WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MAKING A FILM?

Ever wanted to know what the most important thing about making a film is?

We asked film-maker Tomisin Adepeju for his opinion, he said: “For me, its knowing what you want to say and why you want to say it, these are the questions I ask myself every time I embark on a new project, if I don’t know the answers to those questions, I either abandon the idea or try and work out why I was initially drawn to it. These two questions influences every decision you make as the director of the project, its a question your actors, DP or producers will probably ask you at the start of the project, so its incredibly important that you are able to answer those questions confidently and assuredly.”


 

Tomisin Adepeju was born in Nigeria but moved to England with his parents when he was twelve years old. Watching films was an important part of his childhood, his relationship with cinema took on a whole new level in his teenage years when he was exposed to the works of Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Jean Luc Godard, Paul Thomas Anderson, amongst many others, their films transformed his understanding, appreciation and love for the cinema.

He recently graduated from Met Film School, Ealing Studios, with a Masters in Directing, some of the films he made during his time there has gone to play and win awards at several International Film Festivals.

When was the moment you first discovered your passion for filmmaking

Its hard to pinpoint the exact moment I realised I wanted to make films, I think it was a gradual process that began when I was 15 years old when I saw Woody Allen’s seminal masterpiece, Annie Hall.

I remember it was playing on TV on a Sunday evening, I saw it and was immediately captivated; It was so bold, witty and inventive, it was so unapologetic in the way it subverted film form, language and convention. I loved the way it beautifully captures the evolution and dissolution of a relationship.

Up to that point in my life, no film had profoundly affected me the way Annie Hall did. I think it definitely planted the idea of film-making as something I could pursue, this idea developed over the years and I think was confirmed when I was in College, by that point, I realised I wasn’t passionate about anything else.

What do you love most about your discipline?

I love the collaborative nature and spirit of directing; working with a group of like-minded individuals who share your passion and enthusiasm for the project you’re making is truly amazing.

I also love working with actors, I have a profound love and respect for what they do, I love the process of auditioning actors, finding that individual that will brilliantly capture and interpret a character you’ve spent a considerable amount of time creating and developing.

I also love the creative relationship between a director and an actor; discussing their characters with them, breaking down their wants and motivations, working closely with them to bring their characters to life. Also, I have done a lot acting so I feel I am in a unique position where I am able to anticipate some of the questions, worries or anxieties they might have, ultimately I am able to relate and connect with them in a very personal way.

The Good Son Poster

Your film ‘Marianne’ what kind of feedback did you get from it and what was it like to finally finish it?

The feedback I received from my tutors at film school, during the the process of developing the story and writing the script was very positive, encouraging and constructive, it allowed me to fully develop the characters, shape the story and really understand what kind of film I wanted to make.

I screened the film at the Prince Charles Cinema last year to my family, colleagues and tutors, the feedback I got was very humbling and overwhelming, the audience really related to the story and characters. The appreciation of your work by your peers is the greatest feeling a director can have.

After the screening, I went back to the edit and tweaked certain things, it feels wonderful to finally complete the film and start sending it out to film festivals.

What’s been the most memorable/ defining moment in your career so far?

I sent a “Work in Progress” cut of Marianne to a fairly big film festival in New York, I honestly didn’t think it was going to get in because the film was not completed, so I was genuinely shocked and happy when I got the email that the film had been accepted.

I spent several weeks getting the film ready for the screening, it then played on a Friday evening at a cinema in Times Square, it was probably the biggest screen I have ever seen, I still couldn’t quite believe the film was going to be playing there.

I was very nervous because I had only shown the film to my family, film school colleagues and tutors, I didn’t know how the audience was going to react to the film. To my relief and elation, the film went down really well.

A lot of people came up to me after the screening and wanted to know what inspired the film’s central narrative and themes, many expressed how much they were emotionally affected by the story, it was a really humbling experience. That Friday evening at the AMC Empire in Times Square has to be the highlight of my career so far.

I realised I wanted to make films that were deeply personal and explored relatable and universal human stories, but more importantly, narratives that reflected the experiences of the African Diaspora.

Of all of your projects/work, what’s been your favourite and why?

At film school, we had spent months directing actors in short scenes and creating short genre pieces. We were given an assignment where we could make a film about absolutely anything we wanted, no specifications or guidelines.

I made The Good Son with my colleagues for this assignment, its my favourite because its the most personal film I have ever made, the film combined three themes that has always been prevalent in my work; religion, cultural identity and human relationships.

Also, the film is very important to me because during the process of developing the idea, writing the script and then shooting it, I realised what kind of stories I wanted to tell.

I realised I wanted to make films that were deeply personal and explored relatable and universal human stories, but more importantly, narratives that reflected the experiences of the African Diaspora.

What does your dream job look like to you?

My dream job would involve developing a creative relationship with a reputable film studio that would allow me to consistently to create and direct the films I want to.

Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration and why?

Right now, it has to be Ryan Coogler. He’s only 29 years old but he’s already working on his third feature, Marvel’s Black Panther.

I have followed his career since he released his first feature, Fruitvale Station in 2013, and of course, the brilliant and mesmerising, Creed, this year.

His passion, hard work and complete dedication and commitment to his craft inspires me to continue to work hard and focus on the goals and targets I have set myself. If he can achieve what he has at his age, why cant I?

If you could work with anyone from the industry, who would it be and why?

Bradford Young. I think he is undoubtedly one of the most talented cinematographers working in the industry today. I love the way he is able to beautifully capture black skin on screen, he lights and photographs it in a way I have never seen, his overall body of work is incredibly unique, bold, beautiful and just visually mesmerising.

Films like Dee Rees’ Pariah, Ava Duvernay’s Middle of Nowhere, Restless City are just some examples of his brilliant work.

The overall look of The Good Son was greatly influenced by his breathtaking work on Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George; there is just so much depth and beauty in every frame of every single film he has shot, so working with him would be a great honour and privilege.

What are you getting up to when you’re not filming?

If I’m not filming, I’m probably watching films, I’ve got a growing list of films I want to see, I really want to consume as much as I can and be inspired by some of the works of great filmmakers. I also enjoy playing Tennis at my local club.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

In five years time, I want to be established in the industry, by that point, I hope I would have made a few feature films and hopefully be consistently developing interesting and personal projects that I am passionate about.

I also would like to direct narrative content for a Television network like HBO.

What’s next for you?

I am currently researching a short film I want to shoot in Nigeria this summer, I am also developing my first feature film, an adaptation of one of my shorts, which I plan to shoot early next year.


 

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