Avid activist for Black Lives Matter and black creatives in film, actor John Boyega has been on an inspirational mission to create new opportunities for young black creatives in the UK. Under the support of Converse’s All Stars programme, Boyega approached the brand to successfully launch the ‘Create Next’ Film Project—an objective to mobilise a fresh wave of emerging black talent into an industry that has otherwise been divisive and exclusive.
“I approached Converse with a desire to start a domino effect in creating opportunities for those in my position when I first started out—those who work night after night perfecting their craft,” stated Boyega in a press release shared with SCREENSHOT. “Black talent is underrepresented in the film industry, and I knew Converse had a strong track record of supporting underrepresented creatives. I’ve always wanted to create opportunities and pathways for young talent in the film industry and Converse’s goals align with my own.”
With an abundant wealth of black talent left untapped, the film industry has failed to appropriately fill its job roles with creatives from such a community—an unhealthy diagnosis of UK production that Boyega accurately pinpointed and is now rightfully correcting. Under the Create Next Film Project, the critically-acclaimed actor mentored five London-based filmmakers (Ade Femzo, Kaylen Francis, Kemi Anna Adeeko, Lorraine Khamali and Ibrahim Muhammad) on their journey to make some noise in the film industry with their captivating artistic power.
The programme, which ran over a period of six months (beginning in October 2021), has provided the young talents with vital financial funding to spearhead the development of their own five-minute short film, as well as provide opportune access to prodigious mentoring by the likes of Boyega and Converse’s network of creatives: Mathieu Ajan (founder of Bounce Cinema), Shannie Mears (co-founder of The Elephant Room) and many others. But for Boyega, this project is more than just another short-lived campaign, but a signifying, chasmic beacon to the many black filmmakers everywhere—beyond the blockades of barriers and borders that all-too-often aim to stifle the growth of their talent.
“This project isn’t only about five filmmakers. It’s really about every aspiring black filmmaker in London and beyond. We’re going to document the process so the community can grow alongside the All Stars in this programme—learn what they’re learning, seeing what they’re seeing.”
And, luckily, we are. One such Create Next talent has graciously chosen to share her musings, life lessons, film inspirations and industry advice with SCREENSHOT—to better aid us to learn what she’s learning and see what she’s seeing. Introducing Lorraine Khamali.
Describing her work as an intimate expedition into the beauty of the everyday and its people, Kenyan-born Lorraine Khamali moved to London when she was just 12 years old. Known as @shotbylorraine on Instagram, the photographer started young, snapping the lives of her friends and family. Onwards, she successfully progressed to studying the practice at university level—where she quickly found herself working on real film sets and loving it.
For Khamali, the Create Next Film Project couldn’t have come at a better time. Being thrust into work almost immediately upon her graduation, the filmmaker found it difficult to make space for her artistry outside of her uncreative job. The limited hours left, out of office, to focus on the production of her own content was a challenging balancing act according to the talent—a struggle most creatives know all too well. “I feel like this opportunity came at the right time for me as it really pushed me as an artist/filmmaker to keep the momentum going, and through this process I’ve become more confident in myself and my work,” Khamali told SCREENSHOT.
“This project has allowed me to truly embrace the journey of becoming the person you want to be, whatever that may be.”
“Being part of the Create Next Film Project with John Boyega has been so special. Honestly, it still feels like a dream and has been one of the best experiences in my life so far. It has been such an amazing opportunity and I’ve met people and made friends who I will cherish forever. This project has allowed me to truly embrace the journey of becoming the person you want to be, whatever that may be, and the importance of exploring and trying new things,” Khamali continued.
It is this motivation to try new things that mobilised Khamali to shift from her photography study to a medium she never thought she’d find herself in. Exposed to a world saturated with burgeoning creatives and artistic “energies,” the 22-year-old felt positively pushed into different paths. In what she defines as an organic process, the then-photographer-turned-filmmaker was gifted an old camcorder from her mother—igniting her journey of experimentation, one she explored behind the scenes on her campus.
“I made a lot of friends at university who studied film and they always needed a behind-the-scenes (BTS) photographer. I always enjoyed being on their set and seeing the process coming together, how the director would interact with the director of photography (DOP), the process of it all was so fascinating to me. After that, I properly started making my own moving images, both documentary and fashion, and I never looked back,” she passionately explained. Going forth on this adventurous new journey, Khamali set out to investigate and share the stories around her.
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“It evokes a feeling that is both sad yet beautiful at the same time.”
With magical works like the ethereal softness of Boys By The Sea and the smooth, organic groundedness of Youth Dem—that aptly reflect the experiences in her surroundings she wished to tell—it’s no wonder Khamali was selected as one of the five blossoming talents for Create Next. But, where does such creativity come from? Well, for this young filmmaker the lifeblood of her projects derive just as much from sound as they do from visuals. “When it comes to the creative process, I gather inspiration from different things such as music and sound. These are big factors when it comes to igniting an idea or a character for new projects. With my 2020 film Boys by The Sea, it was hard to find the right sound for it but once I found it, it was like no other, it hit my soul deeply,” she said.
“As a young filmmaker there are still many things I wish to explore and learn from. I would like to explore subjects that speak to my heart. When approaching any project, I like to go in with an open mind as I want to create work that people can see a piece of themselves in and connect to. My goal is to always create purposeful stories that are impactful and that I can be proud of. I want audiences to feel something and or be inspired when viewing my work,” she went on to share.
On our quest to get an understanding of what Khamali is learning and, in turn, apply it within our own creative process, we discovered that a defining moment for the artist was embracing the fun—to have an element of ease and patience with herself. “My advice for young aspiring filmmakers […] is to be patient with your craft and never forget to have fun throughout the process—you won’t like every project you produce and that’s okay,” she explained. Khamali also suggests a necessary boldness to just let go of fear and reach out to your favourite artists or creatives to push yourself into that space. After all, hands-on experience is everything.
And that is what the Create Next Film Project is all about. Cultivating real-world opportunities to, as Boyega put it, pioneer a new future for black creatives—a sentiment Khamali is taking forth in her own prospective projects. “Going forward following my work with Create Next, my aspiration is to continue creating stories that resonate deeply with viewers,” she explained.
“The world is full of inspiration and beautiful stories to tell, so I would like my stories to inspire people and help create a positive ripple effect.”
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If you want to find yourself in the midst of such a ferociously flowing ripple effect of change then look no further, Create Next has got you covered. In a press release shared with SCREENSHOT, Converse and John Boyega present the Create Next Film Club—an event that will host the premiere that will debut the work of these five London-based filmmakers. “In celebration of the Create Next journey, John Boyega will join the All Star filmmakers in Central London for a very special Create Next Premiere Event where they will unveil the films alongside a programme of other talks and masterclasses.”
We’re sold. Sign up to the event here.
As the global fight against racial injustice gains steam, meaningful change is beginning to materialise. From mayors pledging to defund police forces and racial justice organisations receiving an outpouring of support to a sharp rise in public discussions around issues of systemic racism—evidence of progress trails behind the swelling wave of protest and outrage. It is important to build on this historic momentum and keep the foot on the gas.
What can you do to support the movement for black rights and racial justice?
Taking to the streets to demonstrate remains one of the most effective ways to protest injustice and demand immediate change. Check the Black Lives Matter website, local community websites and social media for information about protests taking place in your area. If your circumstances don’t allow you to march in the streets, you may want to inquire about virtual protests happening, like the one recently arranged by Black Lives Matter London.
Protesters marching in the streets are in need of various supplies, including water, masks, food, and more. Visit the webpage of a protest happening near you to learn about its designated supply drop-off locations, or contact protest organisers for information on how to help.
As a growing number of protesters are being arrested by police forces, bail money is urgently needed for people who cannot afford to purchase their freedom. This Google Doc contains a list of bailout and legal funds categorised by city and state.
Systemic racism has robbed black communities of funds and resources and stilted progress among its residents. Contributing to initiatives designed to empower black communities is a crucial step in rectifying the ravages of centuries of racial discrimination. Black Visions Collective, National Bailout and Campaign Zero are three organisations that work in varying ways to achieve long term improvement for black communities, end their oppression and promote their rights and safety. You may want to research similar organisations operating in your city or state.
Make it a point to support black-owned businesses, restaurants and shops in your area. You should also research which companies are complicit in perpetuating systemic racism and refrain from supporting them—L’Oréal, Reformation and Zimmerman, I’m looking at you.
Immigrants of colour are disproportionately targeted, terrorised, and abused by the government—at the border, in detention facilities, and in black and brown communities repeatedly raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At the invitation of the NYPD, ICE agents have been infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests in New York City, and have already detained one immigrant. Research and donate to organisations working to protect and advocate on behalf of immigrants of colour.
Queer people of colour are at an increased risk of experiencing violence, exclusion, police brutality and oppression. They are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues as a result of what is commonly referred to as ‘compounded minority stress’—being both queer and black or brown. The LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund and the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective are two out of numerous organisations working to protect and uplift black queer people in the US. If you’re based in the UK, you may want to check out UK Black Pride, IMAAN and NAZ Project.
While the focus tends to revolve around national politics—it is local authorities that are often hotbeds of racial injustice. Inquire about your mayor, comptroller, chief of police, and district attorney, demand accountability for their actions, and be sure to vote in local elections and get involved in your community.
Across the US, and around the world, more and more people are demanding to defund the police and invest their budget in community projects and infrastructure and locally-run emergency-response teams. Minneapolis may be the first US city to completely disband its police force, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti had already pledged to slash the city’s police budget and invest the money in communities of colour. Join the growing demand to defund the police by supporting #8toAbolition, the Movement for Black Lives or other NGOs operating in your city or county.
Challenge yourself with daily and rigorous reflections on how the concept of Whiteness may affect your life; in what ways does it limit or impact your actions, your perceptions, your opinions, your circle of friends? Policies are important milestones in the fight against systemic racism, but they alone cannot herald real, long-lasting change on societal and institutional scales. Slavery had been abolished, Jim Crow laws had been eradicated, and yet here we are still battling the plague of racism. Ultimately, racial justice could only be achieved when we fundamentally change the ways we see ourselves and obliterate the institution and concept of Whiteness.