Wale Atoyegbe likes making films about losers. And his short film Desperate Lies explores an incident in one loser’s life. We caught up with Wale to uncover the odd inspiration for the film, how the idea developed and the importance of having a clued up producer
D&CFilm: Where did you get the idea for Desperate Lies?
Wale Atoyegbe: I was on my way home, this was a long time before I got the idea, I saw this Chinese woman walking really funny on the other side of the road. I was curious and amused as I gazed at her until I heard the voice of a child, and realised that she was trying to run to her child, but she was too tired. They got to each other finally and it was a touching moment, and I always wanted to make a film where I will have that scene.
Then years later I came up with a son on a dating app looking for love. He meets someone, but his mom calls and interrupts the chat but he lies to her, so he get back to chatting, the chat turns into a date, and on the way to his date, he sees a woman walking funny on the other side of the road, he was curious and amused, like I was, until he hears the voice of the child, and he has an inner conflict, as he witness the touching moment, but decides to go back home and do the task his mother asked him to do.
That was the story for a while until I decided to see where it will lead if he decided not to go back home, and that’s where the story of the finished film comes from.
D&CFilm: It’s seems a bit of an indictment about the use of technology and modern young people (dare we say millennials?), is that the way you see it, or is it the story of someone looking for love?
Wale Atoyegbe: It was mainly about someone looking for love, but afraid to take the risk, but while I was writing and rewriting, I realised that theme in the story.
In the age we are in, technology is transforming human emotions into a game or a con, most people tend to show themselves in a good light on the web, there are a lot of lies on the web: photoshop, airbrushing, and fake news, it easy to get conned on the web, Realising that helped the second half of the film, it’s indictment of both.
D&CFilm: Tell us about the main character Mark – he seems to turn his back on a potential future in the end?
Wale Atoyegbe: While I was writing the screenplay, I realised that I enjoy tragic comedy, people going after something but they give into their flaws and they fail.
There is also some part of my life in Mark, I do go after somethings and fail, especially love, and realise that is because I give in to my flaws, but instead of hiding that fact about myself I let it inspire my filmmaking.
I like making films about losers, Mark is a loser, I’m kind of a loser, losers are interesting, you learn from losing, you learn from losers.
Louis Brzozka, the actor who played Mark, understood the character, because he could relate. I think everyone can relate with Mark.
D&CFilm: Where did you shoot the film?
Wale Atoyegbe: We shot the film on location in Totnes and Plymouth during April, after the Beast From The East did its job. My producer Silver Levy So, knows the South West very well and scouted the location. We also shot some scenes in my studio in Plymouth, the restaurant and park scenes where in Totnes.
D&CFilm: How did you find your cast and crew?
Wale Atoyegbe: Silver Levy So did the casting. He has a lot of contacts in the South West, so he cast actors he has worked with previously, actors he felt will be good for the film. I personally cast one actor, the actor that played Lewis, Stuart Partridge.
These are names of the actors in the film, and they all reside in the south west: Louis John Brzozka, Leila Kotori, Stuart Partridge, Katie Bottoms, Minna Gibbs-Nicholls, James Stannard, and Jago Stannard.
Silver Levy So also crewed the film, he really made this film happen.
D&CFilm: What sorts of films do you like and directors/writers you admire?
Wale Atoyegbe: My favourite film is Forrest Gump, I just think it’s a really good film, I can watch it for days. My favourite filmmakers are those filmmakers that burn images and dialogue into your mind, and you start repeating them or talking about them. Filmmakers like Scorsese, Spike Lee, The Coens, Luc Besson, Jean Pierre Melville, Danny Boyle, Ang Lee, David Fincher, Denis Villeneuve, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Billy Wilder, and so much more.
D&CFilm: What’s next for you?
Wale Atoyegbe: What’s next for me? I’m trying to make the step into feature films, I’m working on a screenplay at the moment titled The Comic and the Nazi, its about a Black British comedian who had a one-night stand with a Neo Nazi, I’m a pretty slow writer, I’m still working on it.
D&CFilm: Good luck with that Wale, and thanks for your time!
Here’s the cast and crew of Desperate Lies
Louis John Brzozka – Mark
Leila Kotori – Eve
Stuart Partridge – Lewis
Katie Bottoms – Girl
Minna Gibbs-Nicholls – Mother
James Stannard – Father
Jago Stannard – Baby
DOP: Silver Levy-So
Sound: Ed Sillence
Camera Assistant – Sam Oxton
Set Designer – Minna Gibbs-Nicholls
Editor: Spyke O’ Hanlin
top image: Wale Atoyegbe and Silver Levy So on set with Desperate Lies