SxSW 2018 Interview: ARE WE GOOD PARENTS director Bola Ogun


Brian Blevins, poster

“A couple grapple with their openness as parents when their 14-year-old daughter, whom they thought was gay, says she’s going to her first dance with her classmate Ryan.” Director Bola Ogun on ARE WE GOOD PARENTS which screens at the 2018 South By Southwest Conference & Festivals.

Congratulations on your film playing in Austin at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Thank you! I’m so excited! I really love this film so I’m glad to have a special premiere like this. I’m going to all of my screenings because I want to squeeze every moment out of this.

So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

I started in Texas, actually. My first Production Assistant gig was on the WALKING TALLsequels (parts 2 & 3), then I went on to work on the set of PRISON BREAK when they moved to Dallas for season two. I was so hungry to keep working so I would drive to Austin to run the background actors on big football days for season one of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.I loved being on set and was just trying to get to know everybody because all I kept hearing was “LA is all about who you know.” So I was like ‘Okay, I better get to knowin’!”

I moved to LA shortly after those seasons wrapped up and I’ve been working ever since on some cool stuff like HEROES, TRUE DETECTIVE, BATTLESHIP, NEIGHBORS and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.Now that I think about it, I’ve been around.

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

I was thinking about how I felt when my sister came out to me. Part of me was confused and sad why she didn’t feel comfortable being herself to begin with. I started to to think about, what I would have felt if she was my kid and I wrote down a three act overview of the short. I teamed up with my writer Hailey Chavez, who’s brilliant and definitely upped the funny. From there I slowly put together a crew I’m extremely proud of and the actors brought amazing energy to set. I feel so lucky to have Tracie Thoms, Sean Maguire and Gabrielle Skye Goodman in this film. They truly feel like a family you want to spend time with.  

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee or tea are we talking about here?

I LOVE TEA. I don’t have an office and I can’t work at home, so I’m jealous of the people who can. Because of that I like to work at different tea shops. I try whatever unusual caffeinated tea that they have, add Splenda, put on headphones, turn up Odesza and I’m good for the next 8-10 hours. It’s really just finding the feeling of what I’m trying say and zeroing in on it, almost obsessively. But to me that’s filmmaking, throwing your feelings on screen and hoping everyone understands where you’re coming from.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

The biggest challenge has been getting the rights to the song at the end! I’m not a Music Supervisor so I was really at a loss. I was emailing so many people trying to figure it out but I got it! To most people, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble because it’s just an end credit song. But for me it was the song I listened to on loop throughout the entire time of making the film. It’s such a great button on the whole short, I couldn’t let it go. It leaves you with an awesome feeling at the end. Trust me, you’ll see!

The most rewarding thing has got to be calling the cast, crew and people I gave special thanks credit to tell them we got into SXSW. People donated time, money and resources, it was great way to let them know that was worth it. I’m truly grateful for their help.

I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

I loved shooting on the Arri Alexa for my first short THE WATER PHOENIX and for this short, I got to use an Arri Alexa Mini. I really wanted to feel like I was in the situation with the parents so I wanted to go handheld for most of it and then settle in a wide frame for the resolution of the story. But I didn’t want it to feel too “shaky cam” so my DP Ludovica Isidori suggested an Easyrig. When we initially met for coffee, I knew she was exactly who I needed for this project. I was a little worried about her operating because she’s so tiny and Sean is tall! But she was like “Don’t worry, I got it.” Sure enough she’s a badass on set and I couldn’t have pulled off our 10 page script in under 10 hours without her. The joke on set was “We’ve got to be done before the GAME OF THRONES season premiere, guys!” It was just supposed to be funny, but it kind of worked and we made it in time too!

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

I really just want to see how the crowd responds. It sounds corny, but I feel a lot of joy watching this short. It was so much of me just wanting to put something positive out there, something to make people feel good. I hope it does that.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

I hope to get into a few more festivals! I’ve never been in a major festival, so this is a new place for me to be.  I just want to be able to show it to as many people as possible.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I would actually choose to show it in churches. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions of what it’s like to be “different”, be it race, gender,  sexual orientation, etc. As a result, people aren’t comfortable being themselves, and it takes them longer to get there. On top of that, sometimes more mature generations aren’t sure how to handle the changes and how to accept them. This short is definitely about bridging that gap. Sort of a ‘How to’ guide, highlighting that we’re actually so much more alike and I’d love to share that with a congregation.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a movie, even if was your own screening?

Oh, that stuff drives me up the wall and I’m foolish enough to “shhh” them myself. You came here to a watch movie, dude, watch the movie!

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

It is good the get your feet wet being an assistant and all, but never stop doing the actual profession you want to do. Because the entertainment business is strange, it isn’t a ladder that you climb straight up. You create your own ladder, and if you’re lucky, you can make it an elevator!

ARE WE GOOD PARENTS is playing in Shorts Program #3 at SxSW 2018. For more info, point your browser to!

ALAMO LAMAR E: Mar 10, 2018 – 5:15pm — 6:44pm
ROLLINS THEATRE AT THE LONG CENTER: Mar 12, 2018 – 11:30am — 12:59pm
STATESIDE THEATRE: Mar 15, 2018 – 4:00pm — 5:29pm

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