Matt Houghton's award-winning doc gives us a glimpse into an unseen world in 'Landline'

At the time of writing this, we’d like to celebrate the release of Landline on the app and what better way to do that then to speak to the man and documentary filmmaker himself; Matt Houghton.

The film opens our eyes to a UK helpline for gay farmers set up in 2010. When you consider the high suicide rates among men in the UK, coupled with being closeted with no support system - the necessity of the helpline seems obvious. But the farming community is a gated and traditional one, so we can be forgiven for not being privy to this marginalised group.

Released in early 2019, Matt Houghton’s documentary was selected by several reputable festivals up and down the country last year, such as: Aesthetica Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, BFI Flare and Sheffield Doc Fest - to name a few. As well as receiving international attention and being viewed close to half a million times as part of the British Council’s FiveFilms4Freedom campaign.

What’s probably most satisfying about this being Matt’s most successful film to date is much like Hands Up, Chin Down (his first short film to feature on the app), it’s an engaging audio sensory experience throughout. Built around real life phone conversations and visual reenactments on screen. Informative but in the language of film. A real cinematic experience.

Matt Houghton at the Minute Presents: Orange Thursday July event.  Landline  screened as part of our mental health awareness themed line-up.

Matt Houghton at the Minute Presents: Orange Thursday July event. Landline screened as part of our mental health awareness themed line-up.

We got a bit nosey and asked Matt about the whole thing. See what he had to say below.

Q: Can you tell us how you came to do research and direct Landline? As a documentary filmmaker, did you seek out this particular story or did the story find you?

MH: I do sometimes sit at a computer and go hunting for stories but the truth is it never really works. The idea at the centre of Landline - like everything else I’ve ever made - kind of found me. A good friend of mine Rupert Williams and I were having a conversation one evening about what it was like for him growing up as a gay man in a farming family and the project grew from there. With a little distance now, I can see that the very personal way that it started had a huge impact on how the film turned out. 

Q: What can you tell us about shooting this film and explaining the vision to your crew? As it mixes a lot of visual reenactment and real life phone conversations as a mode of storytelling. 

MH: For me, the process of making a film like this broadly happens in two stages - the development bit and the actual making of it. In my experience, the clearer you are at the moment when development transitions into making, the better it’ll all turn out. It’s a long-winded way of saying, I reckon preparation is everything. 

I like to develop a clear language for every film I make so it’s pretty common for me to come out of the development process with very clear parameters for visual language, story structure, tone, etc. That initial part tends to be quite a solo process but once we start making the thing, it’s all defined by collaboration. People work in very different ways but I tend to think more about creating something with a team rather than simply having an idea and executing it. 

Q: Similar to Hands Up, Chin Down - the use of audio here is particularly interesting and plays a key part in informing the viewer and telling story. How did you go about deciding which recordings to use and did they all come from the helpline? 

MH: Sound is really important to me and both Landline and Hands Up, Chin Down began with audio recordings. For obvious reasons, the calls to the helpline are not recorded so what you’re hearing in the film are telephone interviews that I did with people who had called the helpline in the past. There were certain themes and ideas that cropped up a lot during our calls. A lot of it was about finding the stories that had the combination of being intimate but also speaking to the broader themes that we’d encountered. The way that people told their stories also had a huge impact. That’s something that feels less intellectually-driven and much more instinctive. It’s about hearing a story, feeling connected with it and trusting that the audience will too. 

“There is no universal experience of being LGBTQ and in the farming community…Landline is a film that presents the audience with a series of personal stories and then asks them to make their own judgement.”

Q: Landline was selected and has since been seen many times over throughout the festival season in 2018; winning prestigious awards in the process, before making its online debut in March and eventually becoming a Vimeo Staff Pick. How has the visibility affected the helpline, have you spoken with the organisation much about this?

MH: We’re still in contact with Keith who runs the helpline and last year we set up a Crowdfunder that raised enough money for the helpline to keep going for another three years. We’ve had an incredible response from not only local communities in the UK but also in rural areas all over the world. The film ran as part of the British Council and BFI Flair’s #FiveFilms4Freedom campaign last year, which made it available to watch in every country in the world, including those where LGBTQ+ rights are extremely restricted or where it’s illegal. It was seen almost half a million times in twelve days and we had some amazing responses from people in places that we never would have dreamed would get to see the film. 

Q: The double hurdle of being LGBTQ+ and not having an outlet in the traditional British farming community is felt throughout. How do you think this double rejection has a profound impact on a person’s psyche? 

MH: The film’s about a helpline so of course the stories lean towards the negative – these are people who are calling because they’re looking for help in one way or another – but we also wanted to depict the nuances of the experiences. There is no universal experience of being LGBTQ and in the farming community so it’s a tough question to answer but for me, Landline is a film that presents the audience with a series of personal stories and then asks them to make their own judgement. To me, it is defined by its intimacy but in depicting the very personal, my hope is that it poses questions about much broader ideas surrounding community, family, masculinity and sexuality.  I wanted to make something that took the very personal and made it universally relevant.

Behind-the-scenes on the set of  Landline

Behind-the-scenes on the set of Landline

Q: What do you hope people receive from this film? And what’s an unexpected thing that has been taken from it so far? 

MH: I always find that question a tricky one because I wouldn’t want to second-guess what someone might take away from any film. What I can say is that with Landline, probably more than any other film I’ve made, I really tried to leave space for people to take away what they wanted from the film. My hope above all is that the audience is moved to feel something. 

Q: Since 2010 the helpline: https://www.gayfarmer.co.uk/ continue to do the work and provide a safe space for gay farmers. How has it felt to be able to contribute in what would otherwise be a marginalised cause? Did you do what you set out to do with the film? 

MH: We always said that we wanted to make a film about people and not about an issue, but I think we all also felt the weight of responsibility very keenly. We’re telling stories that are highly personal and often involve profound moments in the lives of our contributors, and as much as the ’success’ of the film has been amazing it was always really important to us that in its very small way it did something positive. I hope we’ve achieved that. 

Q: What have you got lined up next that we can look out for?

MH: I’m currently developing a feature project and a short that are both set in New York and one of which involves a bank robbery. 

Q: Do you have any genre or type of film which you’d like to make in the future?

MH: I mean, a film about a bank robbery’s very much one for the bucket list for me so hopefully we can get the money to get it made…

Q: A budding filmmaker wants to shoot their first documentary straight out of university - what advice would you give them starting out? 

MH: I was standing on an escalator the other day and someone in front of me had two badges pinned onto their bag. They said ‘Be honest’, ‘Be brave’. The combination of those two things really makes sense to me especially when it comes to documentary.

Q: And lastly Matt, what do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a filmmaker?

MH: I really don’t know. Probably trying really hard to become a filmmaker…

Film still from  Landline

Film still from Landline

Written and Edited by Regys Badi.

You can watch Matt’s film in its entirety with Minute now. Download the app:

iOS: apple.co/2AKdPyq 
GooglePlay: 
goo.gl/Zu3vdF

Introducing...Fabianne Gstöttenmayr and Jessica Garrison

‘Earth Is A Paradise’ will keep you captivated and staring at the screen, if only for the journey as much as wanting to find out what happens. Considering the film literally opens with a car crash, Garrison and Gstöttenmayr manage to maintain control in what can be described as a cocktail of themes swirling in such a short space of time. You’ll be hard pressed to find a short to compare this to and that’s the whole point. Jeremy Radin and Fabianne Therese do a fine job in keeping the main characters rooted in reality, no matter how bizarre their behaviour (trust me it gets weird).

Do yourself a favour and find out about the creators of the short film described. Another Minute Moment, read the full interview below:

“We always wanted to walk the line between hero and antagonist, aggressor and victim, and tell a story where both characters shift between the roles, exerting whatever power they can…”

Q: Jessica and Fabianne, can you introduce yourselves as best as you can - where are you from, your history as an artist and filmmakers, and how you both came together prior to creating ‘Earth Is A Paradise’?

F: Hey! I’m an actor and newly budding director. I grew up ping ponging all about (Sri Lanka, Austria, UAE, the States…) because my parents are both immigrants. I have participated in theater programs throughout my life. I’ve tried my hand at pretty much everything from wood-working to ceramics to starting a magazine and attempting to learn drums (I’m so sorry to everyone involved at this time in my life) and the only thing that I seem to have any proficiency in are acting and filmmaking. I also have a DEEP love of cinema and storytelling so it checks out.

J: I drove out from the East Coast to LA on a whim, a few days after I turned eighteen. At the time, I was a painter, and very into naked women and pastoral landscapes. I found writing in my twenties, which felt appropriately late, since I’m a late bloomer with most things. I started writing erotic short stories, which then turned into regular short stories with an erotic flair, which then turned into a couple shelved novels and an introduction to staged theater. I started writing and staging plays with a theater company in Los Angeles, and shortly after, I began writing screenplays. A long twisted path which led me to filmmaking, and somewhere along it I met Fabianne. We toasted to failed relationships and, with a boozy spit handshake, swore that we’d make a film together.

Q: Are you a directing duo at this point?

F: No. We’re like any modern couple, no need to put labels on it. We are free to make what we like with whom we please, but if we feel the pull to create together again I for one am totally down.

J: Yes, we are in an open relationship.

Q: Without giving too much away, I’ll say the title of ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ is quite contradictory considering the film is mostly set in one place, could you dive into the thinking behind this?

F+J: There’s a Star Trek reference in the film that we don’t want to give away, but that sums this answer up better than we ever could.

Film still from ‘Earth Is A Paradise’

Film still from ‘Earth Is A Paradise’

Q: What were some of the other locations you explored? (If any).

F+J: It was always just a windy road and a cluttered apartment.

Q: What were some of the challenges in making sense to the audience of the shifting character tones throughout?

F+J: We always wanted to walk the line between hero and antagonist, aggressor and victim, and tell a story where both characters shift between the roles, exerting whatever power they can, playing whatever mind games they need. It’s those bizarre ways we attempt to gain the upper hand, or to get one over on someone, or feel less alone, or get a grip on the wheel of a spinning car. We did a lot of character development in the writing process, and then even more when we started rehearsals with Jeremy Radin (who plays Alan), and who immediately connected and understood these kind of blurry lines. It was tricky to find just the right string of actions to tell the story in a way we hadn’t seen before, and without spelling everything out. And without the characters having sex—that seemed too easy.  

Q: Jess (our lead character) initiates and controls a lot of the interactions with Alan throughout. What do you think are her motivations as a character? (If any).

F: I came to a pretty clear understanding of that, but I’d prefer to let the audience come up with their own thoughts on what both characters’ motivations might be.

J: Yeah, her motivations may be too close to Fabianne and I for us to try to explain.. or justify.

“We see whatever we need to subconsciously see in another’s art, so all interpretations are valid.”

Q: Did you work much backstory into both characters prior to and after the events that unfold? What can you tell us about each character that we don’t get on screen?

F+J: Let’s just say Alan has been the nice guy for the majority of his life and maybe he recently experienced getting ghosted for the first time. And Jess is going to go through a few more messy nights before she takes a break and switches to kombucha.

Q: In three words - describe each other as filmmakers…

F: Unexpected, Uncomfortable, Sexy (lol)

J: Warm, Delicate, Visceral

Q: What’s been the reaction so far for ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ - can you describe whether people have interpreted it the way you intended or any stories of people misunderstanding? As it’s quite complex and which leaves room for misinterpretation.

F+J: It’s interesting. When it’s played to a room full of people there is non stop laughter, but when people watch it alone on their computer it seems to have a heavier tone. It has come back around to have many different meanings to different people. And some have definitely surprised us, but that’s ok. We see whatever we need to subconsciously see in another’s art, so all interpretations are valid.

Q: I had a thought while watching the film; that we probably don’t always see as many platonic relationships between men and women, and if we do then eventually it turns into something. Do you have any thoughts on this and was that a point you guys wanted to make?

F: I don’t know that their relationship can be defined as platonic. I think that their dynamic in this evening is outside clear boundaries. I think they are both trying to figure out what they are to each other, what expectations can these strangers really have of one another?

J: Oh I mentioned this earlier—yes, we didn't want them to kiss or have sex—we scrapped a very early draft of that— but we did want them to be intimate, just in the weirdest possible ways, maybe displaced at times, or induced by peach vodka, but definitely not “friends”.

Q: What work can our readers expect from you both in the near future? What should we look out for? (After watching ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ of course!)

F: I am finishing my second short ‘A Little Dream of Me’ and currently working on a feature script and I’m also directing a music video for Kirin J Callinan which will be out very soon.

J: I just made another short film called ‘DIME’, adapted from one of my plays, and out soon. And I’m also mid a feature. Exciting!

Q: Name people who inspire you in life? Could be someone you know, filmmakers, artists, etc,.

F: Lucrecia Martel, Mary Gaitskill, and Maria Callas.

J: Joan Didion is a constant in my life, also Elaine May, and more recently, Chan-wook Park has been blowing my mind.

Q: Lastly, a question we love to ask - if you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing and why?

F: I’d dye my hair white and start a PJ Harvey cover band, because I’d probably be making more money.

J: Hmm job-wise I don’t know, but I’d definitely be mid a downward spiral with no outlet.

Written and Edited by Regys Badi.

You can watch ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ in its entirety with Minute now. Download the app:

iOS: apple.co/2AKdPyq 
GooglePlay: 
goo.gl/Zu3vdF

We spoke to Andrew Laurich, the director behind Sundance film 'A Reasonable Request'

On paper, the premise for this comedy set in the most American of American diners, would be one that you’d want to avoid at all costs. A seemingly hypothetical and outrageous request turns into an opportunity for our father and son to reconnect, albeit under unsavoury circumstances.

Check out our interview with filmmaker Andrew Laurich below.

Q: Firstly, just a brief introduction for those that may be new to your work such as your name, history and what you do?

AL: My name is Andrew Laurich and I’m a filmaholic. I’ve been directing commercials professionally for the last 6 years, and have since started in earnest on a more narrative career.

Q: A Reasonable Request made waves upon its release, did you anticipate a strong reaction considering the subject matter?

AL: We figured we at least had a salacious hook and figure that could work to our benefit. It was certainly tactical to release it the week ahead of Father’s Day.

Q: Stephen Ellis (the son) and John Ennis (the father), play their roles with fantastic poise and comedic timing, could you elaborate on the process of getting the best out of them?

AL: Broadly, I believe that if you cast the right actors — then getting the right performances is easy. More specifically, the goal was to get grounded / realistic performances. So the general note for both of them was to take everything off of it. Play it straight.

“Talent is important, but everybody’s talented in this industry. Not everybody works hard. Also, be nice. That’s huge. Don’t be a dick.”

Q: What were the challenges in building the script and bringing it to life?

AL: Gabriel Miller (co-writer) and I hashed out about 17 drafts before we landed on the final shooting script. Even then, we shot two different endings and finished both versions of the film. From a structural perspective, my goal was to create chapters of tension — which I think numbered about 8 in the film. At any given moment, there’s a specific tension nagging at the characters.

Q: How did you and your co-writer Gabriel Miller go about choosing the setting for A Reasonable Request? Could you expand on whether it was always situated in a diner or if there were other choices?

AL: Early on in the scripting process we had determined that the story should just be the conversation and that the iconic american diner played on some great cinematic tropes. Diners, in general, are very transient places — often lonely, which felt like the perfect setting for these characters.

Q: Going back to the success of the film – an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival. What was that experience like?

AL: Exactly as you’d imagine, but even better. There’s nothing like it. Beyond the festival, it’s a community that is much more inclusive than I ever imagined.

Q: Who are your filmic idols and why?

AL: I feel guilty saying this for some reason, but Steven Spielberg is tops. Nobody manages to juice as much out of a scene as that guy. I’m a big fan of Spike Jonze, as well. I think A Reasonable Request drew more on The Cohen Brothers, though, than anybody.

Q: You’re an actor as well as a director, writer and producer – what advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry and what’s the best advice you’ve received?

AL: Oh man, that’s a loaded question. In general, I think work begets work. The success stories I’m familiar with are stories of work and passion. Talent is important, but everybody’s talented in this industry. Not everybody works hard. Also, be nice. That’s huge. Don’t be a dick. It’s much harder to pull favors when nobody likes working with you. Best piece of advice I received... This is from an interview with Robert Rodriguez: “You’re a director when you say you’re a director.” That wisdom pairs well with the notion of just keep directing until someone pays you to do. That’s how I’ve modeled my career.

Q: What’s next for Andrew Laurich – are you working on anything at the moment that we should keep an eye out for?

AL: Gabriel Miller and I are working on a feature screenplay, as well as pitching a TV show. I’ve also been working on a non- profit called Kid Cinema. More info should be out on all of those soon.

Q: And lastly, a question we love to ask. If you weren’t a filmmaker, what career path would you have chosen and why?

AL: I would have LOVED to be a composer. My musical abilities are fairly shit, though. That said — I do a mean beat box.

Written and Edited by Regys Badi.

You can watch ‘A Reasonable Request’ in its entirety with Minute now. Download the app:

iOS: apple.co/2AKdPyq 
GooglePlay: 
goo.gl/Zu3vdF

Elizabeth Lo is redefining what it means to examine social space

We interviewed Elizabeth Lo in 2017, before the birth and during the early stages of what you know now as Minute.

Even by then she had built a name for herself as an astute documentary filmmaker thanks to her brutally honest and modest filmmaking style. The one that caught our eye was the Silicon Valley based ‘Hotel 22’. A fly-on-the-wall documentary which examines an eery portable shelter for the homeless: The San Fran, 22 bus route.

Check out our interview with the award-winning filmmaker below and find out more about her by visiting www.elizabeth-lo.com

“Public transportation always struck me as one of these spaces that may reveal something about our social fabric because they are places where classes and races and individuals collide within tight spaces.”

Q: Firstly, just a little introduction for those that may be new to your work, such as your history, name and what you do?

EL: My name is Elizabeth Lo and I am a documentary filmmaker. I grew up in Hong Kong and discovered documentaries while studying film as an undergraduate at NYU. I worked in documentary production for several years before returning to graduate school at Stanford to pursue an MFA in documentary film, where I made Hotel 22. Since then I have been freelance directing.

Q: As a non-fiction filmmaker, what drew you to documenting the bus line 22 in Silicon Valley? And how much did you know about the homeless problem within the area prior to filming?

EL: As a filmmaker, I was interested in making a nonfiction film that would not require exposition through interview or voice-over. I wanted to find a space that would be able to tell a story on its own. Having lived in New York, public transportation always struck me as one of these spaces that may reveal something about our social fabric because they are places where classes and races and individuals collide within tight spaces. I knew I wanted to make a film inside a bus, but it was only when I heard about and researched the "Hotel 22" phenomenon near where I was living in Palo Alto that I became introduced to the depth of the homelessness problem in the Bay Area.

Q: The film has quite a voyeuristic approach and lets things play out uninterrupted; what attracted you to document ‘Hotel 22’ in this style and was it ever an option to have an interview style interaction with any of the passengers on camera?

EL: People sometimes approached me to tell their stories and I would record it - the stories were heart-wrenching: some were veterans, some were elderly people whose children didn't know they were homeless, some had been on the waitlist for public housing for six years with no luck...but from the outset I knew that I didn't want to try to portray anyone's life story within a short film because it would be an impossible task, and would not do justice to their lives. So instead I was more interested in examining the bus as a social space, and I knew this modest goal was more achievable. So often in documentaries we're asked to immediately empathise with the subjects of the story by them simply telling us about their lives. To me, that would have been an ineffective approach for this film. I thought that letting viewers imagine what these people are going through rather than be told who and what and why these people are would be more impactful. 

Still from ‘Hotel 22’

Still from ‘Hotel 22’

Q: Many people can watch documentaries and have the assumption that you simply pick up a camera and start rolling – with that being said, how much research and planning goes into your films prior to the shoot?

EL: I rode the bus for about a month prior to shooting - to see how the dynamics would shift according to the day of the week, to see how people would react to different sizes of cameras, how they would react to me. I got to know some of the bus drivers, security guards, and homeless riders during this period and that helped a lot during actual production. 

Q: How much footage did you manage to capture? Could you elaborate on the process of condensing all the footage into an 8-minute short film.

EL: I captured about 30 hours of footage over 6 nights. Condensing it into 8 minutes was very difficult. Sometimes I dream of making a longer, messier version that would really challenge the viewers' endurance and really channel what being relegated to a bus for sleep night after night might feel like - but it's one of those projects that's on the back burner. 

“some of the moments I captured on film were horrible, but at the same time capturing these moments that I felt were important and revealing about our society is also what I love most about documentary filmmaking.”

Q: What was your favourite and least favourite part of the week-long shoot for Hotel 22?

EL: It was very gruelling and sad - some of the moments I captured on film were horrible, but at the same time capturing these moments that I felt were important and revealing about our society is also what I love most about documentary filmmaking. 

Q: For our Minute viewers that would like to keep up with your work – what can we expect from you in the near future?

EL: I'm hoping to shoot my first feature documentary soon...a film that hopefully will be less controlled by me and totally unfamiliar in the vision it presents. 

 Q: And to finish off; if you weren’t a filmmaker, what career path would you have taken and why?

EL: I would have wanted to open an animal sanctuary, but unfortunately I love filmmaking. I hope one day I can make films that expands our sense of empathy and our conceptions of what "diversity" means in terms of species - not just race, class and gender - in all its varied expressions and perceptions. 

Still from ‘Hotel 22’

Still from ‘Hotel 22’

Written and edited by Regys Badi.

You can watch ‘Hotel 22’ in its entirety with Minute now. Download the app:

iOS: apple.co/2AKdPyq 
GooglePlay: 
goo.gl/Zu3vdF

John Ogunmuyiwa is enjoying the process

There are short films that are made to entertain. Then there are films that are made which leave long and lasting introspection. And then there’s Wilson, a rarity in both. John Ogunmuyiwa’s debut short film was created in conjunction with ICA and Channel 4’s Random Acts scheme: an artist and narrative focused platform at Channel 4 that pushes filmmakers to make the outrageous and deviate from regular programming - all in under 4 minutes we might add. Wilson is a short that manages to combine the fast but ultimate angst of being a man in this constrained and overstimulated society. Caged from elaborating on their everyday turmoil and assigned to play the familiar role of docile, but “strong” male. In many ways, it was always going to be a no brainer that John’s film would manage to cut through so many familiar feelings of discontent and resonate with a huge portion of people that have seen it. What’s even more impressive though is his film form manages to elevate the story in unexpected ways, the more you watch it. Just look at the way the split-screen is entwined in the story to reinforce the main character’s mind state. Not easily done!

Our relationship with John began last October. After a back and forth for weeks on getting the film to stream on the app, John was at the forefront of our minds to showcase the film at only our second film screening event. The growing pains of putting the event together meant that at that stage, I can confidently say that we were unsure if he was going to turn up. Not only did he turn up, but he brought with him in the Q&A the quiet confidence, candidness and humour that shows up in his work.

We asked John to kick off this new Minute chapter for us and have free reign in giving us the real when writing. What you’re about to read is exactly that. Articles are nice when written biographically, but we thought it could be a learning moment to have knowledge and story come directly from the source. Let’s pass the mic.


Read John’s journey below.

John for Minute (1)

John for Minute (1)

“Looking back, I think I’ve always liked the idea of a world that’s slightly exaggerated. As in sometimes real life can be boring and very matter of fact.”

When the guys at Minute App asked me to write this article, to be honest I was and as I write still pretty stumped. We can all chat the chat, but at the end of the day: what are you really trying to say though?! But that in itself feels like something important, and something that I feel can be overlooked at times. I’m still quite new to this whole film business. Every time I go to an event in my head I’m singing “A whole new world” in my head, shout outs to man like Aladdin (top ten classic, dont @ me!) But from the few events I have been to and the people I’ve had chats with, this thought of; “what are you saying?” has been ingrained in the back of my mind.

It’s written somewhere on the page already, but in case you don’t know - my name is John Ogunmuyiwa and last year I released my first short film “Wilson”. It’s been a bit a of a rollercoaster. People have liked the film way more than I thought they would, which is always a nice surprise. It came about through a funding program with the ICA & C4 Random Acts, called Stop Play Record. Which basically gave people from ages of 16-24 the opportunity to pitch an idea and if they liked it, they’d give a little cash and some guidance on getting it made. What was really cool about it was the fact it was for everyone, people who had made films before and for those who hadn’t. From really young people and those like me scraping the barrel of youth being just about 24 at the time.

(Above) still image from ‘Wilson’. From left, title character Michael Akinsulire and Lilly Smith.

(Above) still image from ‘Wilson’. From left, title character Michael Akinsulire and Lilly Smith.

I was born in Nigeria, but have grown up in south London since I was a very very young boy. I was always interested in photography and being from a Nigerian household meant as soon you can do one thing, that then becomes your job. Whether it’s hoovering, ironing or in my case all of the above as well as taking family photos. That grew into a passion for portraiture and photojournalism, which then moved into a love for stories, film and moving images. Like many others, being a young black boy in South London - Dragon Ball Z spoke to me in ways that I could never have been ready for. This well known cartoon from Japan also opened me up to anime and the world of manga. I’ve always had a love for sci fi, superheroes, comics and martial arts films. Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon changed my life. Looking back, I think I’ve always liked the idea of a world that’s slightly exaggerated. As in sometimes real life can be boring and very matter of fact. My youthful imagination, couldn't and still can’t accept that this is all there is to life. I love the added dimension that those elements bring to the world. Whether it’s superheroes or spies there’s gotta be more going on, there just has to be. I remember secretly and now openly, hoping for the one day that my superpowers would kick in. But to be honest if I had powers, I probably wouldn’t fight crime - that's a lot of time and effort to spend. I probably think of doing things that are everyday and more practical; like charging my phone and teleport to bed after a night out.

“My philosophy at the moment is that directing is like being a conductor in an orchestra. You definitely don’t need to know how to play every instrument… but you need to be able to speak the language to get what you need and create a visual melody.”

One of the really good things that I remember about being young is that you and all of your friends don’t have anything important to do. Which meant for me I had loads of extras for the ideas I wanted to try out. I started by trying to recreate techniques and effects that I’d seen from films and music videos. Like a kung fu inspired film set in croydon or a weird movement inspired something ala The Pharcyde “Drop” music video. I always had the impression that those films weren’t about anything and meant nothing, but in hindsight they were all test ideas that could probably still blown up at some point in my career.

I’ve done a couple hood music videos, which i think is a right of passage. But those will stay hidden in the dark recess of youtube. Not because they’re hood but because they’re not that good #barz. But it’s all a learning curve and funnily enough the last film I made (before Wilson) was a music video that I’m still pretty proud of. I made it with a friend (shoutout EUN) under our moniker OG.LIE - Sumo Chiefs 1of1 Dvo Remix. We did it all: filmed, directed, edited, graded and came up with the idea. Which was a lot, but good in a weird way. I feel that by starting off by trying to do everything yourself, you then get a greater understanding of the process as a whole. I can’t remember if this coming from me or not but my philosophy at the moment is that directing is like being a conductor in an orchestra. You definitely don’t need to know how to play every instrument. But I’ve found that having an understanding can give you confidence in being able to speak the language to get what you need and create a visual melody.

John for Minute (2)

John for Minute (2)

I’m not a full time director just yet, soon come. One day. Hopefully. I currently work full time at an advertising agency as a creative. As far as jobs go, if I didn't have the passion for film it would actually be the one. It’s got everything I like; writing, ideas, art direction and sometimes free flights. But it can be very demanding. The hours are from 9 to 5 or 9 to job-done-whenever-that may-be. I know I know, I hear you asking in my head how do I do it? Again, if I’m being I honest - I don’t. I’m forever tired. In a strange way it could be a little masochistic. I hate being tired, but I love why I’m tired, because I love stories. I don’t mind being tired now (literally and figuratively), because hopefully I can chill later. Then again, some say tomorrow never comes.

To be honest there's not enough time in the day. Yes I said it, and I’m ready to fly-kick those who say we’ve all got the same 24 hours. My friend, it’s a myth. But having said that and looking at the people I respect. It’s possible to make it work where you can. A little bit of sacrifice for creative expression. Anyway, since doing Wilson I’ve been trying to capitalise on as many opportunities as possible. It’s been a very humbling and surreal experience. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that something in my head to made it into the real world (some things shouldn't). I’ve just been trying to ride the wave. For the longest time you feel as if you’re on the outside looking in and just shouting for an opportunity to make good on what you know you can do. Then something comes along and you can’t help put everything you can into it. It’s been interesting getting in the film scene. I used to hate the idea, as maybe people in these groups thought they were too cool. But over the last few years I really love it. There's pockets of things happening, vibes are being exchanged and its happening everywhere. It’s nice meeting cool and like minded people who just want to create, and when you deep it; this will probably turn out to be the future of the industry. Getting gassed thinking about it now.

Wilson screened at November’s Orange Thursday and second instalment of our monthly film screenings. (inset: Janvier Wete and John Ogunmuyiwa).

Wilson screened at November’s Orange Thursday and second instalment of our monthly film screenings. (inset: Janvier Wete and John Ogunmuyiwa).

So far, most people seem to share the same mentality of if I’m on then you’re on. Bring-ins are welcome. That brings me back to the thought ‘What are you really saying?’. The people I respect the most have their voice coming through in their work. It’s not just trends and It’s hard to put into words, but it feels as if they're trying to say something in a way only they can. Because not every idea/story is original but the way we express them can be unique to us.

Everyone has a voice and can channel it into their own weapon of choice. It’s not everyday woke but sometimes it’s more than pretty picture. What's the reason, why? If it’s about nothing make it all about nothing. Whether I’m in the mirror, thinking about ideas or chatting rubbish: I’ll ask you, what I ask myself. What are you really saying though?!

Edited by Regys Badi.

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