How to become a photographer or filmmaker? The story of a young Guinean director, Jul Overdose

1- Who is Jules Overdose?

My name is Julien Zézé Onivogui, I am 21 years old, I was born in Guinea, in Conakry. I am a film director, editor, cameraman, photographer, and painter. I started all this 4 years ago.

2- Where does the nickname Overdose come from?

My nickname Overdose came from the actual word “overdose” and is due to comments from those close to me on my work. The comments are always beyond my knowledge. However, this is not what drove me to become an artist. I always tell myself that I am the master of my destiny. Therefore, it is up to me to make my choice and I know who I want to become.

3- Tell us about your career path before you became a director?

I first started drawing, painting, and hip-hop dance – which I couldn’t continue. I also Rapped after that and it was my last activity before I started to make video clips. I learned and discovered many things. I grew up in an orphanage where I lived with more than 100 people in a yard and the orphanage had more than 800 children.

4- How did you become a director?

It all started at the orphanage Foyer Saint Joseph. Throughout the year we would receive visits from people from foreign countries, and they would bring digital cameras to leave with a few souvenir shots. I began to fall in love with photography by watching these visitors. I was not yet ready to embark on a digital profession on my own. But a few years later, everything went wrong and the orphanage closed its doors. I met a friend who encouraged and supported me. With him, we collected 1,000,000 Guinean francs (GNF) to buy my first camera. I started to take street pictures with it and was able to get a 80,000 GNF pipe-based stabilizer to start making videos. I did tutorials and online training before shooting my first video with my friend who was also a rapper: (YUNG SLAVE).

5- Can you sum up the job of filmmaking?

I sum of the job of director, as a job of courage and passion. You have to be passionate to do it.

6- Does the job of filmmaking work well in Guinea and how does it work?

For the moment, I wouldn’t say that the profession of filmmaking works well in Guinea, because in most cases our artists/actors prefer working with foreign filmmakers. This is often due to the equipment. As digital is a little advanced, our suppliers have difficulty importing the latest generation of equipment. So, to be better equipped, you have to spend a lot of money (if you want to purchase equipment from abroad for example) and most artists don’t have producers. So, we are often confronted with low-budget projects. But I hope that everything will be fine one day.

7- How do you become a director nowadays?

Nowadays to become a director you need to have some knowledge and some film equipment.

8- What would you advise a young Guinean who wants to be a director in Guinea?

My advice for any young Guinean who would like to embark on a filmmaking career is to first and foremost use your know-how, to make the right choice and above all to be passionate and to entrust everything to God.

How to continue your studies abroad? Rama Sagna, a young African student in France, shares her story.

1- Who is Rama Sagna?

Hello, my name is Ramatoulaye Sagna, I am 29 years old. I live in Grenoble and I am a research engineer in production, data processing and analysis and quantitative surveys in sociology. My passions are music, not making music but listening to it. I like to travel, discover, and go on adventures.

2- What did you do before you left to pursue your studies abroad?

Before leaving Senegal, I was a student at the University Cheikh Anta Diop where I did a degree in sociology. I left after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in sociology.

3- Why did you want to go abroad?

During our bachelor’s degree in sociology we were presented with a range of specializations that were available to us. Among these options, there were quite a few that were done in France or in private schools. So I chose the first option, which was to go and do it in France. I also make this choice for personal reasons; to discover something new, to go on an adventure, to enrich myself because it is always enriching to travel. And it is also a great opportunity to be able to continue my studies in a developed country. So that’s what influenced my choice to go abroad.

4- How was your trip organized?

First of all, I started to research and learn about French universities, particularly the specializations that interested me. I looked into where they were done and how to do it. I spent a lot of time researching and finding out about training courses in France. From my research, I narrowed down my selection of schools. I then went to Campus France to find out how it works, what is the procedure, what are the steps to take. And once that was done, I started the procedure; I submitted my application, had an interview, went through the whole process until I obtained pre-enrolment at three universities and finally chose the master’s degree in engineering and international project management at the Université Paris-Est Créteil. So there you have it, I got the visa and then I came to France.

5- What were the realities once you arrived? (Social and pedagogical)

Once I arrived in France, from a social point of view, I was lucky enough to have family in Paris who welcomed me and accompanied me at the beginning. I looked for student jobs here and there, and I ended up finding a job as a receptionist in a hotel, and I was able to continue my studies at the same time. After the master’s degree, I didn’t feel ready to enter the job market. I didn’t feel like I was at the level of competency that I should be at, so I decided to enroll in another course at the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences. Here, I did a master’s degree in statistics applied to sociology. This master’s degree gave me skills in data analysis and statistics that allowed me to occupy the position I currently hold. You have to know that when you decide to come to France to pursue your studies, you have to be versatile and flexible, because you have to combine studies and odd jobs to meet your needs, to ensure the minimum: rent, food, transportation, etc. So you have to be armed with courage and determination.

6- What are the advantages and disadvantages for an African student abroad?

The advantages of being an African student abroad is that you can be enriched by a new culture, you discover many things, frankly you get richer. You can meet new people, there are lots of opportunities and you can benefit from a quality training, but you still have to choose them well. You will also have the possibility to study in a quiet environment, without being disturbed – you can be alone and work as you wish.
And as for the disadvantages, for me it is already the fact of being far from my family, of having to rely on myself, there will be no mom or dad who will help us to take steps or to do this or that to inform us, it will be necessary to be awake, curious and to inquire about everything that awaits us here. And the most difficult thing is the lack of support. You can only count on yourself and you will have to find a job to support yourself and make sure you have what you need. We’re on our own. Sometimes people may look at you differently, you’ll have to believe in yourself.

How did I get a scholarship to continue my studies abroad? Mamie Diagne, a young African student in Morocco, shares her story.

1- Who is Mamie Diagne?

My name is Ndèye Mane Diagne, I am 27 years old, I have been living in Morocco for 8 years. I am single and I work in a call center in Rabat for a French company called Total Direct Energy (electricity and gas supplier). I love writing, dancing, singing and making videos. Being an introverted and silent person, I like to be alone in my room so that I can do silly stuff (dancing and being a diva).

2- What did you do before you left to pursue your studies abroad?

I was also studying before coming to Morocco. To be precise, I got a scholarship in 2012 after my bachelors and that’s why I came to Morocco.

3- Why did you want to go abroad?

When I got my bachelor’s degree and the scholarships, I preferred to come to Morocco because the educational system is well organized here. I could not afford (financially) to study in a private school in Senegal and I did not want to have a bachelor’s degree in 4 or 5 years because of the permanent strikes in the public universities in Senegal. Deep down, I was convinced that I was going to continue my studies with peace of mind in Morocco.

4- How was your trip organized?

I received the scholarship through the Scholarship Department in Dakar and the trip was organized by them too. Once I got the scholarship, I knew which city I was going to study in and the course I was going to follow. After a few weeks, I was informed about the date of my trip. The scholarship office took care of all the administrative procedures and purchased my plane tickets. Upon arrival, my classmates and I were taken care of/guided by the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (MAIC). MAIC, with the help of former students in Morocco, advised us of the further steps that we needed to do, such as registering at the university and searching for housing/apartments.

5- What were the realities once you arrived?

At first, I found it difficult to adapt. I was in a city where there weren’t really many black people compared to Rabat and Casablanca. So, I was constantly harassed on the street, including on my way to university. I was discouraged, disgusted and regretted coming. However, I wasn’t disappointed about my studies. Based on my experience, Morocco is very strict about studies. The courses went very well; there were no strikes (which I was afraid of), yet I was in a public university. However, I finally got my license in 2016; the third year was difficult and I was depressed at the beginning of the year. This delayed my graduation by a few months.

6- What are the advantages and disadvantages being student abroad?

As a student, I did not struggle financially because I had financial scholarship of my country and the MAIC. I quickly found a decent job after graduation and I am able to earn a good living. I manage to pay a monthly rent, my bills, I support myself and I help my mom (financially). The disadvantage is that I don’t work in my field of study because I have a bachelor’s degree in English, specifically in linguistics, so I find my job boring. Currently, I want to go back to school, get a master’s degree and go back to Senegal.

7- What are your future ambitions after finishing your studies?

I would like to obtain a master’s degree in Translation and Interpreting or Communications because later I would like to open a communications agency. I have also started steps to continue staying abroad (outside Africa if possible).
I would like to be an internationally renowned translator/interpreter and also an entrepreneur. Being a feminist, women will be emphasized in my future company: 100% or 75% of my collaborators will be women In Sha Allah. This may seem sexist but I would simply like to contribute to strengthening the professional integration of Senegalese women and their empowerment. It might not necessarily be a communications company. But what is certain is that I do not intend to limit myself to working in my field of study.

8- What advice would you give to a young African who dreams of pursuing his studies abroad?

A piece of advice to my brother or sister who will read to me: if you dream of pursuing your studies abroad, I say you to go for it. Do everything you can and stay honest above all, to reach your goal and make your dream come true. Be patient, but not lazy because as they say, “Everything comes to those who know how to wait” but “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. If you have ideas, make them come true and be a model of success. I hope to apply my own advice (laughs) as my idol Beyoncé said in her song Bigger: “I am not just preaching; I am taking my own advice. So, go ahead and chase your dreams.”