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These Teenage Filmmakers from Kaduna are Going Places

Nine teenagers in Kaduna who go by the name, The Critics, went viral last week. From a small compound in their area, they produce films with better video, audio, and content quality than a lot of local home videos. Their films are short and dramatic science fiction stories about things like aliens, superpowers, futuristic technology, and computer programming. The members of this young crew are between the ages of 5 to 19 years old and they produced their films using incredibly basic equipment like a TECNO smartphone, a microphone stand, and green screen fabric that they had to save money for a month to buy. You have to watch their short films to believe it.

They went viral on Twitter when Aljazeera published a short video about their production process last week, but movie director, Kemi Adetiba, was the first to discover them. Two months ago, she praised them for their innovation and creativity on her Instagram page, then started a 1 million naira fundraiser for the team and announced that she would be mentoring them. Since then, the story of these young filmmakers has been featured on several news platforms and the comments and praise won’t stop pouring in.

The nine teenagers are cousins and they’ve been together since 2011. Some of the oldest are Godwin Josiah, 19, Victor Josiah, 18, Raymond Yusuf, 17, and Ronald Yusuf, 16. 8-year-old Rachael Yusuf will be starting secondary school in a few weeks. They star in their own films, and learnt how to record and produce films with YouTube tutorials. Their creative cinematic effects were achieved with software on an old and slow laptop that would sometimes take hours to render. What is most inspiring about these teenagers is that they made the most of what they had to bring their stories to life.

Last week, The Critics were invited to the Kaduna State House and met with the Governor Nasir Ahmad. Before that, the video of their work on Aljazeera caught the attention of one of the most successful and influential directors in the Hollywood science fiction genre- J.J Abrams. Abrams is the creator of the hit television series Lost, and the director of some of the most popular sci-fi films of the last decade like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek. After watching the viral Aljazeera video about The Critics, J.J Abrams tweeted:

In an update on the outcome of the fundraiser in June, Kemi Adetiba shared that The Critics were able to raise far more than their target of 1 million naira. They’ve received gifts of equipment, studio space, and promises from well-known actors who are willing to feature in their future projects.

On social media, responses have ranged from excitement and encouragement to disbelief and awe at the creativity of these teenagers. They overcame the limitations of power cuts and poor equipment to achieve their goals. Now they’re on the way to fulfilling their dreams.

When I reached out to The Critics on Twitter, I asked if they ever felt like what they were trying to do was impossible. This was their response:

“We didn’t ever feel it wasn’t possible, for every project we believed we could achieve everything we imagined.”

Watch ‘Z: The Beginning’, a short film by The Critics here:

Featured image source: Twitter

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Tochi Onwubiko

Tochi Onwubiko is a 'Jack' of many trades. A designer, book editor, lawyer and happy freelance writer. She enjoys drinking tea, sitting in quiet spaces, and reading thick books. She hopes to publish books one day. She also loves a good house party. If you know about any good books or parties, leave a comment on one of her posts.

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