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I prefer working with puppets over humans – Yinka Edward

Weekend Magazine: What was your instant reaction when you were announced winner for the cinematography category?  Yinka Edward: To be honest, I don’t know any…

Weekend Magazine: What was your instant reaction when you were announced winner for the cinematography category? 

Yinka Edward: To be honest, I don’t know any word that could express how I felt. I was not expecting it and I am not sure any of the team members was either. So for me it came as a big surprise. It was a mixture of surprise and joy. My mind raced with a thousand thoughts. I was basically in a different world. I felt privileged to be part of the group, especially with the director Anushika. I call her Nush. 

WM: How does it feel winning a BAFTA award?

Edward: It has taken me days to actually believe that it’s true. I am grateful to the Lord for this. But on the other hand I feel the pressure that comes with such recognition. Especially when I go online and I am receiving congratulatory messages on social media, then it makes you feel the weight/effect of winning. 

WM: Could you share with us what the feeling was like from when you were nominated?

Edward: The BAFTA is no joke at all. It is prestigious in every sense. I heard the news from the director, Nush. She rang me in the morning and said, “Yinka’ guess what?” I asked “what.” She then said, “we’ve been nominated for the BAFTA.” I was like stop pulling my legs, and then I started screaming. It was a funny scenario because I was screaming and she was laughing. (Laughter)

DT: Did you imagine you would eventually win it, especially with the other people you were contending with?

Edward: No. No. No. Not at all! I dismissed the thought from everyone who hinted at it – my wife and friends alike. I remember a friend told me on the day that we might win it. I told him not to think about it because I thought ‘Alan Dimension’ which was nominated in our category would win. But he said to me, Yinka, if they look at the creativity behind the work then I think you guys will win it. I dismissed it again. I was just going there to enjoy myself and the event. I thought I would walk on the red carpet and enjoy the moment. And to be honest, it was fun walking down the red carpet. I arrived in a black Mercedes, which brought the nominees and then enjoyed the walk down the red carpet. It was prestigious, glorious. I should have walked slower and enjoyed it even more because such recognition at that level doesn’t happen too often but it was too cold, so I had to walk quickly.

WM: How did you end up being the Director of Photography on ‘A Love Story?’

Edward: Yeah! For me this is where the God factor comes in. NFTS has this pairing system where they pair people on projects. So what happens is that the director would pitch their ideas to cinematographers and production designers. Then you have to submit three projects that you would like to work on in order of priority. The directors would then submit three names that they would like to be paired with. At the end the tutors would do the final pairing based on what they feel is best for everyone. That was how I ended up being paired with Nush. It wasn’t a question about agreeing to the project or not. You just got on with it really. Although I had worked with Nush in year one it was not directly. But my friend was working with her and I was assisting. I liked her after that experience and wished that I could work with her again. So it was great when it happened.

WM: What was your favourite part of working on the animation?

Edward: Honestly, I love working with puppets/inanimate objects. I love working on animation especially stop motion. The simple fact that I don’t have to deal with humans makes me really happy. Puppets are really great to work with. They are patient and don’t stress you. No diva attitudes but they are faithful and committed to the work.  I love that. (laughter)

WM: Ah, Yinka, no diva attitudes, puppets don’t stress you like divas do. What do you mean?

Edward: No, it’s not like. Puppets are just much easier to work with and more obedient. But beyond this, I love the creativity that comes with animation. You are literally in control of your creation. It is beautiful to be able to give life to inanimate objects. 

WM: Did you have any role in the storyline? (If you did, where did the inspiration come from?)

Edward: No but I had everything to do with how the story was told on the screen, how it was composed, lit and shot. The collaboration was great.

WM: How different was the experience working on an animation as against other productions like ‘Wetin Dey’ and ‘Figurine,’ which you have previously done?

Edward: It is a different technique. We shot on a multiplane so the approach is completely different. Lighting puppets that are inches tall is totally different from lighting humans. So we had to design an effective approach to lighting and camera movement. 

WM: What is your proudest moment so far?

Edward: It is hard to say but walking up the stage at the Royal Albert Hall was indeed special.

WM: What do you feel is the significance of this award to the Nigerian film industry?

Edward: Honestly, I am not sure if it has any central significance. I think it will mean different things to different people. The only thing I wish for in this county is to have a structure that trains people. And by that I mean quality education. I experienced NFI (National Film Institute, Jos) and I have experienced NFTS (National Film and Television School, UK) and I can tell you the difference. To think that what got me a BAFTA award is my graduation project from “school” is remarkable. I also wish that we would have an industry that promotes and holds its practitioners to a high level of excellence. Unfortunately, it is not the case yet in Nigeria and that breaks my heart.

WM: What is one interesting or little-known fact about you?

Edward: I am learning everyday to obey Jesus and I crave for excellence in everything I do.

WM: What has been your biggest career challenge so far?

Edward: Developing a good eye for images and growing my skill set as a cinematographer.

WM: What are you most looking forward to this year?

Edward: I have some business ideas, I am hoping can take off this year and I am also hoping I can produce my first film this year.

WM: Have you ever considered branching out into other areas of film production like say, acting or screenwriting? 

Edward: I love being a cinematographer. Maybe someday, I will produce my own content.

WM: Who is your favourite star to work with and why?

Edward: I have been very fortunate in the film industry because I have had tremendous cooperation from all the actors and actresses I have worked with. 

WM: Which creatives have influenced your work?

Edward: It is hard to tell because I am learning to trust my vision but of course there are a whole lot of cinematographers and painters whose work I really admire  for example Sven Nykvist, Nestor Almendros, Brian Tufano, Billy Williams, Roger Deakins, Januszkamuski, Adam Arkapaw, Dick Pop, Rembrant, Caravaggio, etc

WM: What is next from here?

Edward: Continue working. My next project is a feature film so I am looking forward to that.

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