You may have seen my series of blog interviews, The Cat That Got The Dream about people who are living their dreams. I spoke to a wide range of people: actors, engineers, parents even a Thai yoga massage therapist (I should have tapped him up for a freebie). It was a really interesting little project and made me think about the dreams or goals, as I now like to think of them, that I’d love to see made real.
I figure once my date with Bradley Cooper is in the diary, the most immediate thing is completing my short film project, Brit.I.am.
But for this I need your help. Bear with me as I tell you a little story (insert Max Bygraves’ voice).
The film started life as a poem which seemed to demand to be written. I was in bed one night, unable to sleep. Little stanzas kept creeping into my head. I turned the light on and wrote them down on the post-it notes I kept by the bed. Normally there for joke writing, now they had scribbled verses of a poem. I switched off the light but no sooner had I done that than another verse would rush into my head. This must have gone on for about thirty minutes until I said out loud “Stop!”. A couple more trickled in but that was that for the night. The next day, I looked at the crumpled post-its. I thought that what I’d written would be garbage. Like when you think of something funny in your dream and then when you recall it, it isn’t even a complete sentence.
“What’s up with wardrobes? All that fish and no way of knowing”. That type of thing.
Anyway, when I read back my scribble, it wasn’t half bad. Over the coming weeks I continued to add to the poem. A theme was developing and it was something that was important to me. It was about accepting Britain as it is, the things we love, the things we hate because it all contribute to making it what it is. The verses started include significant past events that have shaped us as a nation.
Eventually I finished the poem and decided to share it with some friends. They loved it. Most importantly, they got what I was trying to capture.
After that, it sat dormant on my crappy laptop for probably a year. Then in 2010, I took my show Afroblighty, to the Edinburgh Festival. The show was about me reconciling my Nigerian Heritage with my UK upbringing. During the previews, a thought popped into my head. Could I close the show with my poem? The show seemed to end on a note similar to the poem. Perhaps that could work.
But whilst I’d had good feedback, in the context of a comedy show it could be nauseatingly naff. But threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a go. It worked. Thank God. The audiences got it too. I had people asking for copies of it, teachers saying they wanted to share it with their pupils, the odd tear was even shed.
I knew I had to do more with it and that’s when the idea of make it into a film came about. I toyed with various ideas, from me reciting all the lines to doing it all in front of a green screen with famous faces. Eventually though, the idea of making it a crowd sourced project was suggested by my friend Adam. After all, this was a piece about Britain, why not get more of Britain involved?
We wanted to get people from all over the UK recording themselves reciting lines from the poem and from all this footage, we’d reassemble the poetry. Simple right?
We thought so. Once Adam and I decided to go for it, we started telling everyone we could about the project. You may have seen updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Clips slowly started coming in. It was exciting. This was really happening. I contacted a few media chums who kindly gave up their time to put a couple of verses on tape (Special thanks to the Lovely Gabby Logan, Arabella Weir, Rufus Hound, Jarred Christmas and Alastair Campbell).
After some time, though, the initial enthusiasm seemed to dwindle. Adam and I saw that we’d given too long a lead time and when people have months to something, by and large, they’ll usually take it. Eventually the submissions stopped but we were a long way from completing the film.
Not only that, when we started to edit the piece together, we realised that we need a different contributor for each line. This meant we needed four times as many contributions as we’d first thought.
What had started out as an exciting pet project was starting to become a burden as we tried to figure out how to get more contributions. A low point for me was waiting in a square in Bradford for people to come in response to a tweet I’d put out. After half an hour I texted Adam and said, “I feel like an utter tool” and went back to my hotel. No one had show up.
But this seems to be a project that won’t allow its embers to be extinguished, and slowly, clips starting to come in again after I connected with a few followers on twitter directly.
These guys were not only kind enough to send clips but also got really creative, something the project really needed.
So here we are, so close to completing. We just need a few specific lines and we’re there. So my question is, can you help? Can you help me realise a dream of mine? Normally, I do things by myself and on my own terms. I grew up thinking that I was the only person I could rely on so this film has pushed a lot of buttons for me, in a good way. I’m totally dependant on other people, on Adam my friend and brilliant editor, my friends for spreading the word and you – for taking part.
If you have a little spare time and a video camera or a smart phone you can get involved.
We’re looking for clips shot in interesting locations that perhaps resonate with the line of the poem being reciting.
I’d love to have you involved and every contribution that makes the final edit receives a credit. The film will be entered into film festival once it’s complete and you never know, all 200 of us could be rocking up at Cannes next year to collect our award.
Give it a shot and add your voice. Full detail of how and what to do are on our website, including how to upload your footage, alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know specifically which lines we need recording OR if you’ve got a great inspiration for different line, go for that too.
Either way, I genuinely can’t wait to hear from you and look forward to seeing your genius captured on film.