The production of Sparrow's Song, an innovative drama series, is underway, led by BU’s Dr Samantha Iwowo and Dr Szilvia Ruszev, in collaboration with Nollywood producer, Rogers Ofime.

Rogers Ofime (left) and Samuel Adeyoe, a BU graduate of MA Directing, on the set of Sparrow's Song

Co-created by academics, BU students and graduates, the production is Fusion in practice as they work together to write, produce and promote a TV series while research is embedded in the process.

The project is a close collaboration between Dr Iwowo and Rogers Ofime, an Associate Fellow at Bournemouth University, as well as Dr Szilvia Ruszev, Mark Bond, and Dr. Reina-Marie Loader.

Dr Iwowo is a screenwriter, director and researcher, who began her career with South Africa’s largest cable network, M-Net. Rogers Ofime is a Nigerian-born award-winning film maker and executive producer.

Dr Ruszev is an award-winning film editor and academic, Mark Bond is Programme Leader for MA Cinematography for Film & Televison, and Dr Reina Marie-Loader is Programme Leader, MA Producing, all based in BU's Faculty of Media & Communication. Together they bring deep knowledge and experience of Nollywood film, dramaturgical editing and a keen academic interest in co-creation and the merging of different cultural approaches to film making. 

Aida Jakobsen and Radika Parikh, MA Cinematography students, on set

They have brought over 40 BU students, academics and graduates together on the Sparrow Song project, giving students hands-on scriptwriting, production and editing experience. Filming took place in spring 2023, with Nigerian actress, Kate Henshaw, on-set and the students steadily taking a leading role.

Dr Iwowo commented, “The intention is to give the students the experience they need to move into the industry straight after their studies, and so we are steadily stepping back and giving them ownership of the filming process.”

Ofime added how impressed he’d been at the level of proactivity and ownership that the students were showing, “It’s been inspiring working with them, they are such a talented group of young people.”

Dr Ruszev emphasized the importance of transnational filming experience, with approximately ten different languages and cultures represented on-set. 

The intention is to use footage from the 2024 filming sessions to create a teaser episode and pitch this to multiple African networks in order to have a ten-episode series commissioned. For students and graduates, being a part of the full process from conception to commissioning is hugely valuable in an industry that’s notoriously difficult to break into.   

Research is also embedded throughout the process. Intersectionality is a theme within Sparrow's Song, and this is reflected in the diversity of the group working on the production. Students from the UK, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan are encouraged to engage with and evaluate the challenges and benefits of working in such a multicultural project team.

The production itself is intended to throw Nigerian filmmaking practice and theory directly alongside western and Hollywood approaches, and BU academics involved in the project will use the experience in their own ongoing research.