Film producer Etta Jo Maria, whose film Atoke’s Child won Best Cinematography at the Women’s International Film Festival (WIFFEN), has revealed she never planned to tackle impact stories social.
Etta made this known during the French Embassy roundtable on International Women’s Day celebrating gender equality and women-centered civil societies.
Etta, whose short film was screened at the event, said around 70% of the film borrowed from reality, a real person and the emotional trauma suffered as a result; the rest took creativity to bring the video to life.
For a film shot on a low budget, it took a lot of creativity to arrive at the final image. Etta and her team, including a female cinematographer and two female producers, fought to ensure that the passion shines through the film. It was all about convincing his more technically inclined co-producer why the unconventional shots chosen in the film’s script would project the story better, or buying into the script writing.
“It’s one thing for someone to talk about an issue, and another thing for someone who’s been through it to say it,” Etta said.
The team also improvised a lot, as they were working on a small budget and relying on their connections to make the film.
“We improvised a lot using someone’s garden and filming from particular angles to project the aesthetic of a burial site. If money isn’t everything, passion without funding isn’t enough. Funding is a huge challenge in creating social impact films.
Although she never chose to make social impact stories and funding remains a huge challenge, Etta is determined to continue creating audiovisual stories that address women’s issues and rights. Her second film Strength of A Woman dealing with the issue of sexual assault should be released soon.
“Cinema is so special and spectacular because it encompasses entertainment, information and education. You will convey a message to someone without looking boring.
“It is time for women to tell their own stories. I hope to continue to tell these kinds of stories, stories with social impact. It’s important to empower women through film, because it’s not just about being seen, but heard and listened to,” Etta concluded.