SAE Oxford Digital Film Production graduate Santos Awogbemi has forged a successful career for himself as a fashion photographer and videographer since finishing his studies in 2017. We caught up with him to find out more about some of the projects he’s been involved with over the last few years.
What have you been up to since finishing the Digital Film Production course at SAE Oxford in 2017? As a freelance photographer, what sort of projects have you been involved with?
After finishing the course I decided I wanted to learn more about photography, so I decided to go out and teach myself all the basics. Due to my background in film, I fell in love with the idea of taking portrait pictures. I didn’t, however, want to take any plain pictures with boring backgrounds, I wanted each picture I take to stand on its own, to tell a story when you look at it and be filled with huge amounts of colour. This approach is what led me to fashion photography, it was nice because models could easily express themselves with clothing choices and makeup and I had a lot more freedom to do what I wanted. So the majority of the work I do is fashion portraits.
You do a lot of fashion portrait photography for brands such as BOY London. How did you secure these opportunities, and how did you ensure you delivered on the client’s brief?
A lot of the opportunities came after I decided to work on a portfolio, and started publishing my work on social media. When I was confident that it was strong enough, I decided to be a bit over-ambitious and message companies that I would love to work for, and one of those companies I decided to email was BOY London. I sent a link to my work asking if they have any work placements going. To my surprise they actually replied and they invited me in rather quickly for a shoot. The brief was simple: take high-quality photos showing off the branding and make the models look as natural as possible. Due to my previous experience of working with upcoming models and clothing companies, this task wasn’t too hard for me. Due to the pressure of it being a big brand however, the amount of concentration needed did push me and at the time they were some of my best photos.
Do you have any advice to current Film students with regards to working with models or actors?
When working with any talent treat them like they’re human. Always be a good host. If you can provide water and food and during quiet moments play music that they would like. It goes a long way, and building a solid relationship is great in this industry cause you never know when you might need someone.
What about some of your freelance filmmaking projects with LOQU films - could you tell us a bit more about this filmmaking collecting and your role and ambitions with this group?
LOQU was a group I formed within SAE from 3 other students in my film class and me. We formed this group because we had amazing chemistry, and we just enjoyed working on projects together. The best thing about this group is we also constructively criticize our work together, we would find new ways of trying to improve from what we learnt together, and always constantly using new methods to improve the quality of our films. With LOQU during and after life at SAE, our main ambition is to create content yet constantly improve. One of the first projects we did together which wasn’t for SAE was a music video for local talent. We had various roles on set and in the end, I was the one who edited the project. Ever since university it has been the same structure, we work hard and we constantly improve.
You filmed Cowley Road Carnival in 2018 - do you still do a lot of projects in Oxford or are you primarily based in London?
A lot of my projects are now primarily based in London , I will do the very rare and occasional project within Oxford but London is just a great city to work in. The amount of locations you have and the amount of different people you meet is fantastic.
How have you found the impact of the COVID-19 situation on your work slate, and how have you adapted your skills to deal with the current situation?
COVID-19 did hurt me quite a bit, a lot of my projects were cancelled, however a few people I know contacted me for editing projects. I also took the extra free time I had to work on a couple of passion projects. My editing skills have definitely improved within this time, especially when you’re consistently editing during these odd times.
What are your long term hopes for your career and how do you plan to realise these goals?
My long term hopes for my film career is to win a BAFTA award for best direction or an Oscar for best director. I want to do this by either creating an engaging web series or a mind-blowing feature film. I want to be remembered as one of the best directors of our generation and it’s something that means a lot for me, I want to inspire people to bring out the best in themselves and I’ll stop at nothing until that is achieved.
What advice would you give students currently on the Film Production course at SAE?
Go out and create. You have so much free time at SAE to constantly create. You’re surrounded by other like-minded individuals who want the same thing you want in life. Network with these individuals, go shoot something even if it’s a one minute project you’ll gain so much more experience from that small project than doing nothing. You’ll also build a great relationship with the other students as well. Remember that experience is the best thing within this industry.
Check out Santos’ work here.