AN INTERVIEW WITH DEZ MIGHTY, DIRECTOR OF "I SEE YOU - EPISODE 1"
Award Winner - July 2021 Edition
. Best Documentary Short
Thank you Dez Mighty for an extremely compelling and complex film. How did you choose your panel of speakers?
We were quite fortunate that a member of our team, Kandake, was in contact with several of the speakers we wanted to engage with. Early on in the process, we had decided that we wanted historians, clinical psychologists and celebrity as well as everyday people to give us their view on how life felt to them during the two major challenges at the time.
Once people knew what we were attempting to do, we had an incredible amount of support which meant individuals were happy to give us their valuable time.
While making the film, were you aware that you were going to speak and be heard — and be seen - way beyond the British border?
We had no idea what we were going to do with the film when we were making it. We went about making the film without very much thought around process and little knowledge of the level of investment needed. We made every mistake that new filmmakers could make. All we really knew was this was an important film we simply had to make.
We did have some early conversations with a TV channel that looked promising, yet it was only on advice from a colleague that we decided to go down the festival route which ultimately was the best thing we did.
Have you seen Raoul Peck's "Exterminate All The Brutes" and Steve McQueen's "Small Axe" series? If yes, what's your take on those projects?
I have not seen "Exterminate All The Brutes", however I will add it to my must watch list; as for the "Small Axe" series, I thought what Steve McQueen did was brilliant and i loved the way he dealt with some of the issues of that time. I must confess I love everything that Ava DuVernay has been involved with, the documentary “The 13th” was an inspiration to me and as an aspiring filmmaker I felt her influence the most.
I believe it’s important to have people of colour involved with the telling of their own stories and have creative control of the making of films and documentaries that explore and represent many of the challenges we face.
Since you completed your film, have you observed manifest initiatives, within the "Black British" community, in terms of addressing and healing issues related to mental health?
Mental health issues are a massive problem in the Black community, this alongside the high levels of illnesses… death in childbirth, sickle cell, diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, fibroids… The list is endless and now, challenges with Covid. We also have high suicide rates of Black men, the self harming of young Black woman, all combined it shows a race of people struggling to cope with the everyday challenges of racism and losses with police and society at large.
The U.K. media has never helped with its constant bombardment and misinformation around people of colour and Covid 19. The current U.K. government, in its insistence that the U.K. is not racist while policing itself on this issue, blind to the way it has handled how black footballers are booed for taking a knee or the way it handles any issues around race, does not bode well for the future.
The fear in the Black community, not just in the U.K. but across all of western society, goes unnoticed unless it’s to bring out a new set of statistics to show how disadvantaged we are. It is concerning that for whatever challenges or ills happen in society: somehow, Black people are scapegoated or face backlash on all fronts. It’s easy to blame someone that doesn’t look like you; governments can shift the blame from their own incompetence and wider society will follow their lead.
"Denying racism is the new racism." This is something we can say of and in every white dominated western society. Can this endless twisting of the plot ever come to an end? How?
I really believe racism in whatever form or guise will always exist and yes, perhaps it is time for a new narrative, one that seeks to understand each other’s perspectives.
I believe that people of colour have to resolve many of the issues we have with each other before we can move forward, hence the film title I See You, or "Sawabona" in a South African dialect which means “I understand, I respect and acknowledge you, I feel you, I know what your going through.” I think that once we address the elephant in the room, which is how we see and perceive ourselves, and stop looking outside for solutions, perhaps then the dialogue will change.
People of colour, for what seems like an eternity, have been under a constant pressure which has led to stress, pain, self-hatred and mental health issues. Pressure can break you, but that same pressure can also create diamonds.
What is your take on the idea of Reparations?
Reparations, where do you begin? Western societies have become rich off the exploitation and destruction of Black races, theft of resources and minerals, and enforcement of its theft using laws created to protect themselves.
The West has barely apologised for the brutality it has shown to races that are not white and its treatment of the Black races in particular slavery, apartheid, Jim Crow and its subsequent denial of the parts played in the deaths and enslavement of millions of people considered less than human.
The fact that many of the British and Scottish slave owners were compensated to the tune of billions while the former Black slaves were left penniless and stooped in poverty, left to fend for themselves after being brutalised by slavery, speaks for itself. Or the fact that France forced Haiti to pay a loss of slavery tax which has kept Haiti crushed as one of the poorest countries in the world. Black people in the USA were promised 40 acres and a mule when slavery allegedly ended, receiving instead Jim Crow laws, lynchings, considered second class citizens and unable to vote until the 1960s.
The exploitation and apartheid in Africa while its gold diamonds and virtually all resources were siphoned out to the detriment of the Black man and the betterment of the white man. Murder, rape and savagery so base it boggles the mind that another human being can commit such atrocities to another human being. King Leopold II responsible for the deaths of more than 10 million Africans or the corrupt evil and horror of Christopher Columbus, as an example both these abhorrent men upheld as heroes and statues still placed in prominent places, while the discussion about whether they should be taken down only recently begun.
And if reparations ever does become a conversation that eventually leads to an outcome that leads to some form of, for want of a better word, "compensation", how then will it be distributed and who would really benefit in the long run. Africa is the richest continent in the world and yet is home to the poorest people in the world.
Yes it’s time to start the conversation.
Is "Episode 2" in the works? If yes, can you tell your audience something about it?
I’m excited to say that there is an Episode 2 in the works, one that looks deeper into the health issues and history that we need to correct.
When we originally made I See You, we shot over 30 hours of footage so we could go much deeper into some of the challenges people of colour face, but I’m now really interested in solutions and what we need to do for ourselves in order to remove ourselves from this vicious circle.
We are living in truly interesting times and I believe the frustration, anger and mistrust of government and media which seems to be circling the globe gives a semblance of what people of colour have faced for hundreds of years.
We addressed this in Episode 1, unfortunately governments of the world are finding new ways to debase themselves and continue to keep us all divided and pointing fingers at each other so we don’t focus on the sheer incompetence and corruption inherent in all western societies.
Time has moved on and Episode 2 will provide more meat on the bone: Our focus is to go where others fear to tread.
Short statement describing your vision of the post-covid music business, do you think there will be notable changes?
I hope cinema doesn’t change I have always been a fan of the quiet space where I can be transported to another world. Obviously I this current health crisis we must all respect each other’s concerns.
DIRECTOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
FOR UNFILTERED PRODUCTIONS
Dez has a rich professional history consisting of corporate sales, high end editorial and celebrity photography and property development. Whilst each sector is quite different, Dez has excelled at all and as a consequence forms the melting pot of his skill set today.
Experiencing both the professional and financial successes later on in his career, Dez was left with a desire to make a difference which inspired him to start producing short educational films with a focus on social issues.
Dez saw the need for this genre of educational reach with young people in particular. Visiting schools and performing critical thinking exercises appealed to Dez as he saw how much progress could be made when we start having discussions as to why we hold the thoughts and opinions that we do.
It was at the onset of the Corona Virus pandemic that left Dez with many questions as to why there appeared to be so many people suffering from Covid 19 within his own community. Compelled to discover why, I See You the documentary series was born.
Unique offering to Unfiltered Productions
Dez has an unbreakable vision for I See You and does not veer away from his goal for the project. That is to create a spark for uncomfortable conversations that will lead to better understanding and unity. Dez has an aesthetic eye and is uncompromising on quality. Resulting in hundreds of hours of editing and pivoting of creative direction if need be. Perhaps his most impressive skill is attracting talented and dedicated people who comprise the Unfiltered Productions founding members and the wider community of support. People believe in Dez and his vision so much so that they freely offer their time and talents to the project.
I was once told in a job interview, “Dez I like you, but I'm sorry, we don't hire black guys.” When I questioned the employer, he told me it was because they had tried it twice before and both candidates let them down. “How many white guys have let you down?”, I queried. The employer had an a-ha moment, hired me and I went on to become their most successful corporate salesperson in the company’s history. People of colour suffer everyday due to overt, subtle and unconscious bias and it has to stop. I See You is about seeing people, seeing the issue and that is what we are shining a light on. Documentaries are a great tool for learning and that is what this project is about.