writer | director | filmmaker

2017 - It's been a while, but here's where we are...

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

So... I've been busy. If you navigate the site you might find a few new things, but here's the skinny of it:

At the end of last year, there was a screening at the famous Brady Cinema in Paris of three of my short films, About Claire, The Shot, and There's something in the woods. The screening was the first time those films had screened with French subtitles, to a French audience, and they were all well received. You can watch the showcase as presented on the night, here

Simana is now available to watch online. For FREE.

I figured it was the right way to go, considering the current political climate. The film is very relevant now, seeing as it is about immigration, and seems to be getting even more relevant by the day (Travel ban anyone?). There's no blatant political statement, more a personal story that happens to take place within a certain kind of environment, and which also happens to be 100% based on actual events that happened. Check it out in the feature film section, where you'll also find the synopsis. 

I was interviewed by the good folks over at Indie Activity

The Hades Pit: Lazarus has a teaser trailer, and is also on the road to being completed, as the post-production process nears the final few stages. 

Tokyo 70, is nearing the end of the editing phase pending a few extra scenes to be shot.

I made a few new music videos, for French artist Côme which was premiered on The Brvtalist. And another for The Shany Moore Jazz Quartet. Watch that here

As well as a promo for the Maedasan Skate company featuring their SS/2016 collection of decks and clothing, which you can check out here

There are a few projects in development, and some potentially nearing the start of production. More on those as they progress. 

What have you been up to? Call me, maybe. 

 

2016: The Road so far

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

The year has kicked off to a fine start project wise. 

Firstly, there is now an online feature film screeners section for people to watch the feature film work. Email for a password if you are interested in working with me on something of mine, or something of yours, and would like to see what the longer films look like. Serious enquiries only of course. 

The feature film Aliceville is completed, as is Simana, and both are on their way to a potential festival circuit and release strategy. As always I'm still experimenting with various avenues of distribution that are fitting for the current landscape, and in essence trying to find the best way to release the films into the world. As the system is constantly shifting, certainly for independents, it is something to be looked into without any kind of finality as to what is and isn't possible or viable for a film. Interesting times indeed

Tokyo 70 is finally in the edit, and I'm aiming to have that be this year's feature film release. As with Paris 60, this will also follow a more personal and less financially motivated distribution path, which should mean that it should be available a lot quicker than some of the other pictures. 

The Hades Pit Lazarus has been shot and is in editing currently, and moving along well (Thank you again Kickstarter backers!!)

Circling all those are a few feature film scripts that are either being resurrected, continued, or revised entirely following new stimuli, and some seedling ideas being finally developed into more fully rounded projects. And then there's the possibility of some serial narrative work that I can't talk about. Ooooh, mysterious!

 

Until next time

 

Tony

 

1 Short, 1 Long, and other stories

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

The Kickstarter campaign for The Hades Pit: Lazarus was successful! Production on that film will begin in early 2016, and will star Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt, Stephanie Sheh, and Brina Palencia. The film is adapted from the story of the in development feature film, The Hades Pit, and will act as a stand alone sci-fi short film, as well as a proof of concept for the larger feature film. You can watch the sizzle reel for The Hades Pit here

Shooting will commence on a new feature film, Simana, in mid November, starring Stephanie Sheh, and an ensemble female cast including Vera Chok. The story is a Brecthian inspired Orwellian style tale about immigration. 

Mum, Dad, Meet Sam is going to be screening at the Peckham Plex in London as part of Black History Month on October 29th. This follows the London premiere, and its theatrical run in Nigeria. 

The soundtrack for After the World Ended by Nikolas Labrinakos was nominated for the Jerry Goldsmith award for best original score for a feature, and  is still on general release on all online music outlets (Spotify, Itunes, Amazon music). 

Other projects bubbling away as this year draws to a close. It's been a busy one, and there is more to come. 

Be seeing you

The Hades Pit - Lazarus

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

The crowdfund campaign for the short sci-fi Horror film, The Hades Pit - Lazarus, based on the world of the in development feature film The Hades Pit, is now live. Please go and support the film by pledging towards one of the rewards or making a simple donation via the Kickstarter page, and sharing it around with your contacts. 

The Fighter's Ballad feature film wins big at GIFA

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

The film was nominated for 15 awards at the Global Independent Film Awards August 2015 competition, and won prizes in 13 of those categories including for 

Best DirectorBest Feature film, and Best Drama among others. Check out the full list of prizes below:

Best Feature Film
Best Drama
Best Director
Best Leading Actor - x 2 for both our leading men. 1st and 2nd place
Best Screenplay
Humanitarian Award (3rd place)
Best Ensemble Cast
Best Faith Based Film
Disability Award (2nd place)
Best Score (2nd place)
Best Production Design (3rd place)
Best Sound
Best Hair and Make Up

The Story so far...

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

Been meaning to write a new update for the site, but as it turns out the year has been a busy one. 

After The World Ended has been released on VHX, you can go and check it out HERE, please support as it is an indie release, and hopefully you'll find at least one thing in the extras worth your while for the purchase, with more to come. The films soundtrack, with a score by Nikolas Labrinakos also got an official release through MovieScore Media, and is available on Itunes, Spotify, Amazon music and other good music retailers online

Mum, Dad, Meet Sam had it's Nigerian release this summer in July, and is still on general theatrical release, with releases in other territories in the works. I was also nominated for Best Comedy over the last 10 years at the Inaugural British Urban Film Festival Awards, which is in September in London. An honour as always to be nominated. 

Aliceville is now officially completed, and is going to begin its release cycle soon, and Tokyo 70 is officially into the edit stage after some final major filming this summer, with a hopeful release by the end of the year. 

Random 11 is now available on DVD in North America, via Amazon and other sites. 

The last month also saw the release of a music video (on spec) for the band Warpaint, for a track from their self titled album, Feeling Alright. Shot on location in Southern California (You can find it in the music videos section). I was interviewed for the Tino Orsini Show podcast, and otherwise have been keeping busy prepping a few other projects to close out the year, including a new dramatic feature film to be shot in London, and a short proof of concept style sci-fi film based on the world of the in development feature film The Hades Pit. Watch out for the Kickstarter page launching in the coming months, and please support it, because it is going to be amazing if we get to do it. 

There are a few new videos in the film sections under experiments and promos, a brand new Director's Reel, as well as some additions to the feature film section (you can now watch trailers without leaving the site, you're welcome), and some new press items that have turned up. Including a mention in Variety no less. There are also some behind the scenes interviews in the BTS section, including with Haruka Abe and Clive Russell

All in all, business as usual. Here's to more before the year runs out.

 

Tony

2015: The year we made...

Added on by Tony Ukpo.
image.jpg

This year is full of creative possibilities, and it is going to be one that births a few long gestating projects, as well as see the release of the latest works made over the last year. The image above is a representation of this years slate, and can be broken down as follows:

2 INDIES - where we see the release of independent feature films Aliceville, and Tokyo 70. After the world ended would also fall into release this year, but as it was completed last year, is not counted in the new works.

6 FEATURES - where we begin to place into active development, 6 larger feature film projects. Some new, some old passion projects waiting for the right time, and some revisited ideas given new life. Script completion, casting, and financing all leading towards green lighting the projects for the near future. This is a long term slate of original projects that are a mix of different kinds of stories and genres.

4 SHORT FILMS - where some experimental narrative techniques shall be tested, as well as the creation of an off shoot of a larger feature film script.  

PHOTOGRAPHY - where I focus on several photo projects. The outcomes of which may then be put up for sale or print

Those goals are by no means exclusive, as floating around them are another indie, another larger feature film, and a novel in progress among other things, and leaving room for other ideas to take shape and have a voice.

There are a few things to think about this year, but I feel this is the year where there is a return to the source, and a much needed redressing of the elements.

And I can't wait...

In other news, Mum, Dad, Meet Sam was recently nominated for a Screen Nation award for  Best African/UK feature film ahead of its big screen debut in theatres in Lagos, Nigeria this March. You can vote for us at the link below:

http://www.screennation.com/nominees.html

 

And so starts the year of 2015. Here's to good things. Be seeing you

 

Tony

The Road so far: Closing out 2014

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

It's been a busy year.

Shot feature film number 6 which is currently in post-production (Aliceville), number 5 (Mum, Dad, Meet Sam) premiering theatrically in London this December (Details HERE), number 4 finally out of post production and ready to screen (After The World Ended), number 7 in progress (Tokyo 70), and number 8 being cooked up for 2015, as well as a few other possibilities floating around.

In between those there have been a few more experimental and narrative shorts, a few music videos, a campaign to Direct the feature film Americana whose rights were bought by Lupita Nyong'o, and curating the VTv music program for The Little Radio Company, as well as planning other programming for that side project, among other things including more photography. 

I'd say it's been a relatively good year, productivity wise.

And I say that as an independent filmmaker, who has been able to keep working on projects and being productive, without having many if any resources at my disposal (Not counting feature number 5 which was produced with a budget (even if low) and sizeable crew by another production company, which I was hired on for).

I'm veering back towards a more European mood with my work, and also have decided to potentially make a rather bold leap next year as far as how I approach the finish line of new independent work I produce. A decision partly to do with slight disenchantment with industry manoeuvring and a few other reasons, but will see how it goes.  

Next year will hopefully hold more stories, more films, and with any luck, more resources to make them. 

And so I would like to sign off for now, likely until 2015, unless anything substantial happens between now and Christmas. Please do check out the links above to the various projects, check out the photography section which now has a few project links including my ongoing candids series, as well as a portrait series. And of course mobile photography on my VSCO feed. 

Be seeing you.     

Mum, Dad, Meet Sam Premiere, After the World Ended launch, and other stories

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

So, there was an industry screening of the romantic-comedy I directed, Mum, Dad, Meet Sam a few weeks ago, which went quite well. The film is to premiere in London next month. That will mark the first big premiere of a feature film of mine in London, which should be interesting. 

Also, After the world ended is finally finally done! As far as the resources we had to make it, I think we did a damn fine job. I can only describe what the effect on an audience might be as watching an "Arty Grindhouse Science-fiction drama", and that won't be a bad thing in my book. Will very happily "Lucas" it whenever I get a chance. Really makes me eager to get the chance to explore and get the chance to make the other films from the earth future universe. One day. You can keep an eye out over at the VHX page for the film here:

http://aftertheworldended.vhx.tv/

I registered that page two and a half years ago now, finally getting to use it, and happy it's happening now, with VHX going from strength to strength. Really such a nice and fresh approach to the self distribution platform, right down to the slightly retro loading icon they have for their videos. Love it!

The Hades Pit Kickstarter is nearing the 11th hour, and I'm still hopeful we may get a second wind pushing us all the way to our goal, but i'm confident that either way, the film will find a life somewhere, whatever the means of getting it there. There has been so much support for the project, and i'm so happy that people are responding well to it. Do go and visit and donate at the link below:

kck.st/1sYzIOu 

Aliceville is having its music created, an original score from Nikolas Labrinakos who worked on After the world ended. While I also work on the sound edit and design, with the picture pretty much locked. If christmas comes early for me, it would be in the form of a Sundance acceptance email. Not holding my breath, but you never know. It's a funny thing being an independent filmmaker, the uncertainty and the lack of real resources. But it sure is liberating.

Be seeing you

 

Aliceville, Hades and other stories

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

An 8 day shoot complete on Aliceville without incident, followed by a Barry Allen worthy 2 day picture edit to make the Sundance festival deadline! Fingers crossed it was worth it. But saying that, the film is actually now nearly at picture lock before the post finishing process begins. Happy to get back to quick turnaround post periods after the much slower completion for After the world ended (which was to be expected, but still unfamiliar). The shoot went really well, and couldn't be happier with the result. Hoping the same applies to people when they eventually see it, wherever and however that may be. 

 

In other news, I finally took the Kickstarter plunge, by launching the campaign for a long gestating sci-fi horror project called The Hades Pit, which I wrote some years ago, which I'm hoping to  now be able to make through the power and good will of the audience who would like to see it. It's asking for a fair bit of money, though still paltry by industry standards, so hoping that I may have a good shot at it. So here I am asking for your support, dear reader. You can find all the information, including my humble (and perhaps slightly awkward and timid) pitch video introducing the project, at this link http://kck.st/Z9QPQR , which I also hope that even if you are not able to contribute personally, that you will be able to pass on to as many people as possible. Zach Braff got flack for being a famous person squandering the resources of indie filmmakers (up for debate still so I hear), so here I am, an indie filmmaker, standing in front of you... you know the rest. Also, big thanks to Twitch Film who did a little push to help us out. 

 

Also, My other feature, The Fighter's Ballad came out on DVD in the US at the end of last month. Some cover art I don't approve of, but hey, if you buy it you'll see the film is much more interesting. 

 

Be seeing you. 

Lauren Bacall: 1925-2014 | and other stories...

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

For the longest time, I wanted to send a handwritten letter to Mrs Bacall. It stayed on my to do list for the longest time, stayed in my thoughts. Every so often I would come up with things to say, and things I wanted to let her know. I'd think of some stupid joke that I hoped might make her laugh should she ever get to read the letter. I fantasised about what my first film working with her would be like, kind of like how Tim Burton got to work with his hero Vincent Price in his lifetime. I would go and look up things she might be working on, ponder on the ones I had seen, and wonder about those I hadn't wondering if they would be worth it even if only for her. Of course I didn't have the honour of knowing her, like so many of us not within any easy reach of personalities, but like I'm sure so many, her person, and her body of work fascinated, inspired, and motivated me. The way some people obsess over Marilyn Monroe, I adored Lauren Bacall. Out of all the actors from that period, of all the people, she was one of those who stood out the most to me. I'll probably still write that letter some day. But then maybe it's better to keep those memories and feelings as a way of honouring what it was she meant to me personally. I'll never know until I either go ahead and write it, or keep dreaming about it as I have done right up until this very moment. She always hated being referred to as an icon or a legend. But I think finally, the title has imposed itself upon her, and I feel she can now finally graciously accept it. I just felt I had to say something, because especially as a filmmaker and a lover of cinema, a cinematic hero means so much more than just another famous face. It might have been her time, and she lived many wonderful moments, as much as she gave, but it will always be too soon.

A very special mention about Robin Williams as well, who as Billy Crystal so eloquently put it, was always so present in our lives, both on screen and off, as a personality, and a talent. They shall both be missed, but we will always... always have the movies. 

_________________________

In other news, Mum, Dad, Meet Sam is almost complete.

After the World ended has finally gotten those last VFX shots that it's been waiting for, which means very very soon, it shall be unleashed into the world.

New trailers have been put out for The Fighter's Ballad and Random 11's upcoming US releases, see them here, and here

And Aliceville starts shooting in about two weeks. What else is new? Well my mind isn't really with updates today, and I think Mrs Bacall deserves the floor. 

Be seeing you

 

Side Projects and Open Letters

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

So I just wanted to say thanks to those who saw and supported my open letter about Americanah. Something may come of it, or maybe not. You never know in this business, which is why you find a lot of people always seemingly trying so hard. I always find it a bit weird "selling" myself, but it's all part of the territory, a certain level of earnestness. Which hopefully when managed correctly, doesn't come across as arrogant or over bearing. I will be working on the campaign over the year as the film moves further along in development, so do keep spreading the word. 

A brief glimpse of current projects would be:

- 2 in Post (After the World Ended + Mum, Dad, Meet Sam)

- 1 in Pre (Aliceville)

- 1 Shooting (Tokyo 70)

- 3 in development (To be continued)

But I wanted to take a moment to talk about artistic side projects of mine. 

I've always been an avid photographer, and it's been a long time since I embarked on a proper photo project. As such, I have about 3 different things in mind, each to varying degrees of complexity. I shall talk about those the closer I get to initiating them. But in the meantime, I have transformed my Instagram feed from mobile photography, to Film photography and drawings, all of which you can find at the instagram link somewhere in this page window. I've also transferred all my mobile photography dailies to VSCO, and those can be found in the mobile photography link in the site nav menu. 

I will however have a selection of day to day candids and sketches and such that are outside of special projects, which I shall post in the Visual art section of the site, so do check back if you're interested in following any of that. I could just do a dedicated Tumblr for my photos (I actually do have one), but figure it would be nice to have some of the select ones live here for the most part.

 

Anyway, that's the rambling of the day. More news soon.

Be seeing you 

 

Americanah: An Open Letter

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

An Open Letter to:
Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Andrea Calderwood & Chimamanda Adichie

On the matter of the film, 'Americanah', and its Director.
____________________________________

There is no reason for you to have heard of me. Be it discussed in the trades, on the industry grape vine, or less still from seeing my work. Even lesser reason for any of your agents, managers, assistants, or colleagues to mention, even in passing, any attempts I might have made, or am yet to make in trying to reach you, assuming they receive any such communication in the first place. 

I'm an independent filmmaker, a writer/director, as is so common within the scene. One of countless others, and not more deserving of your attention than anyone else. I've made a few feature films, have and continue to experiment a lot with short form narrative along side my other artistic ambitions… But nothing I write is going to be of any real proof or consequence, that what i'm doing is any better than what many others, both struggling and established, are doing. I'm not going to try and sell my work, but rather myself. 

On discovering that the rights to the novel 'Americanah' (Which I've read) had been acquired, like anyone with an interest in the art form and the business, I investigated further, making my way through press releases and articles, finding out more about the adaptation along the way. I know of the author, I've seen one cinematic adaptation of her work (Half of a yellow sun, which i've also read), and was impressed enough to care about the particulars of the story, as well as details on its adaptation.

Reading the book, I found a lot of things I related with.
I'm a Nigerian, and naturalised British Citizen. Anyone who has had the luxury of the green passport has experienced the trials of visa applications, border controls, rejections, suspicion, accusation… but then the story of the two characters, and how their lives were impacted by simply being Nigerian and striving for something beyond their borders, and how their lives changed while abroad… the fact that it spans three continents, all of which I myself have spent time in… the fact that for the better part of a decade my own life was defined by borders, for better and worse… I felt uncharacteristically compelled to somehow be involved in this adaptation. It called to me, and as impossible as it might seem, that of all people I would be the one plucked from obscurity to take the directorial reigns, I can't but try.

I know I have the capacity and perspective to bring something unique to the film, and enough experience that it won't be much of a gamble, at least stylistically. The assumption is that a list of directors, probably of the clout and calibre of a Steve McQueen, Lee Daniels, Sofia Coppola, Andrew Dosunmu, and many other recognised names are likely circling or being approached as I write this. Perhaps one could say I would be the "brave" choice, the long shot, the under dog. The project itself is filled with many firsts. I would very much like to be one of those firsts.

Kind regards

Tony Sebastian Ukpo
www.vertigoheights-film.co.uk

Currently...

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

There's quite a lot going on, but I shall try and make it concise by using bullet points:

- Science-fiction feature After the world ended is still in post, the longest post period I've ever had for one of my films, but that's what you get working in the indie sector and trying to get things done to reasonable quality on poor means, however it is looking hopeful that any day now, it will be ready to finally show the world. 

- Romantic Comedy Mum, Dad, Meet Sam is out of post! We're just working on the score for the film now, after which all the various releases will be planned. Go and check out the official site for more info on how that is coming along

- Pre production on drama Aliceville, a new feature film about a young skater girl having an existential crisis. You can find a teaser poster for it in the feature films section. Should be shooting in September in London all things being equal. 

- The follow up feature film to Paris 60, Tokyo 70, is in the process of shooting. As it's docu-fiction, there are elements that are evolving as the process goes on, and as such there is no real set timeline, other than whatever ends up being the right one. Another personal passion project, and one I hope works well in the series of what should be 3 films. 

- #Americanah ! I'm campaigning to be considered as the director for the newly acquired Lupita Nyong'o and Brad Pitt produced film of the Chimamanda Adichie novel. It's a long shot, but i wouldn't forgive myself for not trying. The worst that could happen is they go with someone else, so I'm going to give it my best effort, as I really feel compelled to be a part of this film. Will be posting and sharing round an open letter soon. Any help from anyone in either getting in touch with the production, or just sharing round my intentions, would be much appreciated. 

- A couple of smaller projects, including a music video for the California based band Crown Plaza, and some other explorations in Short fiction. 

 

Hope you enjoy the new site, and I hope to be more regular with news updates. As they happen, rather than months after the fact. 

New Site Design

Added on by Tony Ukpo.

Hoping to be a bit more regular with news of my filmic and artistic exploits with this new website update! More soon...