Popular African music video director Sesan is by all means one of the most iconic creatives in the global entertainment world. I am pretty sure that some of the hottest music videos you’ve ever watched are made by him.
From D’banj’s “Oliver Twist” to Uhuru’s “Soweto Baby” featuring Wizkid, Sesan has set the pace in the production realm by making highly successful videos.
Most recently, he partnered with US based Director X and Nigerian production bigwig Moe Musa on a music video seminar that was held in Lagos. X is known for major, trend setting releases, including Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Rihanna’s “Work”. This shows that he’s keen on mentoring others and not just concentrating on growing himself.
A photo of Sesan and Wizkid from a previous shoot.
In Kenya, he has Redsan’s “Shoulder Back” montage, which has received massive airplay.
I talked to the Film Factory Nigeria CEO on everything music, family, travel and life goals and here’s what he had to say about having to make tough decisions to succeed.
You’re one of the best music video directors in Africa, having worked with the who’s who in the music industry. I have been following your work for quite some time work. There’s one particular concept that blew me away, and that is Wiz Kid’s “Final” music video. How’s your creative process like when choosing a location?
Sesan: I travel a lot to many amazing places and I am always on the look out for interesting locations. So I have a library of different locations I would love to shoot in and when the ideal project comes up, I match the idea to the location — in this case it was Wizkid’s “Final” video.
One of your most recent works is Runtown’s “Lagos To Kampala” music video, which has topped African charts for months now. He’s a versatile artiste. In the video, you showcased the Polaris Slingshot, something that no other African director could have thought of. Where was the video shot and how do you ensure that every new thing you put out is fresh and becomes a hit?
Sesan: I can never guarantee a hit, but I can guarantee something special and unique in every video I create. The Polaris Slingshot is a vehicle I have always loved and I used it first in Wande Coal’s “Private Trips” video about 3 years ago, before people even started to know about the Slingshot. I always wanted to set trends. That’s what sets me apart from the rest.
Sesan on the Polaris Slingshot during the “Lagos To Kampala” shoot in the US.
Your video shoot for Davido’s “Fans Mi” was criticised based on it's video content. What’s been your biggest challenge in making of music videos so far and how have you gotten over it?
Sesan: My greatest challenge is the one I set for myself of creating a video that is better than my previous. I don’t mind criticism. It is another form of adoration and respect for one’s work. It shows that people are paying attention to what I do and take time to analyze the work. Everything I do is calculated and nothing is done by chance. I knew the effect the Davido video would have on the public and how it would affect the popularity of the project — I dare say it worked out well in the end.
How do you balance work life and family — entertaining masses is demanding!
Sesan: That is the toughest of all my challenges. I love my family dearly. But I don’t spend enough time with them. It’s one of the many sacrifices I have to make to succeed. They are always there for me and I am blessed to have a family that understands what I do.
This year, you shared the same stage with renowned American creative Director X, who has made mega successful videos, including Rihanna’s “Work”. It was a workshop held in Nigeria to help rising creatives. How was it working with him?
Sesan: It was very interesting and it showed that across the continents they can see our work, they respect it and also see that we are more less on the same plateau as they are — barring budget scale and other hindrances.Sesan with American creative Director X
How is your normal day like? I mean, from the time you wake up to sleep time? How often do you go vacation?
Sesan: I hardly sleep for more than 5 hours a day and I am about to go on holiday next week!
If you were to write a book about African music, which issues would you address in terms of content and quality?
Sesan: My book would highlight the creativity of our people — artists and everyone behind the scenes. We have single handedly created an industry out of nothing but sheer talent and willpower to ever think of giving up.
Which do you consider your biggest project to date and why?
Sesan: My biggest project is my next one!
What would you tell a young artist, with no budget for high concept music videos? How should they go about it until they reach the level of the musicians you’ve been working with?
Sesan: You can’t have a high concept with small budget. You can’t walk into a Bentley showroom with Toyota money. Your idea should reflect the size of your budget. However, it doesn’t stop you from being mega creative and creating something unique. That can be done for nothing or free in fact!
Who would you say is the artist you enjoy working most with?
Sesan: Wizkid and D’banj
Sesan and D’banj on set
Which your favorite travel location and why?
Sesan: For work, Los Angeles or South Africa, for play, anywhere in the world I have not been to yet!
What is that one thing that you value most in your fans?
Sesan: The willingness to learn, grow and excel.
As a businessman, what would you say is the smart thing that keeps customers coming back?
Sesan: The freshness of my brand and what I stand for.
Finally, which is your success mantra that young ambitious people can employ?
Sesan: Never give up, learn from the mistakes you make and work smarter not harder.
Watch Sesan’s latest video, “Millionaire” by Cash Cash and Digital Farm Animals featuring Nelly:
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