Meet our Script House 2019 finalist: Abraham Adeyemi

man sat in the middle of big country road

The member whose script for 'No More Wings' was one of two selected from submissions to be produced into a short shares the inspiration behind the story

In March 2019, we launched our second-annual Script House competition, a now-global initiative for members from around the world to prove and strengthen their skills as screenwriters and filmmakers, with help from IWC Schaffhausen. 

By May, we had our two finalists: Soho House West Hollywood member Deepak Sethi, who was a semi-finalist in last year’s Script House competition as well, and Shoreditch House member Abraham Adeyemi, who is also a participant in our Soho House mentorship programme Open House.

Our panel of judges in 2019 featured an international selection of filmmakers and industry leaders including Barry Jenkins, Anurag Kashyap, Marco Müller, Ben Roberts, Giona Nazzaro, Erin Simms, Soo Wei Shaw, Sharon Badal, Lulu Wang, Alex Connock, Minhal Baig, Megan Halpern and IWC Schaffhausen CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr — two of whom will provide mentoring and feedback to our winners.

After receiving hundreds of submissions from across 11 different countries, our team narrowed it down to 10 semi-finalists: Janey Miles Feingold of Soho House West Hollywood with More Than This, Jess Dowse of Soho House 40 Greek Street with Little Men, Sunnie Sidhu of Shoreditch House with The Blues, Jenny Rei of Soho House Mumbai with Trash Mermaid, James Lucas of Shoreditch House with Paint The Dragons’ Eyes, Josh Lanzet of Soho House Chicago with Aphrodite’s Pawn & Loan, Abraham Adeyemi of Shoreditch House with No More Wings, Olivia Nixon of Soho House 40 Greek Street with You’ll Learn, Deepak Sethi of Soho House West Hollywood with Coffee Shop Names and Danny Chan of Soho House 40 Greek Street with Do You Remember.

Over the following months, the finalist members Sethi and Adeyemi collaborated with mentors from our panel of judges to workshop and refine their scripts. Once finalised in June, they began production for their shorts, with funding from IWC Schaffhausen. Once completed, Soho House hosted a premiere event during the BFI Film Festival in London, followed by Soho House screenings around the world.

Here, hear from Adeyemi in this interview which took place as his film was about to go into production. 

Abraham Adeyemi is a screenwriter and playwright from South London. An alumnus of Birkbeck University of London, as well as the Royal Court Writers' Group, his writing seeks to explore the complex dichotomies of life by presenting the nuance of conflicting perspectives on screen. His previous works include the short films Therapy (2011) and Closure (2015), as well as plays The Cage and These Minging Streets.

His Script House film, No More Wings, follows two lifelong friends who meet up at a South London fried chicken shop at a divergent point in their lives.

Which aspect of the Script House process are you most excited about?
“Directing. This is going to be my directorial debut so I’m just as terrified as I am excited. I’m also excited about what doors it might subsequently open, but trying not to think about it too much and, instead, just focus on the task ahead and enjoy every moment.”

What’s the last great film you saw in theatres?
“Just this Saturday I watched Beats, a film set in Scotland during the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, designed to eradicate rave culture by banning the ‘emission of repetitive beats.’ It’s the story of two best friends whose lives are diverging, and how they’re each dealing with that inevitability. Come to think about it, it actually shares some similarities with the film I’m making for Script House.”

Who are some filmmakers you admire and why?
“I admire the works of Woody Allen, Malcolm D. Lee, the late great John Singleton and Quentin Tarantino for very different reasons. Woody for his authentic and captivating dialogue, and Lee because he gave us The Best Man which is one of my favourite films ever. Then John Singleton taught me the meaning of the word ‘gentrification.’ Despite being a black boy from a South London estate, in his depiction of South Central Los Angeles in Boyz n the Hood, I saw myself, the people I grew up around and my environment through his lens. And, lastly, Quentin Tarantino for his riveting dialogue and stories that keep you on edge, unsure of what will happen next.”

Where did you get the inspiration for this script?
“It’s inspired by my best friend, who I’ve known since I was about five years old. There were many similarities in their upbringings — the same type of household, the same excellent secondary education  — but their lives have turned out very differently, and I guess I wanted to explore why that might have happened, but also what might keep a very weak flame of friendship still flickering over the years.”

What was your writing process like for it?
“I wrote the script in about two weeks but it’s an idea I’ve had for years — I just wasn't sure how I wanted to explore it. I had contemplated film, but I had also considered writing it for stage. When I submitted and found out I was shortlisted (at 1am on the long bank holiday weekend while partying in White City House), I had three days to write a new draft. In reality, I only had about 12 hours to write it because of prior commitments, in which I wrote a further six drafts before my final submission (and I’m very grateful that my longtime writing friend (and an assistant producer for BBC 3) Nelson Adeosun read each of my drafts before submitting.”

What do you do when you’re not writing or filmmaking?
“Avoid writing and filmmaking. I love what I do almost to the point of obsession, but when I’m not doing it, I don’t want to do anything remotely like it. My two greatest loves are music and football, which I think is a cruel joke from God because I have yet to find any talent within me in either, so I’ll spend a lot of time indulging in those — concerts, festivals, watching football with mates and stuff.”

You were part of our Open House programme. Tell me a bit about your involvement and if/how it has influenced your career?
“Being selected for Open House has influenced my career massively. Around the same time I was accepted onto the programme, my good friend dream hampton invited me out to LA for meetings and introductions. Being in LA — for the first time — with a Soho House membership was invaluable. I met so many people across the five weeks who were keen to support me. I returned to the UK with a burgeoning contact book and filled with inspiration that has continued to carry me forward.”

Image by Folaju Oyegbesan
Interested in becoming a member?