Backstage with Anthony Nti.
With TheColorGrey’s latest music video out and about, reaching over 17K views in less than a week’s time, we can finally take you backstage with director Anthony Nti. Not only backstage on the set of “Need to Know”, but back to the very first moment when Anthony started directing. Giving you the need to knows about this up-and-coming movie director of Antwerp.
This is Antwerp: What was the first experience that led you to making movies?
Anthony Nti: It was a very random experience, to be honest. When I was in my senior year of high school, Piazza dell’Arte organized a week filled with art workshops at my school. It was a fun way for students to explore all things creative such as film production, music production and photography. I picked videography and made a cool little movie about the travel of a five euro bill. Handed to a little girl and finally ending up in the hands of a junkie, who couldn’t find a piece of paper to roll a blunt. So he lights up the bill to get high. It’s basically the enthusiastic response of the coordinator that encouraged me to explore videography even further at the RITCS School of Arts.
I really wasn’t that kid who played with cameras at an early age. I was, however, intrigued by movies and couldn’t grasp the idea of someone dying in one movie, and being very much alive in another one. When my uncle explained to me that movies aren’t real and that the people in it are actors, I became even more curious. So unconsciously that must have been my actual first experience.
TIA: You’ve directed quite some movies, going from music videos for artists like TheColorGrey, Darrell Cole, Amo Achille and Yung Mavu to short films like 'Kwaku' and 'Boi'. What do you prefere?
Anthony: There’s no doubt that my main goal is to make full length movies. I do love making music videos as well, since they sharpen my skills as a director. It keeps me busy and focused. Whether it’s a music video or short film, I always make it worth my while. I don’t get any good out of it by directing simple music videos. I want my music videos to share the music’s story, so I treat them like short films as well. The fun part about making music videos is that there’s no need to explain the storyline. There’s a certain freedom when you translate a song into a motion picture.
TIA: How do you shape these stories? What inspires you?
Anthony: It could be anything, really. I’m very social and find inspiration in all my encounters. I’m not necessarily inspired by the life stories of others, but rather by the way in which a person drops a bottle and picks it back up. These random movements in life trigger my stories… and then I fantasize. I work often with street castings and friends, and build up my stories on their personality and individual characteristics. If a person says “you know” very often in a conversation, I’ll make sure to add these you know’s in the dialogues of his persona. I create with my actors and let the story originate from their experiences. Or it could be a song… When I hear music, I automatically see music.
TIA: What other aspects define your style?
Anthony: People often tell me they recognize me in my movies. Perhaps because I work from a gut feeling. If it feels right, it will do right. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a gamble and that others might not like it as much as I do. But there’s no right or wrong way, just your own way. And although people claim that my movies reflect a typical Nti style, I don’t think my movies look alike. The music video we’ve done for TheColorGrey’s Sins doesn’t compare to the video we’ve done for Amo Achille’s Boyz In The Yard and vice versa. However, I do believe that these movies reflect the persons that we are, including that of the director of photography PJ Claessens, creative partner Chingiz Kribekov and the actors. There’s a little of us in everything we create.
TIA: What do you think is the formula to success, having won four awards for your latest short film Boi?
Anthony: We have no clue! We honestly didn’t expect to win. Let alone to win two prizes at the Film Fest in Ghent. The very moment we were announced winner of the Public Choice Award, we were fooling around outside, taking selfies. There’s no mathematics when it comes to winning an award. The short film Kwaku didn’t make the cut in Belgium while it’s my personal favorite. It did however conquer the hearts of many at 14 film festivals worldwide, amongst which the African Film Festival, and won eight awards. We never expected it, but nevertheless, we were extremely happy.
TIA: Being a This is Antwerp Local, I couldn’t help but notice the Antwerp scenery in a couple of your music videos. What makes Antwerp such an interesting location?
Anthony: Being from Antwerp myself, I admit that I have a preference for my city. But I always try to show Antwerp differently. In a way it hasn’t been shown before. Using the not so typical spots in Antwerp. The kind of spots only an Antwerp local would know of, that also have an international appearance. Antwerp has got many of these places and thus has much to offer.
TIA: Cheers to that! May your love for Antwerp be great and forever live on in your movies! Talking about future movies, which movies will be hopefully coming soon to a theater in Antwerp?
Anthony: As a part of my final work at RITCS, I’ll soon be directing my next short film in Ghana. It will be about peer pressure among friends and will actually be filmed during a “black out”, which is the time frame in which the electricity shuts down. Something that happens very often in Ghana. About twice a day. And it’s at that very moment that something crucial will happen in the movie. After this short film, I’ll hopefully make my first full length movie as well. Can’t really say much about the latter as I don’t want to jinx it. (laughs)
TIA: Well then, let’s not. And good luck at Sundance! (Anthony's short film Boi is in the race to win the Sundance Tv Shorts Competition)
Text by Laetitia Sabiti (pointcinque.com)
Pics by Laetitia Sabiti, Jordan Vanschel & Bozkurtstyle