Stephané Alexandre Talks … Filmmaking

Stephané Alexandre is a filmmaker whose latest project The Perfect Knight is currently making the film festival rounds.

Let’s get to know Stephané Alexandre …

Please introduce yourself …

I’m Stephané Alexandre, I’m a Film Director/Producer and I am from the oh so sweet country we know to be, Ghana.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …

What if I fall? But what if you fly?

Tell us about your latest project …

The Perfect Knight is my directorial debut short. It also serves as a proof of concept for a TV series titled Alie, think Black Bridget Jones meets Emily in Paris. The short is a romantic comedy and if I were to sum it up, I’d say it is a blind date that sits as a love letter showcasing Black Love in the heart of this beautiful city, London. The short is led by the beautiful Jessica Allain and CJ Beckford who tell this story so beautifully. 

A Perfect Knight – Poster

What’s your role in it?

I wrote, directed and produced the short. Never again. Ha.

How did The Perfect Knight come to exist?

The story is based loosely on real events. For the last two years I’ve been struggling to finish my TV pilot episode, but this just came to me and I was like boom – let’s make it a short and have it serve as a proof of concept for the series. I had also come to a point in my career where I really wanted to showcase my style and voice as a director. I couldn’t get anyone to write it so I took the plunge and got to typing and self financed the film. I’ve been working in film/TV a long time now, so I was really fortunate to ask friends and creatives I’ve collaborated with over the years to help me make this. It’s a real labour of love and it wouldn’t be what it is without the beautiful cast that said yes to me and the crew who did an amazing job with the little resources we had.

Where are you in your career that this project made sense pursue?

I’m somewhat of a turtle, I’m big on process and preparation and when the time is right, moving and transitioning. For the last three years I’d say I’ve been whispering that I’m a director. Didn’t have the chest to say it out loud, but with each project, I gained a bit more gusto to move and transition into that space where I believed it. My first scripted piece was Drunk History, directing the queen that is Sheila Atim and also director Amma Asante. I’d since booked a few small projects with Amazon and BBC for social campaigns. The Perfect Knight is really the first thing I can say showcases me as a director and my style. It made sense because while I love producing, a big part of that is supporting and bringing your director’s vision to life, I was ready to bring mine to the screen and so invested in myself, which was painful, but so worth it and here we are today.

Comedy Central, Drunk history: Black Stories (2021)

Highs, lows, solutions …

Self financing is hard, every filmmaker, creative knows this truth. So when I think of the lows, I’d say the money just runs out of your account and with each transaction you’re asking yourself if you’re still ok. It hits different when it’s your money boy. Challenges were also not being able to get the shots we wanted due to timing. Having to reshoot one scene because I couldn’t compromise on having a half finished product, so that was definitely an obstacle we overcame. However, the reshoot was worth it and added to the value of what we have now in the film. Doing all three roles as director, producer and writer will definitely be my first and last. I survived it and had a solid support system in the production department, but never again. 

Highs were getting to make this short with some of the dopest creatives I know, and them saying yes to the project. I had some dope HoD’s in Dumebi Anozie (Hair & Make Up Designer), Jodie -Simone Howe (Costume Designer), Tawiah (Composer) and Debbie Duru (Production Designer) – all might I add, Black women who are just bosses in their own right.

Working with the cast who are just so immensely talented and I have so much respect for, was amazing. There was no one else I saw playing the lead role of Alie but Jessica Allain. She is a star and everything I wanted the character to be onscreen, so it was great to have her say yes to this. I’d worked with CJ Beckford before and he had such a gentle charm to him and brought the character of Daniel to life. The two are on screen match made in heaven. To add pepper to the soup, they are actually beautiful human beings. It’s always exciting for me to create with kind and vibrant people so that was definitely another highlight. 

You became a filmmaker because?

It’s always what I wanted to do. I have always known what I wanted to do from a young age, but I’d say my ‘because‘ comes down to it’s just what I am called to do. Tell stories through film so it feels natural and like I’m where God wants and intends for me to be. Doesn’t feel like work either (for the most part). I am moving more into directing now and being really selective about the productions I produce, but the why over the years has changed. Today I can say my intention behind producing and directing is to see more Black creatives both in front of and behind the camera. I’m big on changing the narrative on Black characters onscreen too, anyone who’s worked with me, or knows me will know that’s my bag and what I live for, so yeah that’s my why

Which of your previous projects have had the most impact on you and how you approach your career …Drunk History, Black Stories, I Am Pilate, The Evolution of Black British Music …?

That’s a tough one. I’m so proud of the productions I have been part of and each have had an impact on me and my sleep. Jokes aside, I’d say The I Am … series is my baby and it wouldn’t exist without the backing of Four8 believing in the idea. It’s an extension of my faith and what grounds me and the ability to combine my passion and faith is priceless. I created the series to reintroduce biblical characters in timeless settings. We’ve shot three so far and the dream would be to see it become a long form anthology TV series. I’d say the impact of being able to have the resources from Four8 has had an impact definitely on my career as a Producer. Drunk History for me was a dream to work on. I always thank the EP’s who brought me onto the project to assemble the team and cast and put our cultural stamp on it as Black British creatives, but also allowed me to direct an episode. It was hard as we shot over Covid, but it is one of my proudest projects because it embodies everything I am passionate about. Then with The Evolution of Black British Music – working with Nicky and Femi is like working with your big brothers. I’m so proud of what they created and it was great to support them where needed on the production.

Shaun Scott and Kayode Akinyemi in I Am Pilate (2020) – Credit: Natasha Hicks
GETTING TO KNOW YOU

What’s your current plan B?

No Plan B’s. Only God’s plan and I’d like to think it’s only onwards and upwards from here. What is for me will not pass me by so I’m easy resting in that.

What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?

Sad, my 5 year old told me he doesn’t like dancing with me cause I can’t dance. Cut deep. Mad, British Airways customer service is out of this world. Stress. Glad, The Perfect Knight is doing enjoyment on the festival circuit. Also I just discovered Our Place cooking pots and it has changed my life.

What are you watching right now?

Just finished The Crowded Room and Silo and about to start I’m A Virgo.

What are you reading right now?

TD Jakes – Disruptive Thinking.

What are you listening to right now?

Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure is everything right now. Album of the summer. And also been in my James Baldwin bag.

The last thing you saw on stage?

Andrew Llyod Webber’s, The Wizard of Oz at The London Palladium with my little human.

What’s on your bucket list?

Trinidad Carnival 24″ and just living a soft life, that’s top of my bucket list. Pure enjoyment.

Celebrate someone else …

Two Black men killing it right now for me are Adjani Salmon – so proud of what he has created with Dreaming Whilst Black. He’s an artist who is authentically himself and a great human being all round. Rashan Brown founder of poetry me, please for always betting on himself and winning. For my sisters, recording artist and composer Tawiah who is shining in her artistry right now and Dumebi Anozie who is the dopest Black Hair & Make Up Designer we have in the UK.

Celebrate yourself …

Hella awkward.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

Staying in my lane, taking each step at a time.

What’s Next?

Wait and see. I like working in silence and talking when it’s done. So bare with, but we cooking.

Where can we find you?

@stephanealexandre on the IG and StephaneATweets on the bird or the X.

Where can we watch your latest project?

For my Londoner’s we’ll be screening 2nd Sept at S.O.U.L Fest at the BFI. In York in November for Aesthetica Film Festival. September we’ll be in Virginia at The Afrikana Independent Film Festival, in Canada at Montreal International Black Film Festival and Trinidad for Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival. October we off to Brazil for the 16th Zózimo Bulbul Black Film Festival and back to Canada again for St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival! Follow @laitdemielfilms___ for updates!

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