Friday, August 27, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS IKIMI
Tonight is the LEGACY screening! I hope you all have your tickets, if not get them. You don't want to miss out on this great event.
The director of LEGACY, Thomas Ikimi, will be doing a Q&A during the 6:50pm showing. But ActNow was able to catch up with the him before the screening and ask a few questions. Check it out below.
How did the idea of LEGACY come about? What was the first idea that popped into your head?
Hitchcock is one of my main inspirations as a director and as I didn't have much money, I was attracted to the idea of making a film in one room as he did with Rear Window, Rope and Dial M For Murder. 12 Angry Men really solidified my desire to make a one room film. Legacy is essentially a classic thriller but squeezed into a tiny space. It was a challenge, but it was one that allowed me to be more creative and experimental with telling the story.
Did you struggle with any aspects of the story in terms of the script?
Making the film dynamic when you never really leave the apartment was difficult. Writing the script in a way that allowed for movement and diversity of scenes and action was the toughest part of the writing process. It isn't easy to avoid stagnation when you physically haven't got anywhere to go but those four walls. However, a common comment from audiences has been that they forget the film is set in a single room till it is over and they look back on it and realise they never really left the apartment.
What advice would you give to a writer who has a great idea but doesn't know where to start?
Just start writing things down. That is the easiest way to know whether you have anything worth pursuing. The more you put on paper, the easier it will be to refine it.
Did you ever get so overwhelmed to the point where you felt you couldn't finish directing?How do you deal with pressure and stress on the set?
Yes. More or less every day on set. That was mainly to do with how much pressure I had on this film though. It won't always be that way. The best way to deal with pressure is having done the ground work and preparation before hand, and being very clear about what it is you wanted and want. Then, no matter how crazy things get, you always have a compass you can use.
Did you learn anything from your actors?
Yes. Actors need their directors to guide them. No matter how established the actor is, if the director doesn't know what he or she wants, the actors will be badly affected.
Did the success of your film LIMBO prepare you for LEGACY? How were able to create that film on a $9,000 budget while still in school, during midterms?
I was very young and naive with a ton of energy. I was 20 - 21, didn't realise how hard it was to make a film, and I just went and did it. A feature no less. I quickly realised that it was no joke. I have to say a lot of prayer, miracles and hard work and sacrifice made that film happen. It did prepare me for being a one man army though. I learned a lot about self reliance and being able to shoulder responsibility and take charge of situations, especially when there are problems. Without my LIMBO experience, there is no way I could have made LEGACY, a film I had to write, direct, produce and co edit.
The original budget for LEGACY was $20,000. But Idris Elba's involvement pushed it to $500,000. How did that happen?
I raised all the money for LEGACY through a company I set up in Lagos called Kaleidoscope Nigeria. I partnered with Amrit Walia of Deal Real Entertainment in Lagos to raise the funding which he coordinated through various investors. Once Idris was involved, it allowed me to show investors in Nigeria that we had a viable star that could guarantee returns on their investment based on the modest budget I was asking for.
How did Idris Elba get a hold of Legacy?
I sent him the script and an letter explaining who I was, what I thought of his career, and why I felt we should work together.
How did it feel to win an award at ABFF?
Amazing. That is one of the most important awards I have ever won, primarily because, for me, it is essential that black audiences embrace this kind of film. Too many people told me that black audiences won't be interested in films like this and that award proved them wrong. I believe the issue is that there are no films with black actors like this in existence. So how can you say black audiences don't want to see such films if they don't even exist? This film is not a 'black' film. It is a film with black actors in it. However, it is a film where black actors are playing roles that they are not often, if ever, seen playing on the big screen in this genre of film. For me, it is absolutely crucial that more films like this are made with ethnic casts so that more filmmakers of colour with different ideas can get a shot. Films like this need to do well enough to validate financiers supporting more different and interesting films with black or minority principle casts.
What can you tell us about your next project?
I am developing an action heist film and a futuristic sci fi film. Again it will come down to finding the backers to support my continued efforts to put diverse casts in front of and behind the camera in films that diverse casts have not yet grappled with to any meaningful degree.
Thomas Ikimi is a passionate director on a mission. Support his mission tonight at the Legacy Screening. Click here to purchase tickets.