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‘We Are Investing Forward’ - TNC’s Olawale Adetula On Building A Digital Content Platform
The media entrepreneur also shed light on what audiences can expect from the upcoming season of The Little Black Book, and the journey The Naked Convos has been on since transitioning into visuals.
Olawale Adetula has experienced several life changes in the last decade and by his side, like a faithful partner, The Naked Convos (TNC) has gone through several iterations. Despite the changes, one thing that both have always revolved around is stories; creating and sharing stories.
In January, TNC and Adetula got a big acknowledgement tap on their shoulders with the inclusion into the YouTube Black Voices Fund Class of 2022. The channel is barely over a year old and for him, it is an important validation of the quality of work that has gone into creating content for the platform.
“It is already impacting us and after our first year, getting that recognition from Google is good validation for us and a tap on the shoulder. It has also been good publicity for us,” Adetula admits.
While the platform basks in this recognition, it is important to note the vastness of TNC’s model as a digital platform, and not just a YouTube channel. The rich history of the platform might be lost on new fans who have not followed the brand from the days it was a simple blog created to provide a space for diverse people interested in open dialogue. They experimented with everything and moved with the content formats as the world changed. A lot has indeed changed about content creation and consumption but TNC is still experimenting, now more strategically.
It is on the back of this layered history that Adetula clarifies, with kind firmness as we chat over Twitter Space, that TNC is more than its web series and intends to “expand our production value at every turn.” This mission informed the increased scale on the set of the second season of one of its most popular series Little Black Book which is currently in production.
Stills from the set have revealed that veteran Kanayo O. Kanayo, Bimbo Akintola and new sensation, Nengi Adoki are among those joining the series. It is a matter of increasing production value according to Adetula “even if it means taking A-list actors and combining them with some of the upcoming guys in the industry.”
We stay on the topic of Little Black Book for a while, talking about the show and its easily-missed nuances. Halfway through the conversation, Adetula admits that the second season is a lot more complex than the first and adds that it is an intentional story model used by TNC to reel the audience in.
“You will find that with a lot of our productions which is also very deliberate. Personally, I find that there is still a lot of room for the re-education of the Nigerian viewing audience of film and television in terms of making that audience a lot more advanced and it would only be done through the kinds of stories that we tell but you need to have a strategy in terms of how you bring in that audience.
“Then, you broaden their perspective. You can't just throw stuff at them. You have to put things side by side with our culture and the kind of things we consume currently. It does not mean that the audience does not appreciate advanced kinds of storytelling but the way you attract the audience to engage with that kind of story has to be completely different. I think we have done so well with the Little Black Book in the first season. It is very light but there are those undertones and a lot of people who are very discerning started seeing that. Season two, when you go in, you see that the story is a lot more complex and I just hope that it would resonate well with the viewers,” he explains.
But how does a storyteller, who had no prior filmmaking experience, navigate Nigeria’s dynamic film industry? Adetula notes that coming into the industry as someone with almost zero idea about how film works, was tough. “My first attempt was around 2016/2017 when we were doing Our Best Friends Wedding season one. I had always known I was going to get involved with content creation at some point but there was nobody to talk to, no books to read; so I did what I always do in business, which is to just start. Start scared.”
When confronted with the revenue stream challenge question, he characteristically offers gratitude for the valid concern but swiftly adds that “you need to spend money to make money. If you want to grow, you need to put your skin in the game. For us to be able to access the level of funding that we need, we need to show what our vision is. If we are not able to translate the quality we talk about, people would not understand which makes some conversations easier.
“We are investing forward. We know that by the quality of work we have done, we know that it would add up in the long term,” he says and goes on to explain how important it is, to him, to make TNC’s process as transparent as possible so others coming after can learn.
As fans await the arrival of Little Black Book, the TNC team has been dropping hints for another upcoming project Ololade and the promise that soon, more works will appear on more platforms. Just before the conversation ends, a plea was made - that the community manager gets a raise for brilliant engagement strategies. In response, Adetula notes his gratitude for his team, enthusiastically declaring that “the team we have been able to put together is a win for me.”