Kassim Braimah, the founder of ‘Yawa’, a short comedy movie brand, says police operatives had assumed they were cultists after the team was spotted shooting a graveyard episode at midnight.


In a recent interview with TheCable Lifestyle, the filmmaker spoke of the logistic difficulties his team encountered while filming ‘Graveyard Business‘.

“We had that story for over seven months. We didn’t want to shoot it because we didn’t have the resources to do so. It involved shooting in a graveyard and we couldn’t go to a real one to shoot at night,” he said.

“So we had to build a grave ourselves. We got a land, built the grave, and shot all through the night. We had borrowed space from someone who owned land in the bush. Technically, lighting up the grave was challenging.


“We had to use a heavy generator there. At some point, the police came into the bush with their truck and screamed that we mustn’t move. They asked us what we were doing and accused us of being cultists doing initiations.

“We had to explain, showing our scripts and camera. Even at that, they had to shut us down for a while, saying we were threatening neighbours by showing light in the bush. We begged and they eventually allowed us to continue.”

Graveyard Business, which was Yawa’s 21st skit, saw its characters disguise as graveyard spiritualists for money.

Kassim Braimah

‘Yawa’, which has now gotten over 400,000 subscribers on YouTube and amassed nearly 1.4 million followers on its Facebook page, had started back in 2014 with its first skit titled ‘Man Must Chop‘, which featured no dialogue.

It starred the main character named Kalistus (Sifon Okoi), who pulls unthinkable gimmicks to make ends meet.

On how he partnered Okoi to kickstart the brand, Braimah said: “I’ve known Sifon Okoi for long before I went to TV school. I finished TV College in Jos, 2011. I came back to Abuja, did a couple of short films; some music videos.

“I was a content creator. I had the idea to create Yawa in 2015. At the time, YouTube wasn’t that thing Nigerians were into. I kept building the idea and continued my search for characters to use. Sifon Okoi was my friend.


“I see him all the time and he hadn’t acted before. He looked like the person I could use. I didn’t have money to pay experienced actors. I met him and he said, ‘Nah, I’ve never been on the screen’. But I encouraged and briefed him.

“We tried it and did the first episode. We didn’t even have the equipment, just a camera. There was no microphone. There was nothing. I had to write it without dialogue, more like a silent movie where the actors say nothing.

“It was a pretty challenging six-minute action. No funds, zero budget. I did the shooting with family. I edited. Some liked it; others didn’t. Putting it on YouTube was for the sake of doing it, not because we intended to hustle with it.”

‘Family members worried I slept less, said I’d go crazy’ — Braimah


Managing ‘Yawa’ and doing scriptwriting while shooting, directing, and editing himself was a lot of work. Braimah noted that his family once feared for his life as he often had to stay up late into the night to work on these videos.

“There were lots of family members that got worried that I don’t sleep. Others said I’d run mad with the things I do. But I won’t say it was a challenge. It was oxygen for me. I felt if I didn’t do that, I won’t do anything else,” he said.

“The challenges I faced were those ones every other young entrepreneur would face where people don’t believe you initially. Money was not the problem in the beginning because I wasn’t paying anyone. I shoot, I edit and put it out.

“The only thing was that I got money for logistics and feeding people on set. The challenges were not peculiar to us, just the same thing every other upcoming content creator faces. I had to build a team eventually.


“Now we have a scriptwriter. Everything around just worked towards giving us new ideas. Friends will think for you and share the idea, even my mum. Now the fan base has grown so much that we owe them the videos.”

Yawa Gang
Yawa Gang

On the team’s prospects, the filmmaker said they look to build a company that would mentor upcoming creatives.

“I want to hit 1 million subscribers. Every YouTuber’s dream is to hit more and get views because the more of these you get, the more money. As a filmmaker, I want to do a movie that will be on other platforms,” Braimah added.

“As time goes on, we’re trying to make sure the brand grows and that we build a proper company. We’ll do movies; look into TV shows. We just want to keep making the videos and believe that there is something out there.

“We want to reach as many people as we can and send videos across the world. If you’re a content creator out there and you feel you have a story to tell, do it. Don’t wait to have the equipment because what is good cannot hide.

“Use your phone. You don’t have to have a camera. We only had one small camera without a mic and the best we could do was to write a script without a dialogue. So you have to create to your capacity and put it out.

“You cannot say you have your phone and you want to shoot Avatar. You have no camera or money and you want to shoot ‘Lord of the Rings’. Tell the story from your most comfortable space and people will start to notice you.”

Among other members of the Yawa team are Boma, Filo, and Anita James.

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