Chelsea Odufu

Chelsea Odufu

Chelsea Odufu

Chromista TV

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first foray into professional directing occurred in 2021 when I had the privilege of collaborating with Dr. Martens. The project was a short documentary focused on illuminating the vibrant Black House Music Scene thriving in the heart of New York City.

As a director, I eagerly embraced the challenge of capturing the essence and energy of this dynamic cultural movement. It was an opportunity to delve into the world of music, exploring not just the beats and rhythms but also the stories, artists, and communities that breathe life into the scene.

Throughout the project, I immersed myself in the rich tapestry of the Black House Music Scene, engaging with talented musicians, dedicated fans, and influential figures who have been instrumental in shaping this musical landscape in NYC. The process was a testament to the power of storytelling, as I sought to convey the passion, creativity, and cultural significance embedded within the genre

How did you get into directing?
My journey into directing began at the remarkably early age of 14 when I discovered my profound desire to empower people of color through the lens of a camera. Eager to learn and immerse myself in the world of filmmaking, I actively sought out opportunities to develop my skills. This led me to apply for and ultimately gain acceptance into several prestigious pre-college film programs at esteemed institutions such as NYU and Parsons. These programs were transformative, offering me a hands-on education that allowed me to explore every facet of filmmaking, from crafting compelling narratives to mastering the technical aspects of the craft. Through these invaluable experiences, I not only honed my skills but also discovered my passion for storytelling and directing, setting me on a lifelong journey dedicated to giving a voice to underrepresented communities and telling powerful stories through my unique perspective.

What is your most recent project?
My most recent brand project was a Bose Headphone holiday campaign. This campaign gave me the opportunity to merge two of my passions: chic, fashion-forward looks and music culture. I was able to craft exciting visuals that not only showcased the exceptional audio quality of Bose headphones but also incorporated the essence of contemporary fashion and the positive impact of music on our everyday lives.

What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of being a director is the opportunity to bring my creative vision to life on the screen. I am responsible for shaping the narrative, visual style, and overall artistic direction of a film and seeing my idea come to fruition is really exciting.

Collaboration is another aspect I cherish. Film directing often involves working closely with talented individuals from various fields, including actors, cinematographers, writers, and designers. Collaborating with a team can be incredibly enriching and can lead to unique and innovative results.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my role is the potential for impact. Films have the power to influence and inspire people on a large scale, and I can use my work to address important social, cultural, or political issues.

What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part of being a director, in my experience, can be the stress that comes with the job. I think it’s safe to say we all enjoy filmmaking but would prefer to do without the stress which can at times be mentally taxing. Also Balancing creative vision with practical constraints, such as budget and time, can be challenging. Nonetheless I wouldn’t trade being a director for anything else.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My primary career focus at the moment is centered around visual art, with a primary medium being photography and film, alongside directing commercial projects. I aspire to further establish myself as a visual artist, showcasing my experimental films, video installations, and photography in renowned museums and prestigious art fairs. By building my profile in the art world, I aim to attract distinct and creatively aligned projects within the commercial and film industry that resonate with my unique vibe and aesthetic. This convergence of my visual artistry, narrative filmmaking, and commercial work allows me to express my creativity across different platforms and genres, providing a dynamic and fulfilling career path.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
Upon my graduation from NYU, I was fortunate to have Spike Lee personally hire me to work closely with him, and during those pivotal years, I had the privilege of shadowing him, essentially serving as his mentee. The most profound lesson I absorbed from my time with Spike Lee was the paramount importance of owning one’s voice as an artist. He emphasized that each of us possesses a unique perspective and creative vision that is worth celebrating and sharing with the world.

Furthermore, Spike Lee’s unwavering commitment to advocating for more diversity in the film industry left an indelible mark on me. He demonstrated that, as a director, it’s not only a privilege but a responsibility to champion inclusivity, ensuring that underrepresented voices are heard and stories are told. This lesson has deeply resonated with me and continues to drive my passion for promoting diversity and inclusivity in the projects I undertake as a director and visual artist.

Spike Lee’s mentorship was a transformative experience, instilling in me the conviction to embrace my artistic voice while actively working to break down barriers and foster greater representation in the industry.

Who is your favorite director and why?
My favorite director is Steve McQueen, and what truly captivates me about his work is its unique intersection of the visual art world and the film world. McQueen’s ability to excel in both domains is nothing short of remarkable, and his career serves as a constant source of inspiration for me.

One of the most commendable aspects of McQueen’s filmmaking is his unwavering commitment to authentically representing a multitude of diverse Black experiences. Through his work, he shatters stereotypes and provides a platform for underrepresented voices, painting a rich and multifaceted tapestry of Black identity. This dedication to diversity and inclusion is both refreshing and vital in the world of cinema.

What sets McQueen apart is his global perspective on the Black experience. His storytelling transcends geographical boundaries, offering a lens through which audiences from all walks of life can gain insights into the complex and multifarious aspects of Black culture and history. This global approach not only enriches the narratives he crafts but also fosters a deeper understanding of the world’s diverse communities.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I absolutely love Lovecraft Country because it brilliantly combines so many elements that I find enthralling. First and foremost, its complex characters and their personal journeys resonate with me on a deep level. The show’s fearless exploration of historical and social issues, especially the way it confronts racism and discrimination, adds a layer of depth and relevance that keeps me engaged. Additionally, the unique blend of Lovecraftian horror, fantasy, and drama creates a genre-bending experience that constantly surprises and intrigues me. The storytelling is masterful, drawing me into a narrative filled with suspense and unexpected twists. Overall, Lovecraft Country is a captivating and thought-provoking series that I can’t help but love for its powerful storytelling and social commentary.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I am a first-generation Nigerian and Guyanese, born and raised in the vibrant city of Newark, New Jersey. My educational journey led me to NYU Tisch University, where I had the honor of being selected as an MLK scholar, reflecting my commitment to academic excellence and social engagement.

Following my graduation, I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside the legendary filmmaker Spike Lee for several enriching years. This experience profoundly shaped my career and artistic perspective.

Beyond my time with Spike Lee, I’ve been fortunate to lead a dynamic freelance career, working on a diverse range of captivating projects that have taken me to various corners of the world. This journey has allowed me to explore my creative passions while immersing myself in different cultures and experiences.

Have you had occasion to bring your storytelling/directorial talent to bear in the Metaverse, tapping into the potential of AR, VR, AI, NFTs and/or experiential fare? If so, tell us about that work and what lessons you have taken away from the experience?
I have found ways to take my film projects into the experiential realm. One notable project involved the creation of an 8-Channel Video Installation using projection mapping techniques. This endeavor emerged during my participation in Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal artist and residency program. It was an exhilarating experience to explore unconventional methods for presenting my work, especially when considering the unique materials used in the structure and how that influenced the storytelling.

The culmination of this effort was the exhibition of the installation at the 2021 Dakar Biennale, a moment I’m particularly proud of. The use of projection mapping allowed me to transcend traditional filmmaking and engage with audiences in innovative ways.