Writer/Director Olu Yomi Ososanya Tells His Story; What's Yours?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 10, 2013 12:08 PM
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Recapping... I did this in February of last year (2012), and got a few response, so I figured, a year-and-a-half later, with the site's audience now larger than it was back then, that I'd try it again.

I know that a significant chunk of S&A's audience comprises of actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, etc, etc, etc. Some are able to earn a paycheck utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others - and I'd say the majority - are what we've labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb this incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some pinnacle of success - whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.

Where do you fall? And, as the title of this post states, what's YOUR story, and would you like to share it with the rest of the world?

Think of it as an extension of the successful S&A Filmmaker Diary series we launched almost 2 years ago. I'm looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on, after all, not only is S&A just a source for news, its goal is also to become a community of cinema lovers where we can all share/debate/discuss/learn/teach/commiserate/etc.

Here's your chance. You might learn something; you might teach someone something.

What's YOUR story? You can email me (obensont@gmail.com). You can submit your story in any format - written, or even documented on video. I'll post as many of them as I can. Substance and presentation are key for consideration. 

And be sure to attach a photo (large size) for me to include, and if you have samples of your work, include them as well.

It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn't have to be all negative, nor all positive. We're complex people, and so I assume our stories are as well.

In today's post, writer/director Olu Yomi Ososanya shares his story:

My name is Olu Yomi Ososanya,  i'm a writer/director, and i live in Lagos.

From a very young age I was  an avid reader, this extended to an interest in writing when in Yr5, we were told to write a story as a class assignment. That,was the spark that set my creativity on fire. 

From that day i was consumed with the passion to write, It became my number one hobby, and even as young as 11 i had started writing a small novel.

Going into my teen years my passion increased, i dreamed of a future where i would be a novelist, like those i admired, but the Nigeria of the 90's was not one that supported creative career, least of all one as a writer. So i took all science subjects , so i could be a "professional" in the future, but was miserable and the only thing that kept me going was the writing i did on the side; short stories which got good feedback from fellow book worm friends.

Fast Forward to my Bsc graduation day . I was sitting with a group of friends talking and one of them mentioned changing careers and going to film school to pursue his directing dream.That was when it CLICKED. All the stories i had been writing i always imagined them becoming films. As i'd write i'd see my self on set discussing the scene with actors. 

From that moment i was fired up, i started to research on how to write scripts, watching every behind the scenes interview i could find; finding every screen writing article or fiction writing book i could lay my hands on. At one time i had to copy by hand a book on writing that a friend didn't allow me borrow. 

I regularly checked end credits of shows i enjoyed to see if i could send my script in and enter the business. I eventually did make it in as a staff writer on a show called The Station (thank you Lanre Yusuf and Ike Umeadi). 

There i met and worked with Kenneth Gyang. We'd have extensive discussions on film and cinema then one day he screened  "City of God".  That film was a revelation, it was not a Hollywood movie, and yet, this little film took the world by storm and create a buzz in the film community. I felt, if our Brazilian brothers could make a film like that, why cant we?

I resumed my search for a film school and  found SAE Institute London. Film School was certainly useful,but aside a documentary most of the work i did i was not happy with. I was depressed, my dreams of directing were becoming like an ice cube on the Sahara 

Then one day i ran into a friend Sunny King, who i grew up with back home, but had relocated to the UK since our teens . We had not seen in over a decade, so imagine what it was like discovering we were both pursuing a career in "the pictures".

We'd have lengthy discussions about movies we liked and where we saw Black,Nigerian and African Cinema going, even dubbing the change of pace as The Naija New Wave . 

Our talks revitalized me a little, and by the time he made his short(SIGNS) where i was a Lens Visual Precision Adjuster( ok , i was a focus puller) and it got good reviews, i was determined to do something. 

 Like Kurosawa said, "With a good script a good director can produce a masterpiece, with a bad script, one can't possibly make a good film". Trying to minimize location and cost I wrote a script that was all dialogue and no story, naturally it fell on it's face. I was beginning to question if i had "the right stuff." 

Two more friends from grad school made nice short films and i was mad at myself for slacking, and determined to try again.

Luckily this time, i had watched an old Hitchcock interview on YouTube and it completely shifted my paradigm, when he said, "tell the story visually and keep the dialogue to a minimum."

I took that advice literally, wrote another script, and with the last few pounds in my account made a short film called BLISS. Recruiting a course mate from a school as producer(Roberto Iacurci) we set a date and God willing the shoot went great.

We released it on FaceBook on valentines day, and for the next two months, we had comments coming in, the responses were very encouraging,people enjoyed it.

Too broke at the time (and too late) to enter for many film festivals, we got into the Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival , and got a Special Mention . 

This revitalized me, and i realized all those disdained films were my REAL film school. 

Like the Edison story about the creation of the light bulb, i didn't fail, i learned several way how NOT to make a movie. They were my learning curve and made me realize just exactly what indie film makers and the one back home had to go through to get a film made and realize their vision, and how sometimes despite passion and best intentions, it doesn't work out. 

ON THE FUTURE

Nigerian cinema is growing both domestically and in diaspora. With films like Half of a Yellow Sun and Mother of George premiering at TIFF, Confusion Na Wa at Rotterdam , Gone too Far at the BFI and the trailers of historical dramas  "October 1st" and  "76" have also raised a lot of excitement. 

It is very clear that Nigerian Cinema is switching into a whole new era and i'm excited for what the future holds. 

 I blog at www.oludascribe.wordpress.com on cinema, film and life. 

This is my short film BLISS. Please check it out, leave a comment (on YouTube) and share. Thanks.


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