Nuhu Daylop is an award-winning filmmaker with several short films and features attached to his name. We had a chat with him, where he shared few things about himself, career, and ditching medicine for filmmaking.
Q: There’s the story that you dumped medicine for film studies, can you please tell us about that?
I guess for a lot of Nigerian parents, that was a crazy decision and of course for serious people. I’d been in the science school for eight years and then I decided that I’ll go into filming.
I mean when I was younger I loved writing stories, and then my day to day activities of meeting so many people just really brewed my interest in writing.
I grew up in Jos and there was a film house where people went Wednesdays and Sundays to watch Indian movies, Chinese movies and of course they paid, at some point, I just thought, this is what I’m supposed to be doing and then I left what I was studying to go for my passion – what I think I love and I’m good at.
Q: What was your parent’s reaction to this decision?
That you’re one of the best students in Physics among your peers, I think it’s something that impresses your parents.
For me, that was the situation – I was the favorite physics student and I used to represent my school at competitions.
Now for me to decide on that, of course, it was a crazy decision, my parents were divorced and on their own so my mum didn’t know what was going on with me particularly.
My dad didn’t support me, he was like this is not going to work, so the whole process funding was covered solely by me. I had to make all the moves myself.
Q: The very first professional short film you did in 2013 Hunting the Hunter, bagged you a number of awards and recognition as well, how did the film come to life?
That was actually a process for me, not only where I was convinced that this is what I was going to do, I was also not expecting the outcome but I just knew I had something to say and the only way I can convince people is to tell my story in a form of reality.
When I was in film school at that moment, I was doing other things, I was missing classes at some point just to go do recordings for some companies because I was trying to get and save money to fund the film.
I didn’t know how to seek funds for the project, the only thing I could do was save from the jobs I did like recording at weddings and all that.
My supervisor in school said we should come up with our budget then, when she saw mine she was greatly astonished, asked me if I had gone crazy, how could I come up with a budget like that, having people go to the forest and other things – no one had done that before, how can I be a young man starting out my career and want to do that much.
It was a restless time for me, I had to go back to rewrite the script and then got it approved.
When it got me my first award, I was encouraged, I thought to myself this is really worth it, let me continue with the hustle.
It was a good thing and a step for me to believe that I had a chance to become one of our generation’s successful filmmakers.
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Q: So with the awards and recognition the film bagged, how much did things change? What was your experience after that?
Nobody saw it coming honestly and for me, that moment remains one of the most precious moments I’ve experienced.
I knew the film was a different ballgame but I wasn’t expecting that result.
Traveling to Egypt and coming back, I realized the film was doing so well, it was fulfilling.
I mean I hustled to raise funds to make that movie and it turned out great, people appreciating it. I knew I had to continue the pursuit.
Q: Talking about experiences, the second short film you did as a student – Just a Friend, also landed you an endorsement with Unilever in London, how was that too?
That was something big for me too. When I travelled with other Filmmakers, we were mentored and taken through the process of filmmaking and all.
That opened my eyes to, particularly, ‘Why film?’ and what you need to do to make a film.
I think I was the youngest person among the shortlisted people, from the other African countries, and they had more experience than I had.
I remember sitting on the toilet seat for about three hours trying to write a story. The process was rewarding as the film got nominated at festivals. It was really a part of the journey for me to be able to find myself where I am today.
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Q: What motivates or inspires Nuhu Daylop?
I think it’s Nature. Nature really inspires me. And I believe I pray too for inspiration. I’ve travelled a lot and these places inspired me, sometimes I just go out into the street and jot people’s situations and experiences then when I get back home I start to take note and be like I think this one is unique, this isn’t.
That’s where, I think, most of my inspiration comes from.
Q: In relation to the Pandemic, what effect does it have on your career and how are you coping?
In regards to the Pandemic, of course, it has so much effect on my career but I’ve actually decided to channel that energy to a positive path in the sense that, I’ve been able to revisit a couple of my works and understanding as a young person, there’s still so much work I need to do in terms of research and all of that.
I also got to see where I failed in a number of projects that didn’t turn out as successful as I had hoped.
Yes, it’s a pandemic, really holding things down in the world, but for me, regardless, it has been a process to plan other projects and have my Plan Bs.
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Q: You’ve produced or directed a number of films, which do you consider as your favourite and why?
My favourite? I don’t think I have a favourite. If anything, I don’t like to see my work. I hate to.
But if I really have to choose, Meet the Cokers will be it. Particularly that, because I filmed it with Wale Ojo, Ireti Ata, and Soma Dina. It’s a project I liked because of the actors, because of how we were able to tell the story and because of the relationship that happened in that movie.
People loved it when they saw it.
Q: Also in that light, which production would you consider the most challenging so far, and why?
Well, most of the short films I’ve done have bagged awards or being to festivals screening and all. I don’t think I’ve come across the most challenging project in my career.
There’s a script I’ve been working on for over 5 consecutive years now and I’m hoping the right executive producers would come for that because that, to me, feels like a big break screen movie.
Q: Anything we should expect to see from you in the coming years?
Yeah, you should just expect me to continue to make TV movies, short films. You should also expect a particular project which is going to be my first cinema movie in my entire career as the main director.
I was the assistant director for Infant President that showed in the cinemas. But regardless, still, look out for short films and anything movie.
Q: Describe Nuhu Daylop in three words.
I’m Dalyop, learning, unlearning, and relearning every day of my life.
Q: Lastly, any word of advice to young and aspiring cinematographers, directors, and producers?
Pfft, I’m actually a young person as well. There’s not much experience to it but people appreciate my work, thank you to all those who like and appreciate my work. For future filmmakers, actors, directors; actors you need to do your work, go for auditions, show up, do your homework.
Young filmmakers – do your research, do what you need to do, don’t get carried away, you can’t want to be a filmmaker in the world, in Africa, in Nollywood and you’re not following someone’s work, or doing research.
Also, do you believe you’re gifted to tell stories? Because trust me there are people who just wake up and shoot movies and think that’s all there is to filmmaking.
If it’s not your thing, figure something else out, but if it is, you have a passion for it, learning is key. Education is very important.
Prioritize that in whatever career you choose. Be certified. You’d see those top people in Nollywood now, in years they’d retire, you have to prepare yourself to take over that place.
Look up to other people, follow up! And that’s what I do, I look up to Kunle Afolayan and other people in East Africa. These people won’t remain in the world forever, so I know that there’s a spot to fill and if I plan and prepare myself, hone my craft well, I’m going to storm and take over.
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