In February, we called for groundbreaking short films from aspiring storytellers using forward-looking techniques for the 2018 SHAPE edition of the AT&T Film Awards.

Filmmakers answered the call, with more than 1,500 outstanding entrants vying for a chance to win their share of $60,000 in prizes. We’re pleased to spotlight director Bola Ogun, one of the three co-winners of the Best Emerging Artist prize of $20,000.

Ogun, who is based in Los Angeles, was joined in creating the film by producer Tatiana Olsak, writer Hailey Chavez, editor Meaghan Wilbur, and director of photography, Ludovica Isidori. They are all based in Los Angeles, CA.

The film stars Tracie Thoms, Sean Maguire, and Gabrielle Skye Goodman. We spoke with Ogun to learn more about the message of Are We Good Parents? and what she hoped would resonate with audiences.

Q: Describe your project and what you aim to achieve with it.

A: My short is about a couple who have preconceived notions about their daughter’s sexuality and wonder whether or not they’ve raised her with acceptance. I wanted to talk about where I feel we are as a society now or, rather, where we can be.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your short film?

A: My youngest sister came out when she was 19, and I wished that she had felt comfortable being out earlier in her life. I thought of myself as a parent in the same situation: well meaning, overly concerned, and possibility missing the point. It wasn’t about how I come off or what I expected. It was about her.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your team and how you worked together to create your project.

A: As a member of the LGBTQ community, the writer, Hailey, felt a passion similar to mine. We’d throw new jokes back and forth with each revision. We both brought passion and humor to the script. The producer Tatiana and I met for coffee and chatted about the industry in general. I realized quickly that she’d be great for the project. She brought many resources to the film and supported me in the decisions that I felt we needed to make. Both Hailey and Tatiana were amazing collaborators!

Q: What is the filmmaking background of your team?

A: I started writing in high school, and my first play was produced at a small theater in Dallas by Junior Players. After attending the University of North Texas, I was in The American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, followed by Ryan Murphy’s HALF program and Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without A Crew. Writer Hailey Chavez (Emerson College) is a part of Upright Citizens Brigade Theater’s “Maude Night” and is writing for the upcoming season of Grown-ish. Producer Tatiana Olsak (FSU) cut her teeth producing TNT’s Full Circle. Cinematographer Ludovica Isidori (AFI, MFA) is shooting a feature in Texas.

Q: Did you use a variety of filming techniques (mobile, drone, 360 video) to shoot your film?

A: Yes. We used an Easyrig. I wanted the audience to feel as if they were in the situation with the parents. The Easyrig is a camera support vest that helps the frame feel less static without looking like “shaky cam.”

Q: What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

A: The biggest challenge was wrapping before the Game of Thrones season premiere later that night! On a serious note, I prepped the entire shoot in a week. I also wanted to be respectful of everyone’s schedules, because people either donated their time or lowered their normal rates for this film. But also, Game of Thrones is an awesome motivator to finish quickly.

Q: What do AT&T SHAPE and contests like the AT&T Film Awards mean to you?

A: It means a chance for indie filmmakers to have a platform. We all work so hard to make art, and most of the time, it doesn’t get seen by a lot of people. This is why film festivals, contests, and indie film awards matter. Artists have something to say, so thank you for giving us your microphone.

Q: What are your plans for your film?

A: I’m exploring the idea of adapting Are We Good Parents? for a pilot. I love this family and would love to tell more stories about them.

Q: What will you do with the prize money?

A: If I’m being honest, I’ll take care of a few bills, and a parking ticket also comes to mind. But mainly, I’d go to Croatia to see my sister and my five-month-old niece. Whatever is left will be put toward another project!


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