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VIDEO: 'Rock' Solid

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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Our local film industry elicits as much passion as it does angst. How proud we are of the impact of those early movies: The Harder They Come, Smile Orange and Rockers. Indeed, lines snaked at Carib Cinema for Dancehall Queen and Third World Cop with some seeing the movie for as many times as it took to claim proficiency in the script. "Those were the halycion days of the industry," shared a noted local film buff. "Yes, there have been new movies, ambitious projects like Better Mus Come and Ghet' A Life, but we need more stories about ourselves. These stories will ignite a passion in our people who will come out in their numbers to applaud our new film gurus." It is at this juncture that the angst sets in. Why are we not producing more local film? Why are our potential storytellers having such a challenge finding funding in a country brimming with content? As we ready to applaud Hollywood's finest, SO presents 11 of those who will not only usher in a new era of film but will be radical in their approach. They are prepared not only to take more risks but, budgetary constraints aside, will chart a new course. Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood dare we suggest Jollywood, Ras Kassa?

(PHOTOGRAPHER: Michael Gordon)

Shot on location at the Devon House heritage site

Location Manager: Andre Reid

Special thanks to the ladies of the mansion Barbara Beckford and Norma Rhoden.

RENAIS MARSHALL

Scorpio 21

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

I would love to have directed Dallas Buyers Club. The story is just so touching. It was amazing to see someone suffering from an illness, with only 30 days to live, still have the heart and compassion to help others. I would love to have been the one to reveal that emotion on the big screen.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Well, Matthew McConaughey, of course. The fact that he lost so much weight for the role shows how dedicated he is to his craft. As far as actresses are concerned, Judi Dench was great in Philomena. Her classiness, her sense of humour, she's the kind of woman you'd want as your grandma, and the way she plays a character is so real.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

I would hope that in five years I will have had the opportunity to shoot a film of my own, whether a short or feature-length. Even if it doesn't happen by then, just being a part of the production, whether I'm behind the camera, or assisting someone, would be very rewarding for me.

JASON 'JAY WILL' WILLIAMS

Creative Source Productions

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

12 Years a Slave, definitely, because it's a great, great story, and I'm a huge fan of period pieces — The Great Gatsby was an excellent period piece as well — but my Best Picture pick is 12 Years a Slave.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Well, I loved Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, but unfortunately he wasn't nominated for his performance in that film. So I'd have to say Leonardo DiCaprio; he's the boss in The Wolf of Wall Street. Chiwetel Ejiofor was also really good in 12 Years a Slave, but definitely DiCaprio, because I think that he has shown us in a number of different ways, throughout his career, that he is dynamic enough to adapt to any role. My actress pick would be Sandra Bullock, because she's always been one of my favourite actresses, and she was superb in Gravity.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

Really, the same role I play right now; just being one of the people at the forefront who is trying to positively and progressively move the Jamaican film industry forward — collectively, as a group of people, not as an individual effort. Just being a team player and doing the best that I can in depicting stories, and highlighting our country, the Caribbean, and black people in general in positive ways.

NILE SAULTER

New Caribbean Cinema

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

It's difficult but if I had to choose one I'd have say Her. It just connected with me really deeply because the style of the film is something I aspire towards achieving in my own work. It's ahead of its time in terms of the issues it tackles, in terms of the future and how human interaction is going to change and develop naturally, particularly as it pertains to love.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Well, all eyes are currently on Lupita Nyong'o, and I have to say I've fallen in love with her myself. I think that she's super-talented, she doesn't say much in 12 Years a Slave, but you can see that the talent is there, and she's only just begun. Leonardo DiCaprio blew me away in The Wolf of Wall Street; I mean, he's been at it for a while and I've always respected him, but this role just took his acting to a whole other realm.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

I think I'll probably be the "art house guy". The term is limited but I think it's an apt one for me. It's the same reason I like Her so much, I enjoy the heart-racing action and drama of movies as much as anyone else does, but — and I know it sounds corny — when something connects with your heart, when you see the characters from an emotional point of view, that, for me, is the most important thing. So I'd like to make films here that reflect that, with Jamaican characters and Jamaican storylines.

RAS TINGLE

Tingle Films

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

I'm a nostalgic kind of director, so 12 Years a Slave is right up my alley. I love to capture moments that are embedded in our culture and there's no school like the old school.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Sandra Bullock is definitely someone I'd like to work with and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well. There is just something about Sandra that takes you in and holds your attention and DiCaprio has the kind of talent that would bring even a Jamaican director like myself up to scratch; he's really on top of his game.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

Well, I've been on this battlefield for 10 years now, and I'll still be here in five years. I see Jamaica as a citadel for short films, and even feature films. We have beautiful natural backdrops, and there's no lack of talent, so it's up to us to take it to the next level. In the same way that our musicians and our athletes can make their mark on the globe, so too can Jamaican filmmakers. I know that we have the drive to do it, it's just that we need a little window to get through.

STORM SAULTER

New Caribbean Cinema

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

Of all of the films nominated this year, the one that I most appreciated in terms of its atmosphere and energy was Dallas Buyers Club. I think it was very realistic, very natural, and the performances they got out of those actors was so phenomenal that I would love to strive for that level of work.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Well, first of all, I'd love to work with Lupita Nyong'o, because she has so much potential to play really powerful black women. Her age, her look, her performance, her whole energy is just magnetic. Even though she may not have played the most powerful character in her breakout role, but she has major potential to play powerful roles. Those are the kind of roles we need more of, and I for one definitely intend on telling those kinds of stories. As a performer Chiwetel Ejiofor is great; he's one of those actors who you've seen in small roles, or as part of a large ensemble cast, and he's always stood out; he's always had an interesting air about him, and you almost can't pin him down to just one type of role, he just comes across as universal, and I like that.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

Primarily, I intend to increase my body of work. I just want to make more feature films, I want to keep doing my work with New Caribbean Cinema, to foster the movement on a larger scale. Basically in five years I want to be in a position where I can have an idea, know exactly where to get the money, and get it made.

DELANO FORBES

Phase 3 Productions

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

I am drawn to The Wolf of Wall Street. Ironically, it's one of the films I haven't seen, but I love everything about it. I think it's Leo's year in terms of being the best actor, and anything with Martin Scorsese is something I generally enjoy.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Christian Bale did an amazing job in American Hustle, as did Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club in their physical transformations for the roles. But I would most want to work with McConaughey and Bale. I also loved Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. She played a complicated character and I thought I would have fallen asleep watching the movie, but she presented the character in a full-dimensional way, and it kept me riveted.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

In terms of my day-to-day, we are very involved in many ways supporting other filmmakers on various platforms. At some point I would love to direct a local film but I think the film I would like to make is not achievable right now in Jamaica. There are some bio-pics that would be interesting, the Dudus story would be interesting, even the Vybz Kartel story in five years would be interesting.

CHRIS BROWNE

Rock Steady Films

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

It's a big choice because Gravity is an amazing film. To pull that off, technically, is just incredible. I would love to have done that. But on another level, content-wise, I would say 12 Years A Slave, which is educational and emotionally involving. But I think that if I made a film like that in Jamaica, I wonder how it would have resonated in the international world as opposed to an Englishman and a Hollywood studio getting behind a film like that.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

What I saw Matthew McConaughey do in Dallas Buyers Club is incredible. I wish I had a script to put him in but I don't. He' d be fantastic. For actresses, definitely Lupita Nyong'o. I would like to work with her because she was so amazing in 12 Years A Slave, and I think moreso she could adapt to the Jamaican landscape. She would be able to bring something to the table in a Jamaican film.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

I would like to see myself being able to make a film a year. I would like to be able to find an avenue where we can produce and distribute films on a yearly basis. That's where I would like to be five years from now. How? That's the challenge.

RUPTION

RD Studios Limited

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

I was really amazed by Gravity. It was amazing how they were able to hold the audience for over two hours with just two persons floating around in the middle of space. The 3-D graphics and animation were on-point.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

I grew up watching Leonardo DiCaprio's films, so definitely him. The Wolf of Wall Street was a fantastic movie. In terms of actresses, Sandra Bullock. I grew up watching her films and I have a crush on this woman, she's really awesome so I'm definitely going with the veteran.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

I want to step outside the box of just doing music videos and commercials and probably transition to short films and moving into feature films, so I am definitely working towards that.

MICHELLE SERIEUX

New Caribbean Cinema

Which of this year's Oscar nominated films would you have liked to have directed or worked on?

I would have loved to have been attached in any way to The Dallas Buyers Club. I think it was a really great film; the subject matter, the performances, everything about it was very moving, not just cinematically but story-wise as well. I am someone who is deeply moved by drama and the drama in that film was amazing.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

I will stick with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto from Dallas Buyers Club or Chiwetel Ejiofor from 12 Years A Slave. Matthew and Jared demonstrated deep commitment to their characters, losing all the weight and getting into drag but not just those superficial things, but the depth, especially for McConaughey, in which you could empathise means they did a good job of getting under your skin. They got under mine. It was the same with Ejiofor.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

Five years from now, I hope to still be making indie films that I love. I love making independent cinema. I want to pursue more multi-platform, new media work which is where I see myself venturing off into. I want to have a hybrid project that is film, theatre and new media, something that is a live installation somewhere like a Sundance New Frontier or somewhere in the Caribbean that has screens and live theatre while the cinema possibility is going on as well.

RAS KASSA

The Hinds Group

Which of this year's Oscar-nominated films would you have liked to have directed or worked on?

I would have loved to have directed The Wolf of Wall Street because it deals with serious issues, and the film is not necessarily getting love right now because people are burnt by Wall Street. I feel as a filmmaker you should use the opportunity to say something. So I look at the film as revealing something, and I would have loved to have been part of that. I would not have made it as happy and fun; I would have made it more serious. I would have also loved to have worked on 12 Years A Slave. People talk about the Holocaust but it was a baby compared to what happened to black people because the thing is, it's still happening today. Hats off to Steve McQueen — I would love to haved produced, directed, edited, or coloured 12 Years.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

Leonardo DiCaprio. That guy is good. Full stop. My actress pick is Meryl Streep. She's timeless, untouchable and flawless.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

I can't just see myself in the film industry. I see myself as a person in Jamaica making a way for myself in film and opening doors for new up-and-coming filmmakers, including producers and writers, and changing the rules, and probably dabbling in a political career.

GARETH COBRAN

Image Development Studios

Which of the Oscar-nominated movies would you have loved to have directed?

American Hustle. I liked the story as it was based on a real person. I liked the period feel and felt the story was quite strong.

Which of the nominated actors/actresses would you love to work with?

DiCaprio because he's just a genius and I think he'd make my job quite easy. Meryl Streep. She's brilliant and does good work. I like method actors. She can give you mother, saint, evil, or even play a man.

What role do you see yourself playing in the film industry five years from now?

Hopefully by then I will be directing some feature films. I have things in mind, such as Jamaican culture beyond what people see. People don't know what we do or the lifestyle that we live. Something as simple as the lyme at someone's house and the whole preparation of food, the games, and the social dynamic. Most cultures have that structure but it's never been depicted on film for Jamaica.

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