In December 2020, Frank iTom decided to ‘try new things.’ He already understood how some of the basic video transitions – like covering your camera, standing on one spot and changing your outfits – worked. But he didn’t know the complexity of outfits flying around and some other things. That was where YouTube came in. He started the tutorials there and in December 2020, he tried out his first VFX-type transition.
It is now 2 years, and you can call Frank the king of edits.
Frank’s childhood dream was to be a surgeon, then an engineer, a soldier, a dancer. His switch from the sciences to the arts is quite amusing, but there’s an explanation for it…
It’s peer pressure. Ha ha. I’m kidding.
Initially, my parents wanted me to become a doctor, and I was going to be an engineer, but I later thought medicine would be the right way, but that didn’t work. I was even supposed to be a soldier sef. My dad was in the military and wanted me to be in the military too. This was all through secondary school before I wrote JAMB. I tried to do a pre-degree and started with microbiology with the plan to switch back to medicine. Somehow, I was like, you know what, I’m not going to switch because it meant I’d lose one year or something.
So I was in 200 level studying microbiology, I saw this group dancing in the church I was attending and I asked if I could join. That was really how I started the art. I joined the group in 2005 and yeah, I just continued with the drill. And sometimes when I was doing my NYSC in 2008, I started working in a graphics designing company and that was how I started to learn that. I thought I was really going to make a living out of dancing because I enjoyed it but that didn’t happen.
So in 2014, I fell out with my dance group. When I fell out of the group, I didn’t know what else to do than to go back to my graphics designing. So I went back to that, came to Lagos, you know and tried to get into the entertainment industry. I met a lot of people that time: Ice Prince, Wizkid, and others. But the industry at the time was draining my energy because I was not used to that life. I would wake up at 2 am, 3 am and I said nah, I had to sleep. So I got a job at a time as a graphic designer for a company. That’s really the trajectory. I started working at Ikeja Electric, I moved to Sahara Group and I was in the communications department doing brands and communications when lockdown hit and… here we are today.
Frank iTom is super friendly and has a striking personality. His videos are spirited, fun, riveting, and attention-grabbing. A stroll through his Instagram page will leave you engrossed for hours, struck at how someone could be this brilliant and creative. But for Frank, it’s not just fun, dance and edits, he believes his videos are shaping social mindset.
I have always been of the opinion that images carry the power to alter people’s moods. I’ve seen that in my own life. Watching a movie through my own lens. I know this movie was created, but how it has affected my mood is just consuming. In my own content, I try to transmit joy. I live in a very happy world, so I show that in my content. You see people who are having a bad day and then they see your content and they are happy. That’s just one way of looking at it.
Another way I’d see it is getting young people involved in content creation and making a living out of their skills and their hobbies. We’ve seen the rise of lots of content creators especially after the lockdown, myself included. And I just see content creation as one of those opportunities for young people to focus on the legal part of making money. You see young people who want to blow and make money and the only way they could think of is through internet fraud. I know a lot of young people who are making money through content monetisation.
Frank iTom is a creative through and through. His edits have formed part of his brand identity and a lot of people keep asking him the same question: Frank, how do you do it? But behind those enrapturing videos are hours of hard work.
It is very time consuming, it takes 8 to 10 hours on an average to make a video. I’ve done 16 hours of editing before. I started in the morning and finished late into the night. I pay attention to details, those minute things that people don’t pay attention to. It gives me joy to know that I’ve gone the extra mile to create this content.
When I think of an idea, I have my guys that I will call and tell them about it and we’ll think about it. It all starts with the idea.We would think of a day to shoot yeah, we have our footage. I take it to my editing software and I do most of the edits on my laptop. When I’m done with the edits, I send it to a close group of friends to check out. Just to get their feedback.
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After hard work comes the reward. You watch the video, you’re touched and happy and you’d most likely comment “damn, Frank, this is fire.” All this brings him a sense of fulfilment.
I think of myself as a creator, not just a content creator in the sense but a creator as someone who’s making something that has never existed before. I’m Christian and the bible says that “In the sight of God, one thousand years is like a day.” So I’m thinking that if it took God to create the creatures, that means he took his time. In the same way, when I put out a content, and you view voom voom and it’s done, and you’re like really nice, I want to do it too. I think for me, really, what I get is that fulfilment, knowing that I took my time to create a masterpiece. I mean, other times you get money but yeah.
Frank brushes the money part aside like it’s no big deal but many African creatives living and working in Africa struggle to make money off their work. It takes years and years for people to recognise them, talk more of patronising. So Frank… rewind, let’s talk about the dough, and if being a creative has paid off for you.
100%. I can’t even lie. No matter how humbling I wanted to put it, it has paid off on all fronts.
I have met amazing people on this journey. I have had more fulfilments. I have made more on this journey. I have been happier on this journey. There is no time when I have broken and ask, God what am I doing? It’s just been amazing and you know I’m grateful for that.
It’s not just about the money too. Trust me, if it was just the money, I think at some point I will get tired or burnt out, but I just really enjoy creating. The money and endorsements feel like icing or cherry on the cake. Because I love what I’m doing already, someone saying ‘oh, I love what you do, take xyz amount, do something for me’ is the oil that keeps the engine moving.
In this part of the world, there’s one secret ingredient that help creatives grow and bloom: collaboration. Frank leverages this a lot. He’s had collaborations with some of Nigeria’s finest celebrities.
‘How, Frank?’ I ask, ‘How did you get these stars to be a part of your edits?’
‘Grace,’ he laughs.
‘Tell me more.’
When I started, I didn’t think of collaborations. I simply thought of creating content that would attract people. My first focus was ensuring that I did great content and so every time, I always try to top what I did the last time. I was my own competition. I wasn’t trying to do what someone else was doing. When I thought of a new idea, I just wanted to execute it the best way.
My first ever celebrity collaboration was Osas. I think she had seen my content and had started to comment my page. When she hit me up in my DM and said ‘let’s collaborate,’ I was like ‘yo, let’s do it!’ That’s the one I remember to be my first.
It so happens that people hit me up and they want to do something with me. Somehow, it looks like everyone can dance once they collaborate with me even if they don’t dance. I don’t also see myself as a dancer dancer, I’m an entertainer. The majority of the celebrities I’ve worked with hit me up. My content is something they resonate with, something that looks fun and they like. I’ve been able to build a brand that other celebrities want to identify or associate with.
I don’t think I only feature celebrities. It depends on who fits into the ideas. Remember that I don’t go looking for these celebrities. No offence, but if someone hits me up and says they want to collaborate, my first question would be why? I also don’t collaborate with most of the celebrities that have hit me up. It is not like picking a celebrity over a content creator that is still growing.
I think anybody who wants to have fun should hit me up.
Yo! Have you been dreaming of working with Frank? Here’s your chance. Ha ha. “I am always one message away from helping creators from helping a creative understand a few things,” Frank says.
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Talking about collaboration. Frank has something up his sleeves.
I’ve been procrastinating for a long time but I really want to get creators who are interested in the kind of content that I do in a room. We’d play games, have fun and do all of those stuff but then, I’d get to show them how I do what I do. Like create a content and let’s work on it together, so you see exactly how it’s done.
I must have one this year. I have pushed it for too long. I am such a perfectionist that I think of doing it right. I really want to get young creatives together, and most importantly, encourage them. I am also looking forward to creating like a Telegram page and every creative will join to share resourceful stuff.
I think the creative needs support and that’s where a platform like BellaNaija comes in. Creating a platform for them to express their creativity. It is one thing to create content. It is another thing for your content to be seen by the people you want. So platforms like BellaNaija help to encourage creators in their crafts to do more. When you encourage by posting their works or granting them an interview, you’re literally telling them, ‘I see and support you.’ And that’s what a lot of creators need.
Frank iTom has planted his feet in the creative industry but there’s still more to come.
I am working on an editing course. I have been on it for a bit and that should be out like the first week of next year. I’m excited about that one because instead of asking me questions about how I do my stuff, that will be like a guide for people.
Thank you Frank for having this conversation with me but hey, before you leave, tell me something fun you’d do if no one was watching you.
‘I will dance naked.’
BN Creatives’ Corner is a series that gives creatives living and working in Africa the platform to showcase their work, talk about their journey, struggles and highlights of being creatives in Africa. We have told the story of Anne Adams who bends clay to create stunning artwork, and Nana Frimpong Oduro whose art explores the many aspects of our split personalities, TJ Benson, a writer, Cera Cerni who paints life into walls, Kwame Akoto-Bamfo who is creating a repository of our history and heritage, and many more. You can read them all here.
Many thanks to Frank iTom for having this conversation with us and letting us share his story. You can visit his Instagram page: iamitom to see more of his works.