Shooting in the Manhattan of Africa


Nigeria’s Lagos Island is the heart of Lagos, a chaotic concentration of business, bureaucracy, corruption, congestion, wealth and depravation. It is essentially the Manhattan of Africa but beats with a pulse that would send a South Side stock jockey crawling for the closest ledge.

Saatchi & Saatchi (S&S) Cape Town set its latest commercial for Guinness Africa on Lagos Island as well as in the areas on the outskirts of the capital of over 16 million people. They also thought it wise to appoint a director who could handle the knocks, so it was Benito Montorio who was tasked with capturing the pulse of this city and the spirit of Nigeria’s people.

Says S&S creative director Gavin Whitfield: “Benito’s background shooting award winning documentaries in places like the Brazilian favelas, mafia controlled Napoli and the Bolivian “cocaine’ jungles made us confident that he would be able to “roll with the punches’ and handle whatever the experience of shooting in Lagos would produce – something that none of us were completely prepared for.’

S&S had Lagos in mind when conceptualising the ad as the business need came primarily from Nigeria. After filming their last two commercials in Kenya, Whitfield found the Nigerian production was quite a different experience.

“Kenya is far less densely populated and therefore transport and logistics are relatively easy,’ he explains. “When it comes to Nigeria, considering that we shot on Lagos Island and anywhere up to three hours distance away on any given day, it was considerably more challenging. Security was more intense and the sheer scale of what we were trying to achieve meant that everyone involved was pushed to their limits. Having said that, we got it done and the people were extremely friendly and accommodating for the most part.’

Called The Ticket the commercial is a tale of the strong bond between two brothers. The elder journeys from the bustling city to his remote family home where he entices his younger brother with a bus ticket to the capital.

“A boy dreams, but a man does,’ says the elder brother, inviting him to return with him and “drink at the table of men’.

“The response to the ad has been terrific,’ says Whitfield. “I think it has made a difference that we shot it there. The story is extremely relevant to Nigerian men and we even finished the film in three different local languages – Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.’

By Anton Crone

Screen Africa magazine – May 2012


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