We sat down with Ledama Sampele, a Kenyan filmmaker and the Assistant Director (AD) of FilmAid’s SandBox series, a drama series that explores the lives of refugees in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab.
The Role of a First Assistant Director
The First Assistant Director is the Director's right hand person, taking responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the Director is free to concentrate on the creative process. During pre-production, the First AD breaks down the script into a shot-by-shot storyboard, they also work with the Director to determine the shoot order, and how long each scene will take to film. They draw up the overall shooting schedule for the filming period. Once the film is in production, they are in charge of making sure that every aspect of the shoot keeps to this schedule.
What was it like working as the First AD for FilmAid’s SandBox series?
In SandBox, which was shot in Dadaab in early 2014, Ledama Sampele was the First Assistant Director and it seems like he was extremely happy to get this opportunity; “I have always wanted to be an AD for as long as I can remember. This has always been my dream job.”
Having worked on productions like Makutano Junction, Higher Learning, Changes and Nairobi Half-Life, Ledama brings experience and expertise to the SandBox production. The students in Dadaab’s Filmmaker Training Program were given a real opportunity to learn from his throughout this experience.
“Every job has its own fair share of challenges and perks.”
During the production of SandBox, the hot and dry climate of sandy Dadaab was perhaps the biggest challenge, which took Ledama some adjusting to. On top of this, our First AD, had to be patient because of the number of rehearsals. Additionally, since this was a single-camera shoot, scenes had to be repeated again and again and shot from different angles which obviously made the production process even more complicated. Despite the challenges of working in Dadaab, Ledama clearly found her work rewarding, “FilmAid is doing a great job. Engaging the youth in the Film Training Program here in Dadaab and this experience on the set is a great opportunity to build…the education of the young people. I hope that many other productions arise from this one”.
If you’re interested in learning about more refugee stories straight from Dadaab, check out our Dadaab Stories interactive website, bringing the power of refugees’ voices directly to your computer.
And as always, if you’d like to support FilmAid’s training and empowerment of local filmmakers, producers, writers, and actors, you can donate here.