What Would I Change: director Meji Alabi

In the latest in our series of articles asking creatives what they would like to change about their industry, Meji Alabi reflects on making films during a pandemic, finding new ways to shoot music videos, and how the industry can create more opportunities for underrepresented voices

Meji Alabi started making films while studying for a degree in accounting. After graduating, and realising that a career in finance wasn’t for him, he decided to focus on honing his directing skills, and has since worked on music videos for the likes of Skepta, Tiwa Savage, Popcaan, Tinie Tempah and DJ Regard. Not content with just shooting, he also co-founded JM Films in 2014, which provides creative production services in Nigeria and Ghana, and works with partner organisations across Africa. In 2019, he signed to UK production company Black Dog, part of the Ridley Scott Creative Group.

His work draws on a wide range of influences, but the self-taught filmmaker has carved out a distinctive aesthetic, creating vibrant videos that often combine tightly choreographed dance scenes with more natural, documentary-style footage. His promo for Tiwa Savage track 49-99 was inspired by a portrait of Congolese school girls taken by photographer Eliot Elisofon, while the video for Popcaan’s Dun Rich captured the hustle and bustle of Lagos alongside shots of women boxers, swimmers, bikers and dancers.

For Alabi, who is used to shooting videos involving large casts and crews, lockdowns have meant an abrupt end to business as usual. But like many creatives who’ve found themselves unable to work in their normal way, the director has been finding alternative ways to keep shooting, while also taking time to reflect. Here, he talks to CR about what he’s learned during lockdown, and what changes he would like to see in the world of filmmaking and production.