A Conversation With HERE/NOT HERE Director Bim Ajadi For The Release Of Companion Documentary LOOK HERE/NOT HERE
HERE/NOT HERE, a brand new British, Deaf hip hop drama exploring British Sign Language, Krump street dance, football and Visual Vernacular – the choreographed and poetic form of sign language - will have its TV premiere on Film4 and Together TV on Monday 11 May and will also be hosted online on BSL Zone where it will remain available to watch following the broadcast.
HERE/NOT HERE brings together a diverse creative team and company from Deaf and hearing communities and is directed by award-winning film-maker and Deaf artist Bim Ajadi whose recent works include docu-drama Dot and short film 4. Written by Jonzi D, Artistic Director of the annual hip hop dance and theatre festival Breakin’ Convention, the film is a unique collaboration with the film’s professional and non-professional, Deaf and hearing cast. The music is composed and produced by Torben Lars Sylvest a long-time collaborator of Olivier Award-winning choreographer Botis Seva.
HERE/NOT HERE is an urban, funny and thought provoking hip hop drama film which sees three rival groups - Deaf VVers, footballers and Krumpers - clash over who should use an abandoned warehouse space. Despite their differences, they find and inspire a common language through movement to communicate, collaborate and come together.
In our interview, The Fan Carpet's Sophia Jessica spoke to Bim Ajadi about his career, his inspirations to make HERE/ NOT HERE and what the future holds for HERE/NOT HERE....
1. What made you want to become a film director?
To be honest, it was never my original intention to become a director, this was a fortunate shift in my career that happened purely by accident. At the time I was working predominately as a video editor, on various productions. One day a director was ill so couldn’t direct a short piece in a programme I was working on. As a result I was asked if I could take on the role of Director for that piece, which I did and the feedback I received was positive. At the time I looked at the industry and realised there was a distinct lack of BAME Deaf directors and so I felt that it was my responsibility to step up,and represent those communities whose voices had yet to be heard.
2. What or who inspired you to direct this particular film?
My desire to make this film really stemmed from my love of urban culture; street football, music, urban sign etc. This was an area I felt I had never seen represented on screen, most certainly in regards to that side of the deaf community. In addition to that, the subject of space and ownership was a matter that I felt needed exploring and is an element inherently linked with the communities I am aiming to portray. My experiences of these topics and the lack of representation was really the jumping off point for creating Here/Not Here.
3. Were there any particularly memorable parts you'll take with you in filming this movie, or from behind the scenes?
There are so many positive memories related to the making of this film. If I was to pick one in particular, I was really affected by one of the final scenes where we see our characters all come together and collaborate in one sequence. This was both in the narrative sense and in the creative sense. Here we had an ensemble of artists who didn’t know each other prior to the production, all with varied backgrounds and methods of communication, being organically connected, working together to create this scene and in turn truthfully portraying the experience of the characters they perform. It was nice to see this message of connectivity and collaboration I wanted to state with the film, being demonstrated in the working reality of the production.
4. Who or what inspires you?
There are two directors in particular that inspired me when I first set out on my direction career, they would be Ray Harrison-Graham and John Maidens. With them being Deaf directors, I was in awe of how they worked in the industry, on an equal level to those who could hear. I remember shadowing them and observing how they would work with a hearing cast and crew without any barriers. This was honestly something I thought wasn't possible at the time but they opened my eyes to what I could achieve and inspired my journey to becoming the director I am today.
Interview by Sophia Jessica @SophiaJessicaRose
Keep up-to-date with Bim Ajadi at his official website.
Here/Not Here is available to watch now online at BSL Zone.
Look Here/Not Here, the accompanying documentary, is on Film4 on 18 May at 8am and Together TV at 7pm & 10pm, and online at BSL Zone