Today we’d like to introduce you to Gladys Edeh.
Gladys, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia from Kano, Nigeria in the fall of 1995 and a year later attended Kennesaw State University to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems. This pursuit was mainly to satisfy my father’s desire for me to obtain a degree that would provide me financial security and a better life. He did not entertain any ideas I had about wanting to be in the arts and so, I latched on to whatever caught my interest at the time and it was technology. Upon graduation in 2000, I started to work full time almost immediately in the IT industry.
Shortly thereafter, I started to feel a huge void in my life and found myself looking for a creative outlet, an outlet that would enable me to connect with people who had an interest in the film industry. I found and then joined IMAGE Film & Video Center (now known as Atlanta Film Society) and subsequently worked as a volunteer during their annual film festivals for about five to six years. Through this venue, I was able to connect with several film enthusiasts and filmmakers and as a result got the opportunity to work on several independent film projects around the Atlanta area.
In 2008, I had the opportunity to produce my very first short film – But Mamah, as part of that year’s 48 Hour Film Project competition. This was when KokoAtDawn Productions was born. My team didn’t win but the following year, the film got accepted as an official selection to be part of the ION Film Festival which was hosted in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, I continued to work on film projects mostly as a producer but I noticed that I gradually started growing a love for cinematography. So, in 2012, I purchased my first DSLR camera (a Canon 60D) and began focusing on filming and editing documentary style videos for my production company. But in 2016, after a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, I got inspired and motivated to delve into directing and producing my first documentary short, “Mr. Gele: The Man. The Story. The Craft”. Mr. Gele is now being submitted to film festivals in the U.S, U.K and Africa. It was recently selected by the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival as an official selection and will be screening at this year’s festival in April 2018. It has also been picked to air on Africa’s first global black entertainment and lifestyle network, EbonyLife TV and is currently being shown to 50 countries in Africa.
I currently live with my husband and two beautiful kids in Acworth, GA.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would say the most difficult part for me was finding my own voice as a filmmaker. For years, I spent a lot of time working on projects for other creatives and got immersed in their worlds while mine remained silent. In an industry where narratives may sound similar, finding your individual voice as a filmmaker is key and I am glad I did because there are a lot of untold and unknown important stories in me that I want to share with the world that just haven’t been told yet.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about KokoAtDawn Productions – what should we know?
KokoAtDawn Productions is the name of my business and we mostly focus on capturing, sharing and celebrating all facets of life of Africans living in the diaspora. Our main medium of storytelling is the documentary – style approach, an approach I find very uncommon. This is what I believe sets us apart from others. We are more interested in capturing real and authentic stories that are meant to inspire and educate. We believe that there are so many essential stories that are left untold and uncelebrated. The African narrative that is mostly portrayed in the media is normally one-sided and our goal is to change that. We aim to promote, entertain and very importantly, educate audiences about the African culture through its people’s incredible stories of perseverance, trial, tribulations and success. I serve as the creator, cinematographer and editor of KokoAtDawn Productions.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Yes, a lot of people deserve credit and there are so many to list but I will be remiss if I did not mention one of my biggest cheerleaders and definitely a mentor, Anjanette Levert. She is the reason I even dared to think that I could make a film. I met her in 2008 when she was the Producer of the Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project. I remember like it was yesterday. Before meeting her, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could make a movie. It was a completely far-fetched idea to me back then. When I discovered the competition online, I wanted to participate as a volunteer but was unsuccessful in finding a team. So as a last resort, I reach out to Anjanette to find out if there were other teams she knew of looking for a volunteer. Without hesitation, she simply asked me, “Why don’t you form your own team?” Until that moment, I didn’t even for once consider or think about that option. I paused for a second and simply responded (in a terrified voice), “Yeah, why not?”. And to my surprise, by the time the competition started, I had been able to recruit a team of twenty-one crew members! And the rest as they say is history! Ever since then, we’ve continued to keep in touch and she continues to encourage and champion me on any project I work on. Anjanette, is an accomplished producer and is a Documentary professor at Spelman College.
- Website: www.kokoatdawnproductions.com
- Phone: 404 333-8951
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kokoatdawn
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kokoatdawn
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/kokoatdawn
- Other: www.mrgelefim.com
Maria Stuart, Imani L. Warren, Will Taylor III