1. No More Wings shows us two lifelong friends catching up with each other over a meal of fried chicken wings where they grew up in South London, and recognizing that they now lead divergent lives. Can you tell us what inspired your short film and why did you wanted to tell this story, No More Wings?
No More Wings was inspired by nostalgia; I grew up in South London, went to a grammar school like the characters and have been to the Morley's we shot in more times than I can count. I have really fond memories of my upbringing and think myself and my friends have all turned out pretty well, but I don't feel like I ever see such a depiction of people from where we're from on-screen. If I'm being frank, it's usually negative depictions. So whilst I wouldn't say I made No More Wings as a response to that, I'd say that I was inspired to simply tell what I consider to be an authentic story about the place I grew up.
2. What is the message you hope to communicate to the viewing audience?
I hope audiences will see the beauty of chicken shops. I truly do believe that they're magical places, pillars of the community, and are open to all. All sorts happens in them, including conversations like the ones that take place in the film.
3. What was the writing and directing process like for No More Wings?
I wrote thirteen drafts in total; the first four I went back and forth with my script editor Nelson Adeosun before submitting it to the Script House competition that it would go on to win. Once it was shortlisted, I then wrote a subsequent five more drafts I think, again going back and forth with the director. Once the script had won it was then working on shooting drafts and figuring out how to become a director! I didn't have previous ambitions of directing, I've not had any formal training, attended film school, or anything like that. So the directing process was a true baptism of fire! I had ten weeks to figure it all out but thankfully had a lot of support in the form of director friends, my producer, Soho House (the organization that funded the film alongside IWC Schaffhausen), and a lot of books. I spent every spare second preparing (and panicking!) but, ultimately, the support of a talented cast and crew resulted in it being a great experience.
4. Who and what are your biggest filmmaking influences?
I have several but one that's been on my mind a lot recently is the late John Singleton's Boyz N The Hood. I watched that film at an age far younger than I should have been able to but it was from that film I first learned the meaning of the word gentrification. It was also the first film I ever saw that I felt depicted the 'hood' authentically and honestly, rather than with a glamorizing/glorifying of the negative stereotypes associated with such environments. It didn't try to pretend that the bad things don't happen, but it did seek to explore and explain why these things do happen. For my films as a whole, I hope that I can continue to show a similar discernment by creating stories that explore the various shades of grey, rather than a binary black and white.
5. Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share?
Of the projects which I can currently talk about, I am currently working on a pilot for British broadcaster Channel 4, and developing a series with ITV Studios. There are a few other things in the pipeline which I look forward to being able to share in the future; I'm very active and open about my journey on social media so following me on @abeislegend on Twitter/Instagram will probably present those answers for anybody who wanted to keep up.