Being Me: a film growing up as a dual nationality young person

Being Me reflectively explores the ways identity is formed in four young people of dual nationality amongst a whirlwind of fears and growing up.  Crew member Nancy Rose Clarke talks to Rife about making the film.

Tell us about the film.

Being Me is one of three short documentaries made by the BFI Film Academy documentary course over three months. It is a study of four young people of dual nationality, and the way in which our identities are formed and how that can affect how we see ourselves. We asked each contributor the same questions, and through the methods we learnt on the course we highlighted both the beauty in the differences and similarities of each answer.

What was it like making the film during lockdown? How did the team work together?

To address the elephant in the Zoom call, filmmaking during lockdown was hard. At first I was disappointed to find out that my first filmmaking experience was going to take place remotely, and confused how on earth it was actually going to be pulled off. When I was introduced to twenty people I’d never met before as little pixelated rectangles, I never expected to create a documentary that was convincing and human with them.

But as the sessions went on, I realised it makes you really think outside the box. Creativity loves constraints, and I think we’ve been living with more constraints for the last year than we could have ever imagined. During one of the earlier sessions, we watched a few short documentaries shot in lockdown, such as Antidote. I learnt that there are lots of benefits to filmmaking in lockdown. For example, communication is heightened through remote working. The project wasn’t on standby after the two hour meeting on a Wednesday, we could message anytime we had even a slight thought or idea. You are forced to get into the habit of regular messaging every time you have input, creating a constant dialogue. I think this took our film to interesting and unprecedented places, as great, off the cuff ideas we normally would have forgotten about had we been limited to two hour sessions on a Wednesday night became the foundations of our film.

As well as this, how easy it is to regulate discussion with time markers (and more importantly the mute button) meant that everybody got their ideas heard, and it was much easier to push yourselves to stay on topic.

Also making a documentary, and doing remote interviews, means that the interviewees are forced to be in their own environment interviewed by people most likely in their own families! This led to some really nice moments in our documentary, moments of vulnerability that probably wouldn’t have been achieved without the trust and comfort of an at home interview.

Watching the film now, how do you feel? What would you like people to take away from watching the film?

While it is a weird feeling having worked so hard on something and gotten so close with a group of people I’ve never even seen in the flesh, the films we’ve created are  really unique to all other years. They’re a kind of a sign of the times, and I’m so proud that they are so interesting and creative in response to all  the ways lockdown affected the experience.

We wanted our audience to find comfort in the similarities between people, regardless of age, background or anything else. My group decided in times of intense polarisation, political divides and general unrest in all cultures and communities, this message is really important. Watching the film now makes me feel all kinds of things. I’m so proud of everybody that was involved as I know first hand how hard we all worked. It’s so satisfying to see our collective vision realised and executed, really nice when your own ideas and input crop up in the finished film, and exciting to sit and feel the feelings and think the thoughts we were hoping our audience would feel and think.

Would you recommend the BFI Film Academy to other people?

I would definitely recommend the BFI Academy, for anybody looking for a starter experience in the film industry, to meet new, like-minded creative people in and around Bristol, or to just have fun and make a documentary about something you care about!

CREW

Directors – Tiwa Oladunmoye and Ben Goodwin

Producer – Dilan Kaygisiz

Director of Photography – Nancy Rose Clarke

Camera Operators – Dilan Kaygisiz, Tiwa Oladunmoye, Mabel Wynne and Issy Hatton-Williams

Editors – Ben Goodwin, Mabel Wynne and Sam Thorpe

Original Score – Nancy Rose Clarke and Patrick Welsh

Mentor Producers – Holly Black and Jo Barker

Contributors – Jolene Oladunmoye, Letizia Brenna, Sohan Grewal and Mustafa Kaygısız

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