I recently had the privilege of hanging out with visual creative director and film maker, Abo Booi, a young film student from South Africa. We talk about his creative process, his desire to work in the creative industry, and his latest project We Are.
“To express oneself is one of the purest gifts we’ve been given, every movement, every breath, every choice, every step, forms part of who we express ourselves to be, carefree. With the ability to portray who you truly are and to tell the story of where you came from and where you’re going, to a future that belongs to us.”
Abo is a young establishing filmmaker and describes himself as an Afrocentric content creator. We are is an Artistic Intent Fashion documentary of Cape Town, South Africa. He shares his insight on what it means to be a creative in a New Age Africa. “I was exposed to a creative environment at a very young age, I picked up on instruments like the guitar and piano which I still all play to this day but my focus has always been photography and film”, Abo says it’s his creative endeavors that get him out of bed in the morning, amongst other things like making to 8am classes on time.
Talk a little bit about your project We Are?
“We Are was inspired by an Afrocentric page on social media and I felt like I wanted to make something about South Africa and Cape Town.” Abo says he wanted the film to be as organic as possible and to capture the cinematic essence of Cape Town. The film is Abo‘s interpretation of what being young and driven in a contemporary South Africa feels like, what makes the film special is the element of a narration that enhances this narrative.
“I didn’t want to be very specific in the direction I wanted to take, it needed to feel free. On that day, we just said okay cool we’re going to meet up in town and hang out, it was fun I brought my camera with and we just went out and we did it. We got something to eat, we took some pictures, it just felt natural. A special thanks to my friends, Shay, Tsitsi, Jerome, Mike, Robyn, Sheree, Alex, Duma and Tobi.”
Give us an idea of what your creative process is like?
Abo: Going to sleep at around 12-2, waking up abruptly around 3am with a new idea, write all the possible titles down on my concept board, then spend the next hour writing a draft concert, scrip and/or shot list. I then reread the ideas the next morning to see if I was dizzy with that idea or not. Then I work on the details, involve my friends if need be and pray about it a bit. Then set a date and make it happen. The editing process takes the most time, I basically sit through hours of footage and see which ones are the best, which ones have the best lighting, best focus, and that took like 12- 15 hours in total. For a 3min video it’s a long process.”
Being a creative in the New Age Africa is taking our past histories and reintegrating all the things that have become fundamental to us, like Africanism and Afrocentrism, its social media, it’s using all the things we have available to us to create an African Africa.
Who were you hoping the film would reach?
Abo: I feel like as young people we have lost the essence of what it means to be South African and to say that I know the kind of African that I am and I’m unashamed to be African. I just wanted to express that we as Africans can be self-aware of our African-ness and still exist in contemporary spaces.
The challenge for young filmmakers today is finding alternative ways of getting their content to a larger audience. What are some the ways you have overcome these challenges?
Abo: The best way to assert for me to assert myself in an African context is to make all my work public on all social media platforms. Today’s social media landscape however provides us with the opportunity to create our own market and get our projects out there without relying on traditional processes. Being a proud African is something I base a large part of my identity on and I want this to be reflected in my work.
As a young filmmaker and an up and coming creative establishing himself in the industry, Abo has created incredibly authentic work that is honest and free. He says,
I have very big dreams, sometimes seemingly impossible dreams, and I am so grateful for my family and friends who God has blessed me with who always push me and help me get closer and closer to my dreams.
What is your desire to be a creative a New Age African context?
Abo: Being a creative in the New Age Africa is taking our past histories and reintegrating all the things that have become fundamental to us, like Africanism and Afrocentrism, its social media, it’s using all the things we have available to us to create an African Africa.
Who are some of the people you admire right now in the creative industry?
Abo: One of my favourite directors is Christopher Nolan but locally a photographer named Imran Christian, the narrative that he pushes and the way he does it is just what makes him so interesting.
What are some of the things you want to improve on in future projects?
Abo: I’m very critical of myself so I always know I can do better. I’m always like okay this is great but next time. I’m trying to learn new software, use different angles, develop different narratives. The tree major focuses for me are, better camera work, better flow of story-telling and better editing. YouTube has been a great place for me to learn.
How involved are you in photography?
Abo: Super involved they kind of go hand in hand, film is my focus but I use photography as a means to make money to buy equipment, fund projects just to make cool video’s. I just purchased a steady cam stabilizer it just came through, so I’m having a good day.
The African creative industry is maturing, and the younger generation is helping to drive that transition. If you are looking to build a solid understanding of how the broader African creative industry is developing look to the young creatives like Abo Booi who are an integral part of the future, we want to reimagine what is possible on the African continent. When asked about future projects Abo responds laughing,
HA! I never let anyone know my next move.