Adu Lalouschek discusses his new BBC docu-series on diversifying the world of outdoor sports
Working with Pi Studios, Adu’s new BBC series is a beautiful and artistic rendition of three young people working to open up a discussion on a culture which has long been whitewashed.
- 27 October 2021
- Joey Levenson
It’s a domain we all think to be freely public and readily accessible: the great outdoors. Yet so often, the outdoor activity and sports world becomes attached to Caucasian bodies – rarely associating people of colour as individuals who constitute the countryside trails as much as their White counterparts. In a bid to open up the world of outdoor activity to all, London-based director Adu Lalouschek has made a new three-part BBC short-form social series called Outsiders. The series follows a trio of people of colour actively creating change within the Great British countryside by making the outdoors a more inclusive environment for others to take inspiration from. From hiking, to swimming, to cycling, the series unearths the difficult discussions on the many challenges people of colour experience in trying to access outdoor sports.
Adu has always had a “passion for real people and elevating stories into warm and compelling forms of factual entertainment” since he first started his career. “I really fell in love with filmmaking when I started to create documentaries in my fatherland, Ghana, when I was at film school,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Documentaries in particular were a way for me to embed myself within different communities and learn from them.” Born in London with a mixed Ghanian and Austrian heritage, Adu’s work often seeks to uplift and celebrate the diversity of difference in places we may not otherwise look to find it in. This project came about because Adu particularly resonated with the diversity ethos of Pi Studios, the production company behind Outsiders. “I was impressed by the level of research Pi had done into the topic and all the pre-interviews with people in that space,” he says. “Over six months we worked together along with their producer Francesca Mirza to really bring the series to life and then took it to a commissioner I knew at the BBC.”
After the BBC commissioned it, Adu found casting the project to be incredibly rewarding. “We knew we wanted to cover cycling, hiking and swimming as they were big areas to tackle with a lot of stigmas attached, but we were open to who our contributors would be,” he explains. Temi, the cyclist, was found through Black Unity Ride, a yearly event which sees 3,000 cyclists from diverse backgrounds come together to cycle across London. “He runs the Black Riders Association and cycled from London to Nigeria a year after buying his first bike,” Adu recalls. Amira, the hiker, was found through her Instagram account, which advocates for getting more Muslim women to explore the outdoors. “Amira gets a lot of people reaching out about her story and we’re super lucky that she allowed us to capture it the way we did,” Adu says. Omie, the swimmer, was found through Black Swimmers Association, a non-profit organisation that looks to increase diversity in the world of aquatics. “We loved Omie’s story and how proactive she is in breaking barriers when it comes to swimming.”
Overall, the series is a beautifully-shot and profound piece of media. It moves calmly and quietly, and allows for Temi, Amira, and Omie to tell their stories with uninterrupted focus. “We really wanted to take our viewers on a journey and give them a window into unique perspectives,” Adu says. “We wanted layered stories and we wanted to capture the beauty of the UK outdoors as well as create a level of intimacy in our films with our subjects.” The off-the-cuff moments from Adu’s Super 8mm camera add to this unique sense of beauty in the series, elevated by the down-the-lens camera interviews conducted in each episode. “Access to the outdoors opens up a whole other world of opportunities that should be freely available for anyone,” Adu concludes. “Outside belongs to everyone, after all. The outdoors is for everyone.”
Adu Lalouschek: Outsiders (Copyright © Pi Studios, 2021)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.