#TBB10 With Ogo Okpue Director of West African Supernatural Thriller Short Film, Cat Face

Ogo Okpue is an award winning London based filmmaker and multi-disciplinary designer who works for top broadcast and production companies BBC, SKY, NBC UNIVERSAL, A&E NETWORKS etc. offering his expertise in branding, motion graphics, design direction and 3d animation.

His short films have been nominated and screened at various UK and international festivals and events including London Independent Film Festival, British Urban Film Festival, Crystal Palace Intl. Festival, Creative Arts Festival, African International Film Festival, Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, KUSH Film Exhibitions UK. He is also a recipient of the 2017 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards for Best Short film/Online Video.  

Bringing to the screen an often overlooked culture Okpue’s latest short film CatFace is a supernatural thriller about revenge and West African mysticism that has recently been made available to watch via YouTube. 

#TBB10 found out more… 

1# How long have you been making films?

I have been making films on and off since 2009.

2# What’s your premiere role in the creative process?

I am primarily the director but as an independent filmmaker, I wear many hats. It’s a result of a mixture of my love for the craft of filmmaking and necessity. I try to express my vision as clear as possible through my storyboard, mood-board and animatic and then my heads of department add their own creative input.

3# Your signature describes you as a Motion Designer / Director – please could you elaborate on what a Motion Designer is and how it works alongside being a director?

A motion graphics designer is an artist that combines the languages of film, animation and graphic design. The industries that most utilise our services are film, television and advertising. We create title sequences for film and television series’, visual effects, branding for television shows and networks, infographics, video installation graphics for events, animated user interfaces for multimedia products, virtual reality experiences and so on.

 The design industry would argue that my title should read multi-disciplinary designer because I work across various media such as print, motion and video but I put motion designer in my signature because most of my day to day work is in motion graphics.

  As an independent filmmaker, my skills and experience are extremely invaluable during postproduction of my films and sometimes on set especially where visual effects is concerned. It also gives me a realistic outlook on what is achievable when it comes to visual effects in film.

4# How do you become a Motion Designer and how did you discover your talents within film?

You become a motion designer by being a very good graphics designer first. After that you learn animation and the tools required for it. It could be self-taught or you can go to art school and then intern at a design or creative agency. Once you are confident enough, you can create your showreel and start applying for work as a junior/entry level motion designer.

I was self-taught and this went back as far as the 90s so I am quite an old boy in the game. The rules can always be rewritten for great talent and this applies to finding work as a motion graphics designer.

 I discovered my talent in film years ago. I drew and sold my first set of comics at age 8 in my primary school and I created my first 2d cartoon on a 486 machine around 10. I would make up stories in my head and play out a whole film (opening to closing credits) in my bedroom from a very young age.

My formative years were in Lagos, Nigeria and filmmaking was not a popular craft so though I was passionate about telling stories, I didn’t see filmmaking as a viable outlet until my early 20s when I decided to move to London. I got involved in live action films around 2008. After a failed ambitious short film project, I took a break from filmmaking until 2011. I had just met talented cinematographer Joao Da Silva, and we became good friends. So after a candid conversation with him, I decided to return to filmmaking. I used my flat as the location for a short 5 minutes’ film script called Damaged I wrote. Its premise was on the psychological aftermath of domestic abuse. I have never looked back since then.


5# So you’ve created this film short, CatFace tell us a bit about the film…

CatFace is my fourth short film and most ambitious till date. It’s a story about CatFace is a mystical vigilante who after years of trying to rid London of violent serial killers, decides to abduct Tyler, a young businessman with a mysterious past. It is a mix of African mysticism and the classic revenge tale. Some describe it as Dexter with a blend of African black magic. We shot it over 6 days which were spread across five months.

6# What was the inspiration behind it?

I have always loved superhero and anti-hero movies. The kind of fictional heroes that appealed to me the most were the ones where the protagonist had the darkest histories i.e. Batman, Spawn, Blade, Wolverine, Punisher etc. I connected with their stories because I felt it had a level of humanity in it that was somewhat relatable. This extended to popular live action vigilante fiction like Death Wish, Old Boy, Mr. Vengeance, Kill Bill etc. The way these films portrayed the quest for primal vengeance whilst highlighting the almost futile nature of it intrigued me. In no time, I began to birth ideas for stories along these lines but within the environments I grew up in. CatFace is a one of those ideas. My main objective behind making CatFace is to add an anti-hero from African descent to the superhero/vigilante entertainment ecosystem, which is heavily lacking in ethnic minority representation in media

7# What are your intentions for the journey of this film?

CatFace has been screened at a few festivals already and the response was amazing. It got most of the reactions I wanted,. I wanted anyone watching CatFace to suspend all disbelief and immerse themselves in the world of CatFace. A young lady actually told me during its screening at the 2016 British Urban Film Festival Q&A that she had to pray to Jesus after watching the film! People asked very interesting questions like if there was actually a tribe in Nigeria that worshipped the deity shown in the film and if there were plans to turn the short film into a series or a feature. It just shows that African stories have so much to offer to an international audience.

CatFace also screened at the African International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria last year and we just won the award for best short film at what a lot of people call the Oscars of Africa, the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. It is a great feeling to be accepted in your country of origin. 

Now, we are currently trying to raise finance for the feature length version. There are also plans to turn it into a TV series.

8# Can or should every film short be extended to feature?

Not really. The short film is a conclusive art form itself. Most shorts will not work as features. I believe that if the story demands a feature length treatment then the audience will ask for it. Having said that, it is becoming the norm that most filmmakers use shorts as a proof of concept for features and TV series. Personally, I tend to write shorts that can extend to features.

9# Have you started on your next project?

Yes, I have my debut feature film about to go into pre-production. It is a thriller with a subject matter that can put anyone with a heart to tears. Fingers crossed we go into production sometime this year. I am also working on an African action adventure animated web series called Syfa Knights, which is also in the pipeline.

10# Tell us how we can keep up to date with your projects and developments

CatFace is now on YouTube. It is age restricted due to some of the violent scenes. We wanted to get it on various Video On Demand platforms but we decided to change strategy and make it available for free. We have also put up the original soundtracks and behind the scenes on YouTube as well. Any person interested in my works can check out my website www.ogothecreative.com and follow me on Twitter @ogodinife  and Instagram @ogodinife. My previous short film Saving Cain is currently showing on Shorts HD DirecTV Channel 573 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 1789.

Watch CatFace below:


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