If you follow me on any social medias you probably already know that, a month ago today, my directorial debut No More Wings was crowned Best Narrative Short at Tribeca Film Festival. And, whilst we’re here if you’ve not seen already, No More Wings will have its worldwide online premiere as part of the We Are One Film Festival and remain online for 7 days.
Time: 23:34 BST (and for seven days thereafter)
Where: Worldwide :)
A few days before I discovered this news, I was sent the following email, which asked me to prepare a speech:
As you can see above, I was asked to prepare a speech and it was something I gave great thought to, and have my friend Folaju to thank for that because a couple of months ago in a world before Corona when we were allowed to see our loved ones, he had instructed me to make sure I prepare a speech in case I won, so that if I did, I wouldn’t disgrace us by being a bumbling idiot lmao. As you can see from my reaction to me discovering I’d won, that is exactly what would have happened if I’d not prepared a speech, lol.
Anyway, I was quite proud of the speech I wrote, which was quite long (if you know me personally, this of course comes as no surprise) and it made sense that Tribeca edited it down. A really good edit, I should add!
So I’ve decided I’d like to share the speech. Also, full transparency, after I was really annoyed at myself that I didn’t thank God in the speech. However, God sees my heart. Enjoy!
Tribeca Best Narrative Short Acceptance Speech 24.05.2020, 12:45.
Well, this is something special. Being selected for Tribeca — the first festival we submitted to was, truly — a joy in itself. But to be in competition and now actually knowing I’m the recipient of this award is… I’m a bit speechless.
So… It’s good that I prepared a speech! Actually, the only reason I did this was because a friend of mine insisted that I needed to do it, rather than end up on stage completely surprised, unprepared and talking rubbish — which actually happened earlier in my career when I won a theatre award. I just stood there on stage gaping and said the F word a few times in shock.
To Tribeca, the programmers, organisers, thank you for selecting our film. And I would like to thank the narrative short jury, on behalf of the incredible cast and crew I worked with, for honouring our film. No More Wings is a film set in the local fried chicken shop franchise Morley’s in South London that I grew up going to, and for it to resonate with such an audience means the world to me, as someone who aspires to tell universal stories, stories that are ‘local yet global’ as British screenwriter Bola Agbaje once said.
I have been pursuing a career as a writer for close to a decade now but directing is a much newer journey for me. For most of my writing career, my peers, mentors, friends and more have all tried to convince me to direct and yet, if you had asked me as recently as just over a year ago, I would have stubbornly told you that I would never ever direct. What a difference a year makes.
There are so many people I would like to thank, that I could thank and that I should thank. I have always been acutely terrified of having to make an acceptance speech because I cannot promise that I will remember to thank them all, even despite having prepared a speech. There’s also the fear of going on for too long — like I’m definitely doing now — and, if I was at the Oscars, having the music start playing… So we’ll treat this as a test run.
So to those who I do not thank in this speech, I hope you can find comfort in the thank you’s that I’ve previously given you! But I will take this brief point to highlight the many incredible friends who have been so supportive at every step of my writing journey. This is a joyous, glorious moment, but it is one I could not have reached without you all being the wind beneath my wings in the darkest days on this journey.
As I highlighted earlier, this film would have been impossible without a talented cast and crew. As someone who did not go to film school and had never wanted to direct a year ago, I learnt as much as I could from scratch in ten weeks. For everything else, those talented humans carried me through.
Of those people I would like to highlight my gratitude to my producer, Abiola Rufai. Abiola is someone I have known for over a decade now and has been invested in my creative journey like it was her own. She has consistently brought the best out of my writing and I am so pleased to share this experience with her, my directorial debut and her debut as a film producer. I could not have done this without her and that spans back as far back as 2012 when we met up in a Costa in Fulham Broadway and she told me that I was not doing justice to the short film I’d written because it should be a feature. Thank you for always seeing the potential for greater within me.
Lastly, I could not complete this without thanking the Creative Mentor Network, Soho House and IWC Schaffhausen for the support with this film. Often when filmmakers receive a grant, win a competition or something of this nature, they usually do not come without hoops to jump through. That was not the case with this. From the moment I discovered that I had won Soho House’s Script House competition, I was left to my devices and trusted to go and make the film I wanted to make. In hindsight, this is completely insane and could have gone horribly wrong, especially as a director with zero experience. What this allowed me to do, however, was to stay true to my vision. No More Wings is unequivocally the film that I wanted to make and I could not be more proud of it.
I can only hope that more filmmakers will be given such liberty. There is every opportunity that they will fail… But what if they soar instead?
Let’s stop worrying about the ‘risk’ that come with supporting new filmmakers and, instead, focus on the excellence that might manifest instead. It’s what we must do if we are to have new exciting voices, that diversify the cinematic canon and better reflect the world that we live in.