I’ve been meaning to talk about Heart Shaped Box’s win at GATFFEST as well as review GATFFEST and JAMPRO’s Jamaica Film Festival in separate blog posts. I didn’t get around to it, even though separate posts would have given me more views and improved my posting consistency. The truth is I was waiting on a few things to happen that would have made the article stronger. I thought those things would have happened sooner than later, but some of those things still haven’t happened yet and well the festivals are long behind us.
So why am I writing now? Well, I am still benefiting from entering these festivals and people are still asking me about it and I think it is important to share that there is much more to get out of screening your work than winning awards. So let me begin.
GATFFEST in collaboration with the US Embassy, had their opening night last night, June 25, 2015 and what an auspicious occasion it was. Many stalwarts of the film industry were present for the premier of the UWI Film Project film "Epiphany" directed by Eka Campbell one of the UWI Film Project coordinators.
The launch of JAMPRO’s Jamaica Film Festival went live yesterday with several media houses and members of the industry in attendance. A Red Stripe sponsored bar served the red carpet affair that saw what looked like nearly 200 in attendance filling up both the conference room and the lobby.
Hosted by TV personality Debbie Bissoon and singer/actress Cherine Anderson, the launch was being televised live before the news. This most likely meant a lot of people saw it. After the launch opened with the national anthem Chairman of JAMPRO and Attorney at law Milton Samuda engaged the hosts in a discussion about Jamaica as a destination and the services it provides with its many experienced crew members, actors and equipment painting a very rounded picture of the industry. An industry of experts who have worked on many international films over several years.
Following him was a video speech given by Diane Edwards President of JAMPRO mentioning JAMPRO’s involvement. After which the sponsor’s, Acting Brand Manager Andrew Anguin gave his endorsement then we got a taste of what is in store regarding a film and music work shop, from Marie Bruce the General Manager of the Bob Marley Group of Companies.
Then what we all had been waiting for was an overview of the overall festival from Carole Beckford the Film Commissioner who worked hard to make all this possible. The festival will be from July 7-11 and will feature workshops, premieres, screenings, an award ceremony and networking opportunities. Films from all over the world will be on display including the region.
Closing off the evening was the Hon. G. Anthony Hylton MP, Minsitry of Industry, Investment and Commerce giving his remarks.
The evening ended with cocktails, networking and lots of Red Stripe. Take a look at the pictures while I upload some videos. #jamaicafilmfestival #JaFilmFest
This rat has tormented me for many nights. Hiding in the shadows, waiting to jump out at the last minute with his mischievous grin. He isn't tormenting because he is nasty. No. It's because he is a scary reminder of how nasty we are.
The other night I was in New Kingston and I literally thought the rat union was out to get me. I stepped out of an establishment and a rat frightened by a security guard chose to literally run across my feet. Not in front of, not near, literally on and across my feet. This rat was heavy and had power, because it felt like a dog ran across my feet. I am sure I broke a toe.
Needless to say, those shoes are currently soaking in a vat of bleach. The rats in New Kingston are as comfortable there as tarmac on the streets. They have been a permanent fixture since the 90's. It's bad that they are in an area where people eat, but imagine how many of them are lurking in our gullies, and rivers because of the garbage we throw on the roads that get washed away. That's your drinking water, cooking water, washing water, bathing water.
These PSA's are meant to be humorous to capture your attention, but there is serious symbolism behind each scene and each element at the same time. The chicken floating in the river and ending up in the gully. Remember the reports in the news about the meat vendors were finding in gullies and rivers that are washed off and resold in the market?
Yeah! Quite highly disturbing. Please. Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica. Please! Don't do it.
New York based author Tilsa Wright donates half of a million dollars to her alumni’s cricket team in association with her book promotion.
The main character in her trilogy book series “Star Boy” plays cricket, which gives added reason to give back. This is just the beginning of a step in the right direction.
William Watson, the President of the Camperdown Alumni Association _ “The school needs funding in every area and Cricket is one that receives very little support. Needless to say The Cricket team was overjoyed. The funds will be disbursed through the alumni after discussions with the school determines how best to use it. There are talks of installing nets which will widen the range of techniques they can drill giving a whole new strength to their arsenal and competitiveness.”
Tilsa Wright - "It is an honor to give back to an institution that has shaped so many lives. To the young cricketers, I urge you to appreciate the value and pride of this sport. Cricket is not about hype, it is a sport that demands a great deal of discipline and undivided commitment. Moving forward I will try my best to add moral value and encouragement to you, from experts in the business and a respectable mentor if possible. Stay motivated and focus, because I firmly believe the next Brian Lara is among you!”
Wright plans to donate to two more schools in the Caribbean region in 2016.
"I have gotten support from Trinidadians and Barbadians here in the USA, and one of the things I have learned is to give back to those who truly support you."
Cricket is the Caribbean’s favorite pass time and in fact is one of the few times the Caribbean truly shows unity. Camperdown is located in Rollington Town off Winward Road.
Tilsa Wright has also produced an animation based on her book series and is currently in pre-production of an upcoming movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njgY6bGNNXY
Check out my latest animation, a PSA done for the Jamaica Environment Trust, titled "Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica.
This was done in 4 weeks, using illustrations provided by Michelle Keane and Anime Studio Pro 9 for the animation software. I am big on the environment, so it was a pleasure for me to do this, even though I was tied down with work and I caught a bad flu that was going around I got through it.
In my opinion it is a very important campaign. There is a lot of work to be done to clean up our environment. Studies show that plastics could be getting into our food chain and this has serious health risks associated with it. Take a look at the statistics from the International Clean Up Campaign in 2014 in the gallery below and check out these images to get a picture of what i am talking about.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting actress Cassandra Freeman, from Inside Man, Kinyarwanda and the Single Ladies series. She is in Jamaica conducting an acting workshop for the finalists of the Jamaica Film Festival project.
Jampro had a launch for the event on Sunday and Cassandra was the main guest. She was very personable and energetic and gave each and everyone that came up to her, quality time to talk about anything they wanted to and she gave her impression of Jamaica as a film making hub. She definitely thinks the country has potential and wants to see more productions coming out of Jamaica by Jamaicans as she is a true believer that people must tell their own stories.
Attending the workshop was a blessing and eye opener, as I learned some great acting techniques and philosophies that will definitely translate into my next film making project. Cassandra is not only an actress, but she teaches the craft as well, so her lessons were very strong and she was able to get the most of out of you in a short space of time, young or old. Her lessons were very revealing in detecting what is wrong with someone's acting.
It's a pity she was only here for a few days, but I am grateful we even got her any at all. I only hope this means bigger and better things for the future of the local film industry and it's impact on the world.
A few months ago a fellow named Jo Spalburg contacted me on facebook looking for Caribbean films to enter into Sankofa UK television film festival. I pointed him to a short film produced by my business partner Robin Chin and I, (Heart Shaped Box) and a documentary done by David Johnson (Just Action).
Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but I heard it was well received. A month later, I get a call from Jo and he is heading to Jamaica for one day and wants to meet up. I met up with him after work yesterday and had a great conversation about a distribution company, Media Partners International ltd. of which he is the Managing Director and his other distribution company, Caribbean Media Partners. Where MPI handles distributing European content to Jamaica, CMP is the reverse. They distribute and market Caribbean content to Europe and North America for filmmakers looking to break into those markets and they facilitate the sharing of content, including news, TV series and documentaries across the region in all Caribbean languages. English, Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese.
Needless to say this was all very interesting and we are already plotting ways to get into various markets as the local distribution sector is completely backward. He was taken aback when I told him we as filmmakers have to pay to put our content on TV here. It was a fact that took a while to sink in.
Through CMP he has a VOD platform called www.caribbe.tv. It is just starting out but they already have deals with Caribvision, Hype TV, RETV, JNN, Tempo and many more popular Caribbean stations.
Early days yet, but I am looking to see where this goes and what it will mean for strengthening the exposure of Caribbean content.
I was invited to the premier of the short film "Crucible" by Rickroy "Quest " Williams - Writer/Actor/Director/Editor || Writer/Artiste/Producer/Engineer. The film stars Rickroy "Quest" Williams, Darren Lindsay, Alexia Young and Richard Gardner. The Director of Photography was Wentworth Kelly, Producer Adrienne Pinnock, Production Assistant Shari Kelly, Assistant Director & Audio Mixer & Film Scoring Asst. - Ariff Butler just to name a few of the crew members . The premier was in Mandeville on the roof of Regie's Bistro https://www.facebook.com/regiesbistro.
The event got off to a late start as the actor ran into some problems on the way. You know how these things go, Murphy's law always kicks right when you are about to do something really important. None the less, when the movie got underway, everyone sat back and got immersed in the story. Without giving too much away, it is a story about a man who faces several tests in his life as a consequence of his actions. Faced with the tragic reality of several events he must make a choice to change. A change he is not sure he can make, because he has only ever one way of life.
The movie was 23 minutes long, shot with a Black Magic Pocket Camera. The cinematography, both day and night shots were good and for the most part the acting was good. What really stood out, was it's sound track. Excellent lyrics that truly fit every aspect of the story telling. This film was really a portfolio piece for the young actor "Quest" who showcased a variety of talent.
I caught up with the actor and director to find out what plans they had for the film and it seems you will get to see it soon on youtube and vimeo. Look out for it, it's a pretty nice watch that speaks about a very prevalent topic in our society. Check out some of the pictures from the event.
I had the privilege of attending the UWI Community Film Project class of 2014 graduation on Thursday, January 22 at the University of the West Indies Law Faculty. The room was quite packed with lecturers, family members, guests, camera crews and the UWI Film Project volunteers.
The guest Speaker was the Film Commissioner Ms. Carole Beckford and MP Andre Hylton who opened the ceremony MC'd by radio and TV personality Jenny Jenny. Special honours went to Lenny Little White and RETV for their contribution to the project as well as their companies hiring some of the past graduates.
We were not only witnesses to the graduation of these Montego Bay, Portland and Kingston cohorts, but we also had the privilege of viewing their final projects. These students had never written a script before or held a camera much less edited or acted and they had only 6 weeks to learn all of this and produce a film. I remember when I was just starting out in film, how horrible my sophomore efforts were. So no doubt I was not going to be too harsh judging them. As expected with only 6 weeks and no prior experience in video production there was definite room for improvement in all of the films, but they all showed potential. You could tell given more time and practice they would easily produce better visuals and narratives the second time around. There was one film however, which really stood out. Well shot, well edited and the story translated really well. It was called "Forever New". The story of a couple who met by divine circumstances and stayed together even when things got challenging. Their love lived in memory even when one passed on. It was the last film and it was obvious they saved the best for last and the crowd reacted with applause.
After the viewing were cocktails and discussion about the films and the project which were very positive and of course the discussion was heavy on the upcoming GATFFEST festival open to all filmmakers. I entered last year and I am planning to enter again this year. It's my hopes that we will see animations, horror, Sci Fi, documentaries and music this year, as they are distinct categories on their flyer. Check out all the information above and go to their facebook page for details. https://www.facebook.com/TheUwiCommunityFilmProject
Here are some pictures from the graduation. Forgive the fuzziness, I used my phone.
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.