Alex Adetokunbo Gansallo: “If You Understand Your Gift…It Will Bring You Before Kings.”
I reached out to Alex Adetokunbo Gansallo via Linkedin. I reached out to him because he is an entrepreneur film director based in South Africa. But secretly, I was excited to get a non-Nigerian on my blog. Epic fail, Alex is half Brazilian & Nigerian and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. He told me in our first conversation that he considers himself a Najia boy. Although he is Nigerian :P, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview such a talented and multifaceted individual. Let me introduce the actor/entrepreneur/film director Alex Adetokunbo Gansallo.
My name is Alex Adetokunbo Gansallo. I was born in Kano (a city in northern Nigeria) and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I attended Gideon international High School in Lagos. After graduating high school, I went to Lagos State University (LASU) and graduated with a major in International Relations.
Describe your business.
I am an actor as well as a film director / film producer. When I was a teenager, I started acting on and off in my church. I went into acting full time in 2006.
In 2010, I started OneTouch Films, a media company based in South Africa. My company offers full production services such as:
Short/Feature Film Production
Creative Direction & Brand Curation
Photo Shoot Production
Commercial Film Production
So have you always been interested in film/cinematography?
I am very creative. I have always been interested in film and I am a very good storyteller. I also enjoy other creative arts like drawing and clay molding. I was only able to discover my talents of acting/film directing at a later stage in my life.
My father is a professor so it was a rule in our family to get our degree before even thinking about pursuing anything else. However, we were allowed to learn music alongside our field of study. After I graduated college, I took a trip to South Africa and meet a lot of people in the media industry. These friends kindled my gift and brought it back to life.
How did you start acting? When did you start taking it seriously?
I started acting when I was a teenager (in the in the 90’s) at my church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God. My church was located on Sunmonu Street, Oke-Ira, Ikeja in Lagos.
I acted at the church for the fun of it. I started in playlets (short plays) then moved to regionals during teenage outreach.
I stopped acting when I got into the Lagos State University. I got back into acting when a friend of mine shot a movie and needed extras in his film. I got my first role as an extra and that was how I was discovered. I received my first real big opportunity in 2007 when I became a presenter for Mzansi Nights, a magazine show (entertainment style news program) in South Africa.
My move to South Africa was an interesting journey. The first time I traveled to South Africa was in 2004 to visit and as soon as I arrived I loved the country. It felt like home so when I returned to Nigeria, I decided to pursue a professional acting course in South Africa. Then I went started producing and acting in some shows and movies.
No industry is easy to break into. All I can say is it took the favor of God. I can’t explain myself how I got where I am right now.
How did you start your company? Why did you feel you need to have your own film company?
All my life I have always been my own boss. I just felt the passion to stand on my own; to do my own thing the way I want to do it. I started my company in 2010 because I knew that I can do things better than my competitors. I will always find a way to get it done better.
When I started my company it was called OneTouch Productions because I had an artist I was managing. I was also organizing shows and making movies. The work load was getting too much on me and I was getting a little distracted from my goals. So I decided to focus on motion pictures; rebranded the company and named it OneTouch Films.
How did you raise the funds to start your own production company.
It was self-funded.
What are some of the projects you are working on and have worked on?
Below are the movies I wrote, produced and directed.
My Name is Courage (Official Selection IMFF 2014)
Make it stop 2014
10 minutes 2015
Fix it 2015
Jack n Jingo 2015
Single and Committed 2015
Set me free 2015
Coming Home (A OneJohn5four Project / Directed by Alex Gansallo) 2015
In My Misery 2015
Below are the Nigerian movies and commercials that I have acted in.
I am currently on a show called Lincoln Clan as the lead actor; my character is called Chris Lincoln. I act with Doris Simeon 2015 as my wife, Norbert Young as my Father and Kunle Remi as my brother.
The Dragon acted as Raymond 2014
Power of the Tongue 2015
Glo Mobile 2014
Guinness made for Africa 2015
Konga .com 2015
Below are the South African movies and commercials that I have produced.
Mandisa story 2010
Rhythm City 2015 till date
Debonairs pizza 2015
Jet Clothing 2016
Presently, I am getting ready to shoot two films for international festivals. I also produce local contents that go out on TV stations here in South Africa.
What have you done that has distinguished you from your peers? Acting and film directing is a competitive field.
I can’t say much about acting because I believe everyone can act. However, if you understand your gift and know how to use it well, it will bring you before kings.
When it comes to directing I believe I am very different and unique from other film directors. I have heard my actors say to me, your directing skills are different because I use unconventional ways to get the best out of people.
For example, one of the qualities of a good director is to be able to read people from the first meeting even before they even say hi. I am able to bring out the inner person that actors, themselves, didn’t even know existed.
How many hours a day do you work/describe a typical day in your life.
I work normal hours 8am – 5pm. I wake up then head off to the office, attend meetings if I have any scheduled, review my scripts I have to shoot, and speak with my production team.
Do you have to go to clubs? Do you have to go to events?
I hardly go clubbing cause I think it’s a waste of time. The time I will spend in the club I will use it to be creative about something. I only go if it has to do with business. I only go to events that have something positive to add on my business or life.
What have been some of your failures and what have you learned from them?
I tried to start a travel agency before I went into film directing. In October 2011, I was robbed by armed men that came to the house I was residing in Lagos. This happened on the second day I arrived in Nigeria. I wanted to go and pay for the office that I was going to use for the business however that incident changed my mind about that business.
What has been your most satisfying moment in your business?
Whenever I see my film playing on TV, there is nothing as satisfying at that.
How do you market your business?
I market through websites and local advertising agencies in South Africa.
What’s an example of what you do?
I found you on LinkedIn, has that platform helped you secure jobs or meet people before? What social media platforms do you like to use the most?
I use Facebook & Instagram the most. All the social platforms work for me and yes I have secured jobs via social media platforms.
What countries have you acted/film directed in?
I have only filmed in South Africa for now. I have acted in South Africa and Nigeria. However, I will be in Swaziland to shoot in about 3 weeks. I want to and will be working with other production houses across Africa soon.
Since you are based in SA, how do you hear of acting jobs in Nigeria or other countries?
I have an international agent that helps me get my acting jobs and commercials.
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give to aspiring African actors and film directors?
Never give up on your dreams
Never wait for someone to give you money to shoot your first project, you may wait forever.
It is never too late to start.
What are the unique challenges running a film company in Africa? Acting in Africa?
The competition is very high and getting financial support from the government is very hard. Becoming skillful in an area doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of time, practice and learning. African youths that want to get into the industry need to learn that it is not easy and it will take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
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