All over the world, Africans are working to change the narrative of Africa through multiple vehicles- social media (instabloggers), Facebook, blogging, non-profit organizations, medical mission trips, fashion, beauty, etc. The internet makes it extremely easy to see all the inspiring ways Africans are re-branding Africa.
Meet, 24-year-old, Artina Michelle Nimpson, a young and VERY humble, Liberian-American filmmaker, passionate about helping to show the world that there is more to Liberia than Ebola and post war destruction. The Philly based filmmaker began planning a long-awaited trip back home to Liberia and decided to film something short during her visit. She’d worked with Hipco (Liberia’s hip-hop) artists on music videos before, so she considered working with musicians- familiarity, right? It was happenstance that she learned of West African surf culture during a conversation about visiting home. So she took to the internet to learn more.
During her research, the Temple University Film and Media Arts graduate, discovered the existence of a thriving surf culture along Africa’s west coast. When it came to Liberia, she found videos referencing the civil war and showing the negative side of the country- highlighting the effects of war and the worst living conditions. Other videos featured foreign surfers enjoying the waves of Liberia. She tied that to the fact that when she mentioned visiting Liberia, people would ask her why she would want to visit an unsafe place. “Still? Unsafe? No,” she thought. She did more research to find a feature film documenting the lives of Liberian surfers, but came up empty-handed. And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, the quest to tell the story of Liberian surfers began.
Tikolah: So, you pitch the idea to funders and get some money, then filming begins right? Is that how independent films work?
Artina: No, you film first, then find an experienced producer who believes in the finished product and gets it to film festivals, big networks, etc, for distribution.
Tikolah: Seriously?? So why isn’t your goal much higher on Kickstarter?
Artina: My friends and I have raised some of the money. We took to Kickstarter to raise the rest. After we get the footage, we will apply for grants to edit and work on the finished product.
Tikolah: aaaaah, I see. So where would you want this film to end up? and when?
Artina: hopefully picked up by a network or studio and released in 2020. We will do all of the editing and finishing in 2019. The ultimate goal is to showcase the beautiful place and people of Liberia.
I had to ask about the expenses associated with such a feat, outside of the obvious travel cost.
Artina: We need an underwater camera, an experienced underwater camera man, high-resolution filming, memory cards with storage space to archive the footage, etc.
Tikolah: Any encouragement for up and coming filmmakers?
Artina: I think one of the biggest roadblocks to up and coming artists and many aspiring filmmakers is having talent and ideas without discipline. Industry professionals have the discipline and work ethic comparable to soldiers in the military.
Well, there you have it- stay committed! Artina, certainly, opened my eyes to the film-making process because I had the process all backwards.
The Creed 2 Production Assistant describes a full circle moment when asked how she decided on film school. She begins with a story about an AP class that she loved in high school (HS) and describes how much she enjoyed that class. At Temple, her academic advisor encouraged her to take a film analysis class. It was in that class that she discovered and fell in love with visual language. “It opened my eyes to a whole new way to see films,” she said. That film analysis class reminded her of the HS class she enjoyed so much! A full circle, a-ha moment that ensured her she was on the right path. She was very consistent in relaying how much she prayed to God for purpose and direction in her decision to declare film and media arts as her major.
Artina is one of many a-ha, full circle moments in Liberia’s future. So it is of paramount importance that we support efforts like hers. Too many times we have heard an award acceptance speech describe the need to tell “our” stories, or give more opportunities to women, or show us in a positive light. Well, in her own way, Artina is going after this “need” with the help of some friends.
Thank you Artina Nimpson for the opportunity to tell your story. Most of all thank you for telling the story of Liberian surf culture. I look forward to seeing you and your team accepting an award on the stage of an award show! Guys, I am so impressed with this young woman and her tenacity to help rewrite our narrative. Please be a part of the journey by supporting the Kickstarter (here), follow her journey on instagram (here). Give her some support and encouragement and tell her Tikolah sent you!