Interview with filmmaker and editor Daisy Ifama

"You will learn so much from trying to shoot or edit or produce and it will make you better at your job."

Interview with filmmaker and editor Daisy Ifama

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

My name is Daisy Ifama, I’m a creative and filmmaker mostly working on documentaries and commercial work that centres human stories. 

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

I’m not sure I have a typical day! It changes so often because my work can involve many things – from image research, making treatment decks and pitching, planning for production, shooting or editing. The most constant thing is probably sitting at my desk and trying to get my ideas out into a presentation that makes sense

What’s great about your job?

I’m very fortunate that I get to wear a lot of different hats and have worked with some really great people and companies that allow me to flex the type of work and style of work that I do. I’m constantly learning and meeting great people which keeps work very exciting.

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

I’m constantly on the go, taking job after job. I am a one-woman band so it can be hard to know when to take a break and sometimes a job that is really great comes in, but the timing isn’t right. I very rarely say no to work, much to the dismay of my friends and family!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Pitching and making Twinkleberry with Netflix was definitely the highlight of my career so far. It’s mine and my friend’s special story of our teenage years and it was so lovely to revisit this time together. We all learned so much more about each other and became so much closer. They are the stars of my life! 

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is probably imposter syndrome. It can really sneak up on you, especially if you’re working in an industry where you come from a “non traditional” background. I’m not sure if i’ve completely overcome it, but I try to think about why I specifically have been brought into a space and what my USP is there. Also having great friends who remind you that you’re worthy is a great remedy!

What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?

I went to university at Goldsmiths, College of London and studied Media and Communications, but I left there thinking ‘wow I have no tangible skills!’. I was a self taught editor and edited for fun before uni and then took it more seriously at school so I started to look for editing jobs. That meant that I learned the art of how to tell a story in a bit of a backwards manner, but it’s been really useful in making that transition to directing because I always have the edit in my mind. 

Recently you released a short called Twinkleberry: My Super Gay School Year with funding from Netflix. Can you tell us about the film? 

Twinkleberry is the story of my super gay school year. I went to school between 2005 and 2012 in a small town on the border of the West Midlands and the West Country – affectionately named Twinkleberry, or Twink for short. In the late 00's and early 2010's the UK was not woke, it was asleep and Twinkleberry was hardly progressive. So it was pretty surprising that my year group alone had so many openly queer students, fairly content living fluid teenage years when most people had to hide their sexuality.

How did you get funding from Netflix? What input did they offer on the film?

A lot of people send me the Netflix UK Documentary Talent Fund competition. I almost didn’t enter because I never thought I’d get through, but my friends kept sending it to me and thank god they did! There were three rounds, including an in-person pitch, and luckily they liked the idea! They were really really supportive of the idea, especially Jonny Taylor who commissions Original Documentaries at Netflix, so we had total creative control and they helped us with refining the narrative to be as clear as possible. We couldn’t have had a better experience and relationship with the Netflix team!

What inspires you as a filmmaker. Are there particular stories you gravitate towards?

I have always gravitated to stories with social justice and community purposes - because that’s what matters the most to me. I think short films can be really powerful in this way – the time constraints can encourage people to keep thinking about the story and do their own research when the film calls for it. 

Do you have a preference over editing or directing? 

Directing! I love editing but it always works best when you’re involved from the very beginning, which is very rarely the process!

What is one thing you’d love to achieve in your career?

I want to make Twinkleberry, the musical!

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career? 

My mum is a single mother and I grew up in an all-woman family being raised by my nan, my auntie, my 3 big cousins. My nan worked in the doctor’s office so everyone knew who she was and in turn everyone looked out for us so I grew up always seeing the power of neighbourhoods and appreciating community support. My Mum raised me around so many different cultures and types of people so I have always been immersed in celebrating difference, which probably has a lot to do with the work I create now!

Did you have any role models or inspirations growing up?

My Nan! She was the head of our family and everyone loved her so much. My Mum and I lived with her until I was eight so we had a really close relationship, and if we ever went on holiday or to visit friends out of town I would feel sad and have to ring my Nan to speak to her so I could feel better. 

She used to work in the doctor’s office in town so everyone knew her and I always felt like I was representing my Nan wherever I went. Even though she passed away 15 years ago people will literally still stop my Mum in the street to tell us how nice my Nan was to them or talk about a time she helped them out. I didn’t get enough time with her, but her legacy is still very present in our family and it’s very comforting to know that I come from such a loving and resilient line of women. 

Have you had a mentor anytime during your career, and if so, how has having one made a difference?

Janay Dorrance is my unofficial mentor! She’s a Talent Lead at Google Creative Lab and found me on LinkedIn 5 years ago and brought me in. She has such a nurturing soul and has been really integral in both my personal and professional life. She’s helped me to navigate tricky work dilemmas and taught me more about the industry as well as supporting me through my first breakup! I didn’t really understand the value of having a mentor until I met Janay. She’s the best!

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Don’t get that haircut, you’re not Rihanna!!

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

If you want to be a director, try all parts of the process. You will learn so much from trying to shoot or edit or produce and it will make you better at your job. Also, don’t underestimate the power of personal projects. You are the best person to tell your story and this will often be the strongest thing in your portfolio, and the most enjoyable work to make.

Do you have anything coming up soon our readers should keep an eye out for?

I’ve just worked on a campaign with Google called Find That Thing, look out for the posters!

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

I’m pretty active on Instagram @daisyifama or visit my website daisyifama.com :)

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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