Kehinde Joseph: Penning the Visuals
Kehinde Anthony Joseph is the talented screenwriter behind several acclaimed productions like the four-man cast movie, The Visit (2014), While You Slept (2014), Weekend Getaway (2013), Kiss and Tell (2010) and I’ll Take My Chances (2011). He has also written for producers like the late Amaka Igwe, as well as the BBC. Self taught, he constantly hones his skills by attending local and international workshops while consuming books and scripts by award-winning international writers, as well as watching several movies. He was nominated for Achievement in Screenplay at the AMAA 2015 for While You Slept and is a very passionate drama and script writing teacher.
Why did you choose to teach at the Royal Arts Academy?
I enjoy talking. It got me a job as an OAP at Eko FM – a job I didn’t pursue but simply escorted my good friend, Wale Scott (now a leading sports presenter), to audition for. I used to teach at late Amaka Igwe’s Centre for Excellence in Film and Media Studies, but that was for 2 weeks, thrice a year. Uduak Isong Oguamanam, a foremost writer and producer, became my good friend and introduced me to Emem Isong, her older sister. I wrote two scripts for Emem, which made me a member of her creative family.
One afternoon, Uduak, Emem and I took a trip to the Royal Arts building while it was under rehabilitation and Emem shared her vision. I stood in the centre of the room that was to serve as the major classroom and made suggestions about where to place the board and the TV screen, and how the performing space should be used. Then Emem remarked, “You should teach here.” That was early 2010. I’m still with the Royal Arts Academy.
How do you balance script writing and teaching?
To be honest, I’m still figuring it out. Teaching is easier. Prepare for a class, show up and talk. Use visual references in films, engage students in exercises and hear their thoughts on the lessons learnt. With writing, I have to start early, think, research, create … and then battle the demon called procrastination that keeps forcing me to browse. Honestly producers, it’s the devil’s work. Sometimes, one or the other has suffered, though I still do both and have managed to get by. However if you’re out there and have the secret formula to the work-balance between screenwriting and teaching, find me … you’re the one prophesied to lead me out of this quandary.
You were nominated for the Best Screenwriter award for the movie While You Slept, what was the inspiration behind that script?
First, lower all expectations. I don’t have a clever response that will inspire young screenwriters and be frequently quoted by them. Emem called and said Ini Edo wanted a good, engaging story. Emem and Ini pay well, I wanted good cash. It was demand meets opportunity, so I thought hard. A useful technique for generating story ideas is the ‘What if’ tool. What if we’re all trapped in a simulated reality and are prisoners of a software system (Matrix); What if the one obstacle between a contractor and the minister he needs to see, is the minister’s cantankerous secretary (The Meeting); What if a woman gets pregnant for the doctor tending to her comatose husband, and the husband awakens (Falling). That’s how I came up with the story for While You Slept. There have been similar stories so I needed an angle they hadn’t explored. Maybe that’s what got the story nominated.
For the full interview, watch out for Omenka magazine Film Issue…