You write, direct, edit and star in your own scripts. How’s this going to translate into commercial work? In your wildest dreams… what do you hope this work is going to be?
I don’t assume I’ll be starring in any of my commercial work unless the client requires a really really really good looking leading man. But seriously I’ve also made a lot of stuff I’ve not been in and that’s been some of my most successful work so maybe I should take the hint. I wanted to get into the commercial world so I can work on more ambitious projects and experiment more. I enjoy telling stories in confined time frames and in different formats. Some of my fave recent campaigns have been Nike’s “Nothing Beats A Londoner” and the Tide Super Bowl Ad “It’s a Tide Ad”. The way they both play with the concept of what an advert actually is is exactly the type of work I would love to do.
We were going to ask you to describe your childhood – and please do…
My parents separated when I was very young so my time was equally split between Kings Cross (where my mum lived) and Hackney (where my dad did). My step mum is from India and my mother is half Jamaican so I had a very multi cultural upbringing, and like to explore that in some of my work. When I was very young I made stop motion films on a Super 8 camera, before moving on to a camcorder, then digital. I think I’ve pretty much made a least one film, music video, short or sketch every year since I was like ten.
…Then we saw the films with your Mum. We LOVE your Mum. She taught you how to act, and write, and be creative didn’t she?
Ha! I’m sure she’d like to take all the credit. Both my mum and dad are artists and filmmakers so they’ve equally inspired and taught me how to create. Where other parents might look down on a child for not getting a “sensible job” my parents would probably be very unhappy if I wasn’t in the arts. The films I did with my mum are inspired by conversations or jokes we have with each other. We were actually planning on doing a follow up to “Bye Bye Black Mum” in which I try and get her back because “Black Panther” was such a huge success.
Do you have a regular routine, say 9 to 5, of writing and developing ideas? Or do ideas land in a more impulsive fashion?
I usually work late at night as there’s nothing happening on social media so I can focus. I’d like to pretend I have a routine but it’s definitely all over the place. I think it was David Lynch who said you need 8 hours of idleness to have 1 hour of creativity. I def follow that mould. Some ideas are impulsive but I have so many constantly going around my head, and sometimes they just reach a point where I have to finally make them.
What’s your criteria for deciding an idea is good enough to make into a film?
If it has something important to say or keeps me awake at night. And if my mum likes the idea.
Do you collaborate with a regular team?
I try and collaborate with as many people as possible but I’ve probably made most of my work with my close friend and fellow filmmaker Andy Hui. I worked out the other day that we’ve made 18 sketches, 4 music videos, 3 short films, 1 documentary and a 24 hour murder mystery together. He’s acted as producer, soundman, D.O.P and sometimes actor in my work. And I’ve starred in a few of his shorts.
Whenever I have an idea I can ring Andy up and we can literally go out and shoot that day. He’s a godsend. I also have to give a shout out to my photographer friend Graham Turner who I made my first few shorts with. He’s also a genius. Oh and my best friend Gwilym Gold who does all the music for my work. Check him out. You will not regret it.
What is your favourite part of the process? And what are the worst, most challenging aspects of creating your films?
I think the edit is actually my fave part. Cause if everything else has gone well that’s where the real magic happens. Writing is the biggest challenge cause you literally have to create something out of nothing. But if I’m honest I love it all. There have been difficult projects but sometimes they yield the best work.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Um… The first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Look it up.