Nneka Njoku is a New York based writer and one of the producers of Beautiful Things, a short film about an intergenerational QPOC (queer people of color) romance. Nneka speaks of her journey into filmmaking, the role of a producer, and why the importance of Beautiful Things goes beyond diverse representation on screen.
My film production journey started a few years ago after an episode of a TGIT show. The beauty of diverse stories and people on screen inspired me. I asked myself, who was responsible for this magic? Who gave these fictional characters the ability to move me like this? I figured they must be some type of wizard, so I wanted to become one. I wanted to tell stories through film.
Less than a year later, I moved to New York City to realize this dream. As a Nigerian immigrant, this was radical in itself. While I was raised in various countries in the Western world, I didn’t escape the typical immigrant pressure to have a “practical” career (doctor, lawyer, teacher, or businessperson). But there I was, a 23 year-old in New York City working as an artist. One year later, I’m producing a short film called Beautiful Things.
Beautiful Things is a queer intergenerational love story nuanced by motherhood and young adulthood, with a Brooklyn backdrop. Mona and Hazel battle an age gap and circumstance, showing human moments that we have all experienced – doubt, ambition, and even heartache. I want this project to glow on screen, but that can only happen if the production runs smoothly behind the scenes. I play a vital role in making sure that happens. Producers do a variety of things but in this project, I organize documents and processes, communicate with our network, and promote our film and Kickstarter campaign. In short, I get things done.
While this film gives a voice to QPOC characters, it also gives voice to other 20-something wannabe wizards who may not know where to start. Beautiful Things is also a project that brings knowledge sharing to independent filmmaking, by making our budget available online publicly for anyone to learn from. Our methods are transparent, exposing the magic behind storytelling.
Beautiful Things combines beautiful characters, independent film, transparency, and a little bit of radicalness into one. It’s fitting that a year after I arrived in NYC, I’m adding this project to my storytelling journey. But why should I have all the fun? You can become part of Beautiful Things by learning from the resources we share on Facebook! Let’s all become wizards and tell stories that show us magic is real.