une web-série Afro

afropolitaine behind the scene

Reading Time 6mins

Creating an Afro web series, in France, or even elsewhere, is not easy. Aline and Soraya Milla are paving the way with Afropolitaine. They share their experience with us.

Short reminder: Afropolitaine is a web series showcasing the contemporary life and challenges of Afro French people living in a particular area of Paris – la Goutte d’Or.

mother & daughter, Co-creators and co-producers

credit: Soraya Milla – Afropolitaine

Soraya Milla
a French director and producer with a Benin-Cameroonian background.
She between France and Ivory Coast.

graduated in Performing Arts at the University of Paris X,
in directing at the Institut des Arts de Diffusion (Belgium)
and in audiovisual production at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel in Paris.

2015 – directing her first short film Exotique: a ‘hair’ tale, received in several international festivals.
2018 – creating a Vitiligo: a visual poem in collaboration with the Belgian-Burundian slam poet and poet Gioia Kayaga. World premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.
2020 – directing Afropolitaine, a web series co-created with her mother Aline Milla.

Aline Milla – Afropolitaine

Aline Milla
a multi-talented audiovisual and marketing professionnal from France and Benin.

Short curriculum: scriptwriter, production manager
worked 4 years in Ivory Coast as art gallery manager and advertising and sales manager
production manager at M6 group

2016 – screenplays writing
launching of Afropolitaine project with her daughter Soraya Milla.

How did the idea of Afropolitaine come out?

Soraya: We started the project a few years ago. The concept was somewhat different. We had planned 26-minute episodes. The idea was to highlight the the Returnees journey by following a main character.

Returnees or Repats: it is used to describe people with African origin who decide to settle down in African country after living abroad.

Why this web-series format?

Aline: It al started in more classical way: reacging out some broadcasters. However, we had to faced mixed feeling regarding our creation, especially the concept. It was said to not match the taste of a wide audience. Well, the reality is stille different from the official announcement. Bringing ‘unsual’ scenario under the spotlight remains a challenge. Even when they want to offer something different, they actually don’t have a clear idea of what can be closer to the reality and what keeps on driving clichés.

Soraya: Yes, exactly. It is not only about starring Black people on the screen. What has a deeper impact and it is now expected is to deliver various story, to put an amphasis on the diversity and reality. All of this happens through proposing other storytelling, roles or dialogues. This finesse is not there yet.

Then, we had already worked on the project and didn’t want to change it.
It was important for us to bring something fresh and new.

Aline: Considering all of that, launching Afropolitaine as a web series was the most obvious solution. We kept our hands free on the project. Being on Youtube allows the visualization to a larger audience. It’s all on our side!

Soraya: People watched Afropolitaine from Canada, from several European countries and from the African continent. Moreover, since our participation in a festival in Italy, we have added subtitling in Italian.

credit: Afropolitaine

How was the multi-tasking experience?

Soraya: It was really enriching. We juggled our roles as script writer, producer and also director for me.

Aline: At the same time, we often had to manage the unexpected and take care of the whole shooting organisation. Self-production often mean working on a tight budget.

Soraya: Now, we are receiving production and distribution proposals. Changes will come for the second season.

Mother & Daughter – How is this collaboration going?

credit: Soraya Milla/ Aline Milla – Afropolitaine

There is nothing very special! (laughs) Regularly we have writing sessions. Usually, each one writes on a subject and then we gather our findings. Sometimes “Mum” comes up with an idea and offers me to explore it.

Aline: That’s very interesting. Especially for the generational aspect and points of view. Also we have twice as many anecdotes and funny stories to base our work on.

What’s come next?

We are looking forward to shooting the second season. Thanks to our new partnerships, we should be more free and able to focus more on the filming.

On a larger scale, we are looking forward to seeing a growing scene of Afros web-series in France.

Afropolitaine is still available on Youtube – with English or Italian subtitles.