Film was my voice says cinematographerSunday, October 03, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
AS a person who struggled with public speaking for most of his life, freelance cinematographer and a graphic designer O'mar McKay is encouraging youngsters who might be shying away from doing public presentations to just “go for it” as they will eventually see the benefits.
McKay told Career & Education that whenever he had a presentation in school, he would use that opportunity to make his videos do the talking for him. Now, according to McKay, he wishes he could tell his younger self to find the courage to speak in front of a group of people, because this is for the best.
Although the artist was able to use his fear of public speaking as a tool to develop his skills as a film-maker, he said, “Looking back now I would say to myself, just get up and present, you can do it. It's not like I couldn't do it, I know I could, but deep down I couldn't find the courage.”
“Back then I usually was extremely nervous in terms of my presentations or any interviews; you would hear me stuttering. So any little presentation that I got, I would try to execute it through film, without having me go up there and physically having me present anything. Film was my voice — if I could say that— and my expression,” McKay continued.
Driving home his point, McKay added that even people “may laugh at you in the moment, but in the long run, you are going to be the one who benefits from it.”
A St Mary native who grew up in a very Christian home, McKay studied at Guy's Hill High School in St Catherine, then Iona High in St Mary, and ultimately received a bachelor's degree in fine arts and visual communication at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Explaining that he was accepted to a university overseas to study film-making, McKay said he was unable to find the funds to study abroad, and so studying in the island was the next best thing, although the college didn't have a film programme.
McKay, who eventually was on honour roll in college and has worked on commercial, music videos and other projects locally and overseas, said his wish for Jamaica's film industry is to see more films outside the typical violent portrayal of the country.
“I would really love to see a major development in terms of the types of films that come out of Jamaica, because whenever you think of a Jamaican movie the first thing that comes to mind is violence. We have so much stuff that we can utilise and come up with some great ideas to get a decent film. Not just to make a film just for making it sake, but to remind us of the history of the country,” he said.
Additionally, he advised university students who are considering being freelancers in the field to start early.
“Don't be afraid to fail and if you must fail, fail fast, so that you can recover quicker,” McKay said
“Somebody might introduce you to somebody and that person might ask you to do one thing and, for instance, you might charge them say $50,000 but because you're a student they might say I'm giving you $25,000, and because you're going to school you need the money so you might just accept that $25,000. The level of work that you produce for them, they are pleased with it, it's like they want to give you more work. So, upon leaving university you know then you are still doing work for that person, you would have that person as a retainer,” he said, adding that the person now could recommend them to somebody else and then when they really add it up, it counts.