- When it comes to storytelling, where do you get your inspiration from?
Despite the hundreds of thousands of films in existence, I rarely come across characters that genuinely reflect the people i’ve grown up around and the unique characters i’ve come across in my life. This is exciting because now I can create and explore those characters in my own work. I am inspired by the endless possibilities for stories of and about Caribbean people and our journey through and vision of the world.
2. You’ve tasked yourself in creating universal stories while promoting the cultural dynamics of the Caribbean in the present day, Do you feel the industry is starting to pay more attention?
A long overdue shift is finally taking place in the industry. Rehashing the same old stories with the same looking people in the same languages is played out. Fresh new perspectives from people who have previously never had the platform to express them are now the most valued. It is being proven over and over again at the box office, on streaming platforms and beyond, that audiences want to discover new world’s, new people, and the intricacies of their language and sound. Personally, I still feel some resistance from programmers and distributors who, in their own bubbles, may not yet have the vision or some algorithm to prove the market value of my work, but the audience’s are proving it one screening at a time and I know the industry is starting to paying attention.
3. You’ve just released your second directorial feature debut. How important is this to you, personally, and to your career?
I’ve been told your second film is the hardest to make. I hope that’s the case and it get’s easier from here. Regardless, i’m more inspired than ever to create and to get the current slate of projects I have lined up into production. I’m so thankful for the overwhelmingly positive response to SPRINTER and energized for the next phase. Now it’s not about whether or not I can get a meeting, it’s all about the quality of the idea. So I’m trying my best to settle into a creative groove and allow the best version of each project to emerge.
4. What was it like having your film produced by Will & Jada Smith?
Having Will and Jada attached to SPRINTER signals to people that this is something to pay attention to. And sometimes that is what you really need to get people through the door. But once they get in the door, it’s all about their relationship to the film itself. I am thankful that they saw the potential of this story and decided to be a part of it. In doing so they have helped to shine a bright light on an emergent Caribbean cinema.
5. Tell us about being vulnerable in your work? Do you think there’s a line?
I feel you have to plant your vulnerabilities into your characters. Actors bring their own history and life experiences so they will react and manifest these vulnerabilities in their own way, and that is good with me. It allows me to maintain a certain wall/line, and to keep track of the larger story i’m trying to tell without getting bogged down in my own feelings. Because I do fill my characters with my own emotional issues and triggers and that is why I care enough to stick with a project for years. But I always maintain a certain distance.
6. When did you realize you wanted to be a Filmmaker? Was there an exact moment, or was it more gradual?
I believe it was gradual, but it started at an early age. I was always encouraged by my parents to express my creativity in whatever way it came out: drawing, photography, storytelling, dance etc. At some point I realized that cinema could encompass all these forms and express things in a way that nothing else could. I do remember the exact moment at 16 years old that I decided to go for it. Looking back though, I can see that the desire had been building in me for many years.
7. What would you say is your unique responsibility as a filmmaker?
To always be pioneering in my approach and to consistently carve out new territory for myself and for other filmmakers to come. Otherwise what is the point?
8. What’s next for you?
I’m currently adapting Marlon James’ “John Crow’s Devil” and also developing a number of episodic TV projects.
How can others reach out to you and/or stay informed about your upcoming projects?