Interview with Femi Adebowale, film director

Femi Adebowale is the director of Black Identity, a film that explores microaggressions Black people face in the UK. Voice is featuring the film as part of our Winter Film Festival. 

Interview with Femi Adebowale, film director

Tell us about yourself and your creative background?

I started studying film and media way back in high school. I completed my first creative video project when I was in university: I made a little montage video at one of the MCM London Comic Cons. From there, and with the help of uni and other creative friends, my desire to create more films just kept growing.

What is the film about and what inspired you to create it?

Black Identity is a short spoken word film about how microaggressions from living in the UK affect Black people as we grow up. The idea came to me because I’d just started in TV and was facing more microaggressions than I ever had in the workplace, and when I spoke to other friends about my experiences both there and in other spaces, we had so much overlap in our experiences and I got so frustrated that I decided to channel it into my art.

What is your creative process?

Honestly, it’s as chaotic as you’d expect a creative to be. I go from idea to mindmap to conceptualising quite quickly, but from there it can be a scramble, so I usually like to just focus on what I feel I’m most capable of doing first in that moment. If it’s writing, I will write; if it’s storyboarding, I will storyboard – as long as I know I’m taking steps towards the project’s completion I don’t mind which order I do things in, mostly. These days if I can I like to wait until I feel like I can be productive, and sometimes that can be weeks. When I don’t have a deadline, I really don’t mind that.

Did you come up against obstacles?

I’d never made a spoken word film before so figuring out what I would present on screen was difficult. After the first shoot I cut the clips together and realised there was a massive void, in that I didn’t shoot nearly enough material that I needed. I ended up just breaking it down and tackling it line by line, bit by bit until things added up, shooting the individual shots whenever I thought of them.

Tell us one thing you are particularly proud of and one thing you would have done differently?

I’m very proud of the third act of the film – every time I watch it and I get to that part, I get chills. The joy of the music and the dancing together make me happy and I feel blessed to have been able to capture all of those moments.

Differently? I would have planned the shoot better! The first shoot was the only time I had the majority of the cast together so even though we did get some nice shots, I do still wish I could have got a lot more of us together, vibing. But it’s good to know for next time!

You can watch Black Identify on Voice right now, as part of our Winter Film Festival. 

We have previously featured Femi Adebowale as part of our Artist Workshop series, and you can read a summary of his workshop and watch the interview here


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