Average reading time: 6 minutes.
Hailing from Nigeria’s largest city, creativity surrounded Cozay from the start – and it was from this creativity that his success followed. The man behind this humble, creative force shares the small steps that it took him to reach success, what it was like to be nominated and win an award, and how creating good energy has impacted his career.
A team-player by heart, always making sure that there are good vibes on every job that he does, his first action after scooping up the title of Video Director of the Year at the African Social Entertainment Awards was to celebrate with those who had contributed to his success.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What made you decide to become a video director?
I grew up in the Baptist church, and I used to play music instruments. I always had creativity surrounding me. I enjoyed taking photos of things around me, and that’s why I decided to take it to another level. I came to Cape Town to study – which was quite a challenging time for me. It ended up that I couldn’t complete my studies because there was so much going on back home, my mother had fallen ill and I was mentally broken down. At that time I would watch a lot of music videos and that inspired me to get to where I am today.
You were recently named the Best Video Director at the African Social Entertainment Awards, topping a highly competitive pool of award-winning creatives. What was that experience like?
I really appreciated the nomination. It was very validating for my work and also very humbling, as I was in a category with people that I see as big players in the industry. When I found out i had won, I was actually working on my short film, and was shooting when the awards were going on so I couldn’t attend in person. Then I saw all these notifications on my phone for a bunch of messages coming through congratulating me. I was like, “Okay, this is happening for real!”
That was one of those very beautiful moments in life because I was just doing me. I wasn’t paying attention to other people, I wasn’t looking for credit. I was just focusing on myself and shooting something every day that was better than the previous day. I felt very impressed by myself. My friends and family were also so happy and it was such a success. To have gone through that and to see those names surrounding your name is mind blowing. I felt so honored, and so many people voted, from back home in Nigeria, from England, my old friends and new. It was at that moment that I felt that I was actually recognized for my work as a film director, and I thank the Lord. After that, I had a party with all my crew members to celebrate, from the stylist, to the producers, and the gaffers – everyone that had worked together in the past few years.
Having worked with names such as The Governor of Africa and Oxlade Ola what do you most enjoy about your creative process?
As a video director, I like the energy. I like creating energy, I like creating bonds. When I am working with someone, I’ll take them for a drive around for inspiration and to connect. I’ll listen to their music again and again if we are shooting a music video. I’ll just listen to them and to their music. We might not be close friends, but it will create a good, positive energy so that by the time that we start shooting, it’s going to be fun.
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Being in this industry is challenging, daily. So many times you’ll be shooting and something happens to the camera, a lens blurs, a memory card is not working, a drone smashes, a car breaks down. So filming is challenging all on its own. When I want to go film something, I pray before, in the name of Jesus Christ, please let today be peaceful. Let me just shoot this thing with no problems, no arguments. But you face those challenges. And you know that no matter how hard they get, you will definitely do it. I make up my mind and I motivate myself more and more. It comes down to having discipline, determination and hard work, while sticking to your vision. A lot of the time there are so many ideas, but to actually make them come to life in a beautiful and structured and balanced and centered way, that’s a skill.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Apart from the award, I’ve been blessed to work with some very talented people. I’ve worked with White Lion. I’ve worked with Capital, I’ve worked with Legendary, I’ve worked with Slim, Governor of Africa, Replika, and that’s helped me to become even better. I’m always creating energy, I’m always working to get the energy right, and when you work with the right people that becomes easy. It’s a collective thing. If the energy is not right, there’s always something that’s going to go wrong.
Any advice that you can share with young, aspiring video directors?
This is some advice that I received from someone that I am a big fan of. Keep shooting. Just keep shooting, just keep creating things. Don’t stop. Shoot something every day, even if you are only using a small camera, keep creating. This is how you can show people what you can do. And use social media. That was how I was able to start working – I sent messages to people, I met up with them, and it made it much easier. Being in the creative industry sometimes doesn’t have a lot of structure to it. So you need to make your own path, and it’s only when you start to do the work and start to walk that the path appears. So keep creating, every day.
Words | ASA Magazine @asa_magazine_
Images via Cozay Montage, @lordnelle, @aseawards