Elijah Baker is a man of many talents actor, writer; director and CEO of his own film production company.
A lot of titles for one person, but none he cannot manage; Baker exudes a certain drive and ambition that many have, but find hard to execute successfully.
We caught up with this upcoming creative talent who talks about the importance of creating with purpose and his plans for the future…
You recently starred in Signs of Silence a short film about a young deaf man navigating the world as he knows it. The film was written and directed by R. M. Moses, how did you get involved with the project?
I got involved in Signs of Silence through a Remi (R. M. Moses) casting set up via IMDB Pro (which I recommend to all up and coming performers). I saw the audition advertised, I learned a little sign language for the audition and went for it. Ironically, a week before I found out about this project I had been considering taking sign language lessons. It’s interesting how things pan out.
What was it about the main character Eli that attracted you to auditioning?
I love roles that are challenging, and I knew this would be no exception. Eli is very tormented and introverted, I enjoy playing complex characters because I am forced to dig deep to find who they are and how I can effectively play them. I am quite extroverted so playing a character the complete opposite to me is very appealing.
Was portraying a deaf man difficult, do you have to look at the character any differently than you would a character without a disability?
It was difficult at first because I was so focused on getting the signs perfect until I realised, that much like people who can speak, most deaf people don’t talk with perfect diction and often make gestures to shorten what is being said. Once I realised this, the process became a lot easier, as long as I had our sign language consultant and friend Laura Potter-Dunn to keep me in check, it wasn’t too difficult. In regards to having to prepare differently, I’d say yes and no. Yes because Eli being deaf means he doesn’t speak, he communicates solely with body language, so he is a lot more expressive than most, and no because a character is a character, regardless of ability.
Can you explain the emotional roller-coaster your character has to go through on his journey and what the film aims to highlight through it?
Eli must overcome, and face demons within himself, predominantly inflicted by a family member during his upbringing. He must accept and learn to live with his disability in order to be happy and grow as a person. Our film aims to highlight the effects of being different, not dealing with your personal issues and battling one’s inner struggle for peace and acceptance, something we can all relate to.
You seem to enjoy raising awareness for those who at a disadvantage in mainstream society, what’s the inspiration behind this and what have you learned taking on this role?
To give those who are under-seen, over looked and sometimes not fully understood an opportunity to be heard and to have their struggle acknowledged. I see this as the first step to educating, and then making a difference for the better. Many people may not fully appreciate some one’s struggle if they are not shown facts or made aware of one’s troubles. I’ve learned a great deal about compassion, understanding and humility, taking the time to educate myself on important matters regarding the well-being of those less fortunate than most who live within our society.
These experiences encourage a level of compassion and understanding. What did the experience teach you?
I agree they do and as much as I considered myself to be quite an understanding person before this project, this experience has made me even more aware and I’m now able to have empathy as I’ve played someone with this disability rather than sympathy, which is all I could offer before.
You have also just completed another short film Book Trader also with R.M. Moses which will be doing film festival tours this year, can you tell us what the film is about briefly?
Yes it was great to collaborate with Remi once again. We worked so well together during Signs of Silence, and churned out such a quality piece that Remi vowed we had to do another and he stuck to his word. Book Trader is about the spontaneous relationship between ‘Damian’, a young, eccentric, eclectic homeless man; and ‘Cassandra’, a good natured, pious stranger who desires his books, which he holds in supreme high regard. Much like Signs of Silence, Book Trader also deals with loneliness, relationships and acceptance, even though it is a very different film.
You too have written and directed your own short, a comedy called, Dim Squad will you be releasing it this year?
Dim Squad follows the escapades of four friends from a south-east council estate, who get into debt with a local Triad gang and have to find £10k in a week or face dangerous consequences. It sounds dark but I promise it is a comedy. Dim Squad is a short film so it can tour short film festivals but it also doubles up as a pilot. Once it’s completed, I’ll be pitching it to a select list of production companies in order to get it picked up as a series. I’ll be holding a screening for cast, crew, friends, family and potential investors sometime this year, when it’s completed. As an up and coming actor I feel creating your own material is one of the only ways to guarantee and ensure that you work in this industry of ours.
Very true, and there are so many talented people who now have an avenue which at one stage was not available to them, so it’s great to see a young man like yourself take advantage of that.
So, not only do you write and direct but you are also the founder and managing director of your own independent London based film company EnuffTalk Productions… I see you’ve got an online web series called the Kalijah Show, tell us about that, and what else we can expect from EnuffTalk… (Also is that a kind of statement EnuffTalk?)
Yes I founded EnuffTalk a year back and will be where, Dim Squad will be released under, as well as a number of other projects I have in the pipeline. The name is definitely a statement as the company was birthed out of wanting to create my own material for years. The name comes from the notion “Enough talk, let’s get to it”, “Less talk More action” or my favourite phrase of the three, which I’ve coined “Talk is cheap, actions are expensive”. We intend to start off with in-house pilots & Short films then as the company grows, eventually take on other people’s projects whom I believe in & wish to see do well. full website coming soon.
The Kalijah Show is very new and is an entertaining, comedic; philosophical show, set up by my friend Kadeem Boyce and I, to discuss various thought provoking topics mainly focusing on human behaviour, both fun and deep. Consider it an alternative to other shows with similar themes and topics. We consider ourselves quite grounded and wish to spread positive vibes along with share views/opinions with guests we bring on the show.
How has being an actor helped you succeed in taking on these other roles?
Being an actor you learn to give; you learn about yourself and you learn to be very understanding. To be a great actor you must be able to step outside of yourself, in order to play a character well you must possess the ability to understand others and in doing so you learn a lot about yourself. This makes you grounded and can prepare you for many things. I feel I know quality when I see it and I felt I could write better scripts than many I’ve been sent which have been commissioned, so naturally this inspired me to start writing my own. Being on professional sets, if you are observant like any actor should be, you pick things up. What I’ve picked up I incorporated into my own productions from how crews are run, to how we should conduct ourselves and how a ship should be run.
As an actor you must be daring, fearless and willing to take on new challenges, which is what setting up an independent production company is. We live in an age where a bunch of hard working, innovative talented people can put their ideas and resources together, create a great show/film and take it all the way without the aid of a massive corporation. Many times you create something popular and of high quality and the corporations come to you.
What is the year ahead looking like for you?
Dim Squad is near completion and I’m very excited for people to see it. We aim to get it picked up either by a TV or
online platform this year. The first episode of brand new online sitcom The Booth, which follows the life of ambitious studio engineer/ Vlogger ‘Smokez’, as he campaigns to be the next Timberland, played and created by King Zion and directed by yours truly, recently dropped via SBTV’s comedy channel and is already generating a great reception. You can catch me acting in the show too as a supporting lead playing the ever critical, Twist. As well as cooking up more projects under ‘Enuff Talk’, I’m also a part of a handful of others, some filming, some in post & some in pre-production but I’ll keep you updated nearer their releases.
Finally what do you enjoy most, being on stage, in front of or behind the camera?
I take a lot of joy in directing and writing as its all creativity but for me, my 1st love is acting. Giving myself to a role and becoming a character, touching others & making them feel and think through a performance. Acting makes me feel alive, I live to act and I act to live. I really have love for the stage as that’s where I started but I do prefer TV and film, still I enjoy acting on all platforms, after all, it’s all acting.