Teniola Zara King Writer/Director + creator of ‘Teju’s Tale’

Teniola Zara King – creator of Teju’s Tale

Please introduce yourself …

My name is Teniola Zara King, I’m a Nigerian-British Writer/Director and up until now I have written and directed two short films.

Why Teju’s Tale?

Teju’s Tale is based on a true story that happened to my Grandma when she came to England in the 1950s. When I worked in Nigeria as a TV Producer, in the evenings I would spend time sitting and talking to her. Teju’s Tale is one of the many experiences she had as a nurse here (in England).

Tell us about your team …

The key people would definitely be the team at DBK Studios. Koby, Danielle, Domenique and Dola all worked tirelessly to ensure that I had everything I needed to make the best film possible. Nathalie Pitters and Marco Turcich were the Cinematographer and Production Designer respectively and they both beautifully brought Teju’s Tale to life visually. My Editor Angelina Shortt and I spent months pouring over the footage to ensure we had the best version of the film. The cast? They all went over and above to bring their characters to life. I could go on.

What does the story of Teju’s Tale mean to you personally?

Teju’s Tale is very personal for me as I know what it feels like to leave a country to go to another and feel “other“. I went to Nigeria from the UK at the age of 10 to attend Boarding School and I really had to strive to find my voice and not let my “otherness” be used as a weapon against me but as my pedestal. Teju similarly was at first bullied but she was able to cleverly use the bully’s weapon against her on them.

Tell us a memorable moment from idea to final edit?

The first day we were on set and I saw the cast and crew bring my script to life is certainly at the top of many memorable moments for me on Teju’s Tale. It’s quite a surreal moment seeing all the different departments work in unison to bring your vision to life, especially as a writer/director. In a moment of inspiration during a take, the lead, Dorcas Shola Fapson, said something in Yoruba that I hadn’t written into the script and at that moment I realised how important it is to cast people that are authentic to the character you’re attempting to portray.

Share a skill-defining moment making this film?

A skill-defining moment would definitely be when I had to change the script and rewrite three key scenes on the shoot day because we (as always is the case on sets) ran out of time. That was challenging at the time but now the film is completed, I can’t imagine how the film would be if it was shot the way it was originally written. The newer version got to the point quicker and made the story tighter as a whole. I learnt that as a writer, it’s really important to know the world you have created inside out because this knowledge is what will enable the writer to adapt the script quickly in a manner that stays true to the overall story.

What’s next for you?

I am currently developing my TV Series that will be written and directed by me.


Teju’s Tale is showing as part of DBK’s Unearthed Narrative series available to watch on NOW TV

Find out more about DBK’s Unearthed Narrative filmmakers here

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