How the story goes
Tolulope Ajayi, head of branded content at Lagos ad agency Insight Communications, discusses the importance of storytelling.
Scriptwriting and development of TV series are among the most important aspects of the media industry, according to one of the experts in the field, Tolulope Ajayi, head of branded content at Lagos ad agency Insight Communications.
Ajayi was present at last week’s Creative Nigeria Summit (CNS), where he taught two masterclasses on the role of writing an original script and how to create telenovelas for the local audience.
For him, creativity is key and sometimes one needs to learn how to be a disruptive writer and seek inspiration from different sources to come up with originality.
He has directed a number of TV productions, including Tinsel, MTV Shuga (season three) and A New You. In this interview, Ajayi shares some of his industry knowledge and experience.
In one of your CNS masterclass you said that an original script does not necessarily have to be high-concept. What did you mean by this?
Yes, it’s true. This is because high-concept movies are done to grab audience attention, they are often very exciting and possess highly visual story ideas. They are usually audience favourites because of their predictability.
However, low-concept ideas could also make for good films as they involve more of each character’s journey, good plots and engaging dialogue. If you notice, most Oscar-winning films are low-concept premises. Originality just comes in two packages: high- and low-concept.
What’s your take on the evolution of Nigerian telenovelas?
During my masterclass on telenovelas at CNS, I spoke about our history with public broadcaster NTA as television storytellers. I also spoke about our audience’s acceptance of this world-acclaimed television format.
In my opinion, to improve Nigerian telenovelas we could synthesise our storytelling traditions and blend in the telenovela structure. We may have proved this possible when we produced our versions of the telenovela within M-Net productions Hush and Hotel Majestic.
What are the challenges in scriptwriting and soap opera production in Nigeria?
I can’t speak empirically for all the country, but I believe that funding poses a major challenge for independent producers, as well as finding TV channels and platforms that commission fresh productions.
How would you say the CNS is contributing to the Nigerian media industry?
It’s a great opportunity. It serves as a platform to bring together large swathes of the industry and address critical areas for growth opportunities. It’s also an avenue to witness the best in the field sharing insights and to network and share your skill with prospects. In all, we also get to see government’s initiatives in the media sector and ways in which they can be explored.
As head of branded content at Insights Communications, what more would you like to see done in the media industry?
Personally, I would like to see more mini content summits that follow up and address key questions raised, before the bigger summits. Meanwhile, I believe the active participation of TV networks and media buyers would also do well from these summits.