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Something to say

Black characters in British films tend to be represented in stereotyped ways. Destiny Ekharaga talks about how her films attempt to challenge this.
I make films because I love films and I think it’s a brilliant way to tell stories. And I think without stories, we don’t really have a sense of history, or a sense of self, or a sense of culture, or individuality, or unity, in fact. So I think that’s why films are important. And I just felt that I had something to say. And I thought that film would be the best way to say them. And I just love it. I love directing. I love writing. I love working with people, creative people. And that’s why I make films because I just love telling stories. My first short film is called Tight Jeans.
And I basically wanted to say all the things that I had heard people say, but I’ve never seen on screen really. Some people might say that what they say in the films is a bit controversial, but I just think that if you’re going to say something, you might as well say it with a sense of truth rather than dumbing it down for people and stuff like that. So I wanted people to see a different side to particularly young black youth because I feel that young black youth on screen or in the media, period, is sort of misrepresented, or only one side of it is represented. So they’re always demonised as just horrible people, criminals. And that’s just not the case.
Not every young black person is a criminal. So I wanted to tell a story, particularly with the use of comedy. But also, point it out the silly things or the judgmental things that people say. And I kind of followed that through, I think. I think with my second short film, The Park, I kind of, again, wanted to explore something. I wanted to explore male friendships and how the complexities within such friendships– because again, I don’t see that often with young boys or young men. It’s always the bravado and all of that kind of stuff. And I kind of wanted to explore the beauty within male friendships. And hopefully, that’s what I did with The Park.
And then when I got on to my feature film, Gone Too Far, I was so excited to direct that film. Because it’s actually– it was a play written by Bola Agbaje. And she adapted it into a screenplay. And I really wanted to tell this story because it was dealing with themes that is seldom featured in anything, even today. So dealing with culture or dealing with identity specifically within the black community, it’s such a big part of my life and it was just a story that was just never being told. And so I was really excited to tell that story. And I wanted to tell that story.
And so far, people from different age groups and different racial backgrounds and different religious backgrounds and stuff have seemed to really take to the film. And what’s even something I didn’t think was going to happen, but all those different people have claimed it as their own sort of thing. And they’re going, this was my story as well. And it just shows us just how unified we actually are. We’re not that different. We might worship in different ways or talk in different ways, but we’re just– humans are humans. And we all fall in love, and fall out of love, and get rejected, and try– we all want to fit in when we’re younger and fail miserably at it.
And those are the themes that the film is talking about, so I really wanted to tell that story. And I hope that I can continue to tell stories from different perspectives for the rest of my career, hopefully.

For Destiny, as a writer and as a director, the pleasures of making stories on film go hand in hand with a desire to get a message across, particularly in relation to voices that often tend to go unheard. Destiny draws upon her own experiences growing up in South London to tell stories about the experiences of the people around her.

In the clip, Destiny mentions her short films, Tight Jeans (2008) and The Park (2009), each of which can be viewed by clicking the links. Both films contain strong language and sexual references, with some more explicit images towards the end of The Park.

We will look more at her feature debut comedy, Gone Too Far (2014), in later steps; view the film trailer. Set in Peckham, South London, the story is about two brothers, the younger, Yemi, has been raised in London and the older, Ikudayisi in Nigeria. When Ikudayisi arrives in London, he proves an embarrassment to Yemi, who tries to hide his Nigerian origins, particularly from the flirty Armani, who is of West Indian heritage.

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Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen

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