Interview – Ajala Bandele

ajala photo 2Filmmaking is no question an art form. Whether it be working in a serious Drama, Historic piece, or a Horror Comedy, each genre takes a talent to capture a mood. For aspiring filmmaker Ajala Bandele, creating is a serious passion and he is looking to make a big move as he builds a resume in all areas of film, dabbling in writing, directing, producing, cinematography, editing, and acting. In the tradition of 1996’s Scream and 2010’s Tucker & Dale vs Evil comes his newest film OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!!. A film where seven friends find themselves trapped in a Horror movie, Bandele’s work is very funny and a somewhat frightening love letter to the genre. A movie about “What if’s;” there are questions of what if your life suddenly became a Horror movie? Who would you play? What if your role was taken? What would you do? OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!! answers those questions for seven “lucky” people who get to see what they would do. Recently we had the chance to speak with Bandele about the film, the art of creating Comedy, working as an Independent filmmaker, and more. – You have been involved in film as cinematographer and editor in recent years. Amidst that, you also have taken on some acting gigs. Tell us, when did your journey begin in entertainment?

Ajala Bandele – This began about a year out of college when I was getting fed up with all the auditioning. You spend all this time and money to act in something that you hope is at least mediocre. Even then, the odds of you actually getting the footage is rare. So I sat down with a concept and started to write with the intention of acting in whatever I wrote. My buddy Tom Hatfield came up one day and started to help. Now, here we are. – Very interesting. You actually worked with Tom on your latest film, OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!!. This is a film you c0-wrote and co-produced with Tom, but you also directed and acted in the film as well. How did you get the finances together for this film? Was it a mixture of private and personal finance?

Ajala Bandele – Mostly personal finance. I saved up as much money as I could, and my parents and Grandma gave the rest. We did an Indiegogo campaign as well, but the majority of the money for OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!! came out of the Bandele household.

Still from OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!! – Sounds like you put a lot into the film to get it made. One would probably call it a passion project, and sometimes that is what one needs to get a project off the ground. Were you attached to directing the movie before the script writing process began?

Ajala Bandele – I had no Idea who was going to direct it, nor was I really thinking about it. I tend to do things one at a time, and while writing, I was only worried about making a script that was good. My good friend Sharon Mae Wang got on board and said, “When are we shooting,” and it was then I realized that I was probably going to direct it. – Interesting, well sometimes things happen unexpectedly. How much say did you have in the storyline itself, and did you always see eye to eye with Tom?

Ajala Bandele – I had final say in everything, from the letters on the page to the scenes that should get cut in the edit. The great thing about writing and directing is that whatever you want to have happen, happens. – That is great to have that freedom. It must make the whole process more fun. Horror and Comedy seem to go together well. It can be a delicate balance getting them right together. With that said, is it difficult to write laughs?

Ajala Bandele – I think Comedy is easy to write personally. Not like stand-up, but for a feature film or a short, I take to it easily. The great thing about situational Comedy is that you don’t have to think of “Jokes,” but instead you just think of the context that the characters are in and you make them react honestly.

Still from OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!! – Right, that makes sense. How did you know which jokes worked and which did not work? Did you test the script or a workprint on an audience to find out what worked?

Ajala Bandele – We did tons of readings and kept adjusting to the actors. If it made us laugh, we kept it in. Then, once I was editing, I applied the same principle. The jokes that didn’t make it in, typically didn’t help the story at all. We had a lot of time with the script and vetted each joke to make them make sense. Plus, the actors are super funny and can make any script great. – Well it seemed to work out well, because the film is full of some good laughs. Another obstacle with a film is getting it seen. How did you go about getting the film distributed?

Ajala Bandele – Tom Hatfield found this great company called LEOMARK when we loitered at the American Film Market. Before Tom got kicked out, he was able to get Erik Lundmark’s card. They came to a screening we had at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, which is where I met them. They have been fantastic.

Still from OMG… We’re in a Horror Movie!!! – Great to hear that. The Independent genre of all films is really filled with a lot of compelling stories. It seems they pick up most of their feedback from film festivals. Do you think festivals are important for Indie films?

Ajala Bandele – Festivals are the life’s blood of Indie films. It’s where you meet new people and make strong connections that can help your career. You can be seen by industry professionals, which is a big help. You also have the chance to win awards and make a name for your film.

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