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“You’ll likely watch it more than once.” Joseph Osamudiamen ends with this phrase in his review of the film on whatkeptmeup.com. With sound penmanship, Joseph paints the picture so well that it’s impossible to make a copy. And I did see the film more than once, for the purpose of understanding the intentions of this love story.
In Boo’d Up, the plot involves a triangle. And a lady sits comfortably on top as often as we experience in romantic relationships. Love triangles are innately unsteady as romantic freedom is constantly threatened by internal or external causes whether fiction or not.
Here, the lady, Vee, is caught in between two “Boos”, but she’s only interested in one of them. This is one of the meanings of this expression. In this situation she has her hands full with two guys. So she’s “Boo’d Up”. Also “Boo’d Up can mean “to be scared or paranoid that someone is out to get you”
Nonso (Taye Arimoro) and Vee (Gbubemi Ejeye), lovers in the short film Boo’d Up, are two people playing games that should ultimately lead them to bed. The bond we feel between these two characters is steeped in mystery, the mood fuels suspense and the close-ups trigger it even more – as if something strange is about to happen.
While I waited, I let myself peer into Vee’s well chiselled face & trapping eyes. Gbubemi Ejeye is majestic as Vee. Her slippery voice, her gay smile, every line is carefully enunciated leading Nonso on as they both create this dreamy tone, drawing us into this looming sin. We often don’t want to wake up from them until it threatens our reality.
As we wait for that to happen. A young man enters – he’s not the charming type. He looks ahead to see the birds in their love nest. From his look, I’d guess he’s here to confront Nonso on a debt owed. But the young man sits, picks his phone and dials – Nonso’s phone rings. It’s JEFF. Nonso doesn’t answer but continues to charm Vee. The young man, Jeff, dials again, this time Vee’s phone rings, and it’s “JEFF” with a love emoji beside it. This is an emotional cue, we connect – Jeff is her lover. She ignores the call.
This short film written by Gerry Gold, directed by Chukwuka Osakwe revels in simplicity and might have subtly made a case for infidelity, but “the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of –We know the truth not only by reason, but by heart” a quote by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal. This is convenient when no other reason seems sufficient.
Vee could have had her reasons for drifting outside her relationship with Jeff but the film doesn’t say what they are. I mean, there’s no sin in that but the film somehow appears to justify this by the end. But as Roger Ebert writes, “it is almost always more interesting to observe behaviour than to listen to reasons.”
To further the understanding of the film, I had a brief chat with the writer & producer Gold Gerry who interestingly got into film during the lockdown. She had applied for a job as a writer’s assistant and got the job which turned out to be for a Netflix Tv show. “We developed the show for six months and that got me started in the industry. Prior to that, I was working full time as a content creator for brands and had directed a campaign video shoot for an e-commerce brand leading up to its launch.”
Her first hire on set was as a production assistant for a TV commercial and she hasn’t looked back since.
Our conversation has been edited for length & clarity.
One of the themes in your film is infidelity. What inspired this?
Infidelity is one of the most experienced forms of deception in relationships and I set out to tell a love story. You know I wouldn’t say that the story is entirely from a personal experience but I got the inspiration for it on a night I had drinks with a friend who just got back from Canada. We were at the bar, and this is why in the opening scene of the film, we see Vee seated by the bar. The setting of the hangout with my friend gave me an idea.
So that night you sat with your friend at the bar, and got inspired. I’m curious to know what the first scene or what story idea popped in your head.
I mean I wrote the first story idea I had which is Boo’d Up lol.
Oh interesting, what followed after?
I shared it with my partner to get some perception. You see, writing for me is quite easy, I write and create stories all the time but up till then I hadn’t written anything I felt I needed to produce. So after he read the first draft and we got on a call, his reaction to the script gave me the validation I needed to move on with the process. So, I wrote up a budget and created a plan.
I understand that feeling of doubting creative ideas, but there’s that one story that clears all doubt. It hits you, and you say “Yes, this is the kind of story I’d like my name on”. So what felt right about this story you were about to tell?
First, Boo’d Up is different, especially in comparison to a lot of short films that we see in Nollywood today. What felt right for me was the angle the story took and the depth with which it all plays out. I really pride myself in telling difficult/unheard stories and to tell them beautifully. Writing Boo’d Up I wanted the audience to relate to every character and still, at the same time be against them. I basically set out to tell a story with no hero and that was compelling enough for me to say okay, we are going to set with this one.
“And still, at the same time be against them”. What about Jeff? I was not against him. He appeared as the victim in this whole drama. What do you think?
haha I love how you personalise that because you leave that up for argument and it makes me feel great as it sounds like a job well done. I’d say all three characters have their flaws; some are just more than the others.
Have you seen this film with an audience?
Yes I have. Saw it for the first time in Ghana at a private screening and recently in Lagos with a much larger audience. We have some more screenings happening this month (November, 2021) with one happening in London.
Great. When you saw the film for the first time with an audience, how did you feel?
omg I felt on top of the world. I was so nervous just before and even as the film was playing. I had no expectations of how/what their reactions would be but the reception was a lot better than I imagined. I felt seen, understood and for the first time of course like I had found “my people”. I was so worried that very few people will understand the core of the story or message we are trying to convey. You know, having worked on other projects before producing mine, nothing feels more fulfilling knowing and seeing that a group of people watched and enjoyed something you created. It is unreal.
I’m interested in this “core”. It would have definitely sparked conversations. I had the opportunity to see the film a few times and on my first watch it was clear to me what my opinion of this relationship between Vee & Nonso was. What were some of the points you got during these screenings and what did you make of them?
Yes it sparked a lot of conversations and we even had to replay one of the scenes at a point. The room was definitely divided because we had people arguing for Vee, Nonso or Jeff’s choices because they could relate to them on some level. Some of the arguments were about who committed the biggest crime and how their actions affected them. I am really glad to hear that you’ve watched the film that many times and even more that you got that on your first watch.
To you, how do you think Jeff fell short? I’m trying to save this man.
haha I mean he’s a self-righteous cheat don’t you think?
The story didn’t reveal he cheated. He was stabbed in the back and reacted in his own way.
I find it interesting that you think this. They were all stabbed.
Well, let’s leave something for the audience to chew when they do see it. So, did the casting happen before or after you got Chukwuka Osakwe to direct?
We did casting afterwards. I have some experience casting for TV commercials and films so it really wasn’t tasking to begin with. What was the most important was to get people who would portray the characters well. So for Nonso, it was important to cast a man who is physically intimidating, “tall, dark and handsome”, we wanted the person playing Jeff to be the opposite of that and for Vee to be a very beautiful woman who could also pass as naïve.
We didn’t hold auditions for Nonso and Vee as I already was familiar with the works from Taye Arimoro and Gbubemi Ejeye, so I just reached out to them. I shared my intentions and the script with them and they both liked the characters we wanted them to play and so we cast them first. Casting Jeff was a little harder as we needed to get a man who’s quite the opposite of Nonso but comfortable in his skin and can deliver.
Any new projects you’re working on?
Yes. Currently developing a TV show and I hope to get the funding for it. I am very much looking for more jobs and opportunities within the industry. I enjoy working and even more enjoy producing. So the goal for me each time is to garner more visibility for myself and my brand.
Also I’m currently developing a story about teenage grooming, we plan on shooting this summer and I’m excited about it. I got hired to come onboard as the writer of the project so can’t really give much away at the moment but I’m working closely with the creator.
How do you get funding for your projects?
Mostly self-funding, for Boo’d up I got a tech entrepreneur to come in as executive producer. So his support gave me the platform to start and I just went with it. We didn’t go into Boo’d Up with the aim of making profits. That would’ve been suicidal because let’s be honest, there’s very little ways to make profits through short films especially in Nollywood. The goal was to establish myself and Melon house; the production company I founded in order to position us for opportunities.
Profit for my investors and I at this stage is visibility, which means getting/growing an audience and also having a credible career within the industry. Good to have collaborators whose vision with yours align.
See Trailer here