We Love Moses — a short film that highlights the complexities of growing up

We speak with filmmaker Dionne Edwards.

Directed by Dionne Edwards, We Love Moses focuses on Ella — a young girl growing up in London, exploring her infatuation with her brother’s best friend Moses.

This is a beautifully told story about the challenges of navigating sexuality and school when you’re growing up.

Dionne Edwards.

We spoke with filmmaker Dionne Edwards for a behind-the-scenes look at the film:

What was your inspiration for the story?

I thought it would be interesting to tell a story about a young girl’s first obsessive crush, and tell it in a way that was both intimate and cinematic. I also felt that there’s not much around in the way of the young black female experience. Having been a young black girl and not seen many stories of this kind on the screen, it was important to me to break that mould.

What was the production process like?

It was quite a journey with this one. I wrote the first draft of the script around eight years ago and it sat in my drawer for a while because it was a little ambitious for me to think about directing — I’d worked as a runner and assistant for a few years and was out of filmmaking shape. Then I met my producer partner, Georgia Goggin, in 2012 and around that time we were forming our company Teng Teng films — we always had it in the back of our minds that we’d make it once we felt we could do it justice as filmmakers.

We made a few short films and at the end of 2015 we felt ready to apply for Film London’s London Calling Plus scheme for BAME filmmakers. We went through a few development rounds, then finally in February 2016 we were green-lit. We shot the film in four days in May, finished it in August, and premiered it at the BFI London Film Festival in October.

Going through all the stages of the Film London scheme felt like we were on the X Factor at times because we had to get through some competitive rounds to get the funding — like pitching and explaining the artistic potential of the film to panel. I’m terrified of those kinds of on-the-spot, pressure situations, so we had to do a lot of prep and we managed to get through it. In the end I think it was a really good training ground, which I guess is the point of it.

What was the casting process like?

It was painful at times because it was hard to find the right actors, and at points we worried we weren’t going to find them at all. But I learned the right people for the roles always come along somehow, and we were blessed with every single one of the cast members — including the twelve-year-old lead actress Danaë Jean-Marie who is so natural, talented and focused at such a young age.

What does your film say about the challenges in navigating sexuality through the pressures of school?

From an early age our sexuality is conditioned and seen as a shameful and embarrassing thing that needs to be policed. I think the film comments on this and I hope it can start conversations on the subject — we plan to get this film to as many young people as possible.

What sort of feedback have you had on the film so far?

My main goal was to get the film into the BFI London Film Festival and to have a strong run on the film festival circuit. Having played it quite a bit now in London especially, I realise it’s the first short of mine where people have really gone out of their way to tell me how much it’s moved them — that really has gone beyond my expectations, more so than ticking festival boxes.

What do you hope that audiences feel when watching the film?

People are really connecting to it from all different backgrounds, and I think it’s because they can all identify with Ella. Everybody knows what it feels like to have butterflies, to feel obsessed and to feel disappointed, and I think that’s because the story is told and shot in such a subjective way.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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