Multiple award winning Leila Djansi is a filmmaker who began her career with the GAMA Film Company in Ghana. She wrote and produced her first feature film Babina with Aak Films Ghana at the age of 19.
Her Credits include, critically acclaimed film “Grass Between My Lips” won the Platinum Award for Best Film at the 2009 WorldFest International Film festival, “the Rub”, “love letters” “Baby Blues” Red Thread, “Bobby”, the historical “I sing of a Well” which received 11 nominations at the African Academy awards, winning 3 out of the 11 nominations. Leila is currently in production on her new independent feature film, the Romance/Drama “And Then There Was You.” The film scheduled to start filming in Los Angeles in May 2013, will star actors Leon, Brian White and actresses Gracelle Beauvais and Lynn Whitfield.
She has been writing since she was three years old and at age 16, discovered Nancy Drew, forensic scientist. Her mother took her to medical school where she studied science but decided it was not for her. She was going to be a lawyer and then she worked with a filmmaker in Ghana and was never tired, and decided, this is what she really wanted to do.
She got a scholarship to study in George at Savanna University. Once there, she studied film 24/7 and literally slept in the film department. She was not really confident at this time, and was the only African in a population of African Americans. But, then, in her writing class everyone applauded her script and the teacher said it was a model screenplay for the class. That’s when she got her confidence. She made “Grass between my lips” movie for her senior project and got “hungry” to do more. Her last film, “Ties that Bind” was a financing deal with Image Entertainment and is a co-production between Nigeria and U.S.A.
According to Leila, Africa is lucrative for filmmakers but also has its challenges. She emphasis’s Africa has to create it’s own market and create distribution outlets. It’s important to go to Film Festivals, where you meet industry people.
She recommends “take a risk” and “take a chance”. There is a market for Africans to tell stories about Africa. Package yourself in a way that you’re familiar with and package yourself in your forte. It’s easier to break in if you’re authentic. What do you do that is different from other people?