Please introduce yourself …
I’m Jessica Magaye, a screenwriter and director working in TV and film. I’m from Thamesmead in London and my work aims to show the weird trippy underbelly of topics we don’t see much on screen.
Why Daddy’s Girl ?
Daddy’s Girl is based loosely on the relationship between me and my dad. Through the years, age and ill health put a huge strain on our relationship and I wanted to show the realities of being a carer whilst trying to maintain a perfect unblemished facade to the outside world. I often found when I would tell people about my reality of having an unwell parent, they would be shocked and often say things like “Oh my God really? I would have never guessed”. I was always left wondering what does that mean? Do carers have a certain look? That was what I wanted to explore through Daddy’s Girl.
Tell us about your team …
My producer extraordinaire, Danielle Goff was super instrumental in the making of Daddy’s Girl. There were so many nights we cried together and laughed together (sometimes in the same conversation) and she helped fine tune the idea and make it what it is. Also, Koby Adom, my exec producer and my second big brother, was my drill sergeant when it came to making this film. “Where’s the heart?!”, he’d always say to me. Putting myself and my personal struggles into the film is what will make people connect with the story. I’ve said this to them before but working with them on this film has changed my life.
What does the story of Daddy’s Girl mean to you personally?
Outside of the glitzy VFX and social media imagery, Daddy’s Girl is simply about a girl and her dad. It’s about the guilt that comes with being a carer and not wanting to be a carer. It’s about a daughter finally seeing her sick father as more than a burden and more as a human being that needs her help. Writing and directing Daddy’s Girl allowed me to go through the same internal growth process Sade did. My Dad’s infrequent unpleasant behaviours and outbursts weren’t him, it was the illness. Sharing such a personal part of my life was incredibly difficult but if doing so allows others who are going through similar feelings to feel seen and heard, that makes it all worthwhile.
Tell us a memorable moment from idea to final edit?
On the first day of shooting Daddy’s Girl, we shot a scene where Richard (Sade’s Dad) had a dementia episode where he forgot where and who he was. Looking at the amazing David Webber perform this scene with such emotion and honesty moved me to tears. As many of the people who know me know, I’m not an emotional person – especially publicly. When David was performing it was as if his face morphed into my dad’s and I finally saw how vulnerable he was. It was honestly transcendent and a moment I’ll never ever forget.
Share a skill-defining moment making this film?
Being on a film set for this film really taught me resilience and problem solving. Things go wrong and everything may not go to plan. But being able to come up with creative solutions on the spot when time is ticking was a skill I’m grateful I’ve learnt and developed. Also, because I had such a phenomenal team, they gave me the space I needed to come up with solutions and I’m forever grateful for every single one of them.
Currently, Daddy’s Girl is being developed into an 8-part TV show. Although the series version deviates slightly from the short film, it still touches on familial relationships particularly the relationship between a daughter and her estranged father. I’m also working on a sci-fi mystery drama set in 2012 about a class of kids that were mysteriously abducted in broad daylight.
Daddy’s Girl is showing as part of DBK’s Unearthed Narratives series. Available to watch on Now TV
Find out more about DBK’s Unearthed Narrative filmmakers here