Just some few days ago,the Trailer to the film “Ase” took the world by storm.. The first of its kind,an African historical fantasy short film. A story of three ordinary teenagers who on their journey in life witness amazing power of the supernatural,testing their faith and everything they stood for. The short film was shot in Ogbomosho,Oyo state by the amazing film crew of Nappy Media led by the beautiful and brilliant Adeola Adeseun and her husband Arias Williams. Now in an exclusive with ASIRI,Adeola who is a mother,an artist and an attorney gives us insight to how the film was made and her stand on Yoruba supernatural belief.
My name is Adeola Adeseun, and I am the CEO of Nappy Nation Media Productions in Nigeria, as well as one of the creators and producers of the short film, entitled ASE, which will be released worldwide via YouTube on August 26th. I am an artist, an attorney, a mother, a wife, and a relentless free spirit.
Being a Nigeria based in the US,how were you able to keep in touch with your cultural heritage as a Nigerian?
I was born and raised primarily in the United States, but I attended secondary school (boarding school for that matter) in Nigeria, which was very important to both of my parents. I didn’t realize it at the time (what teenager does?), but those youthful experiences shaped my character and set the foundation for my recent return home. On top of that, my parents both live in Nigeria presently, so no matter how much time passes, I always come back sooner or later.
The Film “ASE” how did it started? What gave you the drive for such film?
ASE is a short film we created as a concept trailer for a television series, also entitled ASE, which we’re developing through Nappy Media, a Nigeria-based production company I started with my husband, Arias Williams. Naturally, you would think that I came up with the idea for ASE since I’m the Nigerian one and my husband is the African American one, but it was quite the opposite.
My husband is a lifelong student of African culture and history, and he was the first person to expose me to traditional Yoruba culture and spirituality in a non-superficial way. We spent some time researching and absorbing some of the key elements of the culture, and one day, we just started writing. We initially imagined ASE as an animated series for children, but we didn’t want to compromise the richness of the characters by sanitizing them too much. We wanted to have the creative flexibility to explore the violence, the sexuality, the mysticism, and all the other elements that make the culture so rich and interesting.
What were your major challenges during the shoot?
Weather! We filmed in May just as the rainy season was beginning to intensify, and I spent each day hoping and praying that rain wouldn’t stop us from filming. Thankfully, it only rained on one of the four days of our shoot, and we were able to get all the shots we needed by making up for lost time, under the guidance of our incredibly talented director/producer, Nabila Lester, who flew in from Los Angeles, California to help us make it all happen.
Do you believe in the Supernatural,mystic of the African set up?
Regardless of one’s religious affiliations, I think it is impossible to research Yoruba spiritual philosophy and not marvel at the level of intelligence they applied to spirituality, metaphysics, and human psychology. Our ancestors understood the importance of respecting the natural world that sustains us, and they recognized the core truth that no man (or woman) is an island. What is done by one affects the whole, regardless of whether those consequences are immediately observable. There is great wisdom in this perspective.
As the Producer of the film,how was it creating a film like this? An African fantasy film
We did a lot of research in preparing for this project. We read books, watched videos, talked to elders, etc., and the main thing we learned about Yoruba history is that it is not set in stone. Ask five different people about a particular subject, Orisha, or even a word, and you will probably get five similar, but distinct answers. There is a certain brilliance about that, because it allows for the core truths of the culture to survive even as memories fade and factual interpretations evolve. This fluid understanding of history gave us the confidence to use our imagination and have fun with the material while still adhering to the core philosophical values of the culture we are seeking to honor.
Any funny happenings at the location of the shoot?
Not really…unless you count our canoe slowly leaking and almost drowning the director and cinematographer (who can’t swim) along with the RENTED camera equipment. We were able to get them back on shore in the nick of time, but 5 more minutes in that tiny canoe, and they would have been visiting Oshun at the bottom of the lake instead of in the film.
Why Ogbomosho as the location?
Ogbomosho is where I’m from! It’s my heritage, my blood. My family still lives there to this very day, and it is a source of great pride for me personally, as well as being key historically as a part of the Oyo kingdom where ASE takes place. On top of that, we had a lot of family and community support, which played a critical role in bringing all the moving pieces together for a successful production.
Do you believe Nigerians in Nigeria are still in touch with their cultural heritage?
Absolutely, but not necessarily with a high level of consciousness. By that, I mean, culture is not something that cant be easily erased, so it is always there, whether we acknowledge it or not. But when we become consciously aware of our history and our heritage, we can evolve in a way that is constructive, and that honors our past while preparing us for the future. Our ancestors understood clearly that conscious evolution is key to cultural and literal survival. They were some pretty smart folks!
Do you have plans of taking the film to cinemas around the world,especially in Nigeria?
We have decided to release ASE worldwide via YouTube because we want it to be as accessible as possible. Our hope is that the spirit of this project touches many hearts, and gives us the boost of energy we need to carry us through to the next—more arduous –phase of this process, which is converting the concept from the short film into an hour-long epic television series for the global audience.
Tell us about Nappy Media?
Nappy Media is a Nigeria-based film and television production company that I started along with my husband, Arias Williams, as a natural outgrowth of the work we were doing in media while in the United States. media development and production we were doing together in the United States. For five years or so, we ran a media production company in Los Angeles where we focused on music production and distribution as well as musical theatre.
Now that we are based primarily in Nigeria, we are focusing on film and television, and our goal is to be a bridge between African stories and global audiences. We want to re-imagine, re-tell, and re-present the African story, and share it with the world to the best of our ability.
Any Future plans/Projects?
We have a number of projects in the vault, but our primary focus right now is ASE. We have a long road ahead of us to build on the concept highlighted the ASE short film, and move forward with the ASE television series, currently in development.
What do you think about ASIRI?
The creation of a youth-oriented magazine for the sole purpose of exploring and celebrating African culture is a beautiful and important gift to the community. I understand the commitment and courage it takes to commit one’s professional energy to the service and upliftment of one’s community, and I commend ASIRI for the work being done. I’m also incredibly grateful for the support ASIRI has shown to Nappy Media. ASIRI is the first Nigerian publication to reach out to us and recognize the spirit and intention driving our work as filmmakers.
Photographs courtesy of Saddi Khali
You Can follow on twitter @NappyMedia