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Film London Labs: Stranger Than Fiction

Date posted: 13.08.2019

Last week, Film London hosted the latest in our series of Film London Labs sessions, ‘Stranger than Fiction’, at We Are Social. Designed to support emerging talent in the film industry, Film London Labs provide insight into the career and creative process of established film artists and industry experts – in this case we were delighted to welcome Apostasy producer Marcie MacLennan and The Last Tree writer/director Shola Amoo.

The focus of ‘Stranger than Fiction’ was the challenge of writing, developing and producing films that are truthful to the real life experiences they’re drawn from. How does a team keep the truth on track and shepherd a story through the development process?

First up, Apostasy producer Marcie MacLellan took the audience through every stage of the multi-award winning drama’s development, from initial treatment and mood board to the 2017 cinematic release by Curzon. Initially envisaged as a fire and brimstone thriller, Apostasy morphed into a thoughtfully observed indie drama as it moved through development – but, as Marcie’s fascinating presentation made clear, she and director Daniel Kokotajlo were careful to never lose sight of its central truth, and the desire to tell his story. This was perhaps the biggest takeaway of the session; as Marcie succinctly put it, “Love the idea. You are going to be committed to it for YEARS, so tell a story you are passionate about.”

Next was an engrossing on-stage discussion between Film London’s Nadia Oliva and writer/director Shola Amoo, who talked through his journey into filmmaking, the tricky process of telling a story drawn from his own life, and the challenges faced by anyone writing close to home. In a wide-ranging conversation, Shola discussed his award-winning multimedia feature A Moving Image, which uses fiction, documentary and performance art to explore gentrification in Brixton, and The Last Tree, his tender semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama, fresh from its Sundance premiere.

Lab attendees were also treated to a screening of Shola’s stunning Dear Mr. Shakespeare, a reinterpretation of Othello written by visual artist Phoebe Boswell.

The next Film London Lab event takes place in September. If you would like to attend, please get in touch with our Talent Development and Production team at

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