Nadine Marsh-Edwards: Award-winning Producer & Co-Founder of Greenacre Films. – Joe all alone, Been So Long, Bhaji on the Beach.
David Chikwe: Award-winning Producer & Founder of 3 Tables Productions – Lusala, Rainbow Stories, Eve.
Kwadjo Dajan: Award-winning Producer & CEO of Sugar Films. – Little Boy Blue, Cilla, The Widower.
Tinge Krishnan: Award-winning Writer/Director. The Feed, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, Been So Long.
Alrick Riley: Award-winning Director. NCIS, How to Get Away with Murder, Person of Interest.
What Drama series had the most impact on your career?
Nadine: Looking for Langston, it highlighted gay existence & was made by a gay director and won numerous awards and Bhaji on the beach which talked about domestic violence in an ‘entertaining way’.
David – Probably Eve, I was co-creator and pitched it to the BBC. At the time Leopard Films had a background in factual dramas and I was trying to identify where the other opportunities were in scripted in terms of commissioning. It’s a crowded field so work out what your USP is and breakthrough that way.
Kwadjo: I was working in non- scripted & remember watching The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, 1-hour single. It gave me an insight into dramatizing stories rather than telling it from a documentary perspective. Conveying a story through feeling & emotion resonated with me. It was directed by Paul Greengrass & Produced by Mark Redhead & Jeff Pope. I had a conversation with Jeff because I wanted to do more of that type of thing which led to me working with him for 8 years. More recently Moonlight inspired & impacted me, it was a game-changer in terms of how I look at the way I tell stories. It was refreshing, hones & authentic, a story being told without ‘blacksplaining’.
What have you directed that had an impact on you?
Alrick: The Cops was a show I made some time ago, it had an impact on the way I worked as a director. Exec Producer Tony Garnett who worked with Ken Loch for many years had this drama in development, he said this show is going to be like a documentary, and you crew are a doc team and that’s how you’re going to shoot it, you’ll be behind the police following them. This means, no tracks, crane, steady cam, music, beautiful shots, it’s in the moment. All the toys of the director had been taken away. I had to make every single moment work because there was nothing else to work with. Cops prepared me that every single day is a new day, you have to be 100% in the moment.
Advice regarding shooting shorts.
Tinge: If you’re crossing over from music to narrative, make shorts that showcase that you can shoot conversation scenes, revelation scenes. If your submitting to studios or production companies, put a reel together which connects with what that project is.
Top Tips for working in drama.
- Don’t give up. Things are much better for BAME stories although there’s a lot of old structures in place and there’s still issues with cultural sensitivity that can be handled badly.
- Use your anger to fuel your creativity.
- Be nice to the people you work with.
- Be a student of your craft, study films & shows, know what you dis/like.
- Try and be as original as possible, avoid clichés & don’t copy other people’s work. Give your piece a reason to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
- If you’re making something, know why you’re making it why is it relevant, interrogate yourself and you should be able to defend it against anyone else.
- Don’t be afraid of failure, it will happen.
- If you make a mistake, figure out what you did wrong & try not to do it again.
- Move the dial with everything on your slate as a writer, producer or director. What’s the point in putting something out, unless you’re changing things?
- Be nice.
- Always have a plan A, B & C.
- Be persistent & passionate.
- Always do something to improve your skills.
- Be resilient.
- Have an ally.
- Share information.
- This is a business align yourself with someone who understands the deal and love what you do or you will not survive.