Bola Ogun : Interview with The Water Phoenix

Part 2 in a 3 part series about The Water Phoenix and her creator Bola Ogun.

Last week we introduced The Water Phoenix (Mermaid Anya). Today we dive deeper with filmmaker and star Bola Ogun…


Bola Ogun is a writer, director, and actor making "The Water Phoenix."

Bola Ogun is a writer, director, and actor making “The Water Phoenix.”

How were you first introduced to Mermaids?

Like a lot of ladies of my generation, as a child, Ariel was my first mermaid encounter. My family went to the movie theater to watch it and I was captured the moment I saw Ariel and her sister singing catchy tunes and swimming around. It definitely felt like a party I needed to join! I was going on aquarium field trips and actively looking for a real life Flounder. Every mermaid needs a BFF, Best Fish Friend. A couple years later a friend introduced me to ‘Splash.’ And I was amazed they made a realistic mermaid. And the end of the movie I was even convinced Daryl Hannah might actually BE a real mermaid. Couldn’t figure out how she held her breath for so long. But now I know the movie magic.

Describe your ultimate swim fantasy.

I’ve never really thought of that but with all the research I’ve been doing for my film, I find myself wishing I could just swim with a fin in a tropical place! The pictures and video professional mermaid takes are gorgeous and inviting. I’d love to swim along the side of a whale, move through coral reefs and secret caves. Shipwrecks would be really cool to visit as well, maybe I’d find one with a lot of space and live there and the bonus is it would be rent free!

What kind of aquatic training will you undergo for The Water Phoenix?

I plan on getting Scuba Certified which consists of online courses and a minimum of two weeks pool/ocean training. Then I will take Free Diving classes which are underwater techniques most professional mermaids use in order to be comfortable holding their breath (without looking like they’re holding their breath.) I’m already a swimmer so these lessons will be a great way to enhance my water skills.

Who will create the tail for the film?

We’ve talked to a couple of the well-known tail makers across the country and some of them are crazy busy. As soon as we make a deal with someone it’ll be announced on our Facebook page.

Have you swum in fins before?

I’ve swum with fins before training as a swimmer for dolphin kicks and Butterfly strokes so I imagine it’ll feel something like that. But I will say my 8 year old self can’t believe I’ll actually be a mermaid.

What does being a mermaid bring to your life?

Mermaid Anya, the lead in my script, brought me truth. This character evolved so much in my process at AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women. In the beginning, I didn’t even see I was writing a piece of my life. In fact it was one of my peers who had to point it out to me. “The way you talk about your past and how you felt alienated because you are different. You are a mermaid, you are Anya.” She said. When I realized that, the more I was honest about where I was in my life, the more profound the screenplay became. My mermaid was definitely an outlet, a life changing one.

How large a role do mermaids play in your day to day?

They play a huge role now! I’m constantly trying to see what I can learn from them. What I can bring to them. My friends send me Mermaid articles and pictures all the time now. It’s really hilarious! They see a mermaid or anything that reminds them of mermaids, and they think of me.

Do you have a favorite Mermaid?

Out of the professional mermaid community I love Mermaid Linden and Mermaid Kariel. I just did a Mermaid Google Hangout with them live so that fans could hear what we’re all up to. It was a blast and I admire all the charitable work they do. You can check out the recording on You Tube:

Is there a particular cause or event that means a lot to you?

I recently saw ‘Blackfish’ and I’m a supporter of releasing Tilikum into an ocean pen. I know there are tons of protestors and groups that have formed with this mission.  I only hope to one day have a big enough platform to make a difference.

When it comes to stories, what is your favorite mermaid story?

When comes to stories and myths, I really like the Hans Christian Andersen version ‘The Little Mermaid,’ it’s dark and an interesting metaphor of unrequited love. I feel that if those stories were told more, people wouldn’t feel so alone if it happens to them. I’m intrigued by tales that don’t have the ending we’re used to seeing. It’s refreshing.

Pick your ultimate aquatic sidekick!

Seby!!! (Sebastian, “The Little Mermaid”) He seems like a wise one and even if you go against his sound advice he’ll support you with whatever decision you make. And you know he can get your crush to kiss you by singing “Kiss the Girl”. But the best part is he’s a lot like my real life friends, no matter the situation however dire it may seem (sea witch and all) you’ll always have a laugh and make time for a dance number.

Vegetarian or Pescetarian? Some would assert that mermaids are the top of the aquatic food chain and as such they enjoy the very freshest sashimi. Others would argue, “Fish are friends, not food!” Which side do you take?

Oh, that’s tough. It’s interesting because while I was writing the script that question does come up. I’m going to say you have to watch the film to find out.

The Water Phoenix is in preproduction.  You can follow the film on FaceBook.  To check out the cool Pre-Visualization Artwork of what the film will look like and help bring this film to life visit Bola’s Indiegogo campaign.  

Tune in again next week for a special treat from Bola!