So, my alumni reached out for an interview.
Navel gazing is not very fun for me but reflecting on my journey so far, so far cos there is still a long road ahead; one is grateful, despite the valleys, hurdles and frustrations; to work as a filmmaker for a living. Many finish film school and that’s were it ends for them .
It not easy, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Good work alone wont get you where you want to go. Some will hit their targets faster than others but each journey is different.
Here is the interview
She is the co-writer/director/producer of BARIGA SUGAR . One of the best short films of 2016/2017. The film made Nigerian première at AFRIFF 2016 and online in 2017 to great reception.
Ifeoma talks about her love for cinema,visual story telling
It took me a while to like my work. Even when people told me they liked it, it never was up to where I saw myself or where my aspirations reach . It was not as good as what I admired.
Guess what! It never would be ….at the beginning. When you start, it wont be great and that is NORMAL. The key is to keep growing, keep learning , keep putting in the work. It’s all part of the creative process.
No writer, director or cinematographer you admire made the work you admire at the very start. They had to go through the same process of work sucking, levels of failure and things not being as good as they wanted. But they kept going .
It’s important to Network Across and help each other out. Do this with discernment,choose wisely as not everyone will have good intent or be willing to return. But sometimes those you grow together with will be the most important creative allies you can form than trying to reach those already ahead of you.
Dont always try to go for those ahead of you, but find those with similar visions and as much desire as you and build together, grow together.
I always find it impressive when a filmmaker can pull off a film for a low-budget and make it looks almost as good as something shot for 10 or 20 times the budget. Luckily there are podcasts by some of these people showing how they did it.
Here is the trailer for Josh Caldwell’s LAYOVER whose entire shooting budget was $6000
Listen to how he pulled it off in this interview with Alex Ferrari of Indie Film Hustle
Dont dwell on how his environment is much easier to get away with some of these things. Take what works and can be applied and use it,discard what isnt transferable .
Nigerian filmmakers like Abba Makama,Kenneth Gyang, Eric Aghimen, CJ Obasi, Ifeoma Chukwuogo,Walter Tayleur, Michael Onumwa, Tolu Ajayi, Tope Oshin,Nadine Ibrahim,Ishaya Bako and others, have been able to pull off really interesting work with very limited budgets on shorts and features.
Take inspiration from wherever you can get it .
Making films has got to be one of the hardest endeavors known to humankind. Straight up and down, film work is hard shit.- Spike Lee
Film is HARDDDDDD
No matter what the budget or resources you have it is incredibly hard to pull off. So you need to take care of your mind and the stories you tell yourself about your abilities, situation and craft,
You also audit who you allow in your circle and who you share your dreams. There are those who will only remind you and evangelize on how Nigeria wont let you be great and its impossible to do certain qualities etc Those with a fixation on the negatives and after a while it becomes a psychological default that blocks the mind from coming up with solutions. It soon allow you to give up and blame resources, the environment and external factors(which could be valid) for something that a little innovation, brain storming could solve.
Film is already difficult, dont surround yourself with people who throw water on your fire of enthusiasm and positivity by talking about impossibilities. Who are cynical and pessimistic about everything. Who respond to every things with “this is Naija it can’t” “people will not” , “Nigerians only want….” to anything.
Should you listen to feedback? YES, but be selective.
Now for the record, there is a difference between Optimism and Delusion. Some negativity is reality, they are the facts on ground. But some are just fixation of pessimism to justify failing in expectations or quality.
Enviromental factor and human factor make a lot of things harder than they need to be, things can be frustrating but there is a certain wavelength you need to keep, uninterupted if you are going to make certain types of films in this environment. Others have done it here, so can you.
The environment is not going to change anytime soon, indie film will get even more challenging even as the digital tools get better and it gets harder to stand out from the noise.
The question is; What will you do to keep your mind excited and driven to keep making great work?
There has been a history in cinema of great friendships between directors , the cahier du cinema writers who became directors together and started the French New Wave, the films school brats who shared youth and a filmschool/cinephile background and changed the American Film landscape and South of the US border the Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón.
They met early in their careers due to their love of cinema and immediately clicked. They would share ideas, show their screenplays and edits to each other for feedback and help each other shape their films to the best it could be . This didnt change as they each moved to the US and grown successful careers with critical acclaim.
When Innaritu was editing his film Amores Perros, Del Toro flew in from Texas to Mexico city and slept on the couch in the editing room, helping him restructure the film.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Before Cannes, Inarritu also helped del Toro by excising 10 minutes from that film in a single day. “It was crucial,” del Toro says. “We didn’t have time. We returned to high school dynamics. We ordered pizza and stayed up until 6 a.m. We needed to ship the print the next day for Cannes. That’s the beauty of the friendship of the three of us. It keeps us young.”
This has happened through their careers and fame and bigger budgets havent changed them from the day they met on a TV show. Like the Film Brats of the 70s they have produced each others films and support each others films on every level.
This film game can tend to get you to see every other filmmaker as competition. Dont get into that trap, not everyone will be your collaborator but find those who you can support and who can support you. Its a very tough industry, flying solo makes it that much harder.
Find friends who you can support 100% and who can do that for you.
Have a great weekend guys.
Seven, The Social Network, Fight Club, Gone Girl are some of the David Fincher films you may be familiar with. He is one of the best working filmmakers in American Cinema bringing a unique approach to his films.
But did you know due to a nightmare experience on his feature debut ALIEN 3 he swore off directing feature films.
“I thought I’d rather die of colon cancer than do another movie”
Thankfully he got past that and continued .
His passion for filmaking led him to start as a child making films when he got an 8mm camera for his 8th birthday. After high school he worked for Korty films and then staff of Lucas’s special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.
The path wont always be straight, it wont be easy, at all. But if you love it enough, it gets you through the tough times till you get to the victory.
People come to directing through different paths. Not everyone will have the same path. It’s not always through apprenticeship, or attending film school. What is most important is the love of stories, a love of cinema and the drive to do whatever it takes to bring those stories to life on the screen in a cinematic way.
Find your own path. Grab a camera, use your smart phone, tell your story, build your own storytelling muscles, learn how to tell a cinematic story.’
Right now, over thinking or self-doubt is the only thing stopping you.
Andrew Dosunmu is one of the interesting Nigerian filmmakers working in the international scene. He started as a photographer and later directed music videos for Talib Kweli, Les Nubians, Angie Stone and others. His background in Art and Fashion Photography influences how he approaches filmmaking in an incredible aesthetic way ; how the frames,composes and unveils emotion.
We look at how he does this in his 2nd feature, MOTHER OF GEORGE.