One-to-Watch: Film maker Remani Love
Deciding to have a career in the film industry is one thing, but actually being successful is quite another. After completing a degree in Physiology and Pharmacology 26-year-old Remani Love soon realised that she didn’t want to pursue a career in that area.
Having observed her friend Cecile Emeke drop out of university to pursue her filmmaking dreams successfully. This inspired Remani to release her creativity and here the Birmingham native reveals the result of this pursuit. She is part of a small group involved in a film makers development programme created by PUNCH Records and run by Daniel Alexander Films.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I had a friend at the university and in her final year, she decided to drop out and pursue film and that is friend is Cecile Emeke. Once I graduated, I featured in an episode of her webs series Strolling and it just showed me the power of film. I had not seen someone put dark skin, black British women on screen like she had. Her work was beautiful and the way it blew up so quickly from one year being an independent filmmaker to being featured in the Financial Times and going to the New York Film Tribeca Festival with her. The whole experience opened my eyes. I’ve always been creative so from then I was completely inspired to translate my ideas from writing into film that I could see, feel and hear.
What type of writing were you doing before?
Mainly reflective writing, talking about my own experiences. It was a bit journalistic. It would mostly be about women and enabled me to deal with personal development. Opening up about how I feel about myself and friendship. I just always wrote very deeply from a young age.
You’ve gone to university, you’ve done this big-boy course, and you’ve gone and said to your family, ‘oh I want to be a filmmaker’ how did they react?
I don’t think they were surprised, growing up I’ve always done loads of different things. I struggled so much especially towards the end of the degree because I was just feeling like there was no time. Obviously it was academic and I had no time to write or do anything creative. I felt so disconnected from myself, I promised that after graduating, I would take at least a year to do something creative and it’s now been three.
So, what’s the first project you worked on?
My first project was a documentary called Love Dock, which explored black women and self-love. Growing up my mum used to put things or books in the house or literature so of successful people but I felt like I didn’t really connect with it as much as I wanted to. I wanted to find out how everyday women who looked like me practice their everyday life and I think it started from part of annoyance. When you’re growing up and you lack confidence in certain areas and people say oh just love yourself. But I’m sure if it was that easy we’d all be doing it. So, I kind of went on a bit of a hunt to explore that topic deeper and how women from about 16-65 had incorporated self-love practices in their life, or what they’d learnt about themselves. And how I could apply that to myself. I think that was my main motivation.
Tell me one thing that you took away from creating that?
I would say number one is speaking issues, that’s what I learnt and how important it is to open up. Even from a place of vulnerability. I was in a very vulnerable place when I made it and that was why I needed too because I felt like I didn’t have these things and I needed it for myself. For that to become a film that was then sold out in Birmingham and then I got flown to South Africa for film festival by the British Council, and I took it there. Girls women broke down in tears, one girl said to me ‘you should win the Nobel peace prize.’ I just knew that I was supposed to do that and it was important and that’s what sealed it for me.
What made you want to get involved in Back in?
I always wanted to work with Daniel, he was one of the first filmmakers I knew in Birmingham. He is such a generous guy, and I would see him around but there would never be enough time to learn more or pick anything up. So, when I knew it was happening and he would be leading it, I thought great. Finally there’d be time where I can learn more about making film. Especially coming from being in uni for four years doing science and I had no background in the basics. It has also, been great being around other like-minded filmmakers that I can ask industry questions, which I just couldn’t get from who was around me at the time. That’s why I really wanted to be on Back In.
Looking at the tv and film media landscape at the moment. Do you think women like you are represented in front and behind screen?
I love Michaela Cole from Chewing Gum. She’s hilarious. And I saw stories, even Cecelia McKay from a more serious side, documentary side with black British women. So, I felt there has been an improvement. Do I think there’s enough? No. And is there room for me? Yes! I would love to think, coming from Birmingham which is basically Jamaica, there is space for that story because it’s unique in terms of Jamaican heritage and Brummie heritage. I feel like yes there is great progress been made but there is room for a lot more. And I would love to contribute to that.
Cecile Emeke and Ava DuVernay are two women that inspire you. What do you admire about what they’ve achieved?
For me with Cecile Emeke it was the fearlessness. She spoke about hard serious topics, like racism in Europe and even internationally. I thought it was so beautiful how she connected stories and gave people a platform to speak their truth, whatever that might have been. The way it was shot the music is stunning. I still have some episodes which are my favourites.
With Ava DuVernay because she is a big-time film director in Hollywood it’s very aspirational to say that there is a space for a black woman to dominate in those areas. I remember particularly one, it wasn’t even a film that she did, it was a short one, almost silent movie called Doors. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. It had Gabrielle Union in it and it was a story about a woman who didn’t get married for some reason. But, stylistically it was in a beautiful apartment, the colours, the music, the clothing, it was just gorgeous to see women celebrated in that way, by a female. I just think that sometimes a male filmmaker can’t tell certain stories because it’s not theirs to tell and that’s why I think I’m just so passionate about telling my own and the stories of others because we’re here as well and those need to be articulated.
So what’s your BACK IN project about?
My short film is called Uni, and it’s a story about how university can be a rite of passage to graduate and for most people it’s something to be proud about, but you can also feel disconnected and not yourself because it not your community and you’re going into a different environment. Whilst also having the pressure of making your family or parents proud, with people looking up to you and having that expectation. It’s shot to a certain soundtrack and all the thoughts of the characters are done by voice-note, because it’s about letting people into your innermost deep feelings. But in an almost disconnected way. So it’s how that person has escaped from themselves. That’s what uni is about. And also because in the last three years, student suicide has risen by 50%. So, there’s a serious issue again with mental health at uni that isn’t being addressed. So, I think it’s a story that really needs to be told.