Ques: Who is Priye Diri?
Ans: A baby girl or a human girl lol. I honestly cannot tell you who I am because I don’t know the answer to that question, I am learning about myself with every day that passes by. But what I can give is my short biography. I was born in Rivers State on the 26th of April, I lied a lot as a child so I resolved to telling stories for a living. I studied Sociology and anthropology but my passion and love for storytelling never faded out. While still in school, I attended the theater arts stage plays, rehearsals and classes because of my eagerness to be part of storytelling. I started attending African International Film Festival in 2010 where I learnt everything on directing, script writing, and production designing and producing. My zeal for learning and improving in my craft made me to enter for the accelerate TV filmmaker contest which I ended up being top 5 and got the opportunity to make a short film XOXO which was the best short film at the accelerate TV Filmmaker Contest and got me a scholarship from African International Film Festival to go to film school in France.
Ques: What made you decide that you want to be a film maker?
Ans: I didn’t decide to be a filmmaker. This film making life chose me. I mean I had always been interested in storytelling but I think what made me want to go into it full headed was when a friend of mine told me I couldn’t make films because I was a girl. I was like watch me.
Ques: Is this your first time of making a short film?
Ans: No. I wrote, produced and directed my first short film in 2015 called Lost Love starring Imoh Eboh and Abayomi Alvin. It was a passion project that hasn’t been released yet. Every time I go back and look at the rushes I edit something lol I am trying to make it perfect but I am grateful to the actors who believed in my story enough to come on it with me. I also directed a film titled “Behind the Mirror” produced by Tony Omoruyi starring Kiki Omeili, Mena Sodje, Ebuka Ken Ozor and Leonard James. Behind the mirror will be making festival rounds this year.
Ques: Tell us about your project XOXO…
Ans: Xoxo is a passion project, I made this film at the worst time of my life, I wanted it to be silent to show how I felt, the lead character was depressed and so was I but I didn’t cheat on anyone lol… It’s a silent film about an army wife who cheats on her husband when he is away and is being blackmailed on the day of his return.
Ques: Your short film XOXO won the Accelerate Filmmaker Contest last year, how does it feel to be the winner of such a keenly contested competition?
Ans: There was no expectation, I didn’t really think I’d win and from watching Ava DuVernay videos and listening to her I always knew not to expect anything. I said to myself after almost all the stories I pitched at the contest were not accepted “They are never going to like it. I may as well just make movies that I like”
Winning didn’t change my career – I mean I am still searching for money to make a film but for the next few months afterwards my phone rang a little more than usual. People who wouldn’t have asked me to work with them before suddenly wanted to. I was getting all these calls to work on more films and it was slightly intoxicating but I guess the brief “intoxicating time” was a good reminder that I should only make the kind of movies I like and that everything else would follow. Winning it hasn’t changed my life, but it has taught me a lot about myself and about the nature of this business: the main thing being to only work on stuff I believe in, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Winning got me an opportunity to be on Mildred Okwo’s Set, how cool is that?
Ques: Your lead and sole actress seems to have had enough time to rehearse. What was it like working with her?
Ans: Working with Ade Laoye was one of the best experiences of my life, I have always been a huge fan of her so when I had the opportunity to shoot her I jumped on it and it was the best decision I made for XOXO. If I had the opportunity I would work with her again because she brought some kind of peace to the set, she is an actor that knows her onion. I and Ade had a long talk and we went through every scene and decided what worked for the character, I also gave her the freedom she needed to bring the character to life and she just took it and ran with it.
Ques: There were some good wide-angle shots and some X-rated like scenes in your film, how did you pull them off?
Ans: I pulled them off by shooting them. EASY? No. So I had a story board for every scene in my film, my mentor Seyi Babatope advised me on it. So I kind of knew the kind of images and shots I wanted. For the wide angle shots I just wanted to give the character a space to play in her world, I wanted to leave her in her world and if you’ve ever been depressed you’d understand what that means. For the X-rated scenes it was kind of silly shooting that but I had the best crew and cast with me and so we were able to decide what works best and that’s exactly what we did.
Ques: How long did it take you to shoot and edit?
Ans: I shot for two days and edited for about a week and some days.
Ques: What should we expect next from you this year?
Ans: I don’t even know what to expect from myself. I am working on a couple of things, but I really don’t have the sequence but what I am sure of is somewhere in this interview I have mentioned the title of my next film. See? That’s why a lot of people call me Baby Girl!!!
You can watch my short film “XOXO” here
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