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 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.