A Storyteller, in short

When Roselidah Taabu goes to a party, what does she introduce herself as? “I’m a film and video editor. Freelance film and video editor, currently attached to the XYZ show and any other project that comes with XYZ,” She says. “I edit documentaries, feature films…” She’s been editing 12 years now, in various jobs. She studied journalism and TV production at Star Media Institute.

“I chose this discipline because the other option that appealed to me was being a cameraman, but with my small frame, I didn’t want to struggle under the weight of cameras.” She chuckles. She’s a petite woman, mother of one. “So I decided that I could tell stories with videos. It’s interesting to see how a story evolves and changes, as the editor. I think that’s pretty much why I like editing.”

At the heart of editing is emotion, she says. Her job – apart from bringing alive the vision of the director – is to bring out the emotion of the characters. “What do you remember most about films? It’s the feel, touch and the emotions of the production. Nobody really remembers what blew up, but they remember how they felt when that happened. I love bringing out emotions, I love telling the story through emotions.”

Her job is to pick what will enhance a story. It could be a blink, a smile, a nod, a wave, a frown. She weaves all these emotions into the story using the right angles to bring the story alive. “If someone tells a joke, what is the reaction of the recipient? Do we want to focus on the joke or it’s effect?” She poses. “It’s about storytelling. I’m a storyteller, in short”. She isn’t surprised to be doing what she’s doing; as a child she liked oral narratives and poetry.

So was she born creative? She crinkles her brow and says that creativity isn’t necessarily something unique to some people and not to others. There are people who are born with certain talents but who will never realise those talents. “It’s many things that can stimulate your creativity, environment and socialisation being among them. But it’s also erroneous to say that creativity is only limited to the arts. My husband is a marketer and he comes up with pretty creative marketing concepts.  I think everyone is creative in their own way. But I think it’s when you interact with people, and when you involve yourself in different activities that you realize that you are creative in your own unique way.”

She tends to see life in terms of human reactions. She once got into a matatu and from the facial expressions of some of the passengers who were seated on opposite sides of the matatu she could immediately tell they were thieves. It happened twice. It’s so weird, I don’t know how I picked it. It could have been the twitching of the eye or something. I am able to connect a story based purely on a character’s facial expressions. Is that seeing life in frames? I think my strength is connecting with that human emotion.”

She is drawn to artistic pastimes when she isn’t working – she loves stage plays. “I like running. I like cooking and walking. When I’m walking at times I pray. I get a solution to a problem I had in an edit. Somehow when I’m walking I sort of get to talk to myself.” She says.

She loves the part of her job when the edit is final (or as final as it can get), which she admits is kind of cliche. “What I love most about editing is the little tweaks here and there which completely change the storyline. There is an emotional connection with my work and the story which starts from the script. If I don’t internalise the emotion of the script I will not be able to communicate the emotion of the story to the intended audience. If I feel it, my audience should be able to feel it.”

If she wasn’t editing she would be a stage actor. “I see it in my daughter, this creativity you speak of.” She says. She’s amazing; she sings, she dances. She dresses up like Yemi Alade and sings and dances.” So yes, the apple and the tree, if you wish.