Evateseblog was privildged to meet the amazing Besidone Atsemudiara, a filmmaker I’m a filmmaker, writer and editor.
So here on celebrity of the week segment we get to know the exciting journey to being a filmmaker , so join us …
My name is Besidone Atsemudiara and I’m a filmmaker, writer and editor. I am from Warri in Delta State, but I grew up in Benin City, Edo State.
Later on, I went to Covenant University, Ogun State, to study Industrial Physics. And while I was still fresh in my first year, I caught the filmmaking bug, but I decided to wait until after I graduated before pursuing film.
So, a couple years after I was done with CU, I went ahead and enrolled at the New York Film Academy (LA Campus) where I met quite a good number of film/TV directors, producers and screenwriters who helped me learn the craft and sharpen my skills.
After I finished from school, I started working in independent films and I have been doing that ever since.
What/who were some of your major influences when you first started out?
I used to watch movies on the TV all the time back when I was a kid; Nigerian, Chinese, Indian, American movies, you name it, I watched it.
But it wasn’t until I began watching movies on laptops that things took a different turn, so you can say that the laptop was a major influence.
It’s funny because I guess you would expect a filmmaker to fall in love with movies through watching them on the big screen— in the cinema.
But that wasn’t the case for me. Watching movies on laptops provided me with a more personal experience with film that made me see movies in a totally new light and one day when I was about 16, I literally had a Eureka moment and just went
“I want to be a filmmaker,”
and well, the rest is pretty much history.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
The art of cinema itself is what inspires me daily to want to create. Cinema lets you be creative in an endless amount of ways and I find that extremely inspiring.
It could be through the image, music, sound, silence, color, or whatever; there is just so much you can do when making a film or tv show to evoke certain emotions in your audiences or viewers that makes the medium so inspiring to me as a filmmaker that whenever I watch a well executed and well done film or tv show, I just get inspired.
But, if you are asking about what inspires the kind of stories I tell, I would say “life and reading.” When I am thinking of what to write, the basic story idea is usually inspired by something that I’ve observed in life that piques my interest or something that I read somewhere that just got me.
The way we as humans act, behave, the situations we find ourselves, those can all inspire a story.
And once the basic story idea is there, you can build on that and create whatever it is you want.
Tell us more about your short film TOBI?
TOBI is a short film that deals with adoption, it primarily focuses on the on-going psychological experience of a child who was given up by his birth parents.
Every adopted child has a different experience and different reaction to their adoption, for some, there are always those lingering questions at the back of their minds that they wish they could ask their birth parents and if for whatever reasons, their birth parents decide to show up in their lives many years later, there is that conflict that arises within the adopted individual and I wanted to explore that.
When I was writing the script and doing my research, I remember thinking, “Why is it that I don’t find that many black families adopting caucasian kids?”
The race of the characters in TOBI isn’t important to the story at all, but I thought to myself,
“Maybe I should play around with this, maybe I should make the adoptive family black and make the adopted kid caucasian.”
If you watch Tobi, the race of the characters involved is the last thing you would even focus on, but that little detail in the film was inspired by my own observation of life as regards inter-racial adoption.
How can you compare the industry in Nigeria & LA?
Well, there are lots of ways in which I could compare both industries, but time won’t permit me, so I’ll just stick to one—original story ideas.
I think in Nollywood or at least from my close observation of the Nigerian film/tv industry, it’s easier for a screenwriter, producer or director to get that original story idea that they have, made into a movie and seen, because those original ideas are very much welcomed by the financiers and investors amongst other things.
And as a creative that’s something you definitely want.
But, in Hollywood, things are different. For anyone who has been paying close attention, you notice that there is a sequel or reboot of some franchise coming out from the Hollywood studios every other month.
Now, don’t get me wrong, sequels and reboots are great, and I understand that film is a business as much as it’s an art, but it comes to a point whereby things just get oversaturated.
It’s not that it’s impossible to get an original movie idea made and seen in Hollywood, it’s just easier to do so in Nigeria at the moment I think (even if you are a first time Director) Hollywood is the biggest film industry in the world, and there are lots of pros that comes with that, but in the same token, it has it’s challenges and cons.
What advice do you have for any young/aspiring filmmakers who want to get started?
Go for it. Learn the craft, consider going to film school, but if you can’t afford it, don’t let that stop you.
Learn from Youtube channels like Every Frame a Painting, D4Darious, and other similar channels that breakdown film and its form.
It’s important to practice what you learn, so make short videos that tell a story, or even if you want to make something experimental, just go for it, use your phone if you don’t have a camera.
And if you make mistakes along the way, embrace them, because that’s how you grow and get better at your craft. You also need to network, filmmaking is a collaborative career path, so you can’t be a lone ranger.
You need to network with wisdom obviously, because there are some people out there who just want to take advantage of people, but go ahead and network, find like minded people who want to go into film as well, find folks who want to be screenwriters, cameramen, producers, music composers, etc.
You can find such people at film festivals or film events, and you can also find them online, there are numerous film groups on Facebook that provide helpful networking opportunities. It may take some digging, and experience to find the right ones for you, but just go ahead and do it.
Some people may live in places that aren’t really film-centric, so maybe you may want to consider moving to a city that has a lot of film activity going on.
And last but not least, perseverance is key. If telling stories through this medium of film and TV is something you really want to do, then you need all the perseverance in the world; and it might also help if you have something else bringing you income while you try to find your way in this business.
What films are in your personal top five list?
Hmm, I don’t have a top five list yet, but I’ll just spout out some of my favorite films, in no particular order: Inception, 3 idiots, A Beautiful Mind, Once upon a time in the West, Our hospitality.
Who’s your favorite superhero?
What’s your favorite African TV Series?
I really liked Jacob’s Cross, although it’s no longer on the air. Hlomla Dandala was just phenomenal on that show. At the moment, This is it by LowlaDee is my favorite African TV Series.
Do you enjoy producing, directing, writing or editing more?
I don’t know, each one gives me a different kind of excitement, so it’s hard to say which is more enjoyable; but, without a doubt, I can tell you the one that drives me the most crazy is directing. Directing makes me rethink why I got into this industry, it makes me wonder if I even know what it is I am doing.
So far what has been your major challenge?
Financing and distribution—those have been two of my major challenges.
What’s been your favorite episode so far since you started working on the Red Booth show?
I would say my favorite episode is probably the “Sundance” episode. I got to go up to Utah with the show for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival working as an Associate Producer and we interviewed various filmmakers and actors who had their projects premiering at Sundance, like ABC’s Downward Dog. It’s my favorite because I learnt more about the crazy world of PR and marketing in film and tv.
What Other Projects can we be looking forward to from you this year?
There are a couple of short films I produced which you can be looking forward to— first, there is South of Etham: Onarion which is directed by Ben Zimmerman.
It’s an action adventure that’s set way back and it’s about a former soldier who deserts his post and ends up being captured by a group of scavengers.
I enjoy watching movies in the action adventure genre, so it was really fun for me to get to produce that.
There is also another short, Cafe Cyber, that’s currently in post-production and it will be coming out later this year with a few others.
I also have a bunch of feature film projects in development, some I’m writing, and the others I’m producing. So there’s a lot to look forward to.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Besidone Atsemudiara’s Journey to Filmmaking ?? Do you have any questions for her ? If Yes please drop below and she would respond.
Do you know anyone that should feature on our celeb of the week Segment ?