Screen Star of Tomorrow 2018 London-based Koby Adom production company DBK Studios has teamed up with Sky Studios to make five short films, titled Unearthed stories, to help raise the profile of emerging and diverse black filmmakers in the UK.
The five filmmakers are Charlene Wango (who assisted Rapman while he was making his first feature film blue story), Edem Wornoo, Teniola Zara King, Jessica Magaye and Nikki Fagbemi. Actress Domenique Fragale, who starred in HBOThe Nevers, is executive producer of the fully funded Sky Studios series. Adom, Dola Araoye and Danielle Goff are also on board as executive producers.
The cast throughout the series includes blue storyit’s Stephen Odubola, Boy’s Top actors Hope Ipoku and Malcolm Kamulete and zeros + crosses and Peep Show actor Paterson Joseph. Topics covered in the shorts include living with sickle cell anemia, parenting, racism in 1950s England, middle-class hobbies in the black community, and violence gangs.
London Film School graduate Adom initially founded DBK Studios in 2018, but that became a primary focus at the start of the pandemic in 2020 after a job at Netflix he was scheduled to work on closed.
“I started a production company on my own for the sake of owning it,” said Adom, whose directing credits include episodes of the Netflix series. Boy’s Top and BBC series zeros + crosses. “I wasn’t a big fan of the way business went as a creative. I didn’t feel that we [as creatives] were taken into account for the importance we had in finding ideas. Some cases after making my short film Haircut traumatized me a bit. I gathered all the offers I was in conversation with and thought, I’m just going to start a production company.
“I have had horrible cases where I felt that my business acumen was not taken into account. I went to some production companies that said I had good ideas but didn’t want to commission me as a writer. They wanted to involve other writers and have me as a contributor. [With the Sky Studios deal] I want to bring in five new writer-directors and not only make stunning short films but also teach them to retain ownership of their work. All five are executive producers of their short films.
Adom said his experience as a black man in UK industry also influenced his decision to start his own business.
“The reason I created DBK Studios is that this industry does not favor black and ethnic minorities enough,” he said. “The kinds of decisions that have been made and normalized have not worked for me personally and I know the same is true for many of my black and ethnic peers. I come from a disadvantaged background, I grew up around the culture of gangs. Life as a black man in the UK was not for me to be successful.
“We’re also hoping to start internships,” added Fragale, who contacted Adom after posting a Twitter post looking for collaborators at DBK Studios. “We want to help people spend time through DBK Studios with writers, directors and location scouts, to help make connections. I didn’t have that and Koby didn’t have that – we were really making our own way. We want the next generation of filmmakers to have what we didn’t have.
Adom, under the DBK Studios banner, is also developing a feature film based on his 2018 short. Haircut with Film4 and working on a feature film SE28, based on his childhood in Thamesmead, south London.