Pride Exculsive: Interview with The Intent Directors/Writers Femi Oyeniran and Nicky ‘Slimting’ Walker
We chatted with film directors/writers of The Intent Femi Oyeniran and Nicky ‘Slimting’ Walker, learning about the importance of creative integrity, what it actually means to be independent and of course their inspiration behind the most talked about crime-thriller movie!
First of all this film is all of you guys, you guys backed it – you did everything for it, and where did the idea come from– what motivated you?
Femi: You know what, the film is inspired by Pain In Full, which is an American movie, Juice, In Too Deep and Belly. So with Belly, it inspires the visual style, I mean Hype Williams has an unparalleled visual style, so that really inspired what the film really looks like. And obviously with Paid In Full, that kind of inspires the spirit of it, the vibe and the energy. And Paid In Full is sort of set in Harlem, it’s got Cameron in it, he’s a rapper and we’ve got that same sort of set up. And In Too Deep, is about an undercover police officer – this is about an undercover police officer, he was sent to infiltrate a gang of robbers. In Juice you see Pac (TUPAC) playing the lead, you see Scorcher playing the lead in this and also this looks like the fallout after the robbery. So Juice looks like a fallout after these guy rob a corner shop, and in this film we have a similar thing where the guys go rob a corner shop. So those are spiritual animals of the film.
So it sounds like you had a say in quite a lot of things, because obviously you’re doing it all yourself – not just what goes into the film…
Femi: Yeah it’s an opportunity to think about how we’re going to present it to the people, how we’re going to market it to the people. And we want people to know that we thought about these things – not just like we made a film and dashed it out there. Like we really worked to think of innovative ways to make the release completely different, to anything else that has been.
How important do you think being [independent] is to the movement?
Nicky: I would say independence is very important, but independence is very hard. We screen independent because we have no choice but to screen independent, but if we met somebody who believed in our vision the same, we would have took a deal. We had deals, we turned down three deals, because the deals didn’t make sense to where we wanted to go, they didn’t understand the culture, they didn’t understand the drawing, and they didn’t understand the vision. It’s the same thing with artists who get offered record deals; sometimes they’re better off without the record deal, because the record label doesn’t understand where they want to go.
Femi: I mean deals are great, you look at Noel Clark and what those guys are doing with Brotherhood. I mean they did their screening at a cinema we did our premiere – like our last film. Like it’s a lot, a premiere at Vue Leicester Square, that’s where they did their screening. That’s what a deal can do for you, that’s not a bad thing – I can’t turn my nose up at a deal. Like a deal’s a good thing, but you know at the same time you have to have creative control. And at the same time, if people don’t believe in your vision, I’m not going to sign a deal that kills my vision – that’s selling out. Like selling out, is like shopping in on your vision of who you are and who you want to be on your project that you visualised.
What do you want people to take from you two working as a team, what advice would you give people wanting to get into the film industry?
Nicky: I want people who are just like me, who don’t have to go through what I went through, so they can have an idea and they can get in contact with our production company and say ‘this is the film that I want to make’ and we’ll make it. I don’t want them to be knocking on every distributors door hearing no, and not understanding how to go to their company.
Femi: If you have a project come to us, we can advise you; I give free advice all the time. I’ll spend a day on your script for nothing just as long as your vision is good, just as long as you’ve worked on it. Just as long as you’ve invested your time – if you’ve haven’t invested and you’re coming to me saying ‘uh I want to be an actor,’ ‘what have you done?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Oh get out of my face’ [laughs], because there’s no excuse.
I think a lot of people think it’s really difficult to get into films and being in the UK – what would you say to people about doing things yourself?
Femi: Do it. Do it. Like we’ve done it, we’ve done it ourselves – it’s not easy, like me and him [Nicky] we’ve given up, we’ve cried – no we’ve cried – I don’t even cry that much but my soul cried. But my soul has cried a lot, but we’ve really been through it to make this happen. And making it happen hasn’t been easy, but we really believe in it, if you believe in yourself, do it.