OSQUELLO [@OSQUELLO2] EXPLORES PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN ‘ROMERO’ – THE ACCOMPANYING SHORT FILM FOR HIS LATEST ALBUM
Friends and fans gathered at Kunstraum on Friday to watch the premiere of Osquello’s short film, released to promote his album Romero.
Before we got to see the film, directed by Esrom Soloman, Osquello thanked everyone for the support on the album (which is phenomenal by the way if you haven’t heard it yet) and talked about how much fun the film was to make and that most of it was made in one day.
The documentary-style comedy short followed six characters including Romero, played by Osquello himself. It starred producer Kamil Ademola as Evan Amoli; rapper D Wills as Devonte Williams; actor musician Kwaku Konadu as Kazan Lewis; clothes designer, actor and film maker Kamal Frankson as Dez Creekz and musician, poet, and performer Amber Joy as Winoa Richards. Each character represented various people we see all the time that are in proximity to artists – a super fan, a childhood friend, mentor, someone who claims to know them and a journalist.
While Osquello – real name Fabiano Lewis – conceptualised each character, the dialogue was completely improvised by each cast member. Each character had such a vibrant personality and all the actors personified the tropes to a T. A minute wouldn’t go by without laughter as the clips alternated between characters and different settings.
Their personalities shone through their improv. Superfan Evan Amoli mentions an interaction during a live show where he makes eye contact with Romero, convinced Romero sang to him. The obsession is real -“I wake up – Romero. I go sleep – Romero. I wash my ass – Romero. I even named my cat Romero.” Devonte Williams, Romero’s childhood friend, is eager to big up his friend while also showing the viewers his music. It’s the kind of behaviour you learn to expect from friends of artists who are also artists when they blow up. Kazan Lewis, Romero’s mentor, had a collection of near-unbelievable, ridiculous stories about Romero – that he’d midwifed a rat, for example. Dez Creekz detailed how Romero’s wifi stopped working and he hotspotted him so he could finish the song, acting like he came up with the melody. Dez was undoubtedly the funniest character, his persona was the right amount of cockiness, entitlement and ridiculousness for what his role represented. Winoa Richards, a Pitchfork critic, was continuously in awe of Romero. One of the best lines in the movie is her recollection of the 2019 Met Gala – “It was 2019, Met Gala bathroom and Serena Williams came in with Es Devlin. She asked Es for some Vaseline and instead of Vaseline, she reached in her purse and said, “You need Romero.” And I thought, I’m in the right place.”
The set design paid great attention to detail – Evan Amoli was filmed in his bedroom with a bunch of posters and pictures collaged all over his wall, including a few of Osquello, representing idolisation and putting artists on a pedestal. Dez Creekz, someone who claims to know him was in his car that he lived out of which was full of rubbish. This mirrors the personality of those who claim to know artists and those who leave hate comments on their videos – which he does towards the end of the video.
The colour grading was also exquisite and made it pleasing to the eye. In Osquello’s scenes, the same two-toned lighting from the Romero album cover reflected onto his face.
The film tackles the parasocial relationships we have with artists and the pedestal we put them on, each character perceived Romero in a different way, believing their perception to be accurate. When it came down to it, Romero didn’t even know who he was. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon in stan culture and proximity to people of status. The comedic approach Osquello and [DIRECTOR] took to speak on this narrative makes you realise the absurdity of idolising famous people.
Once the film finished, applause filled the room. Osquello’s long term friend lead a Q&A, asking some questions about the film’s context and creation before opening up the floor to the audience. The film opened the door for some excellent talking points surrounding the nature of parasocial relationships and the creation of short films. I definitely left feeling inspired, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Here’s what some members of the audience had to say about the film:
“I liked the fact that it was comedic, but it also had the essence of London culture in it. It’s funny – it has that kind of juxtaposition ’cause it has more darker turns to it even though it’s a comedy. So when you think about comedy, you think about joy and laughter, but it has a deeper meaning to it.”
“I found it very heartwarming. I know that’s not the thing you’re meant to come away with because it’s a satire, but I think being in a room all his friends and listening to director’s point of view really helped me understand it.”
You can watch Romero here.