Heart Cry is a short film written, directed and produced by Sylaz Ud’ee, a Nigerian-American filmmaker whose work always seeks to address issues of social justice. The 8-minute short film is set in present day New York and follows the story of Hannah (Isioma Nwabude), a teenager who tries to win her father’s heart from depression after a fatal accident killed his wife and confined him to a wheel chair.

At 27, Sylaz already has the title of producer, director, writer and actor under his belt. Heart Cry, his fourth short film as a director and screenwriter has recently been nominated as Best student short film in the Los Angeles film festival and the Miami independent film festival. It has also been screened at different film festivals in the United States.

In this exclusive interview with Ventures Africa, Sylaz explains the idea behind Heart Cry, what it feels like gaining recognition for his work, and where he hopes to be as a filmmaker in a few years.

Ventures Africa (VA): Tell me about your film, Heart Cry.

Sylaz Ud’ee (SU): Heart Cry is a short film about a girl who tries to win her dad’s heart from depression after an accident that killed his wife left him confined to a wheel chair. She desperately wants her dad to be happy again and to give her the love and affection that a father typically gives his children because, after the accident, all he does is stay in his room and doesn’t talk to anyone.

VA: Why this story? What was the inspiration behind it?

SU: There are so many depressed people out there. Many have lost hope after an accident or after an emotionally fatal incident. This short film is to inspire them. I was listening to a song by Wale Adenuga when the idea came through.

VA: What song?

SU: Heart cry by Wale Adenuga

VA: How long did it take you to come up with the story, and the entire production?

SU: I wrote the script all night. We shot it in a day, and we were done with post-production within five days. In all, everything took seven days. That’s a week.

VA: So far, you have two nominations for Heart Cry, how does it feel like getting recognition for your work?

SU: It feels great. I just have to keep writing and putting more effort into my work.

VA: How did you find out about the nominations?

SU: I got an email from the film festival notifying me about my nomination. I had submitted my work earlier.

VA: What would winning mean for you?                      

SU: Winning would mean more hard work.

VA: Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker?

SU: Yeah. It has been my dream since I was 15 after seeing Rambo. As a kid, I was just fascinated by the way it was shot; the stunts and the entire story line.

VA: Who is your biggest inspiration?

SU: Mel Gibson. He is one director I hope to work with someday. I love his style of directing and his movies, which are always biographies and based on true events. Most of his movies tend to leave the audience with a lesson and are evergreen.

VA: What are the challenges you encounter as a filmmaker?

SU: Getting funds.

VA: Where do you see yourself in five years?

SU: In five years, I hope to be one of the best directors in Hollywood while running my own film company.

 Sylaz Ud’ee is currently a student at City College, New York, undergoing his MFA in Filmmaking. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Sylaz proceeded to Gotham writers, New York and then to Digital Film Academy, New York after graduating from the University of Benin, Nigeria in 2014. His other unreleased works include Sarah, The Trunk, and My name is Udoka, a Nigerian not a scammer. The latter would be his first feature film, one he is certain would be a hit. Currently, the 27-year-old filmmaker is working on a TV show titled The writers, a series he hopes will be aired on network channels across the United States.

Watch the trailer for Heart Cry below:

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