As the sun rays peek through my bedroom window, reinforcing the long-awaited arrival of warmer days, I have the pleasure to sit (virtually) with Mariam Adesokan, an Irish born London based architecture student, to talk about her debut short film Mundane, as well as Uzi Okotcha, who stars in it. Adesokan explains exactly how this idea, made with the help of both Uzi and her friend Jojo Boseman, started on a piece of paper and came to life on our screens.
Life is filled with a never-ending array of challenges, upsets and failures, and the sudden arrival of COVID-19 last year left many in absolute defeat. However, it was in the seclude of her bedroom in East London that the 19 year-old director decided to not let the pandemic stop her from creating. Instead, she wanted to exteriorize her perception of the "new routine" into something beautiful. “You know waking up, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, getting ready, and then staying at home", Mariam explains. "The word 'mundane' reflects the actual definition of every day life...I didn't want the film to be sad, I wanted to show someone's happy experience; to show the ups that come with being in your space and being in solitude", she clarifies.
Uzi Okotcha muses about the character she portrayed, telling me: "I understood who the character was and she kind of felt like me in many ways." With the pandemic pushing us all into a similar daily routine of being stuck in our homes, the film's representation of a woman's experience felt reflective of encounters I'm sure loads of other women could relate to. Adesokan and Okotcha had been familiar with each other for over two years prior to filming, yet they were not familiar with the difficulties of directing and performing amidst the pandemic. The young director confessed the biggest challenge she had to overcome while filming and producing Mundane in one weekend were the restrictions imposed by the current lockdown and how they inevitably had an effect on directing and executing their visions. In a separate discussion later with the actress, Okotcha shares her thoughts regarding this, saying that “the real issue was the section of the movie where I was meant to be shopping at a grocery store but due to security issues we had to stop filming that section which inevitably affected my performance.”
Adesokan later confesses through laughter that this is not her first short film, but the first to see the light of the day. “My mum used to have a phone and I used to record random things. I used to make films on her phone and then I would upload it onto my laptop, not even my laptop, her laptop, and go to Movie Maker and put all the clips together and try to make some sort of storyline.”
Now, Mariam struggles to carry her degree in architecture into her other projects, admitting that “architecture is not as much of a creative outlet as I would have hoped for me right now. I wish it was though, because it would be so much easier for me to enjoy my course.” But she doesn’t rule out the possibility of this happening in the not-so distant future.
To close the discussion, Adesokan muses through encouraging words that all black femme creatives should choose to do what makes them happier - “If you have other responsibilities like a job, or you are at university, honestly just do the creative work first. You are going to feel so much more fulfilled if you put your energy into working on your painting, photography, fashion, or whatever your passion is. Creating and producing in general is a privilege which black women are often denied, however, you must remember that doing what you are passionate about breeds satisfaction and that “all the rest is noise”.
Watch Mundane below:
Interview by Maureen