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 huge advocate of the Jamaican Film Industry. They say it's not an industry yet, so sometimes I call it a community, but I have no shame in calling it an industry. You have to speak it into being. I also strongly believe and have been saying this for years that film is going to go back to the old days of showing movies in a small space with a crowd of people who just enjoy movies.
Jollywood Films has embodied that. They are not waiting for Palace amusement to give them screen time. They are finding places to show their films for a cover charge and I am all about supporting my fellow indie filmmakers. On Sunday November 30, I went to their screening of 2 feature length movies at the Triple Century Sports Bar. "The Candidate" and "Kane and Abel" are two suspense films that obviously a lot of work went into. I am not going to call these movies perfect. The CEO of Jollywood Films, Khanai Condison himself admitted these are works of progress toward a greater goal of helping the industry get to where it needs to be and he is just doing his part. It has it's issues here and there. Sound could be better in some areas, Colouring could be better, there was good acting and there was poor acting, and there were some story flow issues, but the films definitely showed potential and they were definitely enjoyable. Plus 2 feature length movies for only $1,500 is a good deal.
The house was packed and they were there specifically for the movies. Everyone's eyes glued to the screen. In between each movie we were treated to a musical interlude featuring music from the sound track by the actual artist. A signature feature of Khanai Condison's screenings.
"The Candidate" is a story about a politician with the ambitions of following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps of becoming the Prime Minister of Jamaica. The forces working against him happen to be the people closest to him. The only way to achieve his goal is to eradicate anyone in his way.
"Kane and Abel" follows two brother like the bible story. One is affluent and well respected in society and the other is an ex-con released for 4 weeks as a part of an experimental program to motivate prisoners. The story is set within the back drop of a new controversial law that gives rise to the plot unfolding. Filled with double crossing, intense moments of suspense and redemption, this might have been the crowds favorite movie of the night.
I commend Jollywood Films on these films and congratulate them on an event well attended. He took some very bold risks in these movies. The type of risks rarely seen but well needed in this growing industry.
Now I am looking forward to Simon "Sno" Thompson and Aldwayne "Alweezy" Tomlinson's new Zombie Film screening next year. As soon as I check that out I will be sure to blog about it. In the mean time check out the pictures from the event on there facebook page below. Jollywood Facebook Page
While we get ready to shoot Heart Shaped Box 2, let's talk about Colour Code, my latest and greatest short film. Shot with a Canon 7D, 1 Arri 750 and a bounce card, we shot it at night on Enhanced Realizm Studios roof.
The idea came to me very randomly. I was explaining the difference between story telling for a short film vs a feature to a film student. While explaining, I randomly spit a scenario and when I was done, I had what I thought was a great idea. I dropped him off went home and penned it. I then contacted the actors I had in mind and sent them the script.
It took a while, mostly because I was looking for something to make a prop bomb with. I went online and by chance Film Riot had just released a bomb prop tutorial. I wanted mine to look more sophisticated than theirs so I kept my eye out for the ideal parts.
Eventually I got my hands on an old printer drum that was being dumped by a company. I had some old computer parts. The big problem was finding a timer I liked. I originally wanted too use the digital display from my radio because it has a big bright and red display. Of course as luck would have it, I could not find the radio. I went in search of one I could buy but just couldn't find anything appropriate. I spotted one time that was workable but it only displayed at angles not dead on and it wasn't back lit, so I feared it wouldn't show on camera.
So time passed and I haven't done anything film related in a while, plus I was swamped with work and helping to run an association that had an upcoming event. I simply set a date, immediately after the associations launch. I searched high and low for a timer and came up empty handed. With shoot day fast approaching, I went back for the timer I originally rejected.
My seminar started at 11 am, call time for the seminar was 8 am and I had a long meeting the day before. The seminar was scheduled to end at 2:30 pm and the shoot was to start at 6 pm. Little did I expect, the seminar had some glitches, we started late and we had to have a debriefing to address the issues. I made it to the shoot at 6:18 pm and the prop was not built yet. I saw the annoyance on everyone's face so I opted get everyone food and have them chill while I got to wire splicing and spray painting. The parts consisted of a printer drum, computer power supply and a kitchen timer. A can a paint if you want to count that as well. I think I will do a tutorial and upload that this weekend so you can all see. I have to give props to Tricia, she made the suggestion to use the power supply and I turned it inside out and it made a great looking circuit.
All in all we were on set for way longer than expected, midnight to be exact, but we had a lot of fun acting silly and stupid waiting on the dogs and karaoke to quiet down. I was most pleased with the actors performances. It's amazing to see them grow in their craft each time we shoot a film. It's also amazing to watch myself grow with each project.
It took us a day to edit and we had to do ADR because for some strange reason, even though we had checked the venue many times during that same time of day on that same day of the week, on this particular day trucks were driving in and out, people were having karaoke at home, dogs were howling.
We decided not to just release the film on YouTube but also to market it a bit by creating posters for facebook, instagram and twitter and blasting away. Once we got people's curiosity, we released the short and got some excellent reviews. The lighting was on point, the acting, story and the twist. Let me not say anymore, watch it for yourself and be the judge.
Look out for more as we will be shooting Heart Shaped Box 2 this weekend.
We have always been fascinated by the future, virtual worlds and real to life games. The late 90’s and early 2000’s was evidence of this abundance of cheap thrill virtual fantasy movies. There are 3 movies from my past I totally forgot about that looking back I actually really enjoyed but to be honest, they were held back by the technology at the time. These 3 movies in my opinion could do with a remake right now.
Let me start with “Lawnmower man”. This movie was about a scientist played by Pierce Brosnan, who had an idea to stimulate the mind with virtual reality and raising intelligence. Like most ideas ahead of their time, no one wanted to invest in such a radical concept. The scientist like most creative’s gets desperate to realize his work and uses his basement as the platform for his experiment and unethically uses a mentally challenged lawnmower man played by Jeff Fahey, in his neighbourhood as his subject. Not only does his experiment succeed in making this man more intelligent, his intelligence actually exceeds the intelligent of every human being and the results become catastrophically diabolical. The story was solid, the acting was solid, however, it was challenged by the CGI of the times. I can see Director Joseph Kosinski from Tron Legacy directing this. Not sure who the writer should be though.
Second movie I think should be remade is “Virtuosity” starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. This movie was about a simulation of the ultimate serial killer. Take all the worst serial killers and just greatest evil minds of all time and stuff them into one virtual being. One can see how this would be initially useful. After all, you can train better law enforcers with a knowledge base like this. Of course in true late 90’s early 2000’s fashion, the virtual being finds a way to create a physical version of itself. Back then that was pretty farfetched, but with Today’s 3D printing technology, Nano-technology and cloning, it could very well be plausible. When this super killer escapes they find no holds barred cop Denzel Washington, a man who has snuffed out a few serial killers in his tenure to help out. Of course, this leads to non-stop action. This movie had better special effects than Lawnmower man, being that it was made in 1995 a full 3 years later. Still, the CGI is aged now and could do with a revamp. Definitely, who I would want to see direct this would be Bad Boys” director Michael Bay. I know some of you just cringed when I said that, but to be honest, “Virtuosity” was a full out action movie about blazing guns of glory. The only other directors I would contemplate is Rian Johnson of “Loopers” coupled with writers Thomas Harris and Ted Tally of “Silence of the lambs”.
The last movie I would remake is “Brainstorm” starring Christopher Walken from 1983. This movie explores something I have always wondered about. What’s it like in someone else’s mind from their perspective? How different is it from my own. Of course, it gets controversial when the military uses it control the minds of people they want to use as pawns to commit unethical acts and control pilots in enemy air crafts to attack their own in warfare. This story is a played out one, but with scientists now knowing how to control the mind of a roach, it’s a matter of time before they figure out how to use microwaves to control the mind of a human, especially if injecting chips in us becomes legal. Just a matter of time before a cell phone becomes an under the skin embedded device. There was no real CGI used in this, mostly point of view angles, so it was very effective, but I feel this movie has long been forgotten and deserves a rehashing. I am thinking JJ Abrams for this one.
I am sure some of you hate my list. I am sure some of you hate my director picks. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Let me know your thoughts. Are these movies worthy of being remade? Who would you choose to direct? Nivek Pro Jamaican Filmmaker out.
I did not mention this before, but when Heart Shaped Box was premiered at Showroom 0, we experienced several glaring flaws which were quite embarrassing. It was plagued with sound issues from the half way mark, the explosion looked more like a kitchen fire and the bathroom scene felt blah.
Showroom 0 was really a feeler event, with specially invited guests, so the debacle that was Heart Shaped Box affectionately called HSB wasn’t that bad. It was a busy week and we had rushed things a bit to facilitate the premier for students documentary final year project. We shouldn’t have rushed however, it turned out for the best because, the documentary turned out to be a great artifact that I think everyone should see. I am glad I was a part of that.
We reviewed the HSB video and corrected all the audio issues, enhanced the special effects, thanks to the guru Jayson Moo-Young and Robin Chin went in and added some close ups to the bathroom scene. I could not have been happier with the end result. It felt like we performed surgery on the video and after we dropped it on youtube, calls and messages came pouring in. Countless people who I normally never get compliments from actually gave this short a good review and are asking for more and this time I think I am going to give it to them. It always feels good to please your audience.
In my last blog I spoke about David Johnson from Boncrek Films who did a documentary on film making in Jamaica and heavily featured Nivek Pro and ERS’ Robin Chin. The documentary far exceeded my expectations and it is hard to believe this is a student effort. This young man I believe has a bright future in documentary making. His attention to detail, determination and passion shine bright. Take a look for yourself.
What is Kiddify and why am I talking about it?
In short, it’s Youtube or Vimeo for kids, but it’s more than that. It’s about sharing knowledge and nourishing that natural state of openness and curiosity kids were born with.
Kiddify does this through peer-to-peer shared videos where kids from anywhere in the world can explain or do a tutorial on anything from making a toy, to cooking, tips on crossing the street, making a news paper or doing a summersault. Anything the kids imagination can dream up, they can do a video and put it online for others to learn from.
What I like about this site, is that it is kid friendly but it is doing much more than providing a safe haven away from the often distracting and uncensored content of the internet. It is getting children, from all different races; social strata’s, geographic locations to interact with each other, and discover that they are all alike. They all share the same challenges and curiosity. Where there are differences, they learn to appreciate them. It brings the outdoor playing experience right into the internet, because these kids have to actually do something to participate. They are no longer sitting back and absorbing content. They are actually creating the content and accomplishing something, building their confidence and making friends while doing it.
How Am I Involved?
It is important to Kiddify, to get as wide a perspective as possible, so they don’t want the videos to come from only one region. I currently film kids in Jamaica who want to make videos but don’t have the ability to film themselves, because of no access to a camera, or no clue how to start. So far you can see some clips I shot in Jamaica for their promo video.
Kiddify Promoi Video Link
I doubt you will be able to pick out my clips, but there are a few mixed in there. I am proud to be a part of this project, even though I don’t have kids yet, but the idea is a good one and it is the brain child of a Jamaican living in Germany.
I had some safety concerns when it comes to monitoring content and ensuring that kids are not targeted on the site. I was assured that they have moderators that continuously sweep the site for inappropriate content and interactions. I am really happy about that, because this world has become very scary, especially for kids.
I really hope this site gets popular, because kids need a place where they can share their knowledge and experiences freely. It’s easier for a child to learn from another child. It’s less intimidating for them and it makes them more confident to step out of their comfort zone and maximize their potential. This is definitely Nivek Pro endorsed.
My friend and colleague Robin Chin had approached me a few years ago to ask my opinion on hosting a short film screening. I always thought it was a good idea and fully supported it. I strongly believe that the immediate future of independent content is through screenings. It's the best way to build an audiences' appetite for local film culture.
This belief was not born out of thin air. I have been to a few film festivals and I rather enjoy them, but they are too few and far between in Jamaica. I always craved for something more frequent. We didn't do it as soon as we had the idea, because we wanted to do something big with sponsors and media coverage. At the time of our idea, the only thing I knew of like this were screenings of classics or foreign films by movie lovers at Grovsner Terrace in the Manor Park area, Liguanea Club in New Kingston and Red Bones Cafe in the Lady Musgrave area. There was nothing catering to local content. So we hoped to be the first. Of course, getting distracted by other projects and taking too long to jump on this idea, someone lese started their own local film screening nights, but it was exclusive and catered more toward their own production house.
What made us all of a sudden revisit this idea after so many years? Well, to be honest, Robin and I share an equal passion for films and we just love being on set creating something new. We were in the middle of pre-production for a movie called "Rizzla" a brain child of Robin's which I penned for him. A student from UTech named David Johnson said he was filming a documentary for his final year project and he needed an active production to really fill out his story. Robin invited him to do behind the scenes of "Rizzla" from pre to post production for his documentary.
Well due to setbacks, "Rizzla" was pushed toward the end of the year. This was a huge disappointment for David as this would have made his documentary more action driven than dialogue driven. So he asked if we were doing any short films he could possibly follow instead. We weren't actually planning to do any, but the fact that we weren't going to be doing the movie right now and we were all amp'd up to do something, Robin was definitely up for it. He had been saying for a while that he hasn't shot anything since "Friends til the end" and I had a few scripts I could pull from my archive that were unfulfilled. I showed Robin the script and told him I can still get the location, I had props and we had actors and he just said let's do it. We called up the actors, had a rehearsal, set the date and the rest is history.
The short film was called "Heart Shaped Box". I wrote about it in the last blog and shared some screen shots. During the editing of "Heart Shaped Box" I met up on Dr. Boxhill and Melissa Tulloch from Greater August Town Film Festival (GATFFEST). They recognized my face from a film I submitted and told me that 3 of our films were accepted into GATFFEST. One in particular which they liked was called "Gone". That is mentioned in a previous blog as well. They loved it but it was shot with a cell phone and the quality wasn't up to par so they asked that I film it over. I agreed and 2 weeks later we went back to the original location with the original actors and shot it over. This added even more footage to David's documentary. He had then asked us if we could do a third short film because 3 is a much better number and would really round out his documentary. I agreed, but truth was we really didn't have the time for a third. In fact we were still editing "Heart Shaped Box" which had special effects requirements.
Robin came up with the idea of having a film night to show our films, I said definitely. I even suggested getting other peoples films to really fill out the time. Immediately Robin knew who he was going to ask. David got excited at the prospect and gave us a tight deadline, because his project was due in 2 weeks and he needed time to edit, so Robin and I had 1 week to put on a film night. Robin dubbed it "The Showroom" and started calling up his friends to get some titles. I started calling up my friends to get some animations. Before we knew it we had about 11 films and over an hour worth of footage to show. People like Kurt Wright, Darren Scott, Gabrielle, Blackwood, Stephen "Big Bomb" Williamson and Top Jamaican Animators Corretta Scott. All award winning local filmmakers.
Robin and I spent the week putting money together to rent a projector, screen, sounds system, chairs, refreshment and other little nic-nacs and put the flier out on facebook made a few calls and like that we had 50-60 people pass through. The main short was supposed to be "Heart Shaped Box" but we showed it as the first short film because the person who gave us the location really wanted to see it. Unfortunately we had technical difficulties so he had to leave without seeing it. No worries, it will be online as soon as we iron out some sound issues with it.
The crowd really enjoyed the night and they constantly asked us "When is the next one", "This is the kinda thing my girl likes me to take her too." "we need more" etc. Everyone who didn't make it keeps calling me asking me when is the next one, they're sad they missed it. This is really encouraging as we are planning the next one in a bigger better venue. We will have to charge more, but such is the game. We have to cover our costs and make enough to keep putting them on.
At the end of the day what this has taught Nivek Pro Animations and Enhanced Realizm Studios is that people want to see local content and they really enjoy seeing their people on screen. Based on that, you will be seeing the Showroom again. Until next time. Look out for the flier and trailer on Facebook.
I have been spending so much time, animating, lobbying on behalf of the growing animation industry, working out the kinks in the animation association among other things, I ended up really missing doing Short Films. After doing "Friends till the end" and Robin Chin from Enhanced Realizm saying he wanted to do another short. Marlon Walker and Jean Paul Levy begging me to pull another idea out of my hat, having met the talented Rushciene Deidrick at a Voice Acting workshop and Trisha Bent at and ERS audition, I figured why not.
When you have a collaborative team, a good team, willing to work on a project, you might as well. I had a script put down from about 2010 called "Heart Shaped Box". I was originally supposed to do this film with Kurt Wright. At the time I wrote the script, Kurt was available, but right around the time we were going to film this, he started getting busy flying in and out of the country and getting some really good jobs in the industry. His hard work paid off and he was on his way to becoming what he is today, probably the best AD in Jamaica. I'm not just saying that because I know him. I really think he is best at this point. Anyway, I digress.
Even though I had scouted a location and done up a storyboard, I decided to let the script rest, because I really wanted the film to have a much higher quality than I could achieve with my limited experience and equipment. Robin Chin was definitely the man for the job. He had the equipment and most importantly the skills to pull it off to the level I wanted. He lit this bad up perfectly. I can't wait for it to come out, but we are taking our time to do it properly.
We had rehearsals the week before. I called up the owner of the location and he was still down and all the actors showed up. Robin even went half way on funding the short with me, so everything worked out nicely. We used 1 Canon 7D, ARRI Lights and Enhanced Realizms dolly track. The video is not finished yet, but check out some screen shots above. Behind the scenes coming soon too. NivekPro out.
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.