We talk a lot about what life is like behind the scenes, but the production side of filmmaking is only a small part of the bigger picture. Jason Owolaby has experience on set, but with his production company Black Sky Films, he nowadays works as a producer on projects.
Producing hits like Tomorrow Featuring Stephen Fry and James Cosmo, Hijacked (also known as The height) Starring Dennis Richards and Dolph Lundgren, and upcoming The girl in the tower, Owolabi has made a name for itself as a powerhouse manufacturer. But he is far from it, as both The girl in the tower And No place to rest Screenplays co-written by Owolabi will be introduced.
We had the opportunity to talk about the success with Owolabi Tomorrow And where he would like to see Black Sky Films go further. You can read our full interview below.
Tell us about your journey in filmmaking. What did you do before becoming a filmmaker?
My journey into filmmaking began long ago when I realized that this was the path I was choosing, from a very early age I used to write film ideas and outlines for entertainment and even once school I wrote, produced and directed a short film using my camcorder. And with the help of over 20 students, it was a crime / action / robbery / kung fu film 🙂
While completing my second masters degree in business, banking and finance I briefly moved into the restaurant business after which I founded Kingswood Global, which is primarily focused on developing business initiatives in Africa and renewable energy, governments and industries. Operates to provide professional services to. Private industry.
Was there a particular film or TV show that inspired you to change the industry?
There are too many people to attribute this to, but I must say see Circle Literally my fuse burned.
What was the first project you worked on, and what did you learn from the experience?
The first real project I worked on was this comedy / drama based on a bestselling book. I had chosen the rights of the author and adapted it into a screenplay. It never got up, but it taught me how to develop characteristics and more importantly, never give up. I still plan to make that film someday because after more than ten years there is nothing like it.
Do you have any experience with mentors? If so, do you recommend them for up-and-coming filmmakers?
Advisors are extremely important and provide immeasurable value to upcoming filmmakers. I myself have done something in these years and I learn something new everyday from their personal experiences and insights into the film industry.
I am currently lucky to be working on a few projects with one of my mentors, Kurt Johnstead, who is one of the best writers in the industry, he has definitely helped me advance my game over the years. Recently I have also started giving advice to some filmmakers who have reached out to me through various mediums including social media, I hope I can help make their journey a little less complicated.
What are five movies that you think everyone should watch in their lifetime?
It is difficult to select just five because there are some really incredible titles out there but I will try. Ok have to be first the Gladiator Starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix by Ridley Scott. The opening scene is still one of my favorite scenes!
Harmful contact Along with Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves are also one that I would highly recommend. I am a big fan of period drama and this should be my favorite.
12 years a Slave Another great film. The funny story about this film is that early in my career I met the lead character Chiwetel Ejiofor and he actually gave me some important advice about getting into business, for which I can’t thank him enough.
Saint Is of course necessary!
no country for old men, The Koen brothers were batting on it a hundred!
Who are your current inspirations?
Inspiration comes in different ways and right now I am all about projects that spread a positive message. I firmly believe in learning from past experiences so that we do not repeat the same mistakes and so I am inspired by historical figures and events. I am currently developing a TV show that focuses on an influential female military regiment of West African history.
Walk us through your creative process.
where do I begin? Well when I work on a picture, I try to make sure that it ticks the three major boxes that I call three E’s. It should be entertaining, educational and advanced. Three E’s can only be achieved if a script is original and is extremely granular with three dimensional characters that provide something relatable to the audience.
My process involves identifying a story that resonates with me or that highlights an issue that needs to be highlighted. Then I put together a screenwriter to write a treatment, which later includes a full screenplay, once I have a screenplay I engage a director whose style is genius before going out for the project. Is best suited for
Casting the lead roles is always interesting because sometimes it is difficult to choose one of the most talented actors. Once the film is packed I get funding before bringing in other artists and crew to start principal photography.
Why did you choose to run your own production company?
This is a really good question! Being an entrepreneur who always likes to do things a certain way, I think it was natural for me to set up Black Sky Films. I love the creative freedom it allows me and I have always dreamed of running my own studio one day and it is a great way to get some of the necessary experience needed to successfully achieve that goal.
Is there any meaning behind the name Black Sky Films?
Over the years I have faced some health challenges and whenever I was sad and in the mood, I used to watch movies to be happy. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “it’s always the darkest before dawn”, I chose the name Black Sky Films, indicating that the sky would be in its darkest, just before something amazing happens in life.
Talk to us about some projects you’ve created through Black Sky Films.
At Black Sky, we have worked on several projects, some of which have been released and some are coming soon. Recently we executive produced and financed Tomorrow A British drama starring Stephen Fry, James Cosmo, Josh Stone and Paul Kaye, which was released in cinemas across the UK.
We also financed an action thriller called Hijacked Starring Dennis Richards and Dolph Lundgren, it was distributed by Lionsgate. We have several projects in the works, including The girl in the tower, The first installment of a trilogy that we developed in-house and No place to rest, A horror thriller that is currently in production.
If Black Sky Films can collaborate with anyone in Hollywood, who would you choose and why?
Definitely STX Entertainment because I like what they are doing, their model connects with me and they make the kind of pictures I want to make. Annapurna is another company on my list that I am studying and really admire because they really promote diversity and it is very close to my heart.
Being a horror fan, there are a few projects on my slate that would suit Blumhouse Productions, which has mastered the art of making genre films.
Looking for your next project for production, what do you see in the treatment?
So far I have only worked on projects that were developed in-house from scratch and other co-productions that were already on an advanced stage and by that I mean screenplay with talent. However I am ready to have a look in the future for treatments that are extremely high and offbeat. Once one of them crosses my desk I will finish it.
How did you join TomorrowThe
I was one of the financiers and executive producers. I knew the writers who also produced it and after reading the script I was convinced that it was a picture that I had to get into. I was even more fascinated by the fact that it was being directed by Martha Pinson, whose career speaks for itself.
How was your experience producing TomorrowThe
Stressful, but worth it in the end. Making any indie is always a tough fight whether you have the choice of Martin Scorsese or not. It took longer than expected to release, but I am very proud of the finished product. The team worked really hard to complete it and all the awards the film has won were rewarded. What I am most proud of is that it highlighted some serious social issues.
What is your favorite part of the production process?
I enjoy every part of the production process but development is by far my favorite, the thrill of finding an idea and bringing it to life on the big screen is very satisfying.
Have you ever seen yourself moving into a different position in the process like a director or writer?
I am ready for new challenges and I have already started writing the screenplay. I just wrote The girl in the tower, A supernatural thriller that is set to shoot in Canada, is being directed by Robin Hays, a very talented female director based in Vancouver.
I also co-wrote my latest photo No place to rest, Which is being directed by Ryuhi Kitamura. I am currently writing a female lead spy action thriller. Maybe one day I also direct – who knows?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself running my film fund and studio, balancing my other successful businesses. I also play a key role in diversifying and incorporating myself into the film and breaking down barriers that hinder creativity and originality.
What have been your biggest successes and failures so far?
I do not believe in failure, rather I take every setback as a lesson and believe that there will always be tremors in life. I also do not believe in regrets, things are as they should be. My biggest success is that I am able to do what I love everyday that I want to make!
If one person can direct the story of your life, whom would you choose and why?
To begin with, it must be someone who does not scare the audience to death. Okay, now being serious I would like the Koen Brothers to do this. His Dark Sense of Humor is what is needed to capture my essence on the screen.
What’s next for you and Black Sky Films?
Television is our next frontier. I like how innovative and entertaining TV shows have become of late and we have already started creating multiple IPs to pitch to networks or co-produce with other production companies. There is one in particular that I am very excited about and cannot wait to tell you more when the time is right.