Finding Savannah a home

Observer senior writer

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Jamaican film-makers have found it tough over the years pitching their projects to local television stations, but Mykal Cushnie is hoping for a change of luck with Savannah, the half-hour drama he began production on last year.

Last week, its pilot trailer was released on DSE Shorts, a YouTube channel. It stars Donisha Prendergast in the title role, and Joel Young Sang as Georgie, the childhood friend she rediscovers as an adult, who becomes her lover.

Cushnie, 37, describes Savannah as “a Jamaican love story that touches on social classism and family issues”. Production on the project began in August last year with most of the filming done in Portland.

Though his credits include production on two of Jamaican television's most popular shows — Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall and The Contender — Cushnie has found it tough selling Savannah.

“It is difficult to get funding for projects of this nature as those who have the funds don't believe in the value of intellectual property,” he said.

Cushnie continues to promote Savannah on YouTube and his Instagram page, hoping a potential sponsor will be attracted to Savannah's romantic plot of the struggling small-town boy who makes good and returns home to woo his middle-class love.

Jamaican productions had an audience prior to the emergence of cable television in the mid-1990s. Prescott, Lime Tree Lane, Royal Palm Estate and its spin-off The Blackburns enjoyed extended runs on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and CVM TV.

In recent years, producers at both local stations (CVM and Television Jamaica) have shown a willingness to air entertainment and sports programmes which are more likely to attract sponsorship.

Trained at the New York Film Academy, Cushnie has done the rounds since returning to Jamaica over 15 years ago. In addition to Magnum Kings and Queens and The Contender, he worked as a camera operator on the film Betta Mus Come, and directed the documentary 50 Days In Afrika, which featuredPrendergast and singer Kelissa.

He has also directed music videos for Cham and Damian Marley ( Fighter) and Who Dem A Program by Protoje.

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