Interview

Stephen is a London based filmmaker and artist who has directed works for the TATE, Barbican, Serpentine, Victoria Miro, channel 4, British Council and nowness. he is currently on BFI flare/ bafta mentorship scheme and has had his work screened at art institutions and in competition at bafta qualifying iris prize and oscar qualifying Leeds festival.

Q When did you decide to go into film? How did you train to be a director?

 

I knew I wanted to go into film after I graduated, so I started to look up production companies I could work with while still studying. My main interest at that time was documentaries, telling stories about marginalised communities, so I began looking for those stories myself. 

Q A lot of your work is shot on 16mm film rather than digitally. What do you like about analogue shooting?

 

Shooting on film is always a conscious and intentional choice because of the additional costs it requires. My ideas are mostly reflections on the past from the position of a more conscious present - so I feel shooting on film works well for this. 

Q You've worked with London based photographer Ajamu X before in your film 'Ajamu'. How do you choose who to collaborate with and cast?  

 

A lot of the cast for ‘Ajamu’ were friends or people I'd worked with before. I like there to be a continuity in the cast and crew I make work with. I think the most important things for me are choosing people who are kind and aware of their egos. 

Q Your directorial style is unique and distinctive; from your use of 16mm film, colour palate, casting decisions and movement direction, to name a few. - Would you say you have a vision that unites your practice or a message you hope to communicate to your audience through your work? 

 

It's mostly about imagining alternative ways of being and the long life journey of self-discovery.


 

Q What films or directors inspire your work? 

 

Isaac Julien, Marlon Riggs, Celine Sciamma and Derek Jarman.

Q In the past, you've been commissioned by institutions and brands such as Adidas and TATE. In what ways does your process change when working with commercial and non-commercial clients?

 

Regardless, for me, the work always has the same starting point, although with commercial work, there are generally various visions involved. 

 

Q What advice do you have for any young queer POC directors out there starting their careers?

 

Be curious, find and collaborate with the community around you, and dissolve your ego. 

 

Q And lastly, what are your plans for after lockdown ends? 

 

To continue working on projects that mean something to me.

Published: 18/08/2020 by Queerdirect

Edited by Tamar Clarke-Brown