Aimalohi Ojeamiren is a lot of things, but for the sake of the internet, she is a visual storyteller and filmmaker. Her first short film won first place at the European Union Sexual & Gender-Based Violence film contest in 2021. In 2022, she produced and directed her first documentary film, After The Waters.
A few weeks ago, Aimalohi Ojeamiren’s election-themed videos gained prominence on Instagram, with over 50,000 views on just one video. On The Big Showcase today, we highlight the experiences that make this young filmmaker a bundle of talents. To start with, Aimalohi Ojeamiren shares a fun fact about herself.
“I am not as bubbly as people think I am, especially regarding virtual communication. You may meet me in person and like the easy flow of conversation. But you might get disappointed if you call me hours after our interaction, and I don’t keep up that same energy. So basically, I prefer texts to calls.”
Aimalohi Ojeamiren calls herself the Story Bender, a moniker that matches her career as a storyteller and filmmaker. But has she always wanted to be a filmmaker? Let’s find out more about this selective social butterfly.
Becoming the Story Bender
Aimalohi Ojeamiren studied Agricultural Economics and Extension at the University of Abuja, a completely different path from her current filmmaking career. She admits that her undergraduate education hasn’t impacted her career.
“Even though I was slightly interested in the creative field during my undergrad, my academic discipline and creativity never intersected. So, it’s hard to connect filmmaking and what I studied at university.”
Like most creative people seeking a primary source of expression, Aimalohi Ojeamiren went through a maze of creative mediums before arriving at her destination as a filmmaker.
From being a creative writer and artist in primary school to becoming a copywriter and 2D and 3D animator in the university to trying photography and filmmaking post-tertiary days, Aima has been on a creative roll. She summarises that:
“Everything I have done – writing, drawing, animation, and photography, led me to filmmaking. I’d had small validations along the way, but falling in love with filmmaking was the main validation.”
Aima of All Trades, Master of One
One of the hardest decisions to make as a creative is to leave a comfortable career to start a new one. Aimalohi Ojeamiren shares her transition story.
“It wasn’t really challenging to transition from copywriting to filmmaking because both careers involve writing, and I already had good writing experience. The main challenges included having the right filmmaking equipment and earning as an independent filmmaker. There is an endless need for expensive filmmaking equipment; getting funds to buy them is hard, and it takes a while to make returns on investment. “
When your passion runs hot for a goal, your challenges will merely become a process of attaining that goal. And Aimalohi Ojeamiren had this to say about the challenges outlined above.
“The challenges weren’t actually a big deal because I was starting small. Initially, I didn’t think recording and uploading my individual video projects on Youtube would amount to a full-blown filmmaking career. So, by the time I became a professional filmmaker, I’d bought a camera, and the journey became easier.”
Aimalohi Ojeamiren goes on to share her speciality as a filmmaker.
“Although I make other types of films, I specialise in documentary and biographic filmmaking, focusing on climate actions and social justice. I love making documentaries of day-to-day stories that are often overlooked. For instance, many people know that the Super Eagles of Nigeria boycotted AFCON ’96 as reigning champions but went as an unsponsored team to win the same year’s gold medal at the Olympics. However, the new documentary on the Super Eagles of Nigeria details the political events surrounding those main events. That’s what documentaries do.”
Major Influences and Most Impactful Filmmaking Project
Aimalohi Ojeamiren talks about her top three influences in the filmmaking industry and their connection to various aspects of her career.
“My top three people in the filmmaking space are Eva Duveni, the maker of When They See Us, Kemi Adetiba, and Kayode Kasum. Eva Duvani is an excellent director whose films address social justice, which aligns with my career focus. Kemi Adetiba and her movies stand out because they don’t fit the regular mould. People know her for her hit series King of Boys, but way even before then, she’s been directing films and music videos unconventionally and brilliantly. With King of Boys, she broke the predictions of critics and reviewers, and the series became a household name. Kayode Kasum teaches me how to work with both heart and logic. He isn’t just concerned with how a movie will sell, but also focused on how viewers will connect with it.”
When you browse through her instagram page, you can tell that Aimalohi Ojeamiren is passionate about the causes she supports. Below, she shares the origin of one such cause.
“Activism chose me because I have hated injustice for so long. While I can put up with a level of injustice against me, I can fight to the finish for mistreated strangers. I trace this dislike of maltreatment against others to my primary school, where some boys picked on girls. While I haven’t directly partnered with any activist organisation, I’ve actively participated in peaceful demonstrations, walks, and campaigns. I’ve also created video content to encourage people to speak up for justice or perform their civil responsibilities and held fundraising projects for people in urgent need.”
Aimalohi Ojeamiren further speaks on her first documentary film triggered by her personal experience and love for telling stories surrounding social causes.
“One of the reasons I was triggered to start the After the Waters project was the obvious negligence of concerned stakeholders before and after the 2020 floods in the FCT, Abuja. There was no weather warning about a heavy flood, something the affected community had never experienced— a warning that could have saved affected parties. More significantly, the flood surprised the rural community of Giri, and many people lost their lives while survivors lost their properties. I was one of the residents affected by the flood, and throughout the aftermath, there was zero traditional media presence in the rural areas affected, especially Giri. However, the news circulating on the TV and some online newspapers aired affected urban areas. In Nigeria, it is a common occurrence to report tragic news about one influential person, but when tens of underserved people die, news reports are usually casual and underplayed.”
Aimalohi Ojeamiren acknowledges the support of her friends in completing the project.
“The people who worked with me behind the scene of the ‘After The Waters’ were the best part of the project for me. I funded the project from my savings. Some friends also contributed money, time, talents and equipment, which we maximised to produce the documentary film.”
Aima the Politics Conversation Starter
Aimalohi Ojeamiren’s election videos are her most watched, garnering more than 80,000 views on Instagram and were shared by top celebrities and blog pages. Aimalohi says the following concerning the videos which encouraged people to vote:
“I’m still in the early years of my filmmaking career, so I can’t say I’ve made that much of an impact. However, I believe that the videos about the 2023 elections spurred several people to get more involved and cast their votes.”
When some people aren’t pushing women into a box because of their shortsightedness, others are trying to shut enlightened young people up. Aimalohi Ojeamiren conveys her experiences with stereotypes concerning political participation.
“I’ve been interested in governance and promoting civic participation since I turned 18. During my first election experience, a guy made a stereotypical assumption that I had no political interest as a teenager and that I had been paid by a political party. More recently, someone on one of my election-related videos inferred that I had no right to speak of history because I wasn’t born then. Of course, I didn’t respond because I was too busy trying to get people to go out and vote.”
Career Rewards and Next Steps
Consistent and excellent delivery of creative work is advantageous. Aimalohi Ojeamiren highlights some benefits she’s enjoyed through film contests.
“I got my first camera after my first film award. I tried getting this with my savings while working as a social media strategist for three years, to no avail. Last year, I finally got a heavy-duty laptop for editing, which also happened after winning another prize for filmmaking. The devaluation of the naira is a challenge for filmmakers because while saving up for equipment, you go back to see that the price has increased due to devaluation.”
After winning the Tecno Camon film contest in 2022, Aimalohi Ojeamiren became a member of the Documentary Film Fellowship organised by the French Embassy in Nigeria, and she’s currently in the third month of the fellowship. She divulges her next steps as a filmmaker, emphasising telling overlooked and untold Nigerian stories:
“Having watched many documentaries by Nigerians and Africans, I want to tell the kind of stories I love to watch, especially because there are so many more stories to tell. But, unfortunately, most of the international community doesn’t see us as much as we see them because we aren’t telling enough of these stories. As filmmakers, it’s part of our responsibility to preserve the memory of Nigerians, such as those who died in the Owo massacre in 2022. And to shine the light on the stories of neglected people.”
Aimalohi Ojeamiren continues with some short-term goals that will evolve into long-term commitments.
“I’m looking to create my first feature-length documentary this year because I’ve only worked on short films. I also intend to create a platform that supports young, talented, passionate filmmakers without the resources to tell their stories.”
“On days when things get hard, the lyrics from Jonathan McReynolds song, ‘God is Good’, is a summation of my life experiences and the personal mantra that keeps me going.”
Unlike Aimalohi Ojeamiren, your motivation may not lie in a song, but a mantra, or words of affirmation. More importantly though, if you stay on the course of passion and pursue your dreams diligently like Aima, you’ll produce results that will eventually make your challenges seem insignificant.
What part of Aimalohi Ojeamiren’s story gripped you the most? Please share with us below.