I sing of a Well - Trailer Premiere
Naijarules beat me to it. I was supposed to have released this first! But I still love them though.
The much awaited I sing of a Well is out and ready to take the film industry by storm. It was directed by a woman after my heart; I doff my heart to her and I am positve that the sky is beyond her limit. She provided the link to the trailer and granted a brief but extremly enlightening phone interview. After reading the interview, you can either love her more or hate her more. She is frank, open and does not mince words.
JDO: Thanks for allowing me premiere the trailer
LD: Thank you for the free publicity my dear! (laughs)
JDO: I Sing of a Well? it sounds like a metaphorical title...if I can use such a statement, I have not seen the movie yet.
LD: no, Symbolic.
JDO: to the story?
LD: A bit...as much as possible. be the judge after you watch.
JDO: how long did it take you to work on it?
LD: I wrote it back in college for a friend to animate, about 3 years back. took me two weeks to dust it off for shoot.
JDO: Why epic?
LD: You know, I have been asked that question so many times and I am so tired of answering it already. Why not epic if you want to call it that. When I say epic I think of something more grandiose. Maybe I'll call the upcoming sequel an epic.
JDO: Oh yes, you mentioned its a trilogy
LD: yes, Legion of Slaves trilogy. intra-african slave trade right before the slave trade we all know. Hopefully we shoot the sequel by the end of next year.
JDO: But why make such a genre?
LD: I did not go on a path to make that genre. It's more of the story I chose to shoot in the moment. Akofa and I wanted something small, light, easy and most importantly fun to shoot.
JDO: but from the photos and the trailer I see, it was grand. epic.
LD: not to me it wasn't. Everything about it was simple. I guess a lot of people in Ghana are terming it grand because it is different to an extent. Things were done differently.
JDO: Something more contemporary will have been simpler than this though and easier.
LD: Where contemporary means what Joy?
JDO: well, something modern, fancy...something current.
LD: This is fancy. It's a period piece. I make movies for art. I love painting pictures with my stories. I do not like to waste my time writing the necessary normalcy some people want. I know where you are going with that. It's so deja vu.
JDO: I am treading this path because of late we see some interesting work of movies come out of Ghana. Very flashy and showing Africa in a very modern light.
LD: (Laughs long and hard) Africa in modern light. What have you been smoking? You are one those centrists right. What exactly are you trying to ask me my dear?
JDO: well you have shot this movie for international consumption, I see on imdb you are being distributed by a very reputable distributor so why show mud huts? Why not the beautiful things we have? I am so not trying to be ethnocentric, believe me. I'm just asking.
LD: oh, this will never end... ok, lets do this. As a filmmaker, I do not choose to educate those who should have been educated, read between the lines here. if someone wants to remain ignorant enough to assume that Africans live in mud huts and climb trees, hey that is his to deal with. Please, let him wallow in his ignorance, when he is ready let him catch up with the rest of the world. I make movies to create realms, to tell stories for change and about life. To create beauty as I see it or understand it, I do not see beauty in sky scrappers or a Porche, I' never have and may never will. I see beauty in a mellow cottage by a running river shaded by palms; a curvaceous woman, wrapped in a piece of cloth with a pot of water balanced on her head. That is MY idea of beauty. in I sing of a Well, We tell a story that is set in the days of the Ghana Empire, hundreds of years back. before the white man. The elegance in it overwhelms me. no one was naked or wore leaves mind you. the costume was all silks, skin and cotton, a true representation of what we wore at the time. We were trading with the Arabs for crying out loud; camel traders from North. We see the beauty of Africa, in the hills, the mountains, the waterfalls, God is in Africa I tell you! At one point, we were shooting at shai hills and I told my DP I do not want anymore beautiful landscapes and he said Leila, the landscape is breathtaking no matter where we angle the camera it's going to be awesome. I gave up. I was surrounded by beauty. It's up to you as a person to find beauty where your heart takes you. Someone will find beauty in Halle Berry in a sequined gown; another may find it in a wrinkly old man sitting in the shade of the baobab.
JDO: wow, that's some interesting concept there. I never really thought about it that way. I have always been under the impression I need to educate people about Africa that have mansions too.
LD: You really, really think they do not know or that they even want to know? Some of these people do not want to believe that anything good can come out of Africa. It is good to educate them if they are willing to learn. I do not go out of my way to do it. That's what the internet and the classrooms are for. I could draw the American map when I was still in Ghana. I hadn't been to America before then. The scripts on my table have nothing fancy or glitzy in them 100%. I have a mixture; the reality on ground. We do have mud huts don't we? And we do have the mansions too. We have ghettos, poor neighborhoods. American also show their bad parts too. The projects, etc. In my small way I do show, will show some mansions but then I will not do it in a manner of "oh hey, look we got fancy homes in Ghana". I'm still going to tell the story I want to tell. My story determines my settings, production design, sound, costume etc. It's where the pen takes me. What the story demands, what the character demands. I can make that wrinkly old man an aesthetic; it's up to my audience to decide whether they share my idea of that particular form of beauty. I do not intend to conform to any form of unmotivated, adulterated art.
JDO: very interesting. Did you watch Shirley Manso's Perfect Picture?
LD: I did
JDO: what do you think of the beauty she portrays and how she portrayed it?
LD: She portrayed it how she sees it. If it works for her, that's great. I love what she is doing. We were both shooting at the same time in Ghana and our crews run into each other and had beers together. It was fun.
JDO: But what do you think of the story?
LD: It is a very interesting story. Quite daring.
JDO: and where the story took the production in terms of the lets say Ghana version of avant garde filmmaking?
LD: (laughs) Ghana version of avant garde...Well, I enjoyed the imagery a lot. It is a very debatable movie.
JDO: More than you know. Tell me about your cast for I sing of a well. Did you enjoy working with them as a director doing her first narrative feature? it's a far cry from documentary characters and shorts. How was it like working in Ghana?
LD: It did not really feel any different. Directing a documentary is trickier, you must get that one shot, repeating makes things hokey. But a narrative, you get to cut, place, and block, create, re-create, take, and re-take. I found this way easier. I enjoyed my cast. i enjoyed them very very much. They were all so different in a great way. Akofa played a lead and she was phenomenal. I had director come on the set and he asked me if she was difficult; difficult? She is very easy to direct. She gives it all. You'll understand why she is a household name. Then Godwin, he would not help us stop laughing; he gets everyone laughing every minute. J.O.T, oh my God, talk of life. He practically charges the scene, brings it alive, at a point I asked him if he was there when I wrote his character. An absolutely terrific actor. They made my life so easy. They made directing them so easy because they listened. David, the most mischievous boy ever; listens so hard, hungry for more, Stacy just had a baby but when I called her, she left little Beyonce at home and simply threw herself in, Nana King, Auntie Doris, Mr. Mends, the absolutely beautiful Luckie Lawson; I couldn't have asked for a better cast. They advised, they helped out, they were not complaining about anything; we were shooting 10 scenes a day 17 hours straight each day. They were troopers. My crew; I love each and every one of them. We lost the production designer right before we started shooting, Akofa and I simply looked at each other and said we doing this, I did the design but couldn't have if all the crew were not multi-taskers.
JDO: you are kidding. how did you loose him?
LD: I am not. We lost him to greed and corruption. We technically did not have a production designer right after the set was built. Luckily, I was already doing the entire design; he was simply building. I had done the sketches and all before-hand. So between me, Andrew and Efo Papa, the art directors, we nailed it. I was so excited. That is why I call the set fun. Problems came alright but the fun was in solving them. We had so much drama. oh my God.
JDO: You think the movie will do well?
LD: That's for God to decide and for you to go buy you a ticket when it gets into the theaters.
JDO: I will, but are you confident in the product? Will I be disappointed? I have hyped many films on my page and have only turned round to eat dust.
LD: oh oh. I'm in trouble now. Since we are still editing, how about I tell you we will make it the best it should be?
JDO: Thank you. I look forward to watching I sing of a Well. I have been taking so much heat on my page because I hold you in high esteem; I have people demanding for your achievements…
LD: I am getting sick of this so much…I graduated from college barely 2 years ago, my student loans remind me of that; give me a minute ok. What is it that they have achieved? By the sheer Grace of God I am doing much better than most people I started with considering where I came from. Who made them judge of anyone's success anyway? Who are they, officials of the Guinness book of records? This pull her down syndrome among us Africans makes me sick to my stomach! The only people you hear such crap from are the same people you share something common with. It's just terrible.
JDO: I echo your sentiments, a prophet is never accepted in his own village. but Leila, the sky is your limit and I am dying to see I sing of a well. Thank for speaking with me and good luck, your phone keeps beeping so I know you have to go.!
LD: Thank you so much for free press woman. Good luck too.
Like I said, she is simply charismatic. You can choose to say she is arrogant or say she is brutally honest. Bottom line, she knows her onions. Below is the trailer and some more photos of the set.