Big aspirations for Junior

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor -- Auto & Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 14, 2015

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A MONTH ago actor Donovan Watkis took his 15-minute film, Junior, to the Lignum Vitae Film Festival held at the Northern Caribbean University in Manchester.


The Michael Reynolds-directed flick walked away with Best Cinemotography, Best Overall Short Film and Best Post-Production awards, while Watkis copped the Best Overall Actor trophy.


Watkis, whose acting credits also include Better Mus' Come, has ambitions of turning Junior into a full-length feature film.


"I acquired the rights to the movie. We are currently seeking investors through my company MJR Productions to remake Junior, which has already seen success as a short film. On Monday, I signed an independent deal with Tuff Gong which would see them distributing my content worldwide in theatres, digitally, and all streaming avenues available," he told the Jamaica Observer.


Junior follows the story of a rural boy whose mother died, But she had left him a note to find his father in Kingston.


"It's a story of rural-urban drift and the rigourous demands of city life," said the 30-year-old Portland-born actor.


In addition to Junior, he intends to turn his Wednesday night comedy jaunts LIME CIA Comedy Show and his internet series CAKLE into movies for distribution.


Myshua Allen, international label manager of Tuff Gong, was delighted at partnering with Watkis.


"Tuff Gong wants to bring the best of Jamaican entertainment to the world, and were expanding to comedy and other genres. Donovan's business model is an example of the kind of independent and creative partners we want to work with. We look forward to great things from him," she said.


A former Titchfield High student, Watkis studied drama at Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts.


He believes there are plenty opportunities for young Jamaican filmmakers.


"The key is to get a good story... there are plenty of stories such as folklorist Miss Lou (Louise Bennett-Coverley) and National Hero Marcus Garvey. We can tell their stories from our perspective as we're more than 'shotta' [gangster] movies. Just tell a universal story that everyone can relate to," he said.


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