On The Cusp, Longlist - Branded

FBB, Abi: Being Black & 6Teen

Lainey Richardson


Abi’s cinematic poetry film about her Black experience, was penned the day she found out about the death of George Floyd. An intimate portrait, vibrant, energetic and full of spirit, Being Black & 6Teen contrasts the hardship and beauty of Abi’s life told through a Brit-centric lens. Staged meditative stylised set-ups and archive stills, collectively build meaning and message leaving us on a powerful note of optimism which in light of the recent Lockdown news, casts a positive light on trying times, conveying a message of hope and better days to come. Lainey Richardson, who directed both films, said: “Abi’s poem brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. So unique to Abi’s own experience, yet so powerful in its ability to articulate sentiments that I think a lot of people can relate to, it felt like such an important and relevant perspective to bring to screen. “I got to know Abi over Zoom and drew inspiration from her life to come up with the creative vision. To me, from the outside looking in, this is not a story about the struggle, but a story about triumph, of Abi’s strength, courage and journey to becoming, so I wanted to shift the focus to themes of Black pride, Black joy, Black beauty, and Black excellence through intimate imagery depicting Abi’s life, and the juxtaposition of stunning still images from photographers who spotlight Black cultures and identities, that interrupt the screen and help build this narrative.” Commenting on her film’s message, Abi, said: “I want people to take from this film is the misconception of what it is to be black and what it is to be 16. I labelled a few stereotypes that we hear from a young age and just hoped people would understand what it really feels like.” Jasper Kain, who co-founded FBB in 2014, has seen first hand how lacking the support for the UK’s most vulnerable young people has been: “In the midst of a global pandemic, 2020 was the year when a mirror reflected the state of play. New understandings emerged, none more so than some of the inequalities which continue to plague our society. Being a black teenager comes with lots of stereotypes and expectations that have to be navigated, and Abi’s poem expertly confronts this. It showcases her supreme talents and the changing face of modern Britain.” said, Jasper. “It is part of a movement that is pioneering a new dawn in the creative industry. Talented young black creatives who are calling for a seat at the table to shape the society we want to live in.” he added. Adam Burns, Creative Director at Dark Horses, said: “Our work with FBB during 2020 has aimed to put its young people at the heart, both in front of and behind the camera. The Beyond Bars project gave young people the chance to flex their creative passions and ultimately exposed them to brilliant creatives from Caviar. It’s these experiences that can really open their eyes to where their abilities can take them.” The experience is already having a huge impact on both Abi and Yassin’s life, with Yassin’s head of year remarking on his change of attitude to life and school. Meanwhile, Abi has gone on to lead a Co-op winter campaign, performing a spoken word piece in an uplifting ad created by Lucky Generals. Lainey, added: “Abi is remarkably talented both in her writing and performance - such a dream to direct her, I really think we may have discovered a star in the making! It was such a cathartic experience and labour of love for everyone involved, and I’m so proud to finally get to present the film to you all.”

Lainey Richardson is an award-winning British Director and Screenwriter of mixed Ghanaian and Jamaican heritage, hailing from Camden Town in North London. After graduating from the University of the Arts London, Lainey went on to direct 5 short dramas and documentaries which collectively screened at over 15 film festivals worldwide, including the Bafta-qualifying London Short Film Festival and Encounters Film Festival. Simultaneously, Lainey amassed 7+ years as a Video Editor including 3 at Wieden + Kennedy working across Nike, Facebook, Honda, Lurpak, Arla, and more. To Lainey, culture is everything. From spotlighting Black cultures and identities, to exploring subcultures and amplifying “othered” voices, Lainey approaches her work with a unique sensibility, sensitivity, and gaze, bringing mainstream appeal to lesser-known narratives told through a contemporary lens. Her repertoire demonstrates her distinctive voice, and innate ability to connect with people leading to powerful performances on screen. With an eye for the “real”, whether narrative or documentary in nature, all of her films on some level tell us the truth about the human condition, highlighting what unites us. Lainey is currently developing her narrative short PAYDAY and writing her first TV pilot.