Tower XYZ Manifesto

Advice for young filmmakers from a young filmmaker

STOP PLAY RECORD filmmaker Ayo Akingbade's manifesto for being a young filmmaker.

Ayo Akingbade

6 Mar 2017

Ahead of the inaugaral Playback Festival: in association with Random Acts, exhibiting young filmmaker Ayo Akingbade shares tips from what she has learned from making her first funded film.

Making films is no easy feat. (Well, perhaps if you have a disposable income and you're practically born into it.) But fear not! It is possible to make films even if you don’t have those advantages because I am an example: I make films. My films are not necessarily conventional nor are they linear in the Greek structural sense, but nevertheless it does work.

At the moment, I seek to make documentary work. I have stories I want to share important ones, about London and the wider diasporic community. Ones that I am not seeing being told, so I am creating, slowly. Which is fun, if frustrating at times when you hear that the funds you applied for two months ago have been unsuccessful on the grounds that “your artistic aims were unclear”... But hey, you live and you learn.

Tower XYZ was made because of the fantastic opportunity led by the ICA under the STOP PLAY RECORD initiative. I am in debt to the generous support from all my mentors, and Chisenhale Gallery who were able to help make the ambitious project. Constructive criticism enabled me to progress much faster, as it is sometimes good to have a fresh pair of eyes overlooking your work. I now understand why famous people have agents and assistants. It is all a concentric circle.

Here is manifesto I wrote about being a young filmmaker:

For the underdog, the unsung, the pissed off and the tired. Eager for a means of asserting an authentic way of thought. A new way of imagining the future and beyond. A new shell for diasporic artistic expression.

  • We recognize that we are in the cosmos and thus seek to create work which speaks and responds to the questions we seek to address.

  • Never forget about the social, economic, political and geographic struggles.

  • Representation matters and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone’s else life.

  • Learn and write about your personal histories. Everyone has a story they want to share yours might help start a small revolution.

  • Learn about world cinema. There is a big, big world out there: explore it.

  • Forget mainstream celebrity culture. Create your own subculture if you do not want to, pay close attention to the people around you.

  • Read books. Can’t afford them? Raid charities shops (you will be surprised at what you find), or better yet order from a library.

  • The flashiest camera does not make your story cool.

  • Never compare your work to other filmmakers. You are special.

  • Industry events are dead. Get together your own informal network.

  • Ageism is rife in the industry, but do not let that stop you.

  • Take advice, listen, but always stay true to your goal. Have a goal!

  • Archiving is very important. Document your whole process.

  • Funding is hard but never give up. Try to get money from anyone you can if there is a will, there is a way.

  • Be passionate about your artistic message. If you don’t care why should anyone else?

  • Stop making sense.

  • If in doubt, meditate and relax. Burn some incense.

And if you choose not to follow this manifesto because you just received funding for your first feature film, then abandon this and write your own! ■