“Black Harvest”: Crafting Conscience on Film
A chorus of rave and admiration has poured into “Black Harvest” and its director, James Amuta, for its daring take on the harrowing realities of human trafficking and organ harvesting.
Yet, beneath the triumph and spotlight stands a highly professional creative team whose efforts proved crucial in bringing the movie to fruition. One such brilliant mind is Assistant Director, Ade Oshin.
As the cameras rolled, Ade Oshin – together with his creative team, of course – played an instrumental role in helping to weave together a narrative so compelling and tenacious that it was deemed worthy to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In an exclusive interview, TNR had a nice chat with this visionary filmmaker to unravel the layers behind the making of Black Harvest, and the unwavering dedication of the crew in fulfilling their artistic mission.
TNR: As an Assistant Director, what were your primary responsibilities on set, and how did you contribute to bringing the Director’s vision to life?
Ade: As an assistant director on set, my duties spanned from creating a realistic schedule to film with and aligning the crew and other elements with the shooting schedule. Making sure everything James needed is provided as per each day of the shoot. Also, running the set day to day, minute to minute, keeping the crew in line as per what we are currently shooting while prepping for what is to be shot next.
James and I like to call ourselves the “guerilla squad.” We see no limitations and we understand the vision clearly, so execution was imperative to be a success. I had to deal with a lot of the logistical and structural stuff so that James could focus on the creative through the actors and the overall look and feel of the picture.
Could you share some insights into the collaborative process between you, James Amuta and the rest of the team?
The collaborative process between myself and James is always the same.
James is one person who, just like me, dares to do things. So, when together on a project, we get into a lot of trouble with the studios and production companies because of how much further we might want to go to bring realism into each frame of the film we are working on.
A lot of the time, even while filming Oloture and Blood Sisters, we would lead the entire team easily through logistical nightmares that other people would have normally stopped. And on Black Harvest, James was writer/director and also one of the EPs (executive producers) and boy did we milk that opportunity. We went all out and did what we already KNEW how to do, and you can see the product there to judge.
The entire crew of Black Harvest was phenomenal. We were working with crazy timelines and a lot of things to get done. The crew were hand-picked professionals that knew exactly what they were doing so there was no time wasted trying to explain the task at hand to the crew.
The camera team was headed by Henry Young Bigha, one of the most experienced 1st AC’s in West Africa. When you work with professionals, it’s always fun because we all get to show off while creating magical scenarios in record times. Lol.
How did the film balance raising awareness about a serious issue while maintaining a compelling and engaging cinematic experience?
So, the film has an obvious message that every one of us was passionate about: the issue of kidnapping in the first instance and then human organ harvesting and trafficking for tourist use.
Being a well-oiled machine of a team, the message of the film needed a delivery that would keep the audience’s attention from start to finish. We planned to approach the story with as many true to life elements as possible.
While I had James’s back in the delivery of the vision through logistics and on-set creative direction and consistency, Henry Bigha made sure the cinematic theme he and James had planned out meticulously during pre-production was kept consistent.
As I said, we were the well-oiled machine and the story used us to tell itself.
Black Harvest has been selected to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. What does this recognition mean for the film and its creators?
Black Harvest’s screening at TIFF is just a testament that we did everything right on the project both in front of the cameras and behind the cameras.
I am not surprised at the success and acclaim Black Harvest is getting. I already knew it and I mentioned it to James. This is only just the beginning.
Can you share a memorable or impactful moment from the filming process that resonated with you personally?
On one of the days, we were filming the den where the kidnappers keep kidnapped, we had about 50 extras playing that scene. And because someone in my immediate family, a sibling, has been a victim of kidnapping before, I was able to get the cast and crew and most especially the extras who really made the scene great to get into emotionally.
There was a lot of wailing in the room even after we called “cut”! It was a very emotional moment for me and the rest of the cast and crew.
I do pray and hope that the message that Black Harvest is trying to get out there resonates with all and cuts across to make sure the issues of transplant tourism and kidnappings will end and the guilty face their karma.
Want to know more about Black Harvest? Read our exclusive interview with the man behind the film.