Oluwadabest: Empowering Cinematographers Through SER

We sat down with the visionary filmmaker Dada Temitope, widely known as Oluwadabest, to discuss his transformative initiative, Shoot, Edit, Repeat. Oluwadabest shares his journey from a budding photographer to a renowned director and highlights how his passion for teaching led to the creation of a program that bridges the gap between talent and skill in Nigeria's cinematography industry. Discover how Shoot, Edit, Repeat is shaping the future of aspiring filmmakers and fostering an industry of skilled professionals.

Deeds: How did you get into photographing, videography, and eventually becoming a director?

Oluwadabest: My journey has been quite a long and crazy one. I’m probably from a generation that experienced life both with and without the internet. We didn’t have the fast internet we have now. My journey started with small steps. I came down to start something and ended up becoming a community designer. This led me to go to school where I needed to make some money, so I started with photography. From there, I moved into filming. That’s how my journey began, and it’s been a long ride.

Deeds: What inspired you to start the Shoot, Edit, Repeat initiative?

Oluwadabest: I started this initiative because I had just moved into a new apartment then, and needed to furnish the new apartment and looked for ways to make money. Apart from cinematography, I realized I was good at teaching. I had been teaching all my life, so I thought I could teach cinematography. Initially, it was about making money, but it quickly became a passion project. The cost of running classes was almost equal to the fees we collected, but I didn’t want to price the classes too high and exclude those who needed them most. So, it turned into something I was passionate about, beyond just making money.

Deeds: You once mentioned we have a talent problem in Nigeria when you were seeking good video editors. Can you elaborate on this?

Oluwadabest: Actually, I think we have a skill problem, not a talent problem. There are many talented videographers and editors, but talent alone isn't enough. The issue is that many haven't developed their talent into excellent skills. With knowledge being readily available online, some people don’t put in the effort to move from just having talent to mastering a skill. That’s the real challenge.

Deeds: Can you share some of the key challenges you faced when you were starting out as a videographer and how you overcame them?

Oluwadabest: Starting, I faced significant challenges related to knowledge and mentorship. When I began in cinematography, there was a lack of accessible resources and mentors. Unlike today, where information is readily available on platforms like YouTube, back then, finding reliable information was difficult. There was no form of community like we have today, and knowledge felt like a closely guarded secret. Only a few could decipher or get into that circle. Overcoming these challenges required persistent searching and learning through trial and error. I had to be resourceful and constantly seek out any available information, learning the hard way through practice.

Deeds: How do you select the participants for the Shoot, Edit, Repeat program?

Oluwadabest: For the Shoot, Edit, Repeat program, participants are selected differently for the class and the event. The class is designed for those who have some knowledge of cinematography and wish to improve their skills. We keep the class size small, usually below ten people, to ensure personalized attention. For the event, which is aimed at already practicing cinematographers, participants submit their previous work and socials for review. This allows us to assess their skill level and potential. We look for people who have shown promise and could benefit significantly from the program.

Deeds: What are the core skills and knowledge areas you focus on in the training sessions?

Oluwadabest: In our five-day training class, we cover all aspects of cinematography. This includes both theoretical and practical components. This is not an aspire to require class. We teach cinematography's fundamental principles and provide hands-on shooting and editing experience. The goal is to ensure that participants understand both the artistic and technical aspects of the craft. We edit a project together, so we shoot edit, and repeat that over 5 days.  For our events, we focus on providing insights from industry experts, allowing participants to see professional processes from concept to execution. This includes one-on-one sessions, where they show their work and receive practical advice on how to refine their skills.

Deeds: Can you discuss the importance of understanding pricing in the videography industry and how you teach this to your trainees?

Oluwadabest: Understanding pricing is crucial in the videography industry. In our classes, we discuss the business side of cinematography, including how to price work. We break down the costs into core and variable components. Core costs, like equipment rental, are constant, while variable costs depend on the skill level of the individual. We teach participants to assess their skill level and market position to price their services appropriately. This structured approach helps them understand the economics of their work and how to adjust pricing as their skills and market demand evolve.

Deeds: Can you share any success stories from the Shoot, Edit, Repeat program?

Oluwadabest: There are numerous success stories from the Shoot, Edit, Repeat program, which I prefer to categorize as career advancements. Many participants have transitioned from seeking direction to becoming skilled professionals who are now part of my competitive landscape. Some of my former students are now prominent cinematographers and directors, delivering high-quality work and setting industry standards. This transformation highlights the program's effectiveness in providing clarity and skill development, ultimately contributing to a stronger industry. The biggest success story is that my students are now my competition.

Deeds: What are your plans for Shoot, Edit, Repeat, and how do you see the initiative evolving in the next few years?

Olwadabest: Our future plans involve expanding the Shoot, Edit, Repeat program beyond its current scope. We have done classes in 3 states across Nigeria, and we plan to expand to other states as well. We aim to partner with governmental and non-governmental organizations to offer mass training programs, potentially addressing unemployment by equipping more people with valuable skills. This could involve large-scale training sessions across various states and even other African countries. For the event part of the program, we plan to hold more sessions across different regions, connecting emerging talents with established professionals. This initiative aims to bridge the knowledge gap and foster a stronger, more skilled community of cinematographers and filmmakers.