We teamed up with Converse and three of the creative industry’s brightest minds to celebrate the Create Next Film Project and share the codes of creativity

We teamed up with Converse and three of the creative industry’s brightest minds to celebrate the Create Next Film Project and share the codes of creativity

It’s been six months since Converse joined forces with John Boyega on the ‘Create Next Film Project’ to nurture a new generation of rising Black filmmakers. Now, the All Star filmmakers are ready to unleash their films on the world. They had one brief: “Create Next”. 

At the heart of the Create Next Film Project has been a focus on a new wave of Black talent whilst highlighting issues of underrepresentation within the film industry. The community-focused initiative has nurtured five emerging London filmmakers Ade Femzo, Kaylen Francis, Kemi Anna Adeeko, Lorraine Khamali and Ibrahim Muhammad, giving them the access and support they need to create their own short films, which will premiere in April. 

The five All Stars have been working hard under the mentorship of John Boyega, Matthieu Ajan and Shannie Mears, as well as taking part in sessions with industry experts which included Script Writing & Storytelling (John Ogunz), Making Treatments (Abdou Cisse), Editing (Ola Christian and Leon Carlton) and Casting (Xanthe). Throughout the process the filmmakers have also been given access to key London film industry networks such as cinematographers, editors, location scouts and music video producers.

Now, to continue and celebrate the focused ecosystem of mentorship the Create Next Film Project has created for the five filmmakers, we’ve teamed up with Converse to bring together three inspirational mentors from across our creative communities to share their experience and advice on making it in film and media. 

Here, get to know GUAP Co-founder Jide Adetunji, Director and Photographer Filmawi, and Founder of Bounce Cinema Matthieu Ajan, as they identify key moments and lessons in their career that we hope will provide you with some guidance on your creative journey. 

Film Awi

Filmawi is a Director and Photographer based in London, who Converse enlisted to direct the Create Next film.

Q: How did you develop your visual style?

F: Just watching a lot, reading a lot, observing everything and anything. And then from there, just kind of removing things that I didn’t like, and then just kind of picking my favourites. Just like an ice sculpture basically. To get an ice sculpture, you’ve got to get rid of unnecessary things to get that perfect sculpture.

Q: What is something you focus on when making images?

F: To me, it’s the idea. What message does it have? What is it trying to say? How does that make someone feel? How does it make someone think? And then from that, I construct the whole image. Obviously, that is the most important thing and then all the prettiness of it, how it appears visually, that just comes after. But the core is the message.

Q: Who inspires you currently?

F: A film director called Denis Villenueve, he directed Dune, his latest project. The mood and subject matter that he talks about is something that I’m really interested in.

Q: Tell us about a skill you have now that was difficult to acquire or hone in the beginning?

F: I don’t know if it’s a skill, but I’ll probably say the business side of this world that we’re in. I think, truly understanding being a sole trader or a limited company, figuring out tax returns – I think that’s something I definitely learnt, especially since Covid. Cause we’re freelancers, we don’t really know when the next project will come in, so when something like that hits you, it’s important to get your money right, and figure out the business side of it, because that is the foundation and then from there you can build.

Q: Do you think that these kinds of initiatives are important, and that it’s important that brands like Converse, really, help with that change and progression?

F: As much as Create Next is a project, I also think it’s a lifestyle too. When I create, I don’t just create for me, I create for the next generation, so that’s why I think it’s so important. This whole campaign, it’s special.

Jide Adetunji

Jide Adetunji is the Co-Founder of youth-led digital media platform GUAP.

Q: How did you go about cultivating your community?

J: That is a really good question. I reckon that was a social approach and there was like a physical approach. I think there’s a lot of temptation as a young creative now with the internet and everything, to focus on social media, but there has to be a balance of both. So, when we first started, we used to do this really interesting thing where we would follow people who had similar audiences to the ones that we were trying to tap into, and then we would literally go and check out all of their followers and people they were following and follow all of them. Some people would follow back, some people wouldn’t, but I think it helped a lot in terms of us finding people who are in the pockets of communities that we really wanted to tap into. 

Online, we would also do cross pollination of audiences. Whenever we would feature a young creative, we’d take pictures, they would post on their social media, we’d post on ours. I guess, in that sense, you’re kind of sharing audiences. So that helped a lot, tapping into that. 

Also, every event that was relative to where we were trying to go, in the community that we were trying to tap into, we would be there, whether we were invited or not, just to network with everyone. That helped a lot because you’d start to see familiar faces at these events. Some of those people end up becoming your lifelong peers, you know, so it’s good to let people see you out in real life as well, because sometimes they might know your brand online, but when they meet you in person, it gives them a different idea of who you are and what you represent. 

Q: Who inspires you currently?

J: Mine’s a fashion designer actually. So, a guy called Clint, he runs Corteiz, I’ve always liked the brand, but he’s done a lot of guerrilla campaigns and marketing recently which I think are very innovative and it’s a breath of fresh air for the creative industry as a whole. Being an independent designer isn’t easy, so to find a way to establish yourself in a market, and go head-to-head with these huge brands, I think is quite inspirational.

Q: What was a hard lesson you had to learn during your journey?

J: I think the hard lesson I had to learn was that it doesn’t get easier. Like, there’s no point where it just becomes easy. You know, we always thought the moment we have money, it’ll become easier, or the moment we have people to help us, it’ll become easier, the more we have investors, it becomes easier, but it never really gets easier.

It’s like new levels, new devils. I think the lesson to accept, is that it doesn’t get easier. It’s just a reality check that you need to put your head down and just get on with it, you know, stop feeling sorry for yourself. You know, there’s been many days I used to cry in my room. You know, why is this not happening for me? I think you just have to accept that the journey is hard, you’re not doing something that’s meant to be easy. Some things in life are meant to be easy, some things in life are meant to be hard. I always tend to feel that the things that are worthwhile in life are the things that are often the hardest. You know, it’s kind of proof that the goal that you’re chasing is one that’s going to be worthwhile in the long term. You’ve got to push through and keep pushing. One day, you’re going to be able to look up and be really proud of how far you’ve come and everything you’ve accomplished.

Q: Do you think that these kinds of initiatives are important, and that it’s important that brands like Converse help with that change and progression?

J: Yeah, I think initiatives like this, for me, mean the world to young creatives. Part of the reason why we started the magazine was because we didn’t feel like there was enough tangible role models, who came from backgrounds like us, and who were doing it big and making enough money, so we can go and tell our parents look mum, this ain’t just a hobby.

I think it’s super important to have huge Hollywood actors reach back into their own communities and be like, hey guys, I’m going to leave the door open for you. Then to get the support of a brand like Converse, it just makes it all the more real. So, I think having tangible role models is key, but like you said, having access to resources and just having someone to trust in what you’re doing, it can mean the world. Sometimes when you’re in your own room, in your own little bubble, that imposter syndrome hits hard. But when you have the support of a huge brand like Converse, and your favourite actor, it gives you that confidence that you need to move on to that next phase of the journey and, you know, continue that legacy. Hopefully, you can do the same for other people when you reach that point yourself. So, it’s a beautiful thing.

Matthieu Ajan

Matthieu Ajan is an Artist, Creative Producer and Founder of Bounce Cinema which supports young and emerging filmmakers. Ajan is part of Converse’s creative network and mentored the five All Stars involved in the Create Next Film Project.

Q: Who inspires you currently?

M: I’m gonna say two filmmakers: Reinaldo Marcus Green and Barry Jenkins. Reinaldo Marcus Green directed ‘King Richard’; with both those filmmakers, they’re great directors, but just their energy off the pitch, how they carry themselves, they’re very supportive, lifting up other people, that’s really inspiring to me.

Q: Why did you launch BOUNCE cinema?

M: I launched BOUNCE Cinema, because I think it’s really important for people to have pathways to get into the film industry, and also just doing things together; because the whole thing about BOUNCE is people watching films together, people making films together, the idea of collaboration.

Q: Tell us about a skill you have now that was difficult to acquire or hone in the beginning?

M: I’d say problem solving, and I’ve said this before – filmmaking feels like 99% putting out fires, and 1% making films. Seeing different obstacles, but seeing them as an opportunity and trying not to be overwhelmed by situations.

Q: Tell us about the process of developing your visual style?

M: You’re just figuring out, you know, your taste, because even before you can make something you need to figure out what it is that you actually like. Then I will say from personal experience, when I was younger, I realised I’ve never been to a film festival. Even going to the Tate, which is around the corner from my house. So just exposing myself to more stuff, researching, going to things outside of my comfort zone, and watching films that are different languages. Just be more curious and inquisitive.

Q: Do you think that these kinds of initiatives are important, and that it’s important that brands like Converse help with that change and progression?

M: Definitely, I would say this programme, it’s a miracle. It’s definitely a miracle. Because, you know, I’m sure the guys can attest to this; when we first started in the industry, I think we got accustomed to the fact that there’s no resources, so like you’re saving money to buy a camera, because you won’t be able to afford to go to film school. This programme is so important, it should be normalised that people have access and new pathways into the film industry. 

It’s about community as well. It’s not one filmmaker, it’s five filmmakers. I say it’s a movement because after this is done, it’s not gonna be over. There are actors involved, cinematographers, producers, the talent. Yeah, it’s like a miracle, you have to pinch yourself that this is even happening.

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