A 23-year old Nigerian Eseoghene Obrimah made the list of five producers selected for the second annual Chicago Independent Producers Lab, TechEconomy.ng can report.
The Chicago Independent Producers Lab (CIPL) was launched in 2020 by Full Spectrum Features, a Chicago-based non-profit committed to driving equity into the film industry, with the founding principle that producers are the creative entrepreneurs who make a thriving independent film industry possible.
The lab is a year-long project incubator designed to cultivate Chicago’s vibrant independent film industry. Eseoghene Obrimah was selected for the 2021 Chicago Independent Producers Lab following her projects and commitments to telling stories that imagine what freedom looks like.
Her films focus majorly on Black women and analyze social issues through the genres of fantasy, magical realism, Afro-surrealism and Africanfuturism. Ese’s project, ‘Second Sunday’, follows the Halloway family, who stop attending church in order to protect their transgender son only to find themselves stalked by the church’s possessive new pastor. One of her short films in school called “35” has won three awards at film festivals.
In a chat with TechEconomy.ng, Eseoghene Obrimah tells her story on getting selected for the program:
Eseoghene you have done well; can you tell us how your journey to Chicago Independent Lab started?
Eseoghene Obrimah: I guess the journey starts with my love for storytelling and for creating a more just and equitable world and how those two collide in my films. Full Spectrum Features, the organization that runs the Chicago Independent Producers Lab, is committed to telling stories created by minoritized people that discuss social issues, so there’s an obvious connection there.
I have a growing relationship with them. I interned for them for a semester while in grad school, they also accepted a short film I produced into their Chicagoland Shorts Program. They’ve been a huge resource to me and constant supporter of my work and career development, so, when thinking of where I would like to start the process of developing a feature film, I knew they would be the perfect organization to support me. So, I applied with a project called “Second Sunday” that Aquarius Ester, a phenomenal experimental and Afro-Surrealist writer and director, sent me and I’m very excited we got accepted.
As a writer and producer you focus majorly on ‘what freedom looks like’. So, how would you define freedom in the context of your productions?
Eseoghene Obrimah: With my productions, I sort of think of freedom in an anarchist sense, particularly the notion of community ownership and control. I want the story we’re telling and the film we’re making to belong to those actually making it so that we have the creative and financial control of the project and we can make the bold choices and, when there are criticisms, we can own those as well.
While analyzing social issues you align with the concepts of Africanfuturism, Afro-surrealism, etc. What is the Africa of your dream like?
Eseoghene Obrimah: An equitable communally organized socioeconomic and political system in which all people are free and can exist as their most honest selves. That’s really it.
Tell us about your experience as a Creative entrepreneur
Eseoghene Obrimah: That’s interesting that I’ve never really thought of myself as one. My experience is a testament to the importance of community building. Not networking. Building an actual community with people you like and would actually want to work with. I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone entrepreneurship is a hustle, but it’s easier with community.
You decided to build your own table as against asking for a seat at someone else. What’s your advice for young people, especially from the African Continent?
Eseoghene Obrimah: I think Issa Rae has already given the best advice on this and it’s to focus on working, creating and building with those next to you rather than trying to access the people “above” you. I’d just add to not be scared to do the bold, radical and honest thing. Your voice is what sets you apart.
Knowing who you are makes who you are worth knowing. Also, start thinking of how to make our industry sustainable. I’ve seen Oge Obasi and Mildred Okwo having insightful conversations about this on twitter and I’m very interested in being a part of that.
Briefly tell us about your growing up, education, family…
Eseoghene Obrimah: I was born and raised in Lagos. I was a pretty boring and academically oriented child but enjoyed art. I made a (retrospectively, not very good) sculpture of a ballerina for my junior WAEC or was it Lagos State art project. I was also involved in a lot of performance art and played multiple musical instruments.
I moved to the US in 2014 for college, I got my undergraduate degree in Marketing from Xavier University in Ohio. It was there that I became more interested in the behind the scenes work of performances and events as well as student political organizing. That would inform my decision to move to Chicago, IL where I obtained my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Producing from Columbia College Chicago and began producing films about social issues.
So, what is your target at Chicago Independent Producers Lab?
Eseoghene Obrimah: My goals are to advance in my career, to hone my skills as an independent genre producer, and to work with Aquarius to bring “Second Sunday” to life.
Once again, congratulations
Eseoghene Obrimah: Thank you for featuring me.
Follow this link to view some of Eseoghene’s works.