Home. We’ve all had one. A word that stirs up different images and feelings for everyone. For the two boys in the short film No More Wings, home is South London – Woolwich to be exact. The 9 minute long film is centred around Isaac and Jude’s conversations in a fried chicken shop, Morleys. Conversations between friends; two grown men and a pair of teenagers, this short shows us the border of youth and adulthood, and how being at the crossroads drastically changes their paths and relationships.
Written by Abraham Adeyemi, the film is a love letter to the place he grew up. It looks at home through the eyes of two people who have called the same place home for their whole lives, but don’t necessarily see it from the same perspective.
This is Adeyemi’s first time directing; he originally wrote it for The Soho House’s global screenwriting competition, and later realised it was the perfect film to make his directing debut. Now, the film has been selected to screen at Aesthetica Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival and the London Short Film Festival, and is also under Oscar consideration after winning the Oscar-qualifying award at Tribeca. The film has also won The Wrap’s Shortlist Film Festival Audience Award and the Encounters Film Festival Audience Award.
Adeyemi’s work is on the rise, and he has now been commissioned to write an original drama for ITV studios. In 2011 he left his Politics degree at Brunel University early to delve into the world of creative writing. He changed paths to study at Birbeck and started making short films. Flash forward nine years, and Adyemi is now an award winning playwright, writer and director.
So, naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
Is the film story based on your own reality of growing up?
A: In some ways, for sure. Like the characters I was born and raised in South London, spent plenty of time in chicken shops, all of that, and I definitely drew from my adolesence. But in terms of the actual stories, of both of the characters, they’re an amalgamation of a few people I grew up around, rather than myself, though there are little bits in each character that I can see of myself.
In the craft of story telling in film what are the most important elements for you?
A: Sincerity, honesty, vulnerability and truth. Though one might argue all of those words are the same thing. Empathy, too, I’m not here to judge anybody because none of us are perfect. I’m here to try to understand and make sense of the world, better understand myself and help us better understand each other.
Hope long did script take to write?
A: Cumulatively, no longer than a month. I tend to write first drafts quite quickly, in the case of a short film it would’ve taken me a day, and then go back and forth with a script editor or whoever is giving me notes. With No More Wings, I’d had the idea for years so the process of getting out of my brain and onto the page was pretty straightforward. Then over the course of a few months, going from initial idea/first draft to final shooting script, but that was in between working on other things as well.
Why did you choose the two actors you did?
A: Parys, who played Adult Jude, was the lead in my play The Cage back in 2017. When I started writing No More Wings, I instantly knew it had to be him who played the part, I just couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that character and he nailed the performance. Ivanno is an accomplished actor and I recall, prior to casting him, us having a phone call that really made me certain that I wanted him to play the role. He was already so concerned and passionate about all the small details of the character and the story and I knew that would bode well for the creative process going forward.
Why the location of the chicken shop?
A: You know, that kind of conversation could have happened anywhere. In another film, with another set of characters and another filmmaker, it happens in a fancy restaurant, a hotel lounge, a café, I could go on. But for these two characters specifically, there was just no where else they were going to meet. This is a place that they still share a love for. For me, it had to specifically be Morley’s as well, I’m a South Londoner and that’s our most famous chicken shop franchise. You see Morley’s, you know you’re in South!
Was there a significant moment that made you change mediums from playwriting to screenwriting?
A: I always find it funny that people don’t realise I actually started with screen first and I’ve never actually stopped. Even writing theatre was more of a strategic act; I was getting quite frustrated with a lack of access to the opportunities I wanted in screen, and observed that most of the people that were getting said opportunities came from theatre. With that in mind, I decided to write theatre in hope that it’d get me the opportunities I wanted in screen. It worked!
But if we want to identify a significant moment, my last theatre production – All the Shit I Can’t Say to my Dad – received a lot of praise but it also had quite a few traumatic mishaps which have tarnished my relationship with theatre. We’re on an indefinite hiatus right now. It just so happened that, at the same time, I was making No More Wings and a combination of that and the play being well received meant that screenwriting (and directing) opportunities began to come thick and fast for me, and that’s very much still the place I’m at now.
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Credit: London Flair PR