“Hello Rain” has been shortlisted for BFI LFF Short Film Award
A scientist-witch who, through an alchemical combination of juju and technology, creates wigs that grant both her and her friends supernatural powers.
Dir C J ‘Fiery’ Obasi. Nigeria 2018. 30min
ABOUT C.J. The Nigerian based Director grew up watching Hammer House horror films and reading Stephen King novels…….
What is your idea of a good script?
A script that has a clear idea of what it’s trying to say, and where the vision of the writer leaps right out of the page and grabs you. You’ve not succeeded as a writer, if you’re excited about a script, but unable to pass that excitement through the pages of your script. Especially, if you’re a writer/director. You want to carry your cast and crew along from the get go, you want them fired up about the idea. A good script will do that for you. You know you need to go back to the drawing board if people read your script and go “meh”. You don’t want that.
When working with limited time and budget how do you get the best shot list any tips?
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. On a budget you have time and a million other variables working against you. You don’t have the luxury to try things out. You’ve got to be prepared going in. Every scene and blocking has to be clear, and you have to work out all the technical kinks with your crew. Nothing keeps a budget shoot going smoothly better than preparation.
What are the most important elements to remember when shooting on a low budget?
I guess it still boils down to preparation. If you’re prepared going into a shoot you’re going to solve a multitude of problems, low budget or not. But with a low budget, you really don’t have a choice, do you. You want to maintain a certain standard, really push yourself, ensure your voice stays true and still finish on time. How else can you pull that off without preparation. This is where a great Producer comes in – because all the elements that make up a film from the performance, cinematography, art direction etc is really about how well the production is able to sort out great talent and gear, but also locations, transportation, even the damn food. Things basically, you’ll hardly ever hear filmmakers talk about. But if you mess it up, you’re on the swift path to disaster.
What camera did you use to shoot your film/technique?
We filmed on a Sony F55, a set of Cooke Primes + an Arri Alura Zoom 18-80. My cinematographer (Kagho Crowther Idhebor) and I planned strong color palettes, and we always lit our exteriors, Just to get that extra glow on the ladies. The exterior scenes I mapped out with the set designer, so that each interior had it’s own color scheme suited for the character. I was the Art Director, so I had sketches for every interior scene, and then we had that conceptualized by an artist and a 3D designer. With the 3D models of all the interiors, we where pretty armed going in, and my cinematographer was able to come up with ideas on how to really light faster. It was a great team effort.
What were the lessons learnt and challenges?
So many lessons learnt. Top of which is never underestimate the power of preparation. Also, you’ve got to be ready for anything and everything to go wrong, and come up with solutions to them on the spot. Everyone will look to you for answers, and you must have those answers.
Where did you learn film?
I didn’t have a formal film education, but I’ve always loved and wanted to do this. And when you love and want to do something badly enough, you’ll gleam your education from wherever you can find it, be it from reading books, watching loads of cinema, watching behind the scenes stuff, YouTube…everywhere really. The technical form of filmmaking can really be picked up by anybody at anytime. It’s the other thing…that inexplicable form, you can never stop learning that and everyday there’s something new.
Where did you shoot the film?
We shot entirely in Lagos, Nigeria.
Do you have any tips on directing actors?
I’ll say actors are human beings, with thoughts, ideas and feelings. I think directing is more about an interaction with the actor than it is about telling the actor what they should do or say. I think it’s easy to tell anyone what to do or say. But to really get something special out of an actor, you’ve got to have an interaction with them to find something beyond the surface. That is a skill and a craft in itself. Perhaps the actor is aware it’s there, perhaps he/she’s not. It’s your job to find it. Every once in a while you will, and it’s always a joy when you do.
On a low budget give us some tips on cheating?
That’s a funny one. I wouldn’t call it cheating as such, but I’ve found that if you can find a really easy way to shoot a scene, without worrying so much about coverage, that is one-shot, two-shot blah blah blah, you can really dig into the heart of a scene and come up with a far more interesting scene that probably would have been a forgettable one. It may not have the most gorgeous cinematography, but it’ll be far more meaningful. Plus it’ll save the production a lot of time.
What is your next film?
Mami Wata. I describe it as a black and white female-driven supernatural thriller based on the Mermaid goddess of West African folklore. We’re taking it to the Ouaga Film Lab which is holding in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso later this September, and hopefully we’ll be able to find the right collaborators and funds to make a really kick-ass piece of African cinema.
It appears to be sold out check back here for details.