There are many aspects of history surrounding the institution of slavery that have been forgotten, left to remain hidden in the past, until subtle clues reveal the truth and invite questioning. As these invisible pieces of history begin to come to light, our perceptions begin to be challenged – opening our eyes to the true reality that slavery can be traced beyond America. The short film 1745 exposes the truth that Scotland also shared in this deplorable past, confirmed by documented evidence that it had a direct link to the slave trade.
For many, this important piece of history was not readily known nor reflected in the general teachings of Scotland’s dynamic past. Research has exposed that significant civic and personal wealth were derived from their involvement in the slave trade. However, it is of tremendous importance to also address the morality of slavery, portrayal of power, and the symbolism for wealth that surrounded its existence which further contributed to the complexity of this hidden past. A search to find and acknowledge this social inequality led to the inspiration for the short film 1745. This film tells the story of two enslaved sisters who must gather immense courage, find strength within each other, and overcome unspeakable adversity to succeed in their pursuit of freedom during Scotland’s most turbulent time of 1745.
It is with great pride and pleasure that Sass3 shares a unique interview with Morayo and Moyo Akande, the writer and actresses of the film 1745. We are proud to feature their story as we discuss their inspiration for this project, the importance of reflecting on
this invisible piece of Scotland’s historical past, and how this film challenges all of what we understood about this time period. Come travel with us to the past as we explore the true realities that surrounded this significant year, while also sharing Morayo and Moyo Akande’s journey to acknowledge this important yet unknown piece of history.
The History and Research that Inspired the Film
The teachings of history do not often directly reflect upon the physical, psychological, and emotional sufferings inherent in the bondage of slavery. As one looks at the newspaper clippings or advertisements of the 17th and 18th century, specifically regarding the purchase or claim of slave ownership, proof of objectification can undoubtedly be found. However, it is in these findings that individual stories can begin to be identified – enabling a more powerful story to be told. A story of strength, perseverance, and the overcoming of harrowing adversity that was necessary to survival.
As these types of stories unfold, the romanticized views of the 17th and 18th century can be quickly disregarded. How was it possible to survive the immense cruelty and social injustice that this grievous institution imposed? Would you have defied the societal bounds of slavery and face unknown repercussions in the pursuit of freedom? These are the types of questions that are elicited when research looks beyond written text, offering a more powerful perspective of the true stories that should be taught to our children.
The short film 1745 is a fictional story that was inspired by these types of newspaper clippings from the 18th century, found within the archives of Glasgow’s Mitchell Library. These advertisements intrigued Morayo Akande to seek support in furthering her research – to not only understand the truth of these runaway stories but to also tell the story of what happens after the pursuit of freedom. History simply loses track. The belief in this project was also shared by her closest confidant and sister, Moyo Akande. Together they shared the same vision of exposing this invisible history, leading Morayo to create and write the script for this film. Starring together and alongside the legendary actor Clive Russell, the short film 1745 was soon brought to life. Directed by Gordon Napier and produced by John McKay, this film will capture your attention in the first moments on screen as it readily exposes Scotland’s darker past. Take a moment to watch the official trailer below to witness the power of this remarkable film.
Being Outlander fans, 1745 is a significant time in Scotland’s history that is often synonymous with the failed Jacobite Rising. It is in the aftermath of the 1745 uprising that great lengths were used to dismantle the spirit of the Jacobites – as they were exiled, sold into indentured slavery, imprisoned, or executed. Little mercy was shown to the Highlanders and Jacobite supporters, causing an end to the life as they once knew it. However, in our quest to learn more about this time period, we have not realized that there were also slaves fighting for their own right to experience freedom. Slaves have been documented during this poignant time of Scotland’s history, given as ‘gifts’ for the wealthy, solicited from relatives in colonies, or even bought from merchants. Ownership was also considered a status symbol for wealth and power within the Highlands of Scotland. The history of these slaves should also be remembered during this time of conflict. We can do this by not only acquiring more knowledge of their stories, but also by supporting Morayo and Moyo Akande’s film in order to bring to light an alternate portrayal of social injustice.
Our Interview with the Writer and Cast Members of 1745
Sass3 wanted to learn more about the creative process for the film’s development. Our interview with Morayo and Moyo Akande, daughters of Nigerian immigrants who grew up in the Bearsden suburb of Glasgow, was an important story that we wanted to share. Their passion for this project, our love for history, and link to the year 1745 were the foundations for our conversations. Here is what we learned.
Sass3: Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this film?
Morayo: “I was inspired by the newspaper advertisements. I felt it was important not only to share these people’s stories, but to show their humanity. I decided to create a story that explored the relationship between two women, who were sisters escaping slavery. Through this exploration, it would show their empowerment.”
Sass3: This piece of history is not often taught in school, how do you feel about that? Do you think it should be incorporated into historical lessons so there is greater awareness?
Moyo: “As far as I’m aware we are not taught this untold part of Scottish history in school. I think it would be a positive step to include this into the school curriculum, as it would be a great educational tool to inform many of the young generation about our forgotten past. I am a proud black Scottish woman, and I was shocked to learn that I knew nothing about runaway slaves who lived in Scotland in the 18th century.”
Sass3: The landscape shown in the preview can almost be classified as a separate character that demonstrated profound isolation. Can you describe how the landscape was important in the portrayal of the film?
Morayo: “We filmed around Glen Coe and Glen Etvie in the stunning Scottish Highlands. The landscape was important because we wanted to capture not only the beauty, but the harshness of the Highlands. Nature is a character in the film, and it is captivating, but unforgiving.”
Sass3: Each character had different perspectives and experiences within the institution of slavery. Emma endures much sacrifice of heart and soul to keep her sister Rebecca away from the realities that the owners often demanded. How did this divide them? Were they able to re-secure their bonds to each other?
Moyo: “Emma was 8 years old when she left Nigeria, whereas Rebecca was an infant. Their age gap alone creates many differences in what they experienced as they traveled to Scotland. Emma still has a strong connection to Nigeria and remembers her parents and her life there before she was taken away. She has sacrificed her life in order to protect her sister. Rebecca has no strong recollection of Nigeria; Scotland is her home. It may not be perfect, but it is all she knows.”
Morayo: “They are divided throughout the escape. Rebecca wants to go back home, and Emma will not let her. When Emma reveals she is protecting Rebecca from Master Andrews, Rebecca does not fully believe Emma. And you’ll have to watch the film to see if the sisters unite or go their separate ways.”
Sass3: As actresses, was it difficult to enact the haunting scenes of abuse, seclusion/isolation, and escape that were felt by Rebecca and Emma?
Moyo: “Yes, it was difficult at times as I felt I had a huge responsibility to portray these women in the most truthful light as the story is based on true accounts. This is the first time I’ve worked with Morayo professionally and for me it was one of the most rewarding experiences. But when I got into costume, was stood in the middle of the Highlands in the wet and cold, filming highly charged scenes which required a lot of emotion, the lines between reality and pretend started to blur for me. I felt this especially whilst filming the scene in which Rebecca has a near death experience in a bog and Emma had to save her. Morayo was being so truthful that I thought my little sister was in real danger which made the whole situation feel real to me.”
Morayo: “It was challenging, but what we are experiencing was nothing compared to what enslaved people had to endure. It wasn’t easy enacting the scenes, but we wanted to be truthful, so we gave it our all and did our best to tell their stories.”
Sass3: I have read that you had to endure freezing temperatures during one of the escape scenes. Did you use stunt doubles to help shoot these scenes? What tools enabled you to stay safe during filming?
Moyo: “There were no stunt doubles used as we couldn’t afford any! So the scenes where Morayo and me are in the bog, or I’m casually jumping off a cliff into a rushing river, was all us. Our fantastic team looked out for us, and they made sure we were wrapped up. We also had a brilliant Water & Safety Team looking out for us when we filmed those scenes.”
Morayo: “It was challenging filming outside during winter, but the cast and crew really were incredible. Everyone really cared about the story and worked above and beyond to make it happen. I can’t thank them enough!”
Sass3: Collars, brands, and tattoos were methods of demonstrating ownership. In the preview, seeing the collar resonated so many emotions to us as the viewers. Can you tell us about the symbolism of the collar in this film?
Moyo: “My character, Emma, wears the collar in the film. Collars were normally given to the enslaved if they were considered a high flight risk. Emma has tried to run away in the past which is why she wears a collar, and it symbolizes that she is Master Andrews’ property. It also says a lot about who she is as a person – she has so much strength and courage as she has tried to stand up to him in the past.”
Sass3: We wholeheartedly agree. The strength and courage to overcome such adversity was completely translated in your performances and left us, as the viewers, emotionally bound in your journey for freedom. Clive Russell’s tone throughout the preview is undeniably haunting, and we cannot deny it added to the wealth of emotions we experienced while watching this film.
Sass3: Were there any experiences or lessons that can be taken beyond this film to your future endeavors?
Moyo: “As an actress I have always wanted to create and produce my own stories, but never quite had the confidence to do it alone. Working with my sister has re-inforced that you should feel the fear and do it anyway! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. The whole experience has been so positive, and I have learnt so many things I didn’t know before. For my future endeavors, I now know nothing is impossible. As long as you believe in what you are trying to do, then with hard work and focus, anyone can get there.”
Sass3: We truly wish for 1745 to become a feature film in the near future. We also must congratulate you both on your nominations for the Best Short Film at the 2017 Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). How do you feel about this level of accomplishment?
Moyo: “It feels like it’s all happening so quickly even though it did take two years to go from idea to script to screen. We have gone through this incredible journey and to be in competition for the Best Short Film and to World Premiere at EIFF is amazing, and I’m so happy I get to enjoy this experience with Morayo. I’m also very grateful that such a creative and passionate team believed in this story and jumped on board to help create this story, as without them we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Sass3: What are the best ways for fans to continue to follow this movie?
You can support our journey of the movie by following us on our social media accounts.
- Via our website: www.1745film.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/1745movie/
- Twitter: @1745movie
- Instagram: @1745movie
A Bright Future
We believe in the film 1745 and the quest for greater knowledge that it will bring forth. Slavery has been reflected in various forms on film and on prominent television series. However, each of these interpretations and portrayals of slavery have occurred outside the breadth of Scotland. We have never witnessed slavery within the contexts of the Highlands. The film 1745 is an important story that needs to be told, not only to expose this hidden past, but also to empower the search for our own ancestry and find merit in these unmistakable stories of perseverance. Please follow this film through all the social media platforms as we hope that continued interest in this story will lead to a feature film in the near future.
Thank you, Morayo and Moyo Akande, for the time you have spent with us. We have loved the opportunity to learn more about this project and discover ways we can continue to follow your journey. We look forward to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where more people can witness the powerful message this film holds.
There is still time to purchase tickets for the Edinburgh International Film Festival through this link. You can catch 1745 – A Short Film screening on Friday, 30th June 2017 at 6.25pm and Saturday, 1st July 2017 at 6.10pm at Cineworld Cinemas Screen 5 in Edinburgh!
All photos are owned and copyrighted by the film 1745.
References found 06/18/2017