'Sista' Celebrates and Honours My Mother's Joys and Pains- Biodun Stephen.

Admiring Biodun Stephen’s storytelling and filmmaking has become an unstoppable habit. Having her on FilmTalk was even more delightful; so, understanding her movie statements signaled a beautiful view of Nigerian women filmmakers. Share my experience with Biodun Stephen.

Biodun Stephen Writer Producer Director

Efefiong Akpan: I want to quote from an interview you had some time ago. You said,

I draw inspiration from my experiences, my pains, my joys, sad moments in my life...

Biodun Stephens, Nigerian London Film School trained filmmaker, has earned a notable industry place of honour since 2014. It was a privileged to see you live in 2019, when you came for a TV and film summit. I was so moved; because about a few months or few weeks before then, I watched your movie and shed tears. You just got me; really got me with Picture Perfect.

Biodun Stephen has played productive writer, producer and director roles in strings of notable movies like: The Visit (2014), Tiwa's Baggage and Picture Perfect in 2016, Sobi's Mystic (2019). I was mystified; believe me I was carried away. I tried to understand the movie. At the end of the day, I told myself that was good. So good for me. Later on, I watched Sista, just recently in 2022. And I was like this woman has something to give the industry. I can’t also miss her brilliance in Sobi’s Mystic. I'm just realizing that you wrote that after going through the media research and seeing your profile.

Biodun Stephen Olaigbo, welcome to Filmtalk.

Biodun Stephen: Thank you so much for having me.

Efefiong Akpan: You have an amazing smartness at drawing from real life personal experience. Those include so much emotions and logic in Sista and Picture Perfect added to big thrills that I felt in Sobi’s Mystic; because it was really a mystery to me. So, let's kick off with those inferences in the three movies. But, can you say something about yourself, you know? Apparently, anything unusual that so many people or I don't know, regarding your inspiration. Though you said you harvest from pains and joys, which I personally have come to confirm.

Biodun Stephens: I think you have pretty much said it all. What a lot of people don’t know is I did not study film in the university. I studied philosophy. And then right after university, I worked in radio stations. I was an on-air personality for a while; went onto television, then left and went into advertising as a copywriter. And I think that when I look back now, being a filmmaker after almost like ten years doing different things, I figured that all of those experiences really helped me to become the filmmaker that I am today.

I've come very much to valuing life experiences; like just standing at the bus stop; really just entering the bike, just going to the market. I think stories are all around us; characters are all around us, and all of these characters are so colorful. And that is where really, I draw from.

I've come to value every waking moment of my life, as part of my film-making process. I think that's really about it. I've come to also value some my lifetime experiences; because those things have helped me in my writing. You know using fragments of me, kind of give that authentic voice my stories have come to be known for.

Efefiong: Yeah, you're so right, because, I mean, a lot of us say we are reflecting life, when we make movies. But then you reflect life in a very touching way by encapsulating who you really are, you make statements with your movies. That's why I love your movies. Nobody will tell you not to love your movies. Right. Okay? So, what is the core of real human experiences in Sista, Picture Perfect and Sobi’s Mystic, if you want to combine the three.

Biodun Stephens: Ah! To be honest, I think that if you look at Sista, Picture Perfect, what's the third one?

Efefiong: Sobi’s Mystic!

Biodun: It will be about family. At the very central core of it will be about family. Picture Perfect? It's about an area(street) boy and a dressmaker having a baby together. And this area boy is really, really desperate to be a part of that child's life.

In Sobi’s Mystic it was a sister, who had failed her deceased elder sister. She decided to become mother and wife sort of to the children and husband. And then if you look at Sista, a single mom really struggling to provide for and represent her children, through struggles. So, for me, I think that one of the central themes across these three films would be family. Family and parenthood. They are very strong in these three films. Fatherhood, motherhood and then really family as well.

Efefiong: You're so right, because I can see it now. How does midlife crisis heighten the emotional journey of Sista's main character?

Biodun: Take a look at Fola’s character. I tried to give a balance view of how he was wrong or right to have left? This was a 19-year-old, who suddenly found himself becoming father. I'm sure he had a lot of dreams; a lot of plans. He made that decision two years later at 21 to abandon his family. He was selfish. Yes.

However, he was like, ‘I want to still hold on to this dream that I had when I was 16; when I was 17.’ Because I believe that all of us have dreams. At the point where he meets them, he's in a better place. Even so, I believe midlife crisis came when he thought, ‘I need to make amends. I've run away from the country for so long. I'm back here now.’

Just being him; coming back into the country is a reminder of the family that he left behind. That family is now staring him in the face. The desire to just make amends. How he approached, trying to find a way back into his family, children’s lives, was wrong ab initio. But you cannot negate the fact that he really was trying, the best way that he knew to do it.

People abandon their families for several reasons. In the case of Fola, at 21, he wanted to just hold on to these dreams. These goals that he set for himself, before suddenly knowing he could be father at 19.

Efefiong: That brings me to the moral question of why would anybody abandon family? Because in Africa we are so much into family loyalty. So, subjected to some kind of evaluation, would you give him a yes, or no?

Biodun: Oh, no! But I think to be honest, life is really not black and white. It's really plenty shades of gray; if you agree with me. Why do we do what we do? Sometimes from the Utilitarian Philosophy, they will tell you, if it helps the majority, then it's a good action. But really it may be a bad action in that philosophy.

Now, there's also the philosophy that says that, you know, there are always consequences for every action. So, to be honest, it's not a case of any good or bad at that point. If he had run away, but returned after five years, it would have been a different case.

Maybe we would have understood he went to look for livelihood. In this case, he left them for so long. It can be for a number of reasons for shame or for guilt. Would they even accept me? Are they even alive? So, you can never really know.

Look, when we sit down to ask people, why they took some decisions, when they explain, you may begin to see the morality of that decision. Even though at point in time, it hurt their immediate family or environment.

Efefiong: So, it's not a black and white thing.

Biodun: Yes! People’s decisions in life, in the immediate, might be helpful. If Fola had returned the moment he started making money, it would have been a different case. His action could be viewed favorable to majority, may be morally wrong.

Otherwise, Otherwise, Otherwise, Kantian Philosophy says an action is good based on its consequences. So, the morality of an action is either good or bad based on the consequence. In this case a lot of us take decisions minding less Maybe people would have forgiven Fola, if he had been sending money home. He could have ignored them out of shame or guilt or fear of rejection. Or majorly out of selfishness. Really in the long run there is no morality or justification for what he did, regardless. We can make a case for him, but there's really no justification for abandoning your family at a time.

Efefiong: So, what’s the moral evaluation in the case Sobi’s Mystic? When the lead character let it all go for the guy and sort of went back home and made it look like, ‘Are you in relationship or you not?’

Biodun: So, with Sobi’s Mystic, I think it was again guilt that came to play. This was a party girl, who was partying when her sister was dying. She was the only blood match to her sister, you get? So, after abandoning her way of life, you know; as a party girl for her it was, ‘I need to make up for what happened to my sister. So, I need to be there for her family and I need to be there for her children. But I still want to hold on to a little bit of my own life for my sanity.’

You can compare this to postpartum depression. When a woman becomes a new mother and all of a sudden, the life you had, a very vibrant life, now becomes this child that you have given birth to you. Part of the postpartum depression is that sporadic change of lifestyle. Where you are not able to be who you were; because there's a new human being you are responsible for.

I think in Sobi's Mystic she was trying to still make amends for not being there that night her sister died. But she held on to her previous lifestyle. She meets Sobi during a once in a month break. She was already missing love, therefore love sparked and all of that.

Efefiong: I can imagine the logline; a lot of conflicts. Let me place Sobi’s Mystic side by side with Sista. Would you in terms of cultural orientation in Nigeria, say that Sista’s case as single mom explains the 21st Century Nigerian woman better than in would have done in the 80s to the early 2000s? That the same thing, could apply to Sobi’s Mystic? Would they have had the same behavior, if you took them back into the 80s and probably do a period film?

Biodun: I think that for the longest time in the case of Sista, the single mother would have always existed in the 80s. And me raised by one, I remember it was frowned upon. It was almost like an ostracisation. Married women didn't want to be friends with single mothers, because they felt if you're a single mom you could not stay in your husband's house. Maybe you had a childhood out of wedlock.

This was the norm back then; but it is now a norm in the 21st Century. It is almost like a way of life. Some people now choose to be single mothers. I think Sista represents our mothers struggles back then. Husbands would not care to provide for their children, but mothers were the ones who did. Though they were living under marriage they provided for their children. They just had husbands for husbands' sake. Sista celebrates those kinds of women. Sista celebrates sacrifices mothers make to give their children a better life. Sista also puts in your face the reality of children, you know? Who maybe eventually meet their fathers down the line.

Again, is there any child who doesn’t want to know their fathers; if you have never met your father before? That youthful excitement, when you meet somebody to call dad! As in the case of Sista’s children, when they met their father. So Sista is symbolic of single motherhood back then and even now. You know, the struggles of every mum and that's why it's a very dear film.

The story was written to celebrate and honor my mother, who made so much sacrifices for me to be, where I am. Unfortunately, she is not alive today to witness this evolution called me at this point. For me Sista is very symbolic, unlike Sobi’s Mystic.

It's not about a single mother, but a sister's love and sacrifice to be there for her sister's children and widowed husband. There are very few selfless people in the world, who will live their lives or abandon their lives without any ulterior motives of maybe settling down with their sister's husband. Indeed, to just take care of the sister's children and the husband. So I don't think that there is a comparison.

I would think that for Sista and Picture Perfect, there might be some sort of semblance, where we have mothers who have shut out fathers from the lives of their children; because of their anger towards the father. In this case, it was very clear with Kumbi and Jobe; where Jobe was practically begging to be a part of his child's life; just because she was angry over a wrong decision.

For these two films, or these three films actually again another human angle central core is selflessness and selfishness. Selflessness with Sobi’s Mystic in terms of Aida, sacrificing her own life to be there for her sister’s children. And then selfishness from the part of Fola, abandoning his own children and from the part of Kumbi shutting out Jobe from their own personal(not even for the child), but personal grievances or reasons.

Efefiong: I'm still talking to Biodun Stephens, the amiable intellectual filmmaker, who has shocked me with the logic and emotions of movies, Sista, Picture Perfect and Sobi’s Mystic. But in terms of moral security and outlook, would you in making statements (because you're really making statements here), recommend that tendency of single motherhood or playing games like, Sobi’s Mystic? And I won’t talk about the Picture Perfect, because it's a hood movie. Surulere(Lagos, Nigeria middle-class) for that matter!

In making such statements about single motherhood, you're making it from a very altruistic point of view. As a person, who was involved with a single mother, would you say those provide mental orientation for family security in the 21st century?

Biodun: Yes. So, if you look through my films that I have mentioned, I've always really done a lot about single mothers. In fact, there are so many parts of single parenthood. If you watch a film like Looking for Bami. About a young girl, who went in search of her absent father. Her father couldn't imagine she could be his child, because she was an IT expert. He was one of the most eligible bachelors in town, and she was selling pap in the garage.

This is something that I have seen play out. A father abandoned a child; then the child goes on to become something great and then you want to link up. So, I just played that upon his head in this case. That this child did not fit into this man's picture and he could not be imagining fathering this kind of child.

If you look at a film like Tiwa’s Baggage that I did, it's also about a single mom, who was also abandoned. They've always given hope. So when we did Tiwa’s Baggage, it renewed a lot of hope. You know, you will find love. Because I remember it was a statement that somebody made about someone, ‘You are now a single mother, you're now a second material. No man wants you.’ So we did a film to correct that impression that there can be loved for you.

In a film like Ehi’s Bitters that deals with a single mother hating her child, because she thought that her child was an inhibitor to her getting married. So, there are so many levels, you know. I'm taking this particular journey. I'm trying to fragment through the eyes of my mom the different struggles that she had trying to marry after she had me.

As a young girl, I felt responsible for her not meeting somebody. I felt I was blocking her, you know? This is really my own journey. I'm just trying to explore the different psychologies that revolve around it, you get? A woman has a child okay; you never met your father. Would your father accept you? That's a particular story on its own.

How will you and your father relate? That's what I'm just trying to do; just strip at the core of my films. So, basically I've pretty much answered the question; just trying to shed light on the psychologies; the finances.

Efefiong: To conclude on that level, I know someone who's been just been divorced and she was so depressed that for her to even open up, to love somebody became a problem. Recently, she said, I decided to forget all that. I want to be free. I'm opening of myself to be loved. Can you give some advisory?

Biodun: To be honest, I think that no matter how hurtful, no matter how bad, no matter how terrible, let us always pick the lessons. Because you have to also think, what are the mistakes I made; when I was married to this person? What are the things I've learned now? Every time you decide to shut yourself away from the pursuit of something good, you are empowering the person that hurts you. You are making that person powerful.

Look, you cannot say, because your child stole today or your child broke something, maybe your child poured food then you will not give your child food tomorrow. It's not possible. And so, you will still feed the child. You cannot say, oh, because I had an accident with my car today; my car hit somebody, I will not drive again. It's not possible.

I think, what are the lessons learnt? Why did I have this accident? Why did this happen to me? What must I do to prevent it from happening to me again? What you must do is not that you shut yourself away from the possibility of finding love again.

I think this woman should be at least be open to a new relationship, but be guarded. Don't forget the lessons that you have learnt in your last relationship and make sure you don't repeat those same mistakes again. Or you protect yourself from those things happening to you again. But by totally shutting yourself up , you know, is empowering that problem. I'm not saying don't heal. Some people need three years, five years to heal, to really kind of rearrange themselves psychologically. Once you are in that mental space, don't deny yourself the opportunity to try again.

Efefiong: You have sort of answered two questions, which I'm going to just chip them in. Whether you believe that making statements and speaking out with your movies would necessarily resolve such human conflicts. The second is, would you be okay if single motherhood, means paying homage to Sista? I understand all those are captured in your answers. What’s your evaluation of ‘betrayal’ as a pervasive theme in Nigerian media and entertainment space.

Unlike you, who really digs into the emotional levels of your stories, we see jilted people in movies, and you don't really know why it happened and where the person should go to. So what's the evaluation?

Biodun: To be honest, I think that film is a tool, but depends on how the filmmaker is using it. Sometimes there are some issues that you just want to bring to light, not because you want your film to resolve the issue. Sometimes you want to resolve an issue; sometimes to start a conversation. So there are various reasons why everybody makes film.

Sometimes I make a film to start a conversation, resolve an issue, shed light on an issue; to just advice. Sometimes to even give hope. I think one of the things that is very common to humanity is betrayal. You know, sibling betrayals; friend betraying friends. That is really the very big bane of our human existence. Go back to the very beginning, Cain betrayed Abel by killing him.

Even so, we betray ourselves; because you might say, I'm not going to eat till 12:00, but then fried akara(bean cake) passes you by at 9:30,(SIGH) you know what? You get what I'm saying? So, it is a major weakness that we have. That’s why it is so common in our storytelling.

Efefiong: Why do I love your movies? They elevate concepts to levels, where intellectual or less intellectual people key into. My issue is over flogging things without giving them dimensions that would even lead the filmmaker to do a sequel. If they are to follow in the footsteps of Biodun Stephen, what advice would you give Nigerian filmmakers?

Biodun: Regarding my style, you've seen how I take one topic and keep my story simple and focused. People have misconception of what a subplot is. A subplot doesn't necessarily have to be another entire story. It can be story(A Story)and the B (Story) part becomes the subplot. So it is still the same story, you are following.

Many times, I don't know why filmmakers think that it is more engaging to have so many stories. At the end of your third act are, your are rushing to close off everything that you have started.

You can have a Three Act story and close off your subplot at the end of the first act; while maintaining the major story plot for that grand closing at the end. It might even be the same story; the same person’s story. Those are just different stages of their lives; but the major theme should be followed till the end.

Look at Sista for example or maybe let's use Picture Perfect. There was a story of Kumbi trying to find love and was excited about a certain relationship. By the second act, the relationship had broken. It had come to a close. We finished that story. That's a subplot; but that subplot now triggered the major story, which is her meeting with Jobe.

Meanwhile also in Jobe’s story structure, where we established his character, we also planted another subplot of him and Kumbi not liking each other. So by the second act they had a fight, which is what triggered the third act of okay, a baby, a deed, a dad.

It's still the same story that we're following; but there are sub-stories in there that triggered us to the main bone of contention, the pregnancy. So what I would advise filmmakers is, keep it simple. Take one core and then spread open that core so that at the end, when you close it, you would pretty much have been able to touch around. Again there are some topics for instance where you can't really exhaust the whole thing. Even if you open up two issues, make sure that you close on one at least, so that that one is memorable to everybody.

Efefiong: And the sequel can take off from there.

Biodun: Go back and take what you have opened up in a prequel to continue in the sequel.

Efefiong: Yeah, that's so explanatory. Which brings us to the issue of the fact that subplots normally engineer main plots to becoming full blown. Let's talk about your plot philosophy. A lot of writers don’t understand where you have the midpoint or the pinch point and all kinds of plot points. Can you also generally talk about the plot structure of an average movie that you have produced.

Biodun: So again, the rules for writing are already there, the three-story act rule. But you know, for film, you want to fragment it. There's 90 minutes in the film, right? You can either choose to do 30 minutes; 30 minutes. So in 30 minutes your first act is done. You're going to second act and the third act.

However, I've also come to learn that Nigerian audience are not patient. They want to begin to see action in the first five minutes. However character introduction is so important to your story. You want to build this character, so people are automatically vested in them; by the time the story unfolds. By the time it’s ten minutes, they complain, this film is dragging.

They are not even seeing what is going on. So it's important that at a point, a writer excites the audience at every 15 minutes, every 15 pages. Have something that sparks our interest to read the next 15 pages or motivate us to keep watching. So as the writer, you must be excited by your 15-page marks to see what is going to happen. Those are the things that I consciously try to do. That at every 15-page mark, 15, 20 page-marks, there will be something that is triggering me to continue my three-story act structure.

I can also divide my three acts each into twos. So it means I have like six total. Something is exciting the reader to continue to read more. Not that you wait and drag till like page 50 to now start. Even the script reader will be already tired by that time.

I've also come to realize that, when I send scripts to actors, they become excited. They are done almost in three to four hours. They tell you, ‘Oh my God, it's so interesting!

You should also learn how to keep your dialogues really, really engaging. Dialogues that normal human beings are saying. Not dialogues that we normally don't say. You get what I’m saying; because these are some of the issues that we have. Keep your dialogue simple. Keep your dialogue right. I always say this; as if you are writing for a layman. If the layman , doesn’t understand, then you have failed. This is my own philosophy, you know?

I'm not trying to write for an elite audience. Personally, my story is not warranting it. I write everyday human angle stories; which means I want the mechanic, professor or a banker to watch my film. Everybody should have the same experience. I want Mr. President to have the same emotional experience. So, I try to keep my dialogue as simple as every day as possible.

It does not mean that you will not define your characters through dialogues; because I don't talk like a pepper seller. So your pepper seller must have a different dialogue. It will be different from how your banker or your child’s teacher talks. So these are the differentiating factors, a writer must remember.

Writers should design their characters. Write what you know; not what you have not experienced. Experience does not mean it is happening to you. Experience is seen, heard, felt or tasted. So don’t write something that is totally foreign to your experience. Write what you have seen, heard or felt. That is what brings it closer home; even for you as a writer. When I'm writing something emotional, I live in my characters’ experiences. I'm crying as a writer; because I'm putting myself in the shoes of those characters.

Efefiong: I see a lot of lighting techniques in Sobi’s Mystic unlike in Perfect Picture, which was story-bound. Of course Sista was also story-bound; but a lot of lighting techniques featured in Sobi’s Mystic. As a director, can you give some insight into your directing moods? How you convey moods in terms of color, lighting, shades and all kinds of things?

Biodun: As a filmmaker and writer, I'm majorly influenced apart from real life experience, by music.

Efefiong: Majorly?

Biodun: Majorly, yes, influenced by music. Sometimes I listen to songs or to music. So those put me in the mood and help me to see clearer pictures . When I'm seeing the picture, the music I'm listening to determines what I want to also light.

The best way for instance, if you're listening to romantic music, is to turn off lights and light some candles. So you already know you are writing a love(romantic) scene. That's what you want to see, because that's how you enjoy it. If you're listening to Christian music, you want to be flooded with morning brightness and loud feel or mood.

Imagine you’re trying to mask or hide something as in the case of Sobi’s Mystic. You won’t light it so much; because you need not really see Aida. She was playing alternate or two different characters. We hid her a lot behind dark glasses. At home, where she does not have full glam makeup, she looks totally different.

Efefiong: I often ask, if advertising industry could generate story characters per issues, per product and services, what's wrong with us in the movie industry generating characters that sell all the time? You see in advertising, which you have some experience, whether you like or not, they must generate a character behind an issue, service or product. Do you agree with that concept that you can also like you talked about music: pull all these modal elements into doing a story?

Biodun: One of the things that make any story memorable is when you create unforgettable characters. When you create a memorable character, the story will stay with you. Very important cases in point for me, are two of my films, Picture Perfect and Looking for Bami. Jobe(Picture Perfect) till tomorrow will be the defining character for him(Bolanle). It changed his life and career. It made him extremely popular; because we created a character that you would naturally dislike, but you end up loving and rooting for. He played the character so well.

Same thing with Looking for Bami; also Breaded Life you know? It is very important for the writer; because some people will not even remember the movie title. They will remember the characters. That means in terms of creativity and depending on how you play that character, your audience will not forget the story.

Imagine you watched Breaded Life and go somewhere, see somebody hawking bread, what will come to your mind over the bread seller? It is like when Picture Perfect came out, you would see an area(street) boy. So those are the things. You need to create believable characters . Consider also Kemi Adetiba’s King Of Boys with the character, Remi Makanaki. These are the things that make characters and stories stay. Your audience may not remember the title.

Sometime ago I interviewed woman on radio. She was like, 'Oh, I don't know you. What have you done? So and so!’ By the end of our conversation, she had apparently seen about six of my films; but didn't know I made them. She was just like, ‘I enjoyed this video! ’That's my film.’ I said, ‘That's my film.’

She said, ‘I've seen all your films.’You know, she remembered all of those; because the characters stayed with her. So it's very, very important, you know?

Efefiong: Yeah! It brings me to the issue of you always harvesting characters from your environment. Look at Picture Perfect. I mean, when the two of them(lead characters) recalled that the guy's father was a headmaster or the girl's father was a headmaster and the guy's mother used to fry akara( bean cake) that was when I cried. How do you do that magic of harvesting characters from society? It could be an advertising company, a gym or Surulere community like you did.

Biodun: So for me that particular scene was really from my true life experience. When I was in primary school, there was a guy,Shakiru in same private school. Fast forward to about 14 years later, we met and he's a truck driver. And I'm wondering, ‘What really happened in between that time for you to now become a truck driver?’ And really, that was it. How many times have we gone to funerals? Well, God help us! Our paths are so different in life. So different in life, you know? Who was about to convict or sentence a convict?

Efefiong: I was about taking you to that story.

Biodun: She just, realized that that criminal used to be her seat partner in class. It was a very emotional moment for the criminal. It was a life changing moment. You know these things happen. And so, I'm just saying that these are just people all around us. That people should pay attention to ;just a little attention.

Efefiong: Very touching. I’m still talking to Biodun Stephen, producer-writer, and director; filmmaker. She is a harvester of human experience. Thank you so much. You mentioned two names in the industry, Emem Isong and Mary Njoku. How inspirational have they been to you? You also talked about Bolanle Ninalowo, himself. How did you apply that hunk of a character; because you just said that Picture Perfect put him up there? So can you explain that mix?

Biodun: Bolanle really was about what my story could do for somebody's career. It has happened for a lot of people, who have worked with me. When I create movie characters I want people to come take risks. Bolanle always reminds me every day of why I'm making movies. Till today people keep calling Jobe(the street character in Picture Perfect). And it just appears to me that I must continue to create such characters in movies. Really, to keep creating such amazing and remarkable characters that people can forever relate to.

In terms of the two women that I mentioned: Emem Isong started directing, when women were not even given opportunities. I marvel a lot at Mary Njoku, because I know when we used to act together. She played my daughter in a series; before Iroko and all of that.

I look at her today and recall that nothing was given to her on a plate. It is amazing how she really worked her way up and keeps working hard. Really to climb is the easiest, but staying at the top is most difficult. I'm looking at this remarkable woman, who is just in her mid-30s, doing this amazing feat, breaking grounds and giving opportunities to people.

She gave me an opportunity to really begin to tell my stories. And so for them I will always be grateful. Emem stood strong, even when it was not a favorable time for female directors. She began to pave way for a new type of storytelling in Nollywood.

Efefiong: Are you thinking of a franchise about family?

Biodun: Aaaah! For me, I don't push anything. I just believe in when time is ripe to work with.

Efefiong: What job are you doing now?

Biodun: I just wrapped on a new film called Momiwa. We're in edit at the moment.

Efefiong: Thank you so much for manifesting some of the things I love. You make movies with depths of intellectualism and emotions. Sometimes people just do movies to get products out there. But you encapsulate an idealism that if you want to do a movie, do it well. I'm inspired. Thank you so much for coming to Filmtalk.

I've been talking to Biodun Stephen, Nigerian London Film School trained filmmaker. She's breaking boundaries within the industry. What would you say about the likes of Funke Akindele and…?

Biodun: Kemi Adetiba?

Efefiong: Yeah, the likes of them. There’s still another one that did Up North.

Biodun: Okay, Tope Oshin.

Efefiong: Mmhmmmm!

Biodun: Okay. These are women, who are doing great. So I think right now in industry, women are no longer a push aside. We are now being respected. Our voices have been heard; because women are doing really great work. Ejiro, Kemi Adetiba, Tope Oshin, Funke Akindele. I'm so happy that I'm standing in that list with these women, who are just doing exceptional work; you know? Yeah!

Efefiong: I seem to see something behind all that.Most of you worked in adjacent industries like advertising, radio; before you went into making movies. How does this sort of exposure build your careers?

Biodun: To be honest, I can't speak for the others. I think that film was always the goal for me. What I did not plan was becoming a director. I always thought of being an actor. I've always been a storyteller or story writer from my teenage years. But film has always been a part of my vision board.

When I was 16 I told myself, well, I'm going to do film, whether as an actor or director. I just knew I was going to do film; so whatever I was doing, helped me one step closer to my ultimate goal.

Efefiong: One last word for the young ones that are coming, females and males.

Biodun: I always say this one thing, understand why you want to be a filmmaker. Do it for the right reasons. You need to understand the purpose as to why you want to do this. The fame can come, but it can also burn out real quick, like a knockout. So it's important that when you have the fame or the opportunity to tell your stories, be ready to tell your own true, authentic story. Find your voice, really, as a filmmaker, and let your voice shine. People will respect you.

Don't be another person's voice, you know .People ask, how do I find my voice? You find your voice by other people's voices. Eventually, I found my voice; because I understood what I liked. And people began to appreciate me for that.

Efefiong: Thank you so much for coming. Thank you so much.

Biodun: Thank you!

Efefiong: We're online at filmmlab.ng, Instagram and Twitter. Thank you so much. Do have a nice day.

Bidoun: You too.

Efefiong/Biodun: Bye!

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