I plan to make a low budget movie this year, but there are a couple labour of loves I need to get out of the way first. I’ll take the time to share with you my journey into film and animation.
Let’s talk about "Enter the Blackberry", a martial arts action comedy about a man forced by his girlfriend to enter a tournament to win a new Blackberry smart phone. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until he realizes how serious his opponents and his girlfriend are about the prize. I will add the script and unfinished storyboards for the first episode in coming posts. I wanted to highlight how this project all started. Ever since I was in high school back in the 90’s my best friend and I wanted to make martial arts movies because we were obsessed with the plethora of ‘B’ grade straight to video actioned pack no consequences movies of that era.
Skip 20 years ahead and we still had not done it. Becoming a filmmaker was an unattainable dream until I hit 30. Prior to that I bought me a cheap Canon ZR800 DV camcorder and me and my friends got together and started messing around doing martial arts shorts and posting them on youtube and facebook. Friends loved them of course. They’re your friends, what else are they supposed to do right? Well, years later people kept asking me, when are you going to do more of those videos. I started to realize I loved this stuff. When I was approaching thirty, the corporate world started making a lot of noise basically saying “Hey you, it’s time to spend your hard earned money on an MBA, get married, have kids and still earn the same amount you make with your degree, so you can bitch and moan like everyone else your age.” It dawned on me. I have one life to live. Do I want to live it following everyone else down a trending unrewarding road or do I want to make movies. I remember watching a Cosby episode one day and it changed everything. Dr. Huxtable was counselling teens on doing something with their lives and most of the people in the room did not know what they wanted to do and Dr. Huxtable said emphatically. “PICK...SOMETHING! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT. JUST PICK...SOMETHING. You will never know you are cut out for something unless you try.” “What if I fail?” Said the youth he was referring to. “PICK SOMETHING ELSE. There is no limit on the amount of things you can pick. Just pick something and do it to the best of your ability.” It was a sitcom but those words were powerful.
I started writing, meeting filmmakers and getting involved. I made a few bucks with my camera doing conferences but I sold it because I was tired of tape, plus I wanted to move to HD so I got a Canon HF R100. Once I got this camera I said it’s time to do an epic martial arts short. I met a young Director named Robin Chin from Enhanced Realizm Studios who was looking for a writer. I told him about my idea for a martial arts film and he got excited. He had more professional equipment than I did(I had none), so it made for a perfect synergy. I wrote for him, he filmed for me. Years later that synergy is still working and I’m glad it is because my film has been almost 2 years in the making. You need a patient person to handle that kind of flexible deadline. The concept initially started out very unattainable. It was called “Shadow Society”. Martial Artists in an ancient setting with special powers. Amazing what you think is easy when you’ve never edited or made a decent film before. Eventually I came to my senses and decided to make it simpler. After watching “Scott Pilgrim” I got inspiration and decided to make it silly. Blackberries were popular at the time and I decided to play on a few iconic martial arts items. "Enter the Blackberry" came to life. A mixture of the Bruce Lee title “Enter the dragon” and the concept of a Blackberry tournament, Not to mention when most people think martial arts they think black belt. I pitched the idea to my friends and soon to be talent and they were sold. We started linking up every week and choreographing. It was fun but there were many pauses. My friends are my age, we all work, we all have obligations. As much as we all still had the mentality in our heads that we were Ninja Bruce Lees and Cynthia Rothrocks, our lives just weren’t accommodating enough. Over time people got frustrated because the project was taking too long. Everyone wanted to work on a fight scene all at once, and my time was being split all over the place. Eventually we heared rumours of a Kung Fu flick coming out. “Kong Fu Dread” it was called. So now we would not be the first to create a buzz with a martial arts film in Jamaica. Sad but I pushed on. Kept telling myself there is room for everyone in the industry. Later a friend of mine did a pretty good martial arts short as well (With special power...I'm so jealous) and he was going to do another even bigger and better. By this time, my friends thought “man, we are late out of the gate. This race is over.” Still I said fret not. We are putting our hearts into this. My bestie and I been making up fighting scenes and pretending to fight each other for the entertainment of our schoolmate for decades. We’ve watched every martial arts movie known to man. We won’t be the first but we will still be relevant. They bought it and stuck with it.
As time went by and we were still not fit enough to pull off a 2 minute fight scene without dying twice and my shoddy knees would complain, we were taking too long to get things done. Eventually, in January of 2011, we filmed the first fight scene. Robin got the Canon 7D and the footage looked great. Of course it was his first outing with the camera and this was the test run. Sadly we encountered many problems. Dropped footage and lens fog...aaaaand I got injured and couldn’t walk for weeks so no reshoot. I healed up and went back to choreography determined to get it done before the year was out. We tweaked the script and the idea a bit to place less stress on my poor forsaken knees. It worked but we still weren’t getting anywhere fast. People were just busy including myself. Once you break momentum on projects it’s like working out, HARD to get back on the wagon.
Christmas was approaching and everyone pretty much coasted down in preparations for the season, but I was determined I had to finish an episode before the year was done or my motivation would be gone. Luckily my cousin who stars as my opponent in the first episode is extremely supportive and has never said no (so far) to any of my requests to wake up early Saturday morning and roll in mud (Literally) to get this project done. Thanks Terron, means a lot. We had to use a back up location as the original location (which was so beautiful) was destroyed by bulldozers. (FAAAK). The second location did not have the vibe the original had but we said screw this. “Get er done”. We took two days to film the fight and another two for the acting. Another good friend of Mine Nadya Raymond has also been very accommodating making herself available whenever I need her.
I just need to say thanks to Julian Turton, my fight supervisor. He ensures whatever I choreograph makes sense. Robin Chin for filming and directing. Nadya for acting for corned beef sandwiches and ramen soup. Last but not least my faithful crew of fighters (Terron Hyde, Paul Williams, Sacha Todd, Kevin Williams and hopefully soon Erika Chong). I am hoping to post in this order, the script, storyboard, the actual short, BTS (including rehearsals and the original footage). I am going to use my brother to make the scores/music for my future episodes. So look out for some original music. Until then, later peeps and I hope you enjoy when it comes out. Back to editing.
I am a Filmmaker, Animator and Writer. I love telling stories and making them come true. You will see me on the big screen soon enough.