Hello Presh Nation,
Today, we bring to your stable Tomisin Adepeju, London based Nigerian writer and movie director. He’s keen on creating work that can evoke change & hopefully have a profound & transformative impact on his viewers. The highlights of our conversation below.
PRESH: Good day, Can you introduce yourself to us
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: My name is Tomisin Adepeju, I am a 29 year old Nigerian-British Writer & Director currently living in London.
PRESH: Were you born in London?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: No I was born in Nigeria, I moved to London when I was 12 years old
PRESH: Where in Nigeria did you grow up?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Lagos! I moved there when I was 2 years old & lived there for 10 years.
PRESH: What part of Lagos?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Ikotun actually
PRESH: Tell us about your family and your childhood in general.
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: My childhood was absolutely lovely, Lagos was a wonderful place to grow up, there was so much energy & creativity everywhere. I have two siblings, a younger sister & brother – I’m the oldest. I have very fond memories of growing up in Lagos, there were no iPhones or iPads back then so we were always outside playing football or racing each other. It was amazing.
PRESH: Sounds interesting, what kind of child were you? The mischievous one maybe?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Ah no, I was the perfect child 😂😂 – I was always the one that didn’t get in trouble & did all my chores, I was the oldest so i couldn’t afford to be naughty.
PRESH: Some old ones are naughty if you ask me 😂 let’s talk about the movement. Did the whole family move or was it just you?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: My mother moved first in 2001, then we all joined her in 2002.
PRESH: How was it like, the change of environment and all?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: It wasn’t a very easy transition, it was a complete change of culture, weather & environment. It took some getting used to, it took me a few years to properly adjust to the way of life here. I missed that Naija sun so much, I didn’t enjoy the winter.
PRESH: How was the change in educational system. Did it by any chance influence your choice of being a writer and director?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: The change in education system was actually interesting because I remember being ahead of everyone in class, especially in my maths class where I found it incredibly easy & not very challenging. In my school in Nigeria, all the students were Nigerians, although from different tribes; Yoruba, Hausa etc – however in London, there were students from very diverse backgrounds; some were from France, Italy, Jamaica – it just took a lot of adjusting to – I remember they were all fascinated with my accent, especially the black British students. I discovered my love for films in England, I think I wanted an escape & film came into my life at the perfect time. So my love for film was not really influenced by the British education system, it was more my yearning to immerse myself in worlds very different from my reality in London.
PRESH: What were you trying to escape from if you don’t mind?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I think the first two years were hard because I missed my friends back in Nigeria, I didn’t like the weather, I really didn’t understand why we had moved to London. So I was really happy when I found film during that period, I could lose myself in these fascinating stories.
PRESH: Are there any ones in particular you remember?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Films like Annie Hall by Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver & Goodfellas. I also remember seeing An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant.
PRESH: What did you study in the University?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: In University; Film & TV Studies & then I did a Masters in Film School where I studied Film Direction.
PRESH: In 2014, your movie DARKNESS was released. Was it your first?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I didn’t direct that actually, I used to do a lot of acting before, so I had a small acting role in that. I made a lot of films before I attended Film School in 2014 but I credit THE GOOD SON / OMO DAADA as my first film.
PRESH: Oh I see. Tell us about the good son
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: The Good Son is about a young Nigerian/British man who has to confront a secret he has harboured from his strict/ traditional parents during a family gathering. It’s a film that explores several themes that are very important to me; themes around Race, Family, Faith & identity. It’s a film about being comfortable in your own identity, embracing your heritage & culture. The film was very personal to me, it’s the first film that was directly inspired my own experiences so I always credit it as my first film. I made it in film school so I really felt I completely understood the type of films I wanted to make & how I wanted to make them.
PRESH: Let’s take a detour to your modelling days. How did it start?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I was never a proper model 😂😂 I did some modelling as part of some fashion shows in university but that’s it really.
PRESH: What do you think of the Nigerian movie industry?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I think it’s still a young industry compared to Hollywood & the British Film Industry – there were Nigerian films shot on celluloid made in the 80s but they’re not categorised under Nollywood – the industry began in the early 90s & is still growing & evolving. I am very excited about the young Nigerian filmmakers making films right now; artists like Chika Anadu, CJ Obasi, Abba T Makama & so many others – they’re really transforming the industry, creating films that are redefining what Nollywood is.
PRESH: Which area of film making do you see as nollywood’s strength.
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I think their strength is really their ability to acutely capture the nuances of the culture & way of life – it’s authentic and truthful. Yes, it’s sometimes exaggerated but I admire the boldness to unashamedly reflect our culture & traditions on screen.
PRESH: Which film school did you attend for your masters?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Met Film School, Based in Ealing Studios
PRESH: Let’s talk about your acting days, Are they totally over now?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Not completely. I acted in a lot of my early films because it saved a lot of time & money – it was very difficult finding actors to be in my films when I started out so I just acted in them myself. I have had small cameo roles in my recent films but I am going to have a speaking role in the feature film I’m directing very soon. I also do some acting for close friends’ films. I do enjoy it but writing & directing is my main passion.
PRESH: Who’s the best director you ever acted under.
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: There’s this independent director called Fransesco Bernasconi, I recently acted in a music video he did. He is absolutely brilliant, really talented guy.
PRESH: Do you have any plans to execute any projects within the shores of Nigeria.
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: Yes absolutely! I am currently writing a feature film that is set in Nigeria, London & Berlin. It’s a project that really means a lot to me so I’m looking forward to realising that project. The films I make explore my Nigerian identity & culture in the diaspora so it would be wonderful to finally shoot a film in Nigeria, it’s something I have always wanted to do.
PRESH: Do you work with associate directors?
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I work first assistant directors, my friend William Boyd has been my First AD for my last two short films. William is an immensely talented filmmaker in his own right. His new film THE TRESPASSER will be having it’s LA Premiere next month.
PRESH: Your most recent movie is The right choice. Tell us about it.
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: The Right Choice is a short film set in the near future and it follows a young black couple who visit a fertility clinic in order to create and design their perfect baby. The film was written by this talented writer called Vijay Varman – when I read the script, I knew I had to direct it – it’s such a clever, well written satire that explores themes around race, identity & sexuality – these are themes I am deeply interested in as a filmmaker. The film is also inspired by the show Black Mirror, I was inspired by the shows tone & visual style. That show also presents complex and insightful analysis & examination of where we’re headed as a nation. I truly believe that in the next few years, we’ll actually be able to choose the features and traits of our babies. It’s a reality that is very plausible with the evident advancement in technology and the fact that humanity is always trying to subvert the norm and do the unthinkable. The film poses the very simple question; if you could design & create your perfect baby, what choices would you make? The choices we make reveals a lot about ourselves and the things that are important to us. I am very humbled that Vijay allowed me to direct the film, the success the film has had has been really wonderful & overwhelming as well.
PRESH: What legacies are you looking to create in and outside your scope
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: I want to create work that can evoke change & hopefully have a profound & transformative impact on the viewer. Filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor, Frank Capra, Billy Wilder all made incredible work that has outlived them, they are no longer with us but their brilliant work lives on & continues to inspire, engage & captivate audiences. This is really my ultimate goal.
PRESH: You can leave a message for those who look up to you now
TOMISIN ADEPEJU: The advice I always give to aspiring filmmakers is to really try and discover what you want to say; that’s probably the most important element of being a filmmaker – What stories do you want to tell? Why do you want to tell them? If you can answer those questions, then you are on the right path. Also, film school changed my life, I saved up for 3 years in order to go because I wanted to really learn the craft properly & meet like minded people, so if you can afford it, I always recommend going to film school. If you can’t, find like-minded people that are passionate about filmmaking as much as you are. Finally, make lot of films! Practice, practice, practice. I’ve made over 8/9 shorts in the past 6 years. It’s only by consistently making films & thinking about what you’re trying to say with them that you find your voice as a storyteller.
PRESH: Thank you so much for your time, we do hope that your aspirations are achieved. Peace ✌
Change is constant and a very important aspect of life. Be ready and willing to change. Always try as much as possible to turn your situation around to suit you. Finally, find what you’re passionate about and go for it. Ire oo 🥂