Yemi Bamiro, a producer and director for VICE Media, visited Los Medanos College Monday, Nov. 30 to give students a look into documentary filmmaking.
“I actually started off as a journalist,” said Bamiro at the start of his lecture titled “Me, Africa, and Working for TV.”
Bamiro first began working for The VOICE, dubbed Britain’s Favorite Black Newspaper, but soon discovered that it would be difficult to make a living there as he was paid by the word for every article he wrote, and London is very expensive.
“I worked for The VOICE for about two years and it was always in entertainment, so it was always interviewing music artists and speaking to actors and stuff like that,” he said.
When Bamiro left The VOICE, he began an internship at MTV, “when it was still sort of cool,” he explained.
“When I graduated, I realized I sort of wanted to go back into media. I got an internship at MTV, which is probably the best job that any 20-year-old could have working in TV. It was when TV was really cool, like MTV was really cool. It was before YouTube. It was before all music TV had gone online,” he said about his nearly six-year stint at MTV.
When Bamiro left MTV, he briefly worked for VICE News prior to getting a job at Sky Media. Sky is a major broadcast company in Europe. It was during his nearly three-year employment at Sky in which his work was focused predominantly around sports.
“I worked on Sky Sports, which is their formula one channel. It was a really good job because I was always interested in formula one,” said Bamiro. “You guys have NASCAR here, but as a kid I used to watch formula one.”
After his time at Sky, he returned to VICE and has been working there ever since.
“I had always been interested in what VICE did. It’s always challenging. It’s always engaging. It’s always, you know, it goes against the grain,” he said.
VICE, founded by Shane Smith, is known for being an irreverent and brutally honest news source, geared toward a younger audience. VICE has taken Bamiro all around the world, but he spoke specifically of his travels to the continent of Africa.
“Last week we were doing some stuff in Japan for VICE Sports. The week before that we were in Chicago,” said Bamiro, whose position at VICE allows him explore subjects he loves, such as sports, as well as many others.
Bamiro shared a number of tips with the audience to help them learn to develop a story idea, starting with “Story is King.”
“Everything starts with an amazing story,” said Bamiro to an attentive crowd. “There are always stories that are nestled away, so yeah, story is king.”
One unusual story Bamiro discovered while working for VICE brought him to a maximum-security prison in Uganda.
“I found this article about a prison in Uganda that has a fully realized soccer league. So, it’s a maximum-security prison in Uganda but it also has a soccer league. There are twelve teams in this league. All the teams are named after European football teams,” said Bamiro.
A story as different as this one is bound to have a cast of enticing characters, bringing up Bamiro’s next point to “find strong characters.”
“They also have player salaries, so the inmates are actually paid, but they’re not paid cash, they’re paid by prison commodities, like soap and sugar,” he explained. “The players are also traded from one team to another as well, so it’s completely realized, completely functional.”
The documentary he and his crew filmed in the Ugandan prison is not yet completed, but it will eventually air on VICE Land, VICE’s television network.
Finally, Bamiro’s last pieces of advice were to ‘be patient’ when filming and developing a story and to ‘watch as many different documentaries as possible.’
“If you really believe in your idea and you really believe in your story, then you will make it happen,” said Bamiro.