Office Hours

Octalayke— On Being A YouTube Self-taught Filmmaker

"Most of the people who hire me are people I meet outside, at these parties. It's all about the lifestyle and networking."

By Sharon Chidra Jonah

August 17, 2022

Octalayke— On Being A YouTube Self-taught Filmmaker

Have you ever wondered about the life of filmmakers? Why they chose filmmaking and what do they hope to achieve with it? Well, I have. We have filmmakers to thank for many of the things we see on our screens, the visual stories that we relate to and all the fun videos we like to share with our friends and families. 


In this interview, I hopped on a call with Lagos-based Filmmaker, Lekan Opadisi, popularly known as Octalayke and the CEO of Octalayke Media. When asked about how he describes himself as a Filmmaker and the style that he loves to pass across to the audience, he painted the image of luxury,  which is evident in his work. 


“When people see me for the first time, I want them to realise that my brand and the quality of my work is luxurious. I shoot local brands too and I usually want them to understand that everything I do and deliver comes with standards and they get the same feel and look that 'luxurious brands' are getting”


One thing that really spoke to me about Octalayke's story was how he started. There is the evergreen saying of  “show me your friend and I'll tell you who you are.”  Octalayke gives lots of credit to his friends over his exposure as a filmmaker. He started as a filmmaker in 2018 after living with five of his friends who were photographers. It was then he became interested in cameras and the experience of working as a creative.


"My first job was me following a friend for a shoot where he asked me to do a BTS video. That was the first time I got on a set and the first time I worked as a cinematographer." Octalayke said, "My friend told me to look at it like I'm shooting from my phone and just go to YouTube to learn some of the things I needed help with, like editing videos. I did that and well from there, the journey began.”


“I started doing more random shoots by myself, posting them, started getting gigs to create a portfolio. I have amazing friends and they really helped me on the journey. That's basically how I started. I am completely self-taught, I never went to a set to learn from a professional filmmaker or something. Everything I know, I learned on youTube."


For someone whose first love was architecture and would never have thought of cinematography, Octalayke is killing it in the creative space. Here's a full look into our interview with him. 



Let's talk about your filmmaking process. Are you in charge of the entire creative work— like bringing of ideas and concepts or you are given a brief to work with? 

No, I'm not in charge of that. I have a company called Octalayke media, of which I'm the director. At Octalayke media, we have different creatives in our team and different members who are buzzing with ideas in their field. So, we have a scriptwriter, a creative director, a DOP and every creative needed for film production. So, I don't do all the planning. My team handles that according to their field. We have a scriptwriter who writes the story, and a visual storyteller who interprets the scripts into visuals. What I do at Octalayke Media is direct. Sometimes, I handle the shooting myself. For example, Itspricy's recent commercial video with us was solely shot by me. Many times, it depends on clients and contexts. But, everyone who is involved in production will be credited. 


So, you describe yourself as a “Lagos-based filmmaker”,  why Lagos?

I grew up in Lagos and I'm used to all the hustle and bustle that comes with growing up and living in Lagos. Of course, growing up here, you are bound to fall in love with the city and the entire vibe that comes with it. Lagos is a madhouse for creativity and content. It can also be a very stressful place to work as a creative. Sometimes, you are trying to shoot in a public area and you have people gathering around, sometimes you have to pay and everything just gets hectic. We also shoot in other parts of the country but we are based in Lagos. Of course, I'm going to take Octalayke Media worldwide, but it's a gradual process. 


You have made videos in different genres, from weddings to music videos , to commercial videos, and many others, which of these can you say you relate to and connect with the most? 

Commercials are my favourite. Directing commercials is my favourite part of cinematography. For me, they are very easy and fun to create, and also come with less stress. Unlike weddings, which have to be one of the most stressful events to capture and a whole lot to manage. You'll have to be in every part of the hall, check all the sound recordings, try to negotiate with the DJ, and meet up with the event planners, who might give you the “who are you and what do you want” look. So for me, I prefer commercials. I love weddings too, I love the event and the vibe that comes with it but it just comes with a lot of stress too.



Since commercials are your favourite, is Octalayke Media in charge of the entire idea of a commercial, like creating story ideas and what the commercial will be like?

Yes, we are actually. Sometimes, people will buzz you up with no idea of what they want to do and how they want to go about it, they just know they want to make a commercial video. So, it's the creative director's part to relate with these clients and send questionnaires questioning their brand and target audience. With the information they give us, we'll be able to come up with a story or the kind of ads that are best suited for the brand in terms of quality and relatability. 



In your collaboration with Leo, you created a documentary for him, tell us the process, and the hardest part about it. I saw that you described it as “adventurous”. 

You see, Leo is a philanthropist. He has helped a lot of people in the past; low, middle, and high-class individuals. Both people who live in the slums and those who live in urban areas and that made us move and shoot in different areas in Lagos, even places I have never seen as a Lagos filmmaker. So, we travelled a lot, we even wanted to travel to Abuja but time wasn't on our side and we had to deliver the final draft of the video before his birthday. 

It was adventurous because of the travel experience. It was a 3-day documentary and we had to meet about 27 people, and pull up wherever they were in Lagos. We had to travel  long distances to several places in the same day. It's been a while since I've worked on something that took me around Lagos. We interviewed a lot of people for the video, from pastors to street guys. It was a whole lot but really fun.


Has there ever been a clash between your lifestyle, belief, and your work? 

There have been no clashes between those three actually,  because right from my starting as a videographer, I understood that I have my own lifestyle and others have theirs and my job is to capture their lifestyle, not mine. 


Working as a creative, you'll obviously come across people who don't seem to understand your style or idea. What are those things you wish people understood more when it comes to cinematography?

I wish more people understood that filming comes with your mood and I think this is the same for other creatives in other fields. For example, it might be difficult to just get up in the morning and immediately begin to edit videos. I have to be in the right mood for that. Like listening to music or watching YouTube videos, because as a creative, you have to be in the right mood to produce excellent results.



What is your favourite thing about your work?

My favourite thing about my work is that it allows me to be flexible and helps me break out of my comfort zone. I've never been a morning person but working as a cinematographer makes me schedule some of my work in the morning.

Also, my work has helped me become a more patient person and be chilled when it comes to relating to clients. Those are my favourite things about working as a cinematographer. 


What's your favourite thing when setting the scene for a wedding or love story? 

Oh, my favourite part of shooting weddings is the couple dance and the vows. That’s the most emotional part of the event. There are times I'm taking shots of brides saying their vows and they start crying and that moment to me is really beautiful to capture. Sometimes, the reality of them getting married just hits them and I'm right there to save the memory for them. 


How did the name 'OctaLayke' come about? 

The name Octalayke was formed in 2016, I was trying to create an Instagram account because I wanted to text a girl that night. I took my brother's phone, and tried to create an Instagram profile, I used my name 'Olalekan' which is eight letters and we all know Octa is 8. I was born in October. The "Oct" was formed from October and the full "Octa" was formed from October and Octa -8, and the 'Layke' was from Lekan – which is my name.


Were you able to text the girl?

Of course! I mean I came up with a creative name in less than five minutes, so imagine the wonders I did in the DM.


I have seen videos of you, on Snapchat and Instagram and it’s obvious that you enjoy partying, has that ever come between you and your work? Where people judge your work negatively based on that? 

Let me burst your head. Most of the people who hire me are people I meet outside, at these parties. It's all about the lifestyle and networking. We meet outside and the vibe we create and they just check out my work and think "oh I would love to work with this guy." So most times, it has its advantages. 

And I don't think being outside all the time should be judged because everyone knows my work speaks for itself and I take what I do really seriously. So if you see me partying, it never affects my work negatively, instead, it does a great deal for me positively. 


Now, let's lean towards your romantic life. You have the air of a typical Lagos man. Will you deny that or will you embrace the title? 

I won't embrace it and at the same time, I won't say it's not exactly true. I'm basically just living my life the way I want it, how I want it. So I'm just going to let people judge the book by its cover. There are people who really know me and that’s okay by me.



Are you currently seeing anyone? 

I am going to skip this one. I like keeping my relationship status private all the time. 



Tell us something about you that a lot of people find weird?

Definitely cooking. I love to cook a lot. Also, I like my private space. The same way I love to party is the same way I like my private time. People might think I'm always outside, at parties and all that but I'm also always inside too. It's a 50/50. I am also very religious, I'm from a Muslim family but I'm Christian and I like having my private time with God and speaking to him.



That's sweet, any new project you are working on right now? 

You want to know my secret. Well, I'm trying to dive more into TV commercials and music videos. I'm also working on fashion short films. I've noticed how the fashion films I worked on in the past are interesting and great. So, I've been collaborating with fashion stylists, make-up stylists, and fashion entrepreneurs for my upcoming fashion projects. These are basically what I'm working on at the moment. 


The way cinematography and filmmaking were seen ten years ago is different from how it is seen now, will you say Nigerians appreciates cinematographers enough? 

No, they don’t, Nigerians literally just started appreciating cinematographers and we are trying to level up the game in filmmaking. And I can say, with the cinematographers and filmmakers we have today, things are changing for us and people are starting to see, not just our worth and value but how important videos are in our lives. 

Although we are not appreciated enough, I will admit that we are going somewhere. 


So, in the next five years, where do you see cinematographers? 

Even now, we are already seeing cinematographers in Forbes 30 Under 30. We have people like Dammy Twitch who are reforming the game and giving us the recognition that we need. I went to an award show and I saw a category for cinematographers and that just made me really happy. 

So, in the next five years, I hope to see us in bigger places, beyond Forbes Africa. Changing the game, bringing more value, being appreciated enough.