Blossom: Tell us about the moment you became a filmmaker.
Dionne Edwards: I remember it quite vividly actually, I was 14 and was into writing stories and drama class was one of my better areas. My teacher put me on to a TV workshop outside of school. There was a group of us and we had to stand in one of those embarrassing circles and say our names and what we wanted to be when we grew up. This girl confidently stated that she wanted to be a director. I wasn’t really sure what a director was but I knew I loved watching films and TV shows so I followed suit and told the class that I wanted to be a director too. After the workshops I got a bit obsessed with the idea and then I realized it was a kind of self-expression that really worked for me.
Blossom: What works/projects are you most proud of to date?
Dionne Edwards: I’m most proud of my recent short “We Love Moses” because it’s the closest I’ve come to getting what’s in my head onto the screen.
Blossom: What type of stories are you passionate about telling?
Dionne Edwards: Right now I’m into black-centered stories that break the mold. My next few films are examining identity.
Blossom: Who are your inspirations?
Dionne Edwards: There are a lot of filmmakers that are killing it right now – I love the work of Barry Jenkins, Donald Glover, Ava DuVernay, Terrence Nance, Cecile Emeke, Justin Simien…
Blossom: What is your dream job?
Dionne Edwards: It’s still a huge dream of mine to make a feature film, which is hopefully going to happen very soon. Ideally I’d be in a position where I can make a living from telling stories.
Blossom: Congrats on the success of your newest short “We Love Moses”. I was blown away when I saw it in HBO’s prestigious short film competition at the American Black Film Festival in June. Without giving away too much, what is it about and what inspired it?
Dionne Edwards: It’s a coming-of-age story about a 12 year old girl’s first crush on her brother’s best friend Moses. There’s a lot in there thematically – sexuality, infatuation, shame, alienation and young womanhood. I was interested in writing a story from the viewpoint of a little black girl because, in the UK in particular, coming-of-age films from a young black female stand point are few and far between.
Blossom: What are the biggest challenges you face in creating your own content?
Dionne Edwards: As a black queer female filmmaker I’m aware that there can be a lot of baggage in depicting characters that are underrepresented or misrepresented regularly. There’s pressure to somehow say everything through one character. However, we have to be free, honest and sometimes unapologetic as artists – so as Barry Jenkins says, it’s not about ‘positive images’ but about ‘productive images’.
Blossom: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
Dionne Edwards: Look inside yourself – your own stories and experiences are the most interesting and more likely to connect with others.
Blossom: How did Teng Teng Films come to be? What led to this partnership?
Dionne Edwards: My producer partner Georgia Goggin and I met through a mutual friend. We made our first short film together in 2012. It was bonkers and not very good but we had so much fun doing it we just carried on – we’ve made five shorts so far and counting. We’ve made all our work together through our company Teng Teng Films.
Blossom: What’s next for you? Any new projects?
Dionne Edwards: Yes – a feature film project about a black family all sort of having an identity crisis at once. We’re also developing a TV show.
Blossom: Where can we find you online?
Twitter: @dionceknowledge and @tengtengfilms
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Lauren is an actor, multimedia journalist, recovering tomboy and media junkie. She is an advocate of social justice, to-do lists and kind people with big dreams.