What was the trigger for the idea behind the narrative and how did you evolve the script?
The crux of the idea came to me in a dream. I couldn’t get it out of my head and my friends encouraged me to write it down to try and make sense of it. I did. They then said: “Ok, kool, so when are you making it into a film?” That wasn’t the initial plan. At the same time I was also consuming lots of African diaspora centric dialogue and imagery. I evolved the script by just collating images and poetry that spoke to me. I then threw it onto the page in a kaleidoscopic treatment and engaged a stylist and casting director who were both really keen. I then reached out to a producer via the BAFTA talent scheme I am part of.
Did Random Acts give you a brief or is it completely open?
I made the film as a self-funded project, there was no commissioner or brand involved. Random Acts saw the film in its completed shape and acquired it as part of Season 5 for broadcast on Channel 4.
What was behind your decision to shoot underwater – and how complicated was it to film?
I have a love of the elements, water especially. I feel so free and happy when swimming. I actually shot a film; Land Of Waters for the Hungarian Tourism Board a month or so before I shot After Dark Inferno. We had a six-day shoot across Hungary in many beautiful locations of water, including the second largest lake in Europe. So I gained an understanding of how light would react in various densities of water.
On this film, shooting underwater was a dream. It was quite an intimate shoot in the pool, as I was in the water the entire time with our DoP Joel Honeywell. Joel, the camera and I were intertwined and connected like a moving unit. It sounds quite romantic now that I think of it. I encouraged the model/actress to not be limited by the confines of the pool and let her body, hair and clothing flow and follow her natural moves.
What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?
Joy, our producer, and I went through many of the stages of production together beforehand. I have a background in production and Joy could foresee and future-proof any issues, it was a very tight set. We moved it from two days to a one-day shoot. And it worked out beautifully on the summer’s day. It was an intense shooting day from the bedroom scene with the production design involved in that and to a technically quite different setup in the water.
Anything else you’d like to share?
After Dark Inferno is the evolution of films I’ve made previously in this guise; influenced by folklore, faith and spirituality. There’s an After Dark Inferno successor of sorts in the works that we’re looking for a publishing partner.