Please introduce yourself …
I’m Edem Wornoo, a Ghanian-British writer and director from Pollards Hill in South London and I currently work in Film, TV and Music Videos. Thematically, my work consists of street level fantasies that draw out the magic in the people, places and things that I grew up around.
Why Butterfly Affect?
Butterfly Affect is about the survival mechanisms I learnt growing up in a predominantly African-Caribbean working class community in South London. As a black boy there was a certain way that I had to present myself in order to ensure my safety. However, when I went to University and started working in Film, I felt that I had to do the opposite, foregoing the survival mechanisms that were ingrained in me in order to ensure that in these predominantly white environments, my colleagues would not feel threatened. I felt a responsibility to dispel the stereotypes around boys like me that are perpetuated in the media. I felt like I was at an impasse; I felt pressure both from where I grew up and where I worked and studied to become two different people. I existed in two different worlds that had opposing laws. Eventually, I learnt that I had to decide who I wanted to be as a man.
This film is about that crossroads where our protagonist reckons with this masculinity in the world of his council estate and a prestigious ballet school. The name Butterfly Affect refers to the theoretical Butterfly Effect that suggests that in a sequence of events, a small initial event can have an exponentially greater consequence. For example, if I tell a small child that boys don’t dance, this could ultimately result in that boy foregoing his potential in dance or causing them to hide this affinity for fear of being shunned. We’ve spelt our title a little differently. Effect refers to “causing something to happen” however Affect more specifically refers to “touching the feeling of” or “moving [someone] emotionally.” Butterfly Affect is about the emotional consequences of toxic masculinity of boys.
Tell us about your team …
Every single person who worked on this film was instrumental, it wouldn’t feel right just naming a handful.
What does the story of Butterfly Affect mean to you personally?
The film is allegorical of my journey through filmmaking. Early on, I was interested in storytelling and art of all kinds in an environment in which most boys were set on being Footballers, Rappers or Athletes. I decided that a more visually interesting way to portray this struggle on screen in my film was through dance. Much of the stereotypical preconceptions of masculinity are concerned with physicality and the brutality that a man’s physical form can threaten. Ballet is often seen as an elegant, beautiful art form, however, it is actually extremely brutal in the ways in which a ballet dancer must train and condition their bodies. On the other hand, an African-Caribbean working class community is often portrayed as a very gritty, brutal space in film and the media, however, growing up in these environments, I know that this is not the truth, there is a lot of elegance and beauty in this space and the people that inhabit them. In terms of these two spaces, this film is also about how they mirror and speak to each other.
Tell us a memorable moment from idea to final edit?
The most memorable moment for me was watching the ballet dancers on set for the first time. Seeing what they do up close was so impressive. It felt better than anything that I had ever imagined and I danced circles around them for a minute in excitement.
I’m currently writing a TV show that leans heavily into my love for street-level fantasy!
Butterfly Affect is showing as part of the DBK Unearthed Narrative series, currently available to watch on NOW TV
Find out more about DBK’s Unearthed Narrative filmmakers here