Metfilm School Logo
fa fa-search
MetFilm School Short Course Virtual Discovery Session

Metfilm School

Seun Richards (MA Directing) on SHE, Wallflower & A Rhythm Unsung

By Elise Czyzowska

14 September 2023

Back in June, our London screening room hosted a special screening of SHE, the debut feature film from MA Directing student, and London Vice President for our Student Senate, Seun Richards.

A story about domestic violence and abuse, the film was made in collaboration with the Office of the First Lady of Lagos State, and follows a thematic trend seen in all of his work. From SHE, to his short film Wallflower, and his upcoming A Rhythm Unsung, each of Seun’s projects tackle key societal issues, with an ambition of creating change.

In today’s blog, we spoke to Seun about these three projects, and in particular, his progress on A Rhythm Unsung, which will be his Master’s Project at MetFilm School. Keep reading to find out more…

What first drew you to MA Directing at MetFilm School?

I always knew I wanted to go to a film school, and this was as far back as 2016, while I was still completing my undergraduate degree.

It was years later, when I had started putting more thought to the idea, that I stumbled on a film by Tomisin Adepeju. I reached out to him and found out he was an alumni of MetFilm School – after sharing how the School had shaped his film ideologies, I knew for a fact that I was coming here.

Recently, you screened your first feature, SHE, at our London campus. Can you tell us a little about the film?

The idea for SHE actually came during lockdown. I was scrolling through the internet, and came across the story of a young girl, who had survived domestic violence. While reading the story, there was that ‘stay calm’ voice in my head, whispering ‘this is your film‘. I started calling every one of my friends, telling them we had to make this film ASAP.

The story meant so much to me because, during the pandemic, there was a huge rise in domestic violence, some of which I witnessed first-hand. So, it was a classic case of finding a story that just had to be told – that was the drive.

It took about two years, but we made it. And the joy of seeing the film resonate with an international audience has been boundless.

The audience at Seun Richards’ screening of SHE at MetFilm School London

SHE was made in collaboration with the Office of the First Lady of Lagos State (amongst others). What was it like to receive this support?

The funny thing about the collaboration with the Office of the First Lady, as well as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Lagos State, was that up until the day we pitched, my team and I were still in disbelief about it all. When she then agreed to come on board as an Executive Producer, it was a priceless moment.

Such a collaboration had never been made prior to this, and it meant a lot that an institution like that would agree to back a first-time filmmaker. Once we had her on board, others immediately joined, and the vision started to get more and more clear.

Between SHEWallflower, and your upcoming film, A Rhythm Unsung, what would you say defines your personal style as a director?

These three films all share the common ground of telling true stories. All were inspired either by actual events, or the life of someone, and they all address key societal issues – I strongly believe that film as a media should serve as much more than simply a means to entertain.

While SHE was addressing sexual and gender-based violence, Wallflower addressed the subject of autism, and A Rhythm Unsung touches on racism, finding one’s voice as a creative, and other issues.

I can’t entirely say I’ve carved a niche for myself as a director, considering I’m still at the start of my career, but I love telling socially relevant stories. Stories that can outlive me, and be rewatched years later, carrying a similar weight as they do now.

Behind the scenes…

Speaking of A Rhythm Unsung, how did you and your DOP, Sumedh Narhare, approach creating a ‘timeless’ feel with the cinematography?

Sumedh is simply a godsend. I didn’t have to explain the idea to him more than once before he started bouncing ideas off with me. And on creating that ‘timeless’ look, I actually remember him saying, ‘it’s all in the lighting’ – and really, that is the short answer.

Bearing in mind that we wanted to achieve a golden feel, with references like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (George C. Wolfe) and Babylon (Damien Chazelle), the lighting had to reflect this. We actually even had to reconsider one of the film’s locations, because it didn’t have enough room to light from above (regardless of it being perfect for our production design!). Having put so much consideration into the lighting, the next step was the colour grading… thankfully, our gaffer is doubling as a colourist!

The idea of ‘music as a weapon’ particularly stands out in the synopsis. How has the character of Dele, and his passion for music, shaped the project?

The idea for this film draws influence heavily from Fela Aníkúlápó Kuti, who incessantly used his music as a weapon for revolution and social change. Dele’s character in the film starts out as complacent, not because he didn’t have a passion or soul for music, but because he was trying so hard to fit into a crowd that wasn’t his.

When he is eventually made to see how much his music can do, he takes off from there; using it to tell his story and sell himself.

Behind the scenes with Seun Richards

Finally, with A Rhythm Unsung being your Master’s Project, can you share any advice for aspiring filmmakers, or for students approaching their own final projects?

I was listening to Adjani Salmon sometime back, and he had said something along the lines of ‘if you’ve not made draft 10 of your script, you’re not ready yet’ (I’m paraphrasing).

Prior to that, I had never gone past three or four drafts. But, having dived deeper into that conversation with him, it helped me to understand that these drafts also help you see more of the story and its potential. So, make that drafts, remake it… and remake it.

Also, there’s no amount of prep that could possibly be too much – and honestly, this is something I’m also still learning for myself.

  • Seun Richards studies MA Directing at our London campus. This course is also available in Berlin and Leeds.
  • Find out more about A Rhythm Unsung – and support the film’s creation – on the official Go Fund Me page.
  • Seun is the London Vice President for the MetFilm School Student Senate 2023-24. Find out more here.