Niyi is successful with his film projects, and Turning Point is his biggest success so far; Ernie Hudson (best known for his roles as Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters film series) is one of the Hollywood stars who played in the film. Towolawi has had very good reviews of his films and has a number of new projects coming up. He shares his story with us about the beginnings of his career, inspirations and projects he is especially proud of. He also talks about how directing has changed his life and his plans for his future projects.

Film directing beginnings

Sabina: Niyi, can you tell us about your film directing beginnings?

Niyi: "My first foray into filmmaking was in 2004 when I directed a music video for a song I had produced. I did an elaborate storyboard for it as I grew up drawing. I enjoyed the process of planning, shooting, directing and editing the project. The video won a ShortFilm award and I went on to direct a couple more music videos in addition to starting to explore screening. I eventually went on to write and direct my first Feature Film in 2006 that was released the following year with a distribution grant from The UK Film Council and a telecoms company sponsorship in West Africa."

An inspiration

Sabina: Who inspired you to become a film director?

Niyi: "Besides the immensely rewarding experience of the first project, I have always watched films with a high retention of them - a skill I later realised would be useful for reference. As I became more aware of the filmmaking process, I gain new insights and interests in cinematic approaches and thematic storytelling and began to analyse films by Spielberg, Scorsese, Ridley Scott and David Fincher, all of whom are amongst my favourite directors.

Furthermore, I have a background of problem-solving; I have a mathematics degree and worked as a software developer. Being a musician and artist, combine with an avid consumption of films, theatre, and other fictional mediums, I find that all my creative passions converge in the world of film, especially directing."

Best projects to date

Sabina: How did directing change your life?

Niyi: "Filmmaking has enabled me to travel the world, both literally and in the vast universe that I’ve learned to create in my mind. I have been to new places, experienced new cultures and met people that would not have been possible without my work as a director. There is also great satisfaction in gaining the support and encouragement of family, and being someone they can point at as doing something of pride. Perhaps most rewarding, however, comes from getting the occasional message from a stranger saying how they enjoy my work and how it has helped them in some way; this type of feedback does a lot to keep you going especially through moments of self-doubt and other types of difficulties that often come with creative endeavours."

An upcoming projects

Sabina: Do you have any interesting Film or TV projects coming up?

Niyi: "I have a number of projects in a slate being currently developed and will be shooting a TV series pilot in the next few weeks. My latest feature film, The Miracle Centre is a satire about corruption set in a village community school in Nigeria and its sheer ridiculousness yet the truth is something I strongly hope international audiences can resonate with."