Monday 4 March 2024

Watch Our New Short Film, FLOW!

Premiere of FLOW in Abuja

I did a thing!

For the last few weeks, I have been saying this regularly about every achievement I have because I tend to find the faults in my ‘stars’ rather than celebrate the luminance that they represent. I constantly have to remember to be my first cheerleader.

So…I did a thing. Or more appropriately, we (Shades of Us) did a thing! We developed our first film in two years. This one is called FLOW.

This film was our opportunity to discuss period poverty and shame in Nigeria as economic indices and realities become harder for the everyday person. In this story, Amina has to choose between getting basic necessities — in this case, food — and her menstrual hygiene.

FLOW is part of our Mobile Cinema project where we use films to explain areas of the global goals that form the foundation of our organization. So far, we have shot six films and disseminated five. These films go on tour to various audiences — literary gatherings, schools, and communities — as we hope to change behaviors toward an equitable and sustainable Nigeria, Africa, and the world.

In August 2023, Shades of Us was selected as one of six winners out of over 3,000 applicants for the Giving Joy Foundation grant of $500! This grant contributed to 40% of our production cost and enabled us to produce FLOW.

Over the past months, my team has poured their hearts and souls into bringing this project to life. There were many firsts in the production and dissemination of this film for me.

  1. I worked with partners focused on women’s health, education, and hygiene. With my films, I usually go with my gut and do what I think needs to be done, or tell a story I believe needs to be said. This time, I knew that the impact I needed was beyond my perspective. So we reached out to people working on girl education and menstrual health projects. Through the dedication of my Business Development Officer, Atinuke Adeosun, we got support from the Giving Joy Foundation and brought in Women Impacting Nigeria (WIN), Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative, Strong Enough Girls Empowerment Initiative (SEGEI), and even a South African organization, Wild Hearts Africa Foundation. This was huge for us!
  2. I shot a crowd scene in an open space. While I give off the energy of being extroverted, I am a functional introvert, and being in front of people while doing my thing is hard. On this project, we had multiple outdoor scenes: deliberately so. Imagine what it was like shooting in a market, with multiple cameras and a drone, and everyone watching us do every move. Goodness! It was all I could do not to hide. But I braved it with the cast and crew and we did it! Kingsford Ani, Saddam Hamza, Emmanuel Anaja and Cynthia Umeh were the best crew to work woth. I also commend myself for engaging the market people before we began shooting. It made the process easier and even the ‘area boys’ were helpful in the shoot.
  3. This is my first story that doesn’t end with a cliffhanger. As we planned to shoot, everyone asked me if I was making another ‘sad’ film. I laughed. From the moment this story came to me, I knew I wanted a simple story that anyone anywhere could relate to. I guess I am not the sad filmmaker after all.
  4. Most of my volunteers mentioned that it was the first time they had gone through story and script development and as usual, I was glad to share knowledge in a meaningful way.
  5. While we have screened multiple films in various events, this was the first time we had a proper premiere with promotional items and a full-on event.
  6. I have produced a radio drama in another language but this is the first time I have made a film that is predominantly in Hausa and Pidgin. Producing films in languages outside of English is a different ball game. You want to be sure that what you wrote in English and translated into Hausa is the same thing both ways. My film leads, Habiba Musa and Aliyu Doma were so instrumental in ensuring the message stayed the same. 

We premiered FLOW seven months after we conceptualized this story, with attendees including the cast, crew, partners, women, and girls from the internally displaced people’s camps and other beneficiaries of our partners’ projects. Ruth Ajawu, Cynthia, Vivian Peter, and Sadiya Ochekliye were such troopers. They are the only volunteers in Abuja and they planned the premiere and handled everything so well. I definitely need to take them out to really celebrate how much dedication went into filming, post-production, and the premiere! If I am keeping it a buck, I need to take every member of my team out. However, we run a mostly remote organization and we have team members in Kaduna, Enugu, Lagos, and from Ivory Coast. My team running things remotely (Adetayo Adetokun, Naomi Ezeofuna, Marire Adebanjo, Ifeoluwa Akinpelu, and Moyosore Adebanjo) demonstrated that effectiveness is not a function of physical presence but a dedicated commitment to our goal.

I am genuinely proud of this one. But more than that, I am proud of that day in 2021 when I realized that the dream I have for Shades of Us cannot be achieved completely if I ran alone. With the volunteers on my team (Adetayo, Atinuke, Cynthia, Eneojo, Ifeoluwa, Marire, Moyosore, Naomi, Ruth), the Board of Shades of Us, my family and friends (Enigbe, Sadiya, Vivian, Triqx, Krys, Temi, Dorcas, Tunde, Alheri, Ujenyu), my community of practice of creatives, partners and people who believe in me, we have gone much further than I could ever have imagined. And we are only just starting!

I especially want to celebrate my mum who ran with this like it was her project. From the moment I told her what I wanted to achieve, she started to find me locations and contribute to the story. She even went location scouting with me. What a woman and inspiration! She is my first inspiration to work hard and give back. Again, what a woman!

I am sharing most people who worked to make this film happen. However, the list is not exhaustive. Some people have supported me and this project in more ways than I can imagine. Our board! What a group of people! I love everyone I have mentioned, and everyone I haven’t mentioned. Wholeheartedly.

It is an honor to know that I am loved and that people believe in me, trust me, and are willing to go over and beyond for me, for my ideas…even when they are out of the box and unconventional. I do not take it for granted. This has a ‘hard girl’ crying in the middle of the night.

And with this, it is my pleasure to say…FLOW is live on YouTube! πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸΎπŸŽˆ

The next phase requires your help. Please watch the film and share your thoughts. We are a learning organization and we want to improve how we tell stories.

Again, we did a thing! And we are proud!

Everything You Need to Know About FLOW

FLOW: A Film About Period Poverty and Shame 

Logline: Amina has to choose between getting basic necessities and menstrual hygiene products as she faces economic downturns in the country. 

Duration: 34 Minutes

Platforms: Shades of Us Africa on YouTube

Full Cast and Crew

Written, Directed, and Produced by: Ramatu Ada Ochekliye 

Story by: Shades of Us Storytelling Initiative for African People (Shades of Us) 

Story Development: Adetayo Adetokun, Atinuke Adeosun, Blessed Effiong, Cynthia Umeh, Eneojo Innocent Shedrack, Halimatu Sadiya Ochekliye, Naomi Ezefuna, Ramatu Ada Ochekliye, Ruth Ajawu

Executive Producers: Ramatu Ada Ochekliye, Hajiya Hauwa Umar, Shades of Us Storytelling Initiative for African People (Shades of Us), Giving Joy Foundation, Women Impacting Nigeria (WIN), Wildhearts Foundation Africa 

Director of Photography: Kingsford Ani 

Cinematography: Kingsford Ani, Saddam Hazam 

Drone Videography: Saddam Hamza 

Still Photography: Cynthia Umeh, Anaja Emmanuel Odiba, Ramatu Ada Ochekliye 

Editors: Kingsford Ani, Saddam Hamza, Ramatu Ada Ochekliye 

Translators: Ramatu Ada Ochekliye, Habiba Musa, Aliyu Abdullahi Doma 

Sound: Saddam Hamza, Anaja Emmanuel Odiba, Cynthia Umeh 

Sound Design: Ramatu Ada Ochekliye 

Production Managers: Vivian Peter, Halimatu Sadiya Ochekliye, Cynthia Umeh 

Production Assistants: Emmanuel Anaja, Cynthia Umeh, Ruth Ajawu 

Logistics: Vivian Peter, Halimatu Sadiya Ochekliye, Cynthia Umeh 

Costume: Ramatu Ada Ochekliye, Gwai Fashion 

Special Thanks: Shades of Us Volunteers (Adetayo Adetokun, Atinuke Adeosun, Blessed Effiong, Cynthia Umeh, Eneojo Innocent Shedrack, Marire Adebanjo, Naomi Ezefuna, Ruth Ajawu), Giving Joy Grants, Women Impacting Nigeria (WIN), Wildhearts Foundation Africa, Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative, Strong Enough Girls Empowerment Initiative (SEGEI), Vivian Peter (Gwai Fashion) and Chijoke Odoh (CJ Bright Pharmacy)

No comments:

Post a Comment