I went to the Brooklyn County Clerks office to register my production company, Editi Films, on October 3, the fifth anniversary of my mother's death from cancer. I figure that I'm following in her footsteps because she founded our family business, the Center for AFRican Fashion and Cultural Awareness, with a dream of bringing Ibibio culture to lilly-white Upstate New York.
My dream is to bring it to the silver screen.
And not in that typical Nollywood way either. I'm not knocking it, because I enjoy watching Genevieve Nnaji as much as the next girl, but I'd really like to see a Naija movie on a budget with a great story and high quality acting. Not to mention a Naija movie that's shot on film, which I don't think I've ever seen.
When I was thirteen-years-old, turning twenty-six seemed like a very distant reality. I thought that I was going to be a doctor somewhere, married with a kid (already!), and busy practicing medicine. But like all milestones, we have to cross that bridge when we come to it, and it often looks nothing like what we imagined it to be. As much as I had my reservations about turning the big 2-6, I decided to mark the occasion by being proactive.
I spent the better part of last Sunday, October 14 shooting my first film, "Sade's Choice," about a thirty-something-year-old, single, career-minded Naija deciding whether or not to keep her baby. It takes place outside of an abortion clinic. I had a permit from the Mayor's office to shoot outside of Planned Parenthood until the security and public affairs people descended on my crew and told us that facing a camera anywhere near a "family planning" clinic is equivalent to interfering with a woman's access to healthcare. After an unsuccessful attempt to erect a temporary fence blocking the camera from view, we picked up and moved the entire shoot to the Tisch building at NYU, where folks are far more film friendly.
My lead, Ebbe Bassey, is an Efik customs officer who doubles as an actress/filmmaker on nights and weekends. She's quite an amazing talent and has the distinction of being the first Efik filmmaker I have ever met. I am the first Naija female to come through NYU's graduate film program, and I'm fairly certain that I will be the first Ibibio woman to write and produce a feature film. Ebbe thinks I'll be successful because I was born here and am not so much affected by tribalism because of it. That may be true. But all I know is, some day I'm going to create a scholarship fund exclusively for Ibibio women filmmakers. Holla!
Filming "Sade's Choice" was a fairly intense way to spend the first day of my late twenties. I kept wondering if Sade would be me someday. If I will spend so much time running after my career that eventually I would realize I had forgotten the most important thing. To add to my reservations, my eldest sister had just given birth to her first child, Edidiong, a bouncing baby boy. Because of the film, I couldn't even be there for the delivery and it took me a week and a half to make it up to Albany to meet him.
I guess, for now, I'll have to content myself with being the world's greatest aunty.
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