, I would have ended it all. I told my guys to go back to Lagos while I stayed in PH. I needed to pay back my debt to Adonijah. I offered to do any work he had for free for a year. There was no home for me to go to. I had spent two years away from Lagos and everyone. I had failed. I genuinely wanted to be hit by a car. I tried it twice in port-harcourt. Even Death was disappointed in me. Eventually I left PH. Penniless. I had to manage with a friend. Slept in the store. People would come hoping to meet the Kajola director and I would run away.
autograph things

autograph things

About a year later, Desmond Elliot called me up and asked me to come help direct a small action scene for his movie, Kidnap. He had become a nollywood director. I declined. He told me he believed I was still the guy for the job. He showed me how nollywood worked. He taught me to think about the audience and what they wanted. We began a great work relationship that continued until he left for government. Because of him, I decided maybe I could give film making a try again. I did. Adonijah owiriwah, despite loosing a lot of millions on kajola still went on to produce 76, One of the biggest movie coming out this year. Almost every member of the first Anthill crew had gone on to bigger stuff. While I had thought I was a failure, kajola was stirring up some young people. They became my students and later went on to make their own sci-fi short film. Genesis Williams made “The day they Came”. Eri umusu made “ The SIM”. Right now at Anthill studios, we are making really beautiful animated shows for children and we are pleased with the work. Most of my core staff were influenced by kajola. A lot of people later told me they started their filmmaking journey because of Kajola. I had managed to stir up something after all. In all these experiences, I learnt some vital lessons that would change my approach to filmmaking forever.
Desmond Elliot re-introduced me to Nollywood

Desmond Elliot re-introduced me to Nollywood

LESSONS I LEARNT STOP TRYING TO BE THE FIRST AT ANYTHING. BE THE BEST I still see a lot of this misguided zeal among young filmmakers; The need to be the first to do something. It can ruin you and get you making bad decisions. Apple wasn’t the first at smartphones. Facebook wasn’t the first at social media. Even Google wasn’t the first at search. Think about that. RESPECT THE AUDIENCE. THEY MATTER I learnt this one the hard way and its still a lesson I’m learning. It’s easy to get caught up in your own hype as a filmmaker. You are making films for an audience. It doesn’t matter the amount of work and effizy and hype you put into the film. If it doesn’t connect well with them, it won’t work. START SMALL, GROW NATURALLY If I had stuck to Kajola as a graphic novel, who knows what it would have become. If I had made it as a short film first, I wouldn’t be under pressure to deliver and I would have learnt what worked and what didn’t. I know all these guidelines are good but then I ask myself: Would I be were I am today if I wasn’t the reckless guy that made Kajola, hmmm… I will never know the answer to this question. Think about that too. And here’s the pdf file of the first draft of the original script incase anyone wants to read. blackhole watch the Kajola trailers below and other sci-fi stuff from my proteges Genesis William and Eri Umusu. I’m proud of them If you’ve really enjoyed this post and want to support the blog… send a donation however small to: If in Nigeria, GTBank Account name: Omoniyi Akinmolayan Account Number: 0011224034 If Outside Nigeria (dollars) GTBank Account name: Omoniyi Akinmolayan Account Number: 0210360414 Bank Swift Code: GTBINGLA let me know who you are so i can send my thank yous. email

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  • Posted: July 30, 2016 20:07


    I must be first to comment on this
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 20:20


    Yes! This is something I've wanted to ask you about but now the whole story is finally out. There is actually no problem with being the first to do something. I admire the bravery you and your team put into the production of "Kajola". If you look at Hollywoods earliest Sci Fi movies you will even have hope. Kudos to you. Kudos to you. Nollywood will never forget Kajola. When the books of history are opened up someday, this story of bravery and enterprise will be told. Kudos to you.
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 20:34

    Abosi Ogba

    Niyi, I remember I used to see Kajola teasers on STV Port Harcourt, even though I didn't know what they were called then. I remember I wanted to watch it, because yeah, it was the first Nollywood film with such idea and graphics. I never watched Kajola. The sincerity in this post strikes me. For once Oga, you didn't mention jollof rice in a post, and I'm sure hundreds will notice that too. I choose to draw strength from the part that you are still in the game now. And a lot bigger. I also choose to keep on learning from you.
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 20:58


    Waoh... U went thru... Waoh
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:22

    Idopise Felix

    Wow niyi, you think kajola was a big fail but believe you me, that single brought you to this great height today, and stirred up many young enthusiastic Nigerians into the Sci Fi revolution, I've seen those amazing work from Eri Umusu and Genesis, I read through the Kajola story and I felt like crying, what you were trying to bring to nollywood through Kajola is what I'm still trying to do, I hope to work with you sometime sir, once again, the Kajola incident wasn't a death sentence it was just a necessary mistake that needed to occur to stir up great men that would change the face of nollywood
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:28

    Tola Fabiyi

    I just have to comment in this post even though i'm sooo overwhelmed by the details of the behind the scene stories ur just sharing now Niyi. I was and still a major Fan of Kajola. I was hurt too by what happened to the movie. I felt a lot of things could have been done better cos like u said, we wanted to be the trail blazers of a new style of Nolloywood movies but now i understand better what happened. Thank God the mistake did not kill you and God didnt allow you kill yourself either! I could literally feel your pain reading the post. Infact at a point, i wasnt sure if i could continue reading. Thank God you switched to lessons learnt! More lessons can be drawn from your story first of which is SHARE BAD NEWS EARLY! Second is, you can live to fight another day! Those 40 plus scenes deleted was everything to Kajola. Delaying the release of the film to reshoot those scenes would have been the best course of action. Third, its always good to get expert advice from someone not emotionally connected with what u r doing. I remember being on your neck to help with the movie review before being released but now i understand the situation better. FINALLY NIYI, WE ARE GOING TO REMAKE KAJOLA! Maybe for marketing sakes we might not call it KAJOLA again but it was originally intended to be called but WE WILL MAKE THAT FILM AGAIN and this time get it right and you are still the MAN for the JOB! I still believe in the vision, zeal, passion and crazy ideas that led to the production of that movie and I'm glad it has helped inspire a new generation of animators!
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:33


      *teary eyes* thanks bro. I can't believe it's 6 years already. And you are right, we could have waited
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:31

    Sandra ufuoma

    Woow this is so inspirational. At some i started shedding tears cuz i could imagine the shame, d disgrace, after so much hype and many people believeing in your course..chai! To go down like dat... Failing oneself is one thing but to people espc those who not only believe in ur course but contribute to same, Ah! Its enough to long for death. But then nothing beats perseverance and hardwork. I am glad death disappointed you sir. I always urge people never to throw in the towel, there are still people that believe in u even if u dnt believe in urself anymore. People like Desmond Elliot , Adonijah Owiwirah and the crew in d case of Mr Niyi. However, No one will force u to allow them contribute to your dream, you must have the will to move on b4 anyone can wish to believe in ur course. The only thing that can ever stop you is you. Only u can determine when it is over and u are who u believe you are not what people say or think. Thank you for this story sir and the lessons attached. May ur story always be from great to greatest. U will still do that blockbuster sci-fi movie. I believe in you!!!
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:35


      Thanks Sandra
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:40

    James Olorunosebi

    Chaiii,...Kunle is so hilarious. O ni pami... hahaha. Your writing is just something else, your description of yourself. Lol. Chaiii, you are a really humorous character. Funny enough I didn't know when Kajola was released or ever saw the teasers till now. It means I was way out of touch with this world. IT work no go kill me. 2009 I was in Calabar in an IT firm. 2010 I was in PH in an oil company, how this escaped me is just silly! I think Kajola should be revisited as a series. 22mins each with 8 minutes product placement. Each story not a continuity. We can play around different weird superpower stuffs. No big explosions or that stuffs. But ordinary people with extraordinary abilities. Think of walking through walls, duplicating themselves, invisibility, making ATM machines vomit money, etc. Hahahaha.
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:54


      Kunle ke ?
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:45

    Barnabas Emordi

    Sir, You are really a brave man. Even though you wanted to give up on yourself, people believed in you. I'm glad even though you didn't achieve the kind of success you would have loved in "kajola" you inspired a new generation of film makers and you started a trend. You are really an inspiration. Thank you for sharing the "untold" behind the scenes story of "kajola".
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:45

    James Olorunosebi

    Reading through the comments of people who cried reading your story. Wow. I guess the reason I didnt cry like them but was laughing instead was because I read it backwards. I am fond of going to the last paragraph at the bottom and read, then go 2 paragraphs above and read downwards to the paragraph I first read. Then go upward again and select a few paragraphs together that make a bundle and read, all the way till I get to the first paragraph you actually wrote. This is how I read all pieces of creative work and technical work. You should try it sometimes guys, its fun. It gets you into an anticlimax. lol
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 21:55

    Uduak-Obong Patrick

    I have always know that there was more to that story. I remember that night you came to direct that action scene on Kidnap . I so wanted to talk to you and ask you plenty questions but i was stuck with continuity duties and playing the role of reporter. The Lessons you outlined here are lessons i have personally learnt and i hope younger film makers will take this lessons seriously. Thank you Niyi
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:04


      Hahaha...were u on Kidnap...I didn't know o
      • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:12

        Uduak-Obong Patrick

        Yes na! i was the reporter at the scene of the kidnap and also Continuity Manager.
        • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:21


          Nna u have tey in d industry
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:23


    I remember going to the cinema to watch it and storming out. Sent you a message on Facebook and you took my criticism very well. Glad you over stood the down time in your life, now, you are one of the baddest directors out there.
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:29


      Lol...u people wanted to give me heart attack
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:33

    Bobby RAK

    well... I never doubted you. I think remaking KAJOLA is a brilliant idea... think am... and if you decide to remake it, i still dey and with loads of experience now as you know.
    • Posted: July 30, 2016 22:38

      admin on standby
  • Posted: July 30, 2016 23:05

    Oluwole Lanre

    I must meet with you soonest. Of a truth, u inspire my world. He who fight and run, lives to fight another day. The revolution start now. I believe so much in you. Much respect bro.
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 00:28

    godwin akpan

    very inspiring... i want to be like you when i grow up
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 01:51


    To be honest I never fancied the movie. But your article has made me look at things analytically and compassionately. You really did a good job and honestly God was and is by your side.
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 02:59

    Max Okechukwu

    Am a die hard 3D artist and I thought I will gonna be the first to present my work on the big screen. I feel so good to know there are other great minded Nigerias who believe in 3D. Am working seriously to release my first 3D movie. May be if we put heads together, something greater might come out of it. Is my website. Though still under development
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 03:09

    Dapo Richards

    This should appear as Kajola: The untold stories. I think I also called it crappy work then. From the teaser alone, I insulted the entire nollywood. I watched much later, off course then I didn't even have money for the cinemas. But then it also made me want to work with you. Just like the others, I think we can have a remake sometime in the future after we finish all the Gen Gehn stuff happening in the studio now.
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 03:50


    Wow. Much respect to you bro...what a story!!! Twas like reading a script. Lol. Maybe make a 'making of Kajola' shortfilm. E go sell pass lol. Maaan I remember seeing d trailer of Kajola when I went to watch some Hollywood block buster movie, I don't remember d name now, with friends, I can't remember who But I remember Kajola! I remember Desmond Elliot in it, I remember swearing to myself I would see it when they released it in cinemas. I was soooo fvcking excited to see it! Thank God I didn't see d final cut. Seems I would have quit on Nollywood COMPLETELY!! Coz really, of all d Nollywood trailers being released in cinemas that time, Kajola was d only one that made me go.....maybe we still have a chance. Thanks for that. You're no failure. See what you set forth in the wake of the 'catastrophe' that was your film. See the lives you helped start. I'm a Christian and all, but is there anything closer to being God-like than to help start life? Look @ you, you fabulous beast you. Even when you do shit and supposedly set Nolkywood back fifty years (yes, I read some of the reviews) you still set the pace for her to leap forward 10 years. Fuck those critics that almost made us lose Niyi Akinmolayan. And God bless them too. If those devious devil spawns hadn't done what they did, I prolly won't be working tirelessly to write a 5-10 page script that will impress you right now. Lmao! Reading your story's cured my hangover. Oh well...back to saving Samantha... P.S. please, please..soon, I'll need to have a long conversation with you on green screen tech. I'm writing a dissertation for my Masters degree in school on that topic_see how God wants to use u in my life again and again. Pks don't blow me off when I email for a meeting. Lol thanks.
    • Posted: July 31, 2016 05:46


      Lol...if u ask nicely
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 05:57

    Alade Olatunji

    when I saw kajola trailer, I felt probably we shud wait a bit more to perfect... but what people go through in this life.. I still have the trailer on my laptop and rewatch every now and then cos this is the "dream" most of us creatives have. I'm a fan and being one who has failed countless times to become one of the best, I believe in your comeback. weldone sir. looking forward to working with you on somethings too...
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 07:04

    Michael Adukeh

    Honestly don't know what to say after reading ur post...deep stuff!! *standing ovation*
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 08:57


    Hmmm. What an experience.. How do you become the best in uncharted endeavors without been the FIRST to try it... that's y some of us are scared of producing with our hard earned or borrowed money except we have money to throw around or we have AJE SE KU... Cos nollyhood is still like baba ijebu Weda u agree with me or not.. No proper structure... In some serious countries, d govt would have tapped into your successful failure.. Cos atleast we know what not to do to avoid those mistakes and that's an economic asset that you can earn u more money and fulfillment than what u could have made from kajola itself... Thank God for people like desmond elliot and d producer... God bless you sir.... I'm hoping to rise on d shoulders of Giants like you... We shall revisit kajola ND make history... Look forward to working with you as an actor and director
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 10:32

    Akin-Tijani Balogun

    Wow...! I'm speechless and laughing at the same time.... I really connect with the embarrassment part, trying to just run away or kuku disappear patapata.... But shit happens, as one of "The Strong Breed" you pulled through.... Well done bro.... PS: Which day jollof rice go shele for Anthill make I show?
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 11:26

    Quincy Okereke

    Kajola wasn't a failure in my honest opinion...just days back myself and Bobby Rak was talking about how daring and brave it was to make a sci-fi movie like that in 2009...that was revolutionary mahn...all green screen...trying to fix a job like that you must have have learnt loads of stuffs...thanks for sharing the experience, don't want to seem like an opportunist, but in the light of sharing abeg how you take fix the noise? *grin*.
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 14:16


    Am stunned! didn't get to Kajola, so can't possibly say anything about it. But to know that someone like you whom I see as one of the demi gods in film making once went thru this hard times makes me truly know that it's not the beginning that matters but the end. Thanks for sharing this. It has inspired me in more ways than you can ever imagine.
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 15:16


    Wow.... well it's not the first that counts... is the best... Am glad U didn't give up
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 15:18

    Adebisi Adetayo

    Hello, its been 7yrs and I was the 3D artiste on Kajola. One of my student pointed me to this. It was the beginning of something great, and funny it was done by 5 guys doing sleepness night. I do recall the armed robber night with a metal struck on my skull and the number of painful stitches . Building the right human resource is the way forward: This I realised during kajola: the skill set was not the issue but the availability of people to train This spiralled me to become an Autodesk licensed instructor( one of 2 Nigerians with such license) in 2011. Gladly have trained many and still doing so with software license support from Autodesk. I greatly appreciate Adonijah the EP of kajola and everyone that worked on it especially my immediate team members. Kajola is not a failed project, neither are the guys who worked on it, it just needed to be taken forward. Equally, I am glad a few of my students now own animation studios and back at the training school/ studio we are producing a 58 episodes animated series for Nickelodeon. I do wish no one will try to learn the ropes by themselves, life is too short for that. Collaboration is always the way to go, the industry is too fragmented. One reason why we have made efforts to retain most of our students. No effects/ animation house does a movie alone, rather everyone leans on the expertise of the other. Nollywood is not a failed community...
  • Posted: July 31, 2016 17:09


    Wow, I just can't get the words out the way if really is in my heart...but this story is a strengthener.
  • Posted: August 1, 2016 09:02


    I haven't seen the movie, just trailers and how people criticized it. I have searched and no sight of it on DVD or YouTube. For some reason I still want to see it. And see what exactly was wrong, I don't believe a lot of Nigerians know what a good movie is, most of them can't understand Sci fi, some still think inception is a joke. I can't even imagine what u went through. But I know it can only be better
  • Posted: August 3, 2016 11:15

    Danny Nwauzorma

    Meehn, i can only imagine how it feels Sir.... I really thank God you came out alive and stronger. But meeehn, editing green screen shot on DV tapes. Hell No! I would have hung myself oh. Much respect Sir.
  • Posted: August 4, 2016 16:32


    Wow! I saw the trailer on STV a few years back and I remember thinking to myself "I really need to see this movie". I never got to see it in the cinemas but for some reason that name and trailer was stuck in my head. I felt and still feel I missed out on something big. I believe I would have loved the movie though,coz for me I always try to see beyond(opening my imagination to possibilities) . Like you said, audience. We insult Nollywood for their poor films but we are not ready to embrace new types of storytelling. The typical Nigerian audience will go see an Hollywood movie instead. Well done for keeping the dream alive. Am working on a T.V series and would really like to run some ideas by you on the reception of the audience and media.
  • Posted: August 4, 2016 19:17

    Akinnola Olufemi

    hmmmm...ever since the inception of this blog i've read many articles and rarely went back to it, but this one really got to me personally....i'm reading it over and over again. I'm so glad to be a part of the KAJOLA project....(and if u're wondering....YES I CRIED WHILE READING)
  • Posted: August 5, 2016 22:40


    Bro, you're an angel! Having gone these whole shits that many would barely survive. I'm just glad u didn't go down with the shits. Actually, it was Kajola's publicity that made me acquainted with you, cos I loved the concept and perhaps its pedigree 'the first sci-fi movie... ' Thanks for surviving it!
  • Posted: August 11, 2016 11:24

    Nnamdi Kanaga

    I remember having a convo with Keira recently about KAJOLA. I couldn't really understand the tory wen she gisted me. Reading this now, has just made more inspired. I was in ss3 dat time the teaser was evrywere and i rmbr how amazed I was. Anyway, ur "failure" has somhow charged ppl into futuristic creative ideas and at dis juncture i wldnt say u failed. You are a FORE RUNNER!!!!!
  • Posted: August 11, 2016 22:31

    Bernie Wills

    Hmmmmm. What can I say. I'm tongue tied. I never heard about kajola until now and would love to see the movie but I'm glad you overcame the trials at the time. I agree the movie should be remade and ready to help. Thanks for sharing. I'm so touched and inspired. I learnt that good things also come out of situations we call failure. As long as there is hope, faith and readiness to learn and collaborate, we will always grow and go higher. Cheers
  • Posted: August 12, 2016 02:45


    I’ve been browsing on-line more than three hours these days, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s lovely price enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content material as you probably did, the web might be a lot more useful than ever before.
  • Posted: August 20, 2016 11:26

    Akin Alabi

    Lessons well learnt. U wont av become what u became today without the mistakes u made on kajola. Nothing good ever comes easy.
  • Posted: August 20, 2016 22:57


    Wow! Are you gentlemen still in the business of creating such unique work?
  • Posted: August 21, 2016 09:39

    Adamu Waziri

    As far as I am concerned. You guys were pioneers. You actually did it as opposed to talking about it. And inspired many people in the process. On top of that you learned many things from the experience. I agree with other people who say that you should redo the film when the opportunity arises. Or do a reboot which isn't directly linked to it.
  • Posted: August 23, 2016 23:45


    Wow, so I cried while reading this post. You are one heck of a creative. Love you and thanks for sharing this
  • Posted: August 25, 2016 18:21

    Ime Udo-Obong

    Niyi I must comment...First of all I lived in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State when this movie cane out..I was so excited when my "cousin", Fony and fellow sidetracks who ate animators and sci for enthusiasts living in Surulere, Lagos.( I once lived andfreelanced for a growing digital animation firm in Adegole Street called DraxArts Limited) told me of the movie..when I got to Lagos I did not watched the movie because it had already been pulled out of the cinema s but I was so excited. But everyone told me such bad report of the movie.. I haven't watched the full movie till date but what you did is phenomenal. Todayy cousin is in Malaysia, a place called Cyber Gaya studying Professional Design and we still argue over this phenomenal pioneer effort. You are a pace setter..I've come to realize that someone MUST step out of the boat and "walk on water" like Peter did in each field and you did that in the Nigerian Sci fi industry. I know it was an expensive and if your story is to fully believed, almost fatal venture but it stated off somethings you can never imagine for now..probably when '76 hits the cinemas you'll realize..Anyway just today someone on line was asking for African Sci fi movies and I recommended a movie called Pumzi (Kenyan and South African) and Kajola..many of is appreciate you bold pioneer effort to put NIGERIAN sci fi industry on the world map. Be blessed!!
  • Posted: September 8, 2016 17:54

    Kemi o

    This is my best post. How failure teaches success.
  • Posted: December 5, 2016 10:23


    I was one of the biggest fans of the Kajola Project, but because I was more-or-less raised on Star Wars and Star Trek, I already knew that it wasn't going to be a great movie. Yet, I still joined my friend, Kunle, to help promote the movie......just so I could be a part of it. I was even asked to speak as part of the promotional team on Silverbird TV, and I did it gladly. I believe Niyi has learned the best lesson of all from this. Experience is by far the best teacher. It is a lesson we all need to learn in Nigeria. We see it all the time. My candid thoughts: It is not bad at all if you want to be the first to do something. However, first count the cost of the most essential parts of that thing. In Blue Ocean Strategy you are advised to REDUCE the cost or/and quality of the parts of our "product" that your prospects aren't so interested in, and RAISE the VALUE of those parts that you know they are. As a 40-yr old movie-buff and an infinitely-learning digital marketer, I know that this is true of the movie industry as well (And I even criticize Michael Bay on this). The Kajola script itself was where my major wahala was, NOT the SFX. And it costs a lot less money to perfect a good story for the screen. With a great screenplay, you can economize how you show all the robot effizy, and still have people leaving the show....well......somewhat satisfied. ;-) Regardless, I am still a huge fan, and I would probably still volunteer for any future participation in any future film projects. I saw the preview of 76. It may end up being one the only 4 Nigerian movies I have watched after Kajola.
    • Posted: December 5, 2016 10:38


      Oh by the way, I loved the "Fuck these advertising people" part. Meanwhile, the digital age is certainly going to do just that to them. After dropping out of Mass Comm (UNILAG) to start marketing digital printing machines, I soon learned that these guys think that the best way to "remain rich" is to steal ideas from or NOT pay the third party creatives and techies that do ground breaking work for them. But my advice would be that since you are still clearly on your way to the top, you should not "forgive and forget" them, as most Penticostal Christians would though an Adman or Agency exec fit into the category of "brethren". Teach them a lesson for their folley.....even name names......but do it in movie. ;-) That should rock!!!
      • Posted: December 5, 2016 15:41


  • Posted: June 20, 2017 14:03

    The Accidental Director - This Is Africa Lifestyle

    […] only by the outrage audiences expressed when they finally got to see the film. In a detailed post on his blog, Niyi outlined the frustrations and unanticipated technical challenges that making such a film […]
  • Posted: September 6, 2017 20:22

    Moji Wonah

    I still remember the clips of Kajola I watched on STV PortHarcourt then. You actually did a fantastic job based on those clips and I kept wondering where the new names came from. Kudos to you for trying. Also, I must commend Adonijah Owiriwah for believing in you. It was in Kajola I first heard about Keira Hewatch. Thanks for sharing the untold story of the movie. Lessons learnt.
  • Posted: February 12, 2018 20:12


    I was scared when I got to the middle of your story. I keep scrolling up to check the title again and again. I was thinking after everything, you got the audience amazed. I never knew it really ended badly. At a time, I became very scared of my own dreams, what if I end up like him. I'm might not survive it, he's strong I'm not. But then, the lesson you shared inspired me the more especially the place you said "Stop trying to be the first at anything, be the best". I'm really moved today. I'm looking forward to work with you and your crew. I'm aspiring to be a director and I've a movie I'm currently writing, it's also action but with touch of mystery and not sci-fi. I will be very happy to work with Eri Umusu, Niyi Akinmoloyan, Jide Olusanya and Bisi Adetayo. I wish we can put head together to bring my dream movie to life.
  • Posted: July 29, 2019 15:29

    Niyi Akinmolayan: The Future of Nigerian Sci-Fi Movies??? – Wakapass Review

    […] defied all odds to produce the first Nigerian CGI science fiction Kajola, A feat he later recounts as a huge failure. Barely a week after its release, Kajola was pulled out of major cinemas people […]
  • Posted: February 10, 2020 10:59

    Nollywood Filmmaker - Niyi Akinmolayan | An Inspiring Filmmaking Career

    […] feat he later recounts as a huge failure. Barely a week after its release, Kajola was pulled out of major cinemas people […]