Technological advancement has played a pivotal role in the rapid development of storytelling in Nollywood especially in recent times.

A lot more of this development is hinged on how these modern stories are told through heightened emotions influenced by grading and improved cinematographic skills.

One pacesetting cinematographer, colourist, sound producer and photographer is Daniel Ehimen. The filmmaker has quite a number of successful projects under his belt with the latest being the Netflix trending 'Coming From Insanity' directed by Akinyemi Sebastian Akinropo.

In a recent chat with Pulse, the Nigerian filmmaker highlights his experience as a visual storyteller in Nollywood and how beginners can avoid basic pitfalls.

What is storytelling to you?

Storytelling is sharing my perspective of how I see the world and creating that shared experience that allows for a brief time to take you on a journey and hope that I make you feel the emotions of my world.

Can you share a bit of your journey as a filmmaker

Having made a cross from sound production to fashion photography, was finally able to make the jump to film after I got out of school and over the years I grew in knowledge until the point I made my first feature film ( 'When Love Happens Again' ) and did a couple of indie films before 'Coming From Insanity'.

Gabriel Afolayan in 'Coming From Insanity' [We Are Moving Stories]
Gabriel Afolayan in 'Coming From Insanity' [We Are Moving Stories]

Since then, it has been a bounce between commercials, TV features and short films. One of which was nominated at the TINFF for Best African Director, Best cinematographer and Best African short film.

How many projects have you worked on as a DP, colourist & director

Over time I have worked on quite a handful of projects in that capacity recently but more recently, it has mostly been on major commercials and independent features.

What ideas do you consider when colouring a project?

Designing a pallet that enhances and assists the story, as our duty is to guide the eyes of the audience and enhance the scene or story emotions through the pallet they see. This is my thought process behind any and every technical choice made in the DI.

Can you share some common cinematography Dos and Don’ts?

Cinematography is a language that has it build blocks. As soon as you understand it then the usage becomes story driven as such there are no hard rules of what works and what doesn't work just what helps the story and what doesn't help it. So in a nutshell, I would say stay away from the cool stuff and do what assists the story as we are guardians of the image that tells the story through light and shadow.

What’s the one challenge in filmmaking that beginners need to be aware of?

Plan out your Growth path and find the most effective and efficient means of getting there before you go down the path of filmmaking as it is very easy to get lost in the maze of filmmaking knowledge.

What would you say is Nollywood’s biggest filmmaking challenge?

Skill gap and the fact that we operate as an independent collective rather than a self aware organised system that is unified in growth and goal.

How have you been able to work amid the challenge over the years?

Research and adapting those knowledge gaps to my reality and also sharing has been my culture and I do so in whatever way I can to allow others to grow too this I hope would lead to enlightenment of the vast majority with diverse perspectives but unified growth and goals.

Where do you see Nollywood in say 10 years from now?

One thing I am super proud of is the fact that we are growing and 10 years from now a lot will be different and we may at that time tell our stories with less and less limitations.

Also, with initiatives like the Canon Academy which is helping to mitigate budget constrain and other challenges faced by most filmmakers in Africa by providing these creatives with some of the best tools to define their productions.

What cameras would you advise for beginners?

Most beginners like I was, usually have a photo history that involves a Canon DSLR so it makes sense to move up from the DSLR into the Canon Cinema EOS line up that is within your purchase reach. The Good part is Canon has a camera for every and any budget. Just pick what solves your present challenges, understand its limitations and maximize its strengths.