An Interview with Thomas Ikimi – By Duane L. Martin

Let’s start off with the usual introductions. Tell us all a little about yourself and your background.

I’m a Nigerian, born in London and educated in Nigeria, London and the US. I’m 26 years old, wrote, directed and co-produced limbo when I was 23, and I’m hungry for more, more, more!

Where did the whole idea for the movie Limbo come from?

From my catholic background, I knew of the concept of limbo being a purgatory type place between heaven and hell. After reading Dante’s Inferno I decide it would be a good template for making the movie I wanted to write based on morality. After I’d written a first draft of the script, I read Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of morals etc. Those kind of helped me rethink a few concepts and throw in some things that I hadn’t considered.

Your main character as well as a few other characters were re-living the same hour over and over again in the film. How difficult was it to make sure that things matched up from hour to hour continuity wise?

I tried to make sure the script was strict and solid. We story boarded and went through scenes in detail before hand. We pretty much knew every instance that worked, or ones that had loopholes that we were willing to let go. In fact there are many explanatory scenes that got cut from the final film which go into more detail as to how the cycles work and affect Adam’s new world. We also had a script supervisor and an assistant director that made sure things were in check.

You shot the film in black and white. What sorts of problems if any did that present with lighting, contrasting, etc…?

Not much. It actually helped me construct scenes and work faster. Not having to deal with colour is hard only when you don’t know what your film is meant to be doing. Colour helps distract from errors and uncertainty etc. For us, we knew what we wanted, so the black and white just helped focus attention on the story and the film. It was also a great way to depict the opposites of good and evil in a visceral, tangible way.

You had a really fine cast of actors in this film, how did you go about assembling them and did you have any casting problems at all?

We had a casting director called Taylor Loeb. She did a good job of putting together a pool of actors to choose from that were willing to work with waived fees. It wasn’t easy to do this, especially for a student, with no filmmaking background. However, we managed to convince enough actors that it was a project worth doing.

The film was shot in a variety of locations. Where were some of the places it was shot and did any of the locations present any particular difficulties during filming?

It was shot mainly on the upper west and upper east side of Manhattan. Some scenes were shot in Brooklyn, Washington heights and Queens. The roof was one location that sticks out. We had to shoot it twice at different locations because of various problems. Go to the movie website and look for a photo with cops. They weren’t there to protect us!

The image quality in the film was gorgeous. What kind of a camera was used to shoot the film, and were you happy with how it all came out quality-wise?

It was shot with a Canon XL1-S. Jon Miller just knew what he was doing with a camera that isn’t the most versatile, especially by today’s standards. Yeah, I think it looks pretty cool.

What’s been the general reaction to the film?

It’s been great. The reviews have been fantastic (so far), and we can’t wait to get it out there for people to see it for themselves. We’re talking to distributors now, and the film should be available early 2006.

If you could go back and do something differently in the film, either on a technical or story level, what would it be?

I’d probably have more character development/backstory for Adam. Alas, two weeks is not a lot of time to do a feature. I can’t even believe we got it finished. The idea of any more detail would have been impossible. We had enough miracles happen.

What other projects had you done in the past before doing Limbo?

None. I didn’t even own a video camera. I was a literature and writing major when I made the film.

What do you have in the works now or planned for the future?

Movies, movies, movies. Of all kinds, shapes and forms. I just need that phone to ring…

What advice would you give people who are looking to make their first independent film?

Make sure you realize this stuff is NOT glamorous, and it is NOT easy, and it most definitely does NOT go as planned 90% of the time. Get involved if you love movies and respect filmmaking. If you want to do it right, you will lose friends, affect relationships, and probably harm your health…but the payoff can be so great, it is worth the risk and sacrifice. The difference between those that make it and those that don’t is the willingness to put everything on the line, and a huge dose of luck. Just think about the number of people out there trying to be the next Tarantino or Rodriguez? If you can’t come with 100%, even if you get a big break by fortune, you won’t ever fulfill your potential.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we wrap this up?

It’s all about the movie fans. Without them, Hollywood would be nothing…I just hope to make movies that real film fanatics can watch and appreciate. Thanks for the review.