We spoke to the director behind the thrilling video for Show Dem Camp & Buju’s “Do Me Nice”

Beyond being visual accompaniments, music videos serve as the perfect medium to create memorable worlds for songs to exist in. When properly thought out and well-executed, music videos use narratives and other world-building techniques for proper nuance, etching the song further into the minds of viewers and listeners through entertainment and intrigue. One good examply of this, is the recently released video for Show Dem Camp’s Buju-assisted bop, “Do Me Nice”.

One of the standout cuts off SDC’s late 2019 studio album, ‘Palmwine Express’, “Do Me Nice” leans directly into the groove-driven, breezy atmosphere that has come to define the rap duo’s ‘Palmwine Music’ series. Like Tec quips at the end of the verse: he and Ghost came with banter, Buju brought the lamba, while  producer Spax came through with the banger.

Instead of putting out a set of visuals that plays heavily into the song’s summery feel, though, SDC and the video’s director, Viktor Awuse, flip the script into a pulsating thriller that involves a femme fatale figure, played by Seyi Shay.

“A lot of people are used to seeing SDC heavy on vibing in their music video, it’s always all peachy and calm”, Viktor says, aptly describing the long-running aesthetics of the videos off their PM series. “I like that vibe, but for me it made sense to have some sort of a love triangle that acts a gateway to different world—basically, show SDC in different but captivating light.” Between the heated conversations of the interrogation scene, the haunting and sultry lighting and its overall packaging, Viktor and the creative team achieve their aim and more, putting together a video that is captivating, distinct from most afropop videos around and instantly memorable.

For many, the video for “Do Me Nice” will be their introduction to Viktor Awuse, and it’s a great entry point to a director who is working his way up the ladder as a bonafide filmmaker. Given what we’ve seen, it’s defintiely interesting to consider the fact that that the Port Harcourt-based creative doesn’t have any formal filmmaking training. “I studied Product Design in Uni, so it was when I was doing my Master’s degree that I fell in love with film properly”, Viktor explains over the phone. “I’ve always had an interest in film, but film and photography really caught me during that period, and I was able to do a project on mental health. From that point on, I’ve been applying myself through the love of it.”

From his work on the video for AYLØ’s “Still II”, to cutting Santi’s phenomenal appearance on Boiler Room’s Energy series, as well as other independent projects, Viktor’s strength is in his passion and flair for showing stories in idiosyncratic, yet, widely entrancing ways. The video for “Do Me Nice” is Viktor Awuse’s entrance into the afropop mainstream, however, his plan is to leverage this opening for more excellent work from him—and his Prassars collective—in the future.

In a bid to get to know him better, we spoke to Viktor for a breakdown and creative peek into the video “Do Me Nice”.

NATIVE: How did you link up with Show Dem Camp?

Viktor: That was through Ebuka Nwobu (the video producer for “Do Me Nice”). The first time I saw him was the set for Santi and Odunsi’s Boiler Room appearance, he was raging and bouncing all through so he might not remember this. But we met properly on the video set for Gigi Atlantis’ “Wahala on the Rocks”, he produced that video as well. Around the end of February, he hit me up for some other jobs and we discussed some mad ideas for other people’s videos he thought we could work on.

I’ve been a big SDC fan from time, they actually introduced me to Ladipoe and BOJ all the way from “Feel Alright”, that was my shit. When he sent in the track, I knew I wanted to do the video ‘cos these are artists I really like, and the song is a banger. In like two days, we already had something for it, and it took less than two weeks to shoot it, just before the Coronavirus really hit Nigeria—I think we were amongst those on the last flights to Port Harcourt.

What was it like being on set with artists you revere?

Funny enough, I won’t say I get star-struck a lot—I’m very professional—but I was star-struck a lot on that day. The thing is, you meet some people and you won’t expect to meet some big stars, but it hits different. I’ve known of these guys for like ten years, they were the thriving rap guys and they still haven’t really changed. It was really nice to work on that project, you know, and the reception has been great so far. It’s not every day you work with your heroes and a fantastic producer. They could have used so many people in Lagos, but they brought us in and paid, which is a huge win. I consider it a blessing.

What was the inspiration behind the “Do Me Nice” video?

I think a lot of people are used to seeing SDC heavy on vibing in their music video, it’s always all peachy and calm. I like that vibe, but for me it made sense to have some sort of a love triangle that acts a gateway to different world—basically, show SDC in different but captivating light. It has more of a gangster feel, and we wanted it to be like a short movie with love, lust and chaos as the themes.

I am very big on storytelling, I feel like that’s my strongest suit—I like to tell stories and I’m not scared to get very creative.

I actually want to get more gory in general, ‘cause I believe that love, like everything in life, is gory. I believe there’s a tension we skip in film, ‘cause  telling someone ‘I Love you’ can be harsher in reality, so I feel like this video was perfect for me. I’m so happy that they brought Seyi Shay in, she was the perfect surprise.

 

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Did you know Seyi Shay was going to be in the video before you came in to shoot?

I swear to God, I did not know—and it was perfect. It was one of those things that happened on set that let me know that all of this was going to work. I remember being there that day and Ebuka was like, ‘Seyi Shay is going to be the main woman’. Just knowing that made me feel like everything was going to run smoothly.

That’s fire. Was that the mood generally?

It was all so easy, man. Normally, experiences like these might bring some nerves, but I felt at ease throughout. There were so many great people around and everything fell into place nicely. Buju was a dream to work with; SDC were just their chill, OG selves. Immediately they sat at the table and started going at it, it was like I was shooting a proper film. The way I work, I like long takes, and once we started shooting there were no need for cuts—everybody went together. They brought in great people, and there was unreal harmony all through.

What were the significance of the other settings that weren’t in the interrogation room?

Yes. There are three decks in the story, the first is Tec’s and that happens after he blows himself up. That happens in a noir shade room, where’s in like a dreamy place with a woman’s figure behind. I can’t remember what exactly brought me to that idea, but I’ve always wanted to do silhouette work—it kinda takes you away from reality, which is the point of that setting. It was about creating three different worlds, so that one had bright light.

The second one is Buju, there’s this mild blur and you see the girl of his dreams, which is Seyi Shay at that point. Then the third one—Ghost’s—is a lot more gory, you don’t even really see him, you just see the flashbacks, and the blood splatters. So it’s the viewer experiencing being next to them around that table and also following each person into a different space. The idea was bringing dreamworlds to life, and our set designer, Desola Falomo, did a beautiful job—major shout-out to her.

Tec also sometimes works as music video director [under the moniker, King Davies]. Was he intrusive at all or was he very hands off?

Tec didn’t say anything while we were shooting. It wasn’t until after we had done the initial cuts that they got back to me, and there were very few things they wanted to change. If anything, he just had a positive aura on set. I think there was one or two things he saw that he just hinted at, it wasn’t anything corrective. Tec and Ghost were on point, man, like they get it.

 

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How long did it take to shoot and edit?

Shooting happened in a day. We started around 5pm on a Saturday, and the last people to leave, which were Tec and Ghost, left around 3:30am the following morning—that’s almost twelve hours. Including prep work, though, it was over a day. The video that’s out now was ready in two weeks. We even did some other cuts, like there were like three other ways to cut it—we had a lot of cool stuff, but we had to make sure we out together what was best for the artists/clients.

How important is this for you in terms of future opportunities?

I spoke to Tec a few days ago before the video came out, and I was telling him that he’s opened up so many things for us. As I’m talking to you, it could easily be another director, and I was telling him that I will never forget this break he has given us, till the day I die. I will forever rep SDC, and anything they want from us video-wise, we’ll find a way to figure it out. They gave us the first music video money in Lagos—that’s a big break, you know.

We’re already planning on where we want to go next—some we’ve even executed—and we just want to push the boundaries of artists telling stories in their music. We’re in that generation already, ‘cos there’s guys like Uax, Falomo and TSE. It’s an ongoing wave, and the videos won’t necessarily be flashy but they’d be as significant as big budget cuts.

I have to point out that Santi’s “Gangsta Fear” video was one that changed the landscape, me and the guys in my team talk about that shit all the time. It’s a very Nigerian video but it’s super creative. That’s what myself and Prassars in general want to do, we want to make stuff that’s Nigerian and also has elements of controlled chaos. It’s all about that, man. The future is bright, man. SDC have done their part, it’s up to us to fuck it up, and I know that we will not do that.

[Featured Image Credits: YouTube/Show Dem Camp]

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