I recently attended the Caribbean Tales 2011 Film Festival / Symposium in Barbados and took part in their Content Incubator, developing a television series called “Welcome to Trinidad”. It was a fantastic opportunity and experience.
The trip didn’t start well though. The plane Tamara and I was on from Montreal to Barbados was halfway through the flight when we noticed it turning and descending. Moments later, the captain got on the p.a. and told us that because of a “small crack” in the windshield we were being forced to land early for safety. Not to worry though, it’s just a small crack, everything is fine, we’re all fine, don’t panic. We didn’t, and within half an hour or so, we had landed in Bermuda (of course famous for mysterious vortex-triangle).
When we walked out of the plane I got a glimpse of the crack on the windshield and it seemed as though the small crack had become a giant spider web covering the entire pane of glass to the front of our airplane. I was immediately not perturbed at Air Canada for the early landing that had ruined my schedule.
We waited for about ten hours before we were able to get onto another plane and finally fly to Barbados, and sadly weren’t even allowed to go through customs and enjoy Bermuda; the very sight of the beaches and sun beyond walls of the airport mocked us. But we did get to our destination, and once there had a beautiful time, working hard, but also getting invigorated by the positive and enthusiastic energy that seemed to permeate through all the participants of the Incubator and festival.
Television and Film Production as an industry is somewhat new to the Caribbean, so there isn’t a lot of support in the form of tax credits or production funds there. Given the amount of talent, some raw and some very polished I saw at the festival though, they should be aggressively pursuing this as a valuable sector in their growing economies. I fall somewhere in between the raw and polished filmmaker categories, and I was able to get here thanks to organizations like SODEC, the Quebec Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts who have supported my development and films. It’s been a long road, but now my work plays in festivals internationally, and I am moving toward making fiction features and television (knocking on wood). Governments in the Caribbean should take note: artists aren’t grown overnight, they take a long time and investment to nurture. But the rewards reaped culturally and economically are well worth it.
With help from the mentors at the Incubator my television series is getting to a place where I feel comfortable pitching it (and myself) to anyone who wants to lend an ear. The idea itself was fairly new when I got there but since then I have already written a new draft to the pilot, focused more clearly on the conflict, and developed my characters’ personalities. Moreso, some keen insights from Michelle Materre and other mentors about marketing have made me rethink how I am going to be presenting my newly completed short film Mr. Crab to the world.
Other highlights: A masterclass by Neema Barnette that focused my ideas about long form filmmaking, and how I want to approach both the series, and my feature, Path of Light. Screenings for great local Caribbean films A Hand Full of Dirt, and The Skin. An impromptu birthday party for Tamara with all our new friends, drinks in the hotel courtyard discussing the business of art, basking in the warm sunshine, and morning swims in the sea with bathing racehorses.
This voyage to the Caribbean was magical for me and I am sure will help my career move forward. I’ve already been invited to attend a festival in Trinidad & Tobago, and a couple of producers have asked me to come and DP their work later this year. I definitely have a feeling I will be spending a lot more time in warm waters soon. Which again all goes to show that even though it may be a long and hard trip getting there, the destination is well worth the trouble.