UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art has welcomed me into their Early Production Lab where I will be developing a very personal project and my first feature film, CAMP US and I need your help to benefit from this great opportunity.

Tobi Akinde’s UnionDocs Lab Funding

by UnionDocs

  • $3,200.00

  • $425.00

  • 6

    Days to go
Raised Percent :
Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $
Louisiana, United States, United States (US)

The Early Production Lab at Union Docs is a month-long intensive residency program where I hope to strengthen the artistic direction for my film, do some reflective writing, and receive feedback on my first cut. For the past four years, I have been immersed in documenting the carceral affinity between universities and factories and the consequences on students’ lives.

In July 2020, during a 9-month university strike in Nigeria, a close friend and coursemate at the University of Ibadan tragically lost his life in a suspicious accident while working in a factory to support his education. Our collective effort as students to obtain justice was thwarted by the powerful factory owners, leaving me traumatized.

The establishment of universities in West Africa, such as the University of Ibadan in 1948, was predominantly geared towards supplying a local workforce for the expanding bureaucracy in the colony and creating a native middle class. This model perpetuated paternalism and an environment where students struggled to hold management accountable, often repressed with the help of the police force. These present and historical events inspired the parallels between factory and university conditions, and I began the film Camp Us.

Global discourses often overlook human rights issues in the ‘third world’ universities, attributing them solely to local governance failures rather than acknowledging the enduring legacy of colonialism and imperialism. These abuses are universal, even in western universities, with the worst consequences on black and brown people and other marginalized groups. As a filmmaker currently working between Nigeria and the United States and drawing from my dual experiences as an undergraduate in Nigeria and now a postgraduate student in America, I am inspired to tell a universal story that challenges this assumption by connecting the personal story of my friend with the history of similar violence on American campuses and the unfolding situations here since October 7.

Please join me in this commitment. Union Docs graciously provides partial funds for my residency, and your support will cover the remainder of the program & housing costs and travel expenses. I am deeply grateful for your belief in my endeavors!


About the Summer Documentary Labs:

The Uniondocs Summer Documentary Lab are a program for a select group of media artists from the US and abroad. Based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Ridgewood, Queens, the Summer Labs offer a platform for participants to spend the Summer making strides and clarify the creative direction of their projects to attract the potential team members, funders and producers they need to find their way to the finish. An intensive schedule of screenings, open seminar discussions, weekly industry “field trips,” and inspiring artist visits from some of the most dynamic voices across the field of documentary, the SUMMER DOCUMENTARY LABS are tightly structured environments that bring participants into a select group of emerging filmmakers to get challenged and encouraged to think through every aspect of their works-in-progress.

Drawing inspiration from across disciplines, this intensive program should not be mistaken for an industrial, journalistic, or traditional documentary training. Scholar Scott MacDonald highlighted in The New York Times that, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Much emphasis is placed on workshopping lab participants’ writing about their projects as a way to both clarify the creative direction and attract potential team members, funders and producers. Participants receive focused, honest and helpful feedback on their project proposals from prominent documentary artists and industry experts.

The Early Production Lab in July is for projects about to go into production. Filmmakers have already likely shot some of their material and have access to their subjects and are looking for ways to strengthen their media samples, and pitches and work through the ideas as they approach the production stage and plan for the entire process all the way through to distribution.