Fish is a short film directed, written and starring Adomako Aman that follows the story of two gay men of colour and their everyday struggle of finding jobs and balancing life in the Bronx. Bringing to the forefront issues of community acceptance and fighting perpetuating stereotypes ‘Fish’ is an honest reflection of the importance of maintaining supportive friendships and bonds within the queer community. Understanding that every individual person is dealing with their own personal battles, and not letting those battles interfere with our relationships is vital. Shot with intimate cinematography by Lucas Gonzales encourages the viewers to sympathise with the characters in the most relatable way possible. Director and leading actor Adomako Aman discussed with us the inspiration for the film, and the importance of maintaining representation in the media for queer kids. Watch the film below.
What inspired the title for the film ‘Fish’?
With Fish, this film is equally based on truth as well embellished. The back and forth on the discussion on Fish between O’Shea & Chris is very much real and very telling towards the direction of the story. The idea of two ordinary black gay men just existing in the hood purely through friendship is a narrative very unfamiliar to me and I wanted to explore this route of storytelling and how these two characters respond to their environment & living circumstances. The two characters face a lot of hardship and like Fish: continue to swim until they reach their final potential.
How important is it to have representation in the media for queer kids?
It’s vital and I’m still searching for it. The show Pose on FX has taken a great effort to explore some of the facets of being a Queer Person of Color and I really hope that this show stays around for a great deal of time to open up opportunities for people in the LGBTQ+ community as well conversations on who we are in our individual experiences. Representation is so important because it affirms that our experiences are real and that our existence is honored & acknowledged.
Did you grow up in the Bronx? And if so, how much of your own experiences went into making this film?
I’m a Bronx transplant. I was born on the Upper East Side, and even though there was a small period of my life where my mother raised my siblings and me from state-to-state my upbringing is very Spanish Harlem & Bronx influenced. I believe that the Bronx is one of the most remarkable boroughs in New York. It’s the only borough that’s really held on to its culture. New York has now become the land of gentrification and commercialism. Most of New York has been reduced to what’s popular (let’s post this amazing time on Instagram) or is Vegan-Gluten Free-Organic lifestyle adjacent. It’s wild to me that people are typically afraid to visit the Bronx unless it’s specifically routed to see The Botanical Garden, The Yankee Stadium or The Bronx Zoo. I live for the girl in her Nike Airmax, short- shorts, tank top, and her bamboo earrings. She’s dabbed on a little edge control to her baby hairs and she’s a Bronx girl: good to go. I admire that girl, I admire the community of the Bronx and either if it’s meeting & hanging out with that girl or biking pass the people who are smoking hookah, playing dominos on the Grand Concourse; I’m always inspired. A lot of people in the Bronx (such as myself) have seen a lot of struggle and I always use that to create all my body of work.
In your film you explore queer friendships going through hardships. How critical is it to maintain love and support in the queer community?
A lot of opportunities have been scalped away from me because I am a Dark skin Black Queer man. I’ve had to work ten times harder in order to stand where I am today, especially when it came to developing Fish. In this project, our cinematographer and camera assistant are trans people of color, both my Story Editor & Script Supervisor are Queer men of color and my Assistant Director is a Queer woman. Fish took a communal effort in order to be completed and I don’t think it would exist if it weren’t for the strength and love from the people of my community.
The film’s main two characters exert a great deal of feminine energy, each to varying degrees. Was it your intent to explore the representation of two black gay male characters in contrast to the expectations that the black community would typically have of them?
I feel that feminine energy is greatly oppressed. There’s this idea that men are stronger than women and I don’t get that. Some of the strongest people I know are women. Women give birth to life and there’s no greater strength than that. In Fish, Chris exudes a lot of feminine energy and I think it’s important to honor that men can be feminine. There are these social pressures on what makes a woman & man and I assist that people think more progressively and learn to color outside the lines. I like to paint my eyebrows thicker, wear long weaves to my hips and that does not make me any less of a man in contrast to if I decide to wear a mustache and a pencil stripped suit the next day. I fully embrace my feminine and masculine attributes, which only makes sense because I come from Male & Female parents.
How damaging can perpetuating stereotypes within the queer community be?
Lately, there’s this idea going around that people can be free thinkers and I believe that to be inaccurate. It’s very difficult to be a free thinker when some voices are more amplified than others. Popular opinion typically rules all thought & influence and this can be dangerous if the wrong person holds the microphone. It’s crazy to me when people think LGBTQ+ or even POC-LGBTQ+ is dubbed “monolithic”. It’s frustrating to consistently see the same stories of LGTBQ+ involved in Sex Work, oversexualize and STI statistics. I think people feel that we’re moving forward because there is an LGBTQ+ project that comes up every blue moon and that does not cut it. There is nothing progressive or innovative when the same narrative is on repeat. There are so many other experiences we live. It’s time that Film/TV executives release their corsets and begin exploring new radical talent that can touch viewers souls & hearts.
With Pride Month almost over, are there any reflections or comments you have to make towards the queer community?
The only way a community can win is by standing united or else fail undivided. It’s important to stick through the good and bad in any time because things never get better we just get stronger.
What other creative projects do you have planned, or are you already working on?
I’m really excited for everyone to see this film. It took a lot of time and effort to create. I’m currently working as a cinematographer & producer for a new project title CommuniTea that explores POC-LGBTQ+ conversations with Director/Executive Producer Brandon Nicholas and he’s a genius. I’m always writing and exercising my strengths and weaknesses as a Content Producer and will continue to explore narratives that opens up conversations on different POC & POC-LGBTQ+ experiences.
Interview by Bailee-Rose Farnham
Model Adomako Aman @adomakoaman