20 min|UK| 2021
Directed by Adeyemi Michael
Written by Courttia Newland
Produced by Fiona Lamptey
Featuring Anna-Maria Nabirye and Donna Banya
By the year 2080, climate change has forced human beings from the Earth, those who remain forced to live isolated nomadic existence. In the desolate landscape, Dez forages for survival, until they unearth a morsel of the past which leads them on an unexpected mission.
Courttia Newland’s (Small Axe) paired back script forms the basis of this moody atmospheric and minimalist sci-fi short, directed by award-winning documentarian Adeyemi Michael. The project was brought together by producer Fiona Lamptey and all three filmmakers have collaborated to weave an intimate yet epic projection of the future of Black Britishness.
Director of Photography, Luciana Riso, beautifully frames the action, each shot worthy of its own still life exhibition. The moments Dez is traversing the wasteland (appropriately filmed in a nearby, disused quarry) audiences can feel how insignificant the protagonist is amidst miles and miles of dirt. These are juxtaposed with the intimate close-ups when Dez and Amari first encounter each other. The moments the newly acquainted pair encounter the Feral Man (a brief but intense performance from Anton Cross) is notable - the mix of camera work and almost choreographed movements from the cast results in a startling but elegant frieze.
Casting director Heather Basten brought the two lead actresses on board. Anna-Maria Nabirye (The Briny) was the only choice to play the androgynous and ambiguous protagonist Dez, who reacts like an abused animal to the coy but warm Amari, excellently portrayed by Donna Banya (War of The Worlds). The chemistry between the two leads ‘was just there from the beginning’. Their intense exchanges are charged with emotional baggage from unknown histories but child-like and full of hope for unknown possibilities.
Bubu Ogisis’ conceptual and artful costume drawn from an ‘anti-finish’ (and therefore anti-Eurocentric) adds depth, and lends the characters their ‘voices’. Dez’s outfit, a protective make-shift hazmat suit, borne from years of wading through desolate wasteland, is layered with an array of materials, impossible to distinguish Dez’s skin and their armour. This is made all the more impactful when Dez meets Amari, pure and innocent in clinical, white scrubs - a vagrant meeting an angel.
Like many productions due to start in 2020, the shoot was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but despite the usual setback this could cause, the filmmakers and crew took advantage of the hiatus, developing the emotional arcs of the characters and rehearsing, and rehearsing, so much that there was little to cut or edit once the shoot was finished.
The film’s supporting character, the location, was the mesmerising, now abandoned, Carmel College in Oxford provided the perfect backdrop. Stark empty foyers and large glass interiors give the film a retro, timeless quality. Production designer Christopher Melgram's addition of the ‘the cryo chamber room’, once the space for ceremonial baptisms, is the perfect setting for the emotional ending and adds an otherworldly element to the film, all the more unsettling knowing it was once a functional and holy space. Furthermore the exterior shots in the ampitheatre are perfect - odd alien-like fissures on the floor peppered with overgrown weeds almost shout that the future isn’t what it used to be.
Director of Photography
1st Assistant Director
Costume Designer & Wardrobe
Bubu Ogisis & Nathan Jones
Production Sound Mixer
Special Effects Makeup Designer
Hair Design & Makeup Supervision
Angelica ‘Jelly’ Pressello
Post Production Supervisor
Anna-Maria Nabirye, Dez
Anna-Maria Nabirye played Macduff in the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse’s 2021 Macbeth, other theatre credits include We Know Not What We May Be (Metis Theatre/The Barbican), The Paper Man, (Improbable Theatre), Macbeth & Les Blancs (The National Theatre), Boudica & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), They Drink It In The Congo (The Almeida), Richard III, Medea, Blood Wedding, Fiesco, Three Sisters (The Faction), Egusi Soup (Menagerie Theatre & Theatre Royal Bury St.Edmunds), Leaving Planet Earth (Grid Iron), 24 HOUR PLAYS (The Old Vic), Mad Blud (Theatre Royal Stratford East) Ugly (Reddladder), Handa & Hen (Little Angel Theatre). Television credits include Elizabeth Is Missing (BBC1), Informer (BBC1), Collateral (BBC2), Waterloo Road (BBC) and Misfits (E4). Film credits include The Scar (Film London), The Keeping Room (Gilbert Films) & The Briny (DNA/Film4). Anna-Maria creates, writes and directs her own live art, theatre and film her current works are Up In Arms currently supported by Arts Admin and Motherhoody a commission from The Albany supported by Arts Council England.
Donna Banya, Amari
Donna Banya has just finished filming a brilliant guest role in series two of Fox International and Epix’s War of the Worlds opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones. At the beginning of this year, Donna finished performing in the groundbreaking Fairview at the Young Vic, playing a hugely demanding leading role which garnered much attention and praise. Before this Donna was in Enemy of the People at Nottingham Playhouse and other stage credits include performing in the RSC’s Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet after a year-long contract where she performed at the RSC, the Barbican and went on a short UK tour. Donna’s screen credits include the BBC’s adaptation of Howards End and ITV series Liar. Her first professional job was on stage in a leading role in Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Footsoldier also for the RSC, which she rehearsed whilst studying for her A Levels.
Adeyemi Michael - Director
Adeyemi Micheal is a Nigerian born, London raised multi-award-winning filmmaker/artist. His work primarily centres the African and Black experience. Telling stories of resilience, existence, reimagining and transformation of people both in the diaspora and on the African continent. His Yoruba heritage and culture has featured heavily in his work embracing all from the mundane to stories of wonder. He is intent on carving out narratives that allow the stories he tells to have agency, nuance and license to be free from constraint, most importantly bringing value to African and Black life. An MA Directing graduate from the NFTS; he was made a Broadcast Hotshot in 2014 with his breakout film Sodiq, which gained multiple accolades including winning a Grierson Award (2013) & Al Jazerra (2014) Award and premiering at Sheffield Doc/Fest. His fantasy documentary Entitled screened at the 2018 BFI London Film Festival 2018 and the London Short Film Fest and won Best Short Film at the Screen Nation Awards and Best Debut Director at Edinburgh TV Fest (2019). A Hot Doc's Blue Ice Group fellow and Durban Film Mart alumni (2018) for his feature length documentary At Dawn. He also directed BBC1’s Murder On the Streets (2018). Other recent short films include Dark Matter (2019) commissioned by The Science Gallery and Photographer in Focus: Aida Muluneh (2019) for Nowness. Adeyemi has also collaborated with Netflix to curate films and TV series for a living collection called Black British Stories (2020). Adeyemi is currently in development on a supernatural fantasy film Ibeji.
Courttia Newland - Writer
Courttia Newland grew up in Shepherd's Bush, west London, where he became a rapper and music producer who, together with friends, released a drum n' bass white label. In 1997 he published his first novel, The Scholar. Further novels followed, including Society Within and Snakeskin. Courttia wrote his first play, Estates of Mind, in 1998. His second play, an adaptation of Euripides' The Women of Troy, was a success at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival. His third play was The Far Side (2000). In 2000 he co-edited (with Kadija Sesay) the anthology IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, and his short stories have featured in many other anthologies, including The Time Out Book of London Short Stories: Vol 2, England Calling:24 Stories for the 21st Century and Disco 2000. He co-edited The Global Village (2009) with Monique Roffey. Newland tours extensively for the British Council, and has been writer-in-residence for Trinity College, Dublin and Georgetown University, Washington DC. He has also been a writer-in-residence for the charity First Story. He has taught creative writing workshops and performed readings in countries as diverse as Russia, Gambia, and Singapore. He was shortlisted for the 2007 Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library Award, the 2010 Alfred Fagon Award and longlisted for the 2011 Frank O' Conner Award. Newland was a co-writer for Steve McQueen's five-part anthology film series Small Axe broadcast in November 2020.
Luciana Riso - Director of Photography
Luciana Riso is a Colombian-Italian cinematographer based in London. After studying in Barcelona and furthering her career in Colombia, Luciana attended the National Film and Television School graduating in 2016. Her biggest motivation is collaborating with artists and directors who share her interest in exploring imagery as a narrative, emotional and experimental tool. She has worked for: BBC, Channel4, Netflix, The Guardian, Nowness, Dazed, Royal Court Theatre, ICA, Fruit Tree Media, Little Dot Films, Compulsory, Camden Arts Centre, British Arts Council and Disney.
Nse Asuquo - Editor
Nse Asuquo trained at the National Film and Television School in the UK. Her credits include Kevin Macdonald's Life in A Day 2020, The Sundance and Grierson nominated The Stuart Hall Project directed by John Akomfrah, and Peabody Award winner The Jazz Ambassadors.Her most recent fiction work, the Sri Lankan feature film House Of My Fathers was called 'a poetic allegory on war and its consequences...' by the Hollywood Reporter and premiered in competition at the Hamburg Film Festival (2018). In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Jules Wright Prize for female creative technicians.
Christopher Melgram - Production Designer
Christopher Melgram is a queer, black, east London based emerging production designer, art director & co-founder of Studio Augmenta. His broad practice is currently based within the British film industry and spans fashion, music, advertising & immersive design. With a keen eye for architectural design and cultural history, his work combines meticulous research, draftsmanship & experimentation with a strong interest in set decoration.
Bubu Ogisi & Nathan Jones - Costume Design & Wardrobe
Bubu Ogisi is a textile artist and creative director of the contemporary women's wear brand, IAMISIGO and is one of the four members of the art collective hFACTOR. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, and now living between Lagos Accra Abidjan and Nairobi, she grew up in multiple cities and studied fashion at the prestigious Ecole Superieure des Art et technique de la Mode (ESMOD) Paris, France. Her work spans around the idea of how the body exists and interacts with space by creating wearable art pieces and installation art pieces with unconventional organic materials and ancient textiles traditions from all over the African continent. Ogisi does this by adapting ancestral techniques and traditional materials in new and contemporary ways. Her works aims to decolonise and free the mind through manipulating gravity, light, color, mass, and transparency to demonstrate the infinite transformations and iterations of fiber and installation. The idea of rawness, anti-”finishing” (and therefore anti-Eurocentrism) and functionality exist as strong conceptual design threads throughout her work. By exaggerating texture, structure and space she is able to break and transform the rules and expectations of what textiles are into transient humanity. Designer and Savile Row-trained tailor, Nathan Jones cut his teeth in his native London working in luxury menswear. Since starting his own studio in 2016 his technical ability as a maker has allowed him to take on a wide array of projects, counting retailers, stylists, designers, recording artists and filmmakers amongst his clientele. As a costume designer Nathan has worked with filmmaker, Iggy London on his award-winning short Fatherhood. He has also maintained an ongoing collaboration with singer-songwriter and Youtube star Tom Rosenthal. Based in Lagos since 2019 Nathan has established a studio with the aim of improving 'Made in Africa' fashion products through skills training and an embrace of local handcraft skills. Working as a cutter and technical designer he has collaborated with some of Nigeria's top talent, most notably 2021 LVMH prize nominee, Adeju Thompson of Lagos Space Programme.
Gaika - Composer
GAIKA is composer and multi disciplinary artist hailing from south london. His creative output has always straddled different worlds, taking influence from academia, philosophy and political theory as much as the influence of fellow musicians Born out of his travels through the many global currents of contemporary London, GAIKA’s music is dark yet melodic, experimental yet catchy. While drawing strongly from his Brixton upbringing and his Jamaican and Grenadian heritage, GAIKA’s sound is ultimately expansive, seamlessly weaving musical motifs, vocal flows and slangs of UK, US and Caribbean music. As both a vocalist and producer, GAIKA is as uncompromising in his politics as his sonics, intent on expanding and exploding the ideas of what contemporary black british music is. From his debut mixtape Machine in 2015 all the way to his debut LP, GAIKA is channeling the unique synthesis of the UK’s musical make-up, firmly at the forefront of a new London.
Heather Basten – Casting Director
Heather Basten is an English casting director based in London. She has recently cast Oliver Kassman's (Saint Maud) latest feature The Origin, and has also cast as a new UK feature from Blumhouse (Get Out), directed by Rob Savage. Heather is nominated for a 2021 Casting Society of America Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Casting for the Tribeca-winning short film No More Wings. Other festival successes include feature film Listen being the most awarded film at Venice Film Festival in 2020. Heather is currently casting a six-Episode musical TV series for Amazon Studios, as well as the television Series Dreaming Whilst Black for BBC.
Maiken Hansen - Sound Designer
Maiken grew up on the remote Faroe Islands where she spent much time involved in sound work, including recording and performing music, producing radio content and creating soundtracks for TV and radio advertisement. Maiken moved to London in order to earn a degree in Music Technology at Thames Valley University and it was there she decided to merge her two loves in life; sound and film, which in turn led her to earn a Masters in Sound Design for Film and Television at the National Film and Television School. Maiken has experience as a sound designer, dialogue editor and mixer across fiction films, documentaries and animations such as I Am Not A Witch, Make-Up and Phea.
Victoria Olaleye - Hair Design & Makeup Supervision
Victoria Olaleye is a makeup artist with experience working within bridal, special occasions and film. She originally studied makeup at The London College of Beauty Therapy in 2013, then later launched her makeup artistry business in 2015 and was nominated for the AME Awards for the Arts Category in 2017. She has hosted a women's empowerment event for makeup workshops and led makeup classes for young girls in the Midlands. Victoria is currently working on some new ventures within the beauty industry.
Charlotte Ambrose - Special Effects Makeup Designer
Charlotte is a Hair & Makeup Artist with a broad involvement in a wide range of projects within Feature Film, TV, Theatre, Documentary and Commercial. Working across productions like Without Sin, Bridgerton 2, Prizefighter and The Heiress.
Grace Bridger - Post Production Supervisor
Originally from Perth, Western Australia, London based Producer Grace Bridger works across independent short films and features. Grace has produced a number of projects alongside Writer/Director Runyararo Mapfumo as Dessymak Productions. Their short film Masterpiece premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2017 and finished the festival circuit with over a dozen official selections and nominations. She went on to develop and produce Dawn In The Dark supported by BBC Films and BFI NETWORK which premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2019. Grace then Produced Runyararo's BBC and Google Arts commissioned short Sensational Simmy which was released and broadcast on BBC and BBC iPlayer. Grace developed and secured funding from Uncertain Kingdom for Runyararo's documentary What’s In A Name? before handing over the project to another producer during her relocation to Bradford to work as Production Secretary on Clio Barnard's BBC Films and BFI supported feature film, Ali & Ava. This was part of her on-going work with producer Tracy O'Riordan at Moonspun Films as Producer's Assistant and then Assistant Producer. Previously through these roles Grace worked in post production on Hong Khaou's Monsoon and assisted Producer Tracy O'Riordan during the production of Film4's Dream Horse, starring Toni Collete and Damien Lewis. After working with Producer Fiona Lamptey (BFI Vision Award Winner) as Post Production Supervisor on the Sci-Fi short films, Grace moved into the role of Creative Assistant at Netflix in the newly formed UK Features team supporting Fiona.