Adura Onashile is an award-winning Glasgow-based artist. She wrote and directed stage play “Expensive S**t,” which won a Fringe First Award and was highly commended for the Amnesty International Freedom of Speech. In 2020, she made her screen debut, writing and directing the BBC Films & BFI Network-funded short film, “Expensive Shit,” produced by barry crerar. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival. She has previously written a short, “Pancake,” for BBC Scotland and is currently in the final stages of development with her first feature film, “Girl,” with barry crerar and BBC Films. Onashile is also developing new work with The National Theatre of Scotland and Synchronicity Films. She was a Channel 4 playwright Bursary winner and part of the iFeatures programme, BBC Writers Room and the LFF Network cohort.
Within the framework of this year’s 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative created by Modern Films and the Kering Foundation, a short film competition that platforms female filmmakers and their films, which explore, emote, and educate on forms of violence against women, Tara Karajica talks to Adura Onashile about her short film, “Expensive Shit,” as well as her thoughts on the short form, women in film today and what she is up to next.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you to make films?
Adura Onashile: I got into film through a play I wrote and directed that my producers, barry crerar, saw. They approached me and thought I could write for film. I’m not sure how much I believed them, but film had always been a passion of mine but I never imagined it as something that I would ever have access to making. I’m fascinated by things that confuse me and subjects I have a complex relationship to. Film helps me try to figure things out and to share that exploration.
Can you talk about your short film Expensive Shit?
A.O.: Expensive Shit is the story of Tolu, a toilet attendant, who on the night we meet her is forced to choose between saving herself and harming a regular punter. It is my attempt to look at layers of exploitation and power. To see the struggle of a character as she walks a tightrope of a difficult choice and the way that we as an audience might empathize or not with this. I’m always keen to explore Black female characters in a complexity of ways, tired of the tropes of warrior or victim, but rather levels of agency and the grey areas.
How do you see the short form today?
A.O.: I love shorts! There’s such a wonderful slice of life, struggle or moment they allow you as an audience to enter. What is that saying to get in late and leave early approach to storytelling? Shorts embody that. By their very nature, you make a lot of presumptions about an audience’s understanding that they are one step ahead of you and I love that.
What is your opinion on the situation of women in film today?
A.O.: I think we have a heap of stories to tell and to tell beautifully and we have to create and foster and support opportunities to do that. Lately, I’ve seen a raft of first features that have been bold and inspiring, it fills me with hope for the future.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
A.O.: I like lots of female filmmakers: Gina Prince Blythewood, Lynne Ramsey, Kathryn Bigelow, Regina King, Garret Bradley, Mari Diop, Andrea Arnold…
What are your next projects?
A.O.: I work in theater and film, so my next immediate project is actually a storytelling augmented reality app. I’m also continuing to develop a feature we have been working on and hoping to shoot next year.
This interview was conducted within the framework of the 2020 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative created by the Kering Foundation and Modern Films.