In Conversation With The Nigerian Teens Making Sci-Fi Shorts With Their Phones

They've already caught the attention of Star Wars' J.J. Abrams!

Last week, a group of talented teenagers from Kaduna, Nigeria went viral on the internet, after Reuters released a video revealing how they use nothing but a green screen and their smartphones to create incredible sci-fi short films.

(Photo: The Critics Company)

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Before their unexpected viral moment, acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker, Kemi Adetiba (King Of Boys), had actually shared a post about them, even starting a fundraising campaign that amassed a total of almost $6,000, which the teens then used to buy better equipment.

Since the video, Godwin Josiah, 19, Victor Josiah, 18, Ronald Yusuf, 16, and Raymond Yusuf, 17, have caught the attention of the governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, as well as some of the most celebrated filmmakers in the world, including Star Wars' J.J. Abrams and Ava DuVernay (Selma).

https://twitter.com/oliviawilde/status/1162482948551184389?s=20

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Known as The Critics, the teens made their first film, Redemption, in 2016. They saved for a month to buy the green fabric for the screen and taught themselves how to do visual effects by watching tutorials on Youtube, overcoming limitations like a lack of accessible internet and electricity.

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Impressed with all they've managed to achieve so far, we at Konbini decided to reach out to Godwin to find out more about how he and his friends got their start, what drew them to the sci-fi genre, and what's next for them now that the world has finally taken notice.

Konbini: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Godwin Josiah: We were born and bred in Kaduna, we are all teenagers and we make short films. We've been together since 2011, and we're from related but different families.

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How and why did you decide to go into filmmaking?

We went into filmmaking because we were inspired by the movies we watched. Seeing magic happen onscreen inspired us, and we thought, "what if we could create our own here?" So we started with creating comedy skits, and then we moved on to short films.

It’s super inventive, using the combination of a green screen and smartphones to make shorts. What was your process for getting there?

Well, we learnt a lot from YouTube filmmaking channels, and we used the knowledge we learnt online in our projects. So, the main aim was to improve and try something crazy with every project we worked on. 

(Photo: The Critics Company)

What drew you to the sci-fi genre?

We do sci-fi because that's where all the cool things happen. We could explore a lot — aliens, flying spaceships, futuristic buildings — and also because the genre hasn't really been explored in Nollywood, we plan on changing that.

How do you divide the roles amongst each other?

Well, everyone has his/her strengths and weaknesses in the group, and we all understand this — making it easy to assign roles. But the main thing I'd say is, every role played in creating our shorts is equally important.

For the most part, Godwin is the director and scriptwriter, Ronald is on the props design, Raymond is the cinematographer and video editor, and Victor handles props, costumes, lighting and location scouting. 

How many short films have you made so far? Where can we find them?

We've made about 20 short films, some are on our YouTube channel called The Critics Company, our Instagram handle, and also our Facebook page called Comic World

You did a lot of your learning on YouTube? What has that been like?

Well, learning from YouTube is data consuming, but I'd say that it's definitely one of the best things that happened to us. 

After graduation, will you be pursuing filmmaking fulltime?

Definitely, for the rest of my life.

What is your path going to look like? What’s next for The Critics? Any new projects?

Well, something big is coming. We're coming. 

By Olanrewaju Eweniyi, published on 19/08/2019

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