Berlin In Focus: Meet Screenwriter and BA graduate, Tunde Aladese
By Danny Kelly
23 April 2021
Our ‘Berlin In Focus’ celebration may technically have finished last week, but we couldn’t resist squeezing one more alumni interview into the series, this time with Nigerian screenwriter and BA Practical Filmmaking graduate, Tunde Aladese.
Our followers may be familiar with Tunde from when we spoke with her last year while she was undertaking the impressive (and slightly daunting) task of writing and directing 65-episodes of MTV Shuga: Alone Together – an online series that saw characters connect via video call while navigating “the new normal” under COVID-19. The spin-off show tapped into the current moment, incorporating themes of gender-based violence, fake news, and mental health. Read what Tunde had to say about working on the project here.
Alone Together is also supported by the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, who we work in partnership to offer our Voices That Matter Scholarship for Women in the Screen Industries. Find out more here.
In this short interview, we speak with Tunde about her time at the School and the creative scene in Berlin…
Reflecting on your time at the School, which learnings have been valuable in your career so far?
It’s helpful to have a sense of what you want going in. I knew I wanted to learn all the other aspects of filmmaking beyond screenwriting, at a hands-on level. I knew I wanted to explore the possibility of an international career. The variety of modules the school offers gives you the opportunity to try your hand at almost everything at least once.
For most of my career, I’ve learned on the job. I did not go in with a professional mindset, I was just happy to get paid doing what I loved. But you get to a certain age and start to think more long-term. This was a chance to step back and assess past work as I explored future opportunities. Identify and exorcise bad habits. Learn a whole bunch of different ways of doing things, from industries around the world. Expand my palate. And try to get a more professional, career-focused sense of the industry and the business.
What were your highlights of studying at MetFilm School Berlin, and living in Berlin?
Being an English-speaking school in Berlin, your classmates will most likely be from all over the world. You get to explore the city together, just as you’re also discovering your filmmaking skills and making mistakes together. It can create a real bond. The exercises were also pretty exciting – getting to try your hand at these new skills and see what you could make of them. It was exciting to not just write but shoot, and then shape the footage into something resembling a finished product, however amateurish. It’s so absorbing and time-consuming, and yet great to feel like you are sculpting this piece into existence.
Did you find the school well-integrated into the city’s creative community?
Integrating with the local community definitely presents its challenges if you’re not a German speaker. But Berlin is populated by people from around the world. And a lot of our teachers are long-term locals, as well as the staff, and some of the cast and crew you get to work with on your projects. You dip your toes in the local film festivals, you interact with local spaces and artisans for collaborations for your projects – locations, stylists etc. You even get informed about work opportunities you can apply for – music videos, fashion films etc where you might not make a lot of money, but you get to build on experience and contacts.
What tips would you recommend to people interested in filmmaking?
I wouldn’t say there is one catch-all tip for everyone interested in filmmaking. I personally experienced a combination of an obsessive passion, good fortune and great timing. So, I guess, figure out what you really love about the process, keep practicing it and keep your eyes open to opportunities. Say yes, and panic later. And never feel like you know everything. Keep looking for opportunities not just to work and show what you can do, but also to learn. A great part of this version of storytelling, as opposed to writing a book, is the opportunity to collaborate and create something together with other artistic minds.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up, some writing and some development, for both the big and small screen. But nothing I can speak about in detail just yet…
Lastly, what does Berlin mean to you?
New beginnings. Fresh challenges.
Tunde Aladese is a graduate of MetFilm School Berlin’s BA Practical Filmmaking in 2017.
Check out more of our Berlin In Focus alumni interviews on our news page here.