kunle afolayan

Pioneering Nigerian film as craft first: Kunle Afolayan

From as early as age 14, Kunle Afolayan travelled West Africa, learning the craft of screening films off of 16mm projectors.

Kunle Afolayan pioneering nigerian films as craft

The son of the late renowned Nigerian actor, filmmaker, dramatist, and producer, Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan, Kunle’s creative ambition was yet to form.

Despite securing the role of the lead actor in the hit 1999 political drama, Saworoide (dir. Tunde Kelani) much of this initial exposure was simply family duty.

Kunle Afolayan pioneering nigerian films as craft

A degree in business administration saw Kunle Afolayan spend 7 years in banking, before being pulled back to the arts, undertaking studies at the New York Film Academy in London.


In 2006, Kunle released his debut movie, Irapada (“Redemption”), which he produced and co-directed.

His expertise and dedication paid off, as the film garnered recognition at the Pan African Film Festival, the London Film Festival, and won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Film in an African Language.

Kunle used his negotiation skills to persuade Silverbird Cinemas to screen the culturally specific content for one week.

The movie exceeded expectations, running for four weeks due to massive crowds and extensive ticket sales.

This marked the beginning of his successful career in the Nigerian film industry, with subsequent releases including The Figurine in 2009, October 1 in 2014, and The CEO in 2016.

Check out his filmography here

Kunle’s success can be attributed not only to his creative talent but also to his keen business acumen and understanding of the industry.

His films consistently showcase his signature style and his ability to resonate with his target audience.

His innovative thinking and commitment to quality, has helped pave the way for what many now call “The New Nollywood.”

Kunle is uncompromising about production quality – he notes that while the digital era brought ease and accessibility, it allows for short-cuts on elements such as camera quality, audio treatment, color correction and grading.

Long before his formal education, Kunle learned the art of craftsmanship in the early 90s, from watching how his father and peers approached filmmaking.

If you pay attention to format, a film could achieve longevity by simply being able to fit on several platforms.

Netflix Partnership!

Kunle Afolayan netflix partnership

For Kunle, Netflix’s entry into the Nigerian market came at the right time. He describes distribution as one of the major challenges, especially for indie filmmakers across the world.

In March 2021, Netflix signed a three-film deal with Kunle, with Aníkúlápó being the second title in the agreement.

Kunle Afolayan netflix partnership


Aníkúlápó, released on September 30, 2022, is an epic fantasy about a widow, a spirit, and the promise of another chance at life.

The film quickly became the most-watched film in Nigeria in 2022 and earned a spot in the global top 10 as the number one foreign film on Netflix.

It has been nominated for 16 AMVCA awards see here

Anikulapo bags 16 nominations at AMVCA

Kunle believes the film’s success demonstrates that the market is ready for more diverse and sustainable content that showcases the richness of Yoruba culture.

List of ANIKULAPO AMVCA nomination

Much of the crew behind the title is part of Kunle’s “winning team”, having walked a decade-long journey together.

how to promote your film as a newbie

His assessment of the Nigerian film industry is a market that’s ready and brimming with adrenaline to meet the global demand for local content, with Netflix serving as a catalyst for further growth of the industry.


Despite the size of the industry – more capable hands are needed.

The KAP Film and Television Academy was founded to invest in capacity-building, especially for Nigeria’s young and emerging filmmakers.

In partnership with both Netflix and USC School of Cinematic Arts, KAP has recently graduated its second batch of students in Sound Post-Production.

Reflecting on those lessons from the early 90s, Kunle’s advice for the next generation is to merge creative passion with understanding the business of film –

“quality in, ensures quality out, and making a great film is just as important as finding your audience

To start making your own films, sign up to KAP FILM AND TV ACADEMY, click HERE


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