Wed | Mar 20, 2019

5 Questions with Adjani Salmon

Published:Friday | March 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Adjani Salmon
(From left) Anyebe Godwin, Dani Moseley, Adjani Salmon, Vanessa Vanderpuye and Tomisin Adebeju.

In March, local filmmaker Adjani Salmon will premiere 'Dreaming Whilst Black', the first dramatic production of his (and friends) company called 4Quarter Films. The story goes: 'Dissatisfied with his work, Kwabena (played by Salmon) risks everything in order to make his dreams come true. As Kwabena makes his break out short film, he struggles to balance work, friends and his relationship. This struggle is compounded by the pressure from his family to gain financial stability. During this journey, Kwabena has to ask himself, 'what am I willing to sacrifice for my dreams?' and 'are these sacrifices worth it?'

More interesting is the sacrifice of the story's creator, Salmon himself. Particularly sacrificing his mother's mortgage deposit to fund his filmmaking dreams. The Gleaner, spoke with Salmon to uncover the truth.

1. Did you really swipe your mom's mortgage deposit, and does she know now?

Yes, I did. My name is on my mother's bank accounts in England so I can handle anything that needs to be done here for her. At the time when I started shooting the series her first question was, 'where you getting the money from?' However, at that time, I had saved up a decent amount of money from work on major feature film sets (in the art department) and being commissioned by the British Film Institute (BFI) for a film project, so I told her not to worry. Then, I finished all my savings after shooting two episodes. I didn't want to stop shooting, because I genuinely believed this show would be my breakout project. I figured if I used the money, I could earn it back in time before she'd decided to buy the house. That didn't exactly work out, because the more I earned the more the costs of the show would go up. About six months in, my mom told me she found a house that she wanted to buy... So I had to confess and try to convince her that it was a worthy investment to make. She wasn't exactly convinced, but the money had already been spent so she said, "this better work out.

2. When did you move from Jamaica to England?

I initially came up to London in 2007 to study architecture and returned home in 2010. I moved to London at the end of 2013 to read for a MA in Directing Film. Initially, I moved back home a year later when I graduated but the degree didn't improve my employability prospects. I decided to return to England to try and get some industry experience. Since then, I've worked on various major projects such as Black Mirror, The Mummy, Allied, and a few advertising campaigns. After a few years of experience I left and started my own production company, 4Quarter Films, with a few friends from film school and have been doing corporate productions since. Dreaming Whilst Black is our first big drama production as a company.

3. Can you share with us your racial experience in the 'other' motherland?

First, the U.K., is not any form of motherland, not for me at least. Racism and race relations manifests itself in quite a different way than what's more commonly seen in the media from America. England is more subtle, so it will manifest itself in jokes, stereotypical assumptions and non-verbal cues that you have to an acute awareness of racism to realise that that's what it is. All this mostly happens underneath the surface so you don't operate with racism thrown in your face on a day-to-day basis which bring some level of comfort.

4. Where does the motivation for your filmmaking come from?

My motivation to make films comes from a more basic motivation which is to tell stories. Prior ever owning a camera, I'd always tell stories as either a joke or seriously depending on the desired outcome or discourse that I wanted to have. So getting a camera was like getting a fancy toy that I could now play with to tell stories in a far more dynamic way.

5. You name contemporary filmmakers like Issa Rae, Donald Glove and Aziz Ansari, as inspirations. Who are some others?

Many filmmakers inspire me, but the three main filmmakers who have, and continue to inspire me are Paolo Sorrentino, Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese.