The Toughest Interview Yet

A year into making One Day I Too Go Fly, I’ve filmed enough interviews with students, parents, and mentors, and met with enough administrators and teachers that I expect nerves to be a thing of the past. I’m therefore surprised to find myself overcome with shyness when faced with the one thing I’ve come to Nigeria for – an interview with Mrs Adama, Philip’s mom.

It’s not that Mrs Adama is intimidating. She actually has a presence that makes one feel right at home within minutes of meeting her. But I find myself filled with admiration at how she has raised a family of 5 children in the decade since Philip’s dad passed away. The manner in which she interacts with her sons and daughters reminds me of how when my brother and I were little our parents always asked us what we thought about economic ventures they were considering undertaking. We were always involved in all family matters. I see how the strength of Philip’s family lies in their reliance on each other. I realize that I’m dreading the moment I turn my camera on her because I must do this woman’s character and her family’s story justice. It is perhaps my tallest order yet.

I confess my anxiety to Philip. “Don’t worry,” he says, “my mother is a very open person. You can ask her anything you want.” So I go for it.

Forty minutes later, I’ve filmed my most succinctly poignant interview yet. Also, something happened at the end of the interview that surprised Philip himself and caused him to laugh uncontrollably in the adjoining room.

-Arthur Musah / Kano, Nigeria / August 20, 2012

4 Replies to “The Toughest Interview Yet”

  1. With each post we learn more about the extraordinary students and families you are following – and you and your skills as a writer and story teller. It sounds like Philip and his family could become “the stars” of the movie. The determination, courage and love that it took for Philip’s Mother to raise her family and instill the values they clearly have is extraordinary. We have a lot to learn from them.
    And it is also wonderful to see how your film is growing and changing because of these encounters.
    We look forward to more news of your project!!!

    1. Every instance of filming is a discovery. I’ve learned that if you hang around people long enough with a camera, you will capture something beautiful or surprising about life. Given that films unfold in a very limited amount of time,and that we have limited time in which to make them, I have to be smart in picking what scenes to go after.

      Philip’s family has been incredibly generous with their stories and time. This summer things lined up to enable me meet and film them. I plan to travel with the remaining characters and film their most compelling stories as well in the future. I’ll write about those adventures as well.

      Thanks for reading, Helen!

  2. still wondering what happened towards the end of the filming that made Phillip also laugh from the adjoining room…lol
    This was over a year ago, is filming still on course?
    Would love to support somehow…
    Congrats and all the best in the years ahead.

    1. Hi Adwoba, good to hear from you. Filming is still ongoing. In fact we just returned from a two-week production trip to Tanzania to learn more about another character’s (Sante’s) background. In May/June we also filmed in Zimbabwe for two weeks. Other than that we’ve been keeping up with the characters in school at MIT. So it’s full steam ahead.

      Did you hear about our Kickstarter campaign late 2012? We got quite a bit of support to enable the above trips and formed a great community too. It’s been so busy we’ve fallen behind with the blog. But you can stay current on our facebook page:

      Will send you a direct email shortly.


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