Michael Omonua on “Rehearsal” / interview

Born in London, the UK in 1985. After graduating from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, he has directed several short films and a feature. He currently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

What was your starting point for “Rehearsal”?

I’ve been attending church from a young age and have always seen the Pastor as performer of some kind especially once they hit the stage.

However,  several years ago I found myself wondering what the rehearsal process would look like at a Nigerian Pentecostal church for a staged miracle. I guess the idea of them being like actors rehearsing for a play feels kind of obvious but that came much later. The initial idea was a church group practicing and rehearsing for a miracle they wanted to perform at Sunday service.  

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I don’t really have a favourite moment but If I had to pick a moment it would be the scene with the staged miracle involving the old man in the wheel chair. I’ve chosen this scene because the take we used in the film isn’t how it was written in the script. It’s actually more drawn out in the script and I was having a lot of difficulty directing it on set. 

However, the actor in the wheel chair stood up at the wrong time during a later take and by standing up too soon it improved the scene dramatically. It was a lucky accident and we decided to change it on set from that take on and we kept it that way in the final film. 

So, you could say that I’m ranking the scenes based on the difficulty of getting the final shot on set. Which is of no use to the audience but I’ll probably need lots of time away and distance from the project so I can watch it with fresh eyes to enable a better way to rank the scenes. 

What do you like about the short form?

There’s a freedom in short form work. You can do whatever it is you want to do. You can experiment with the form more, dream up the craziest conceptual ideas and realise them without pressure to conform to something more conventional. 

I also believe it’s a great place for filmmakers to find their cinematic voices and get a better understanding of the kinds of stories they wish to tell. 

Photo © Isaac Juniho Okorie

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To find out more about Rehearsal, go to 2:38 and 21:44 in the video.

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