Bridgetown Film Festival Xtra: US-Based Barbadian Movie-Maker calls for Film Commission, Pt. 4

One of the first items ever to appear in this News-Blog was a review on “From Barbados With Love” but if you ever wondered what goes on inside the head of the writer/director Miguel Drayton here’s the perfect chance to learn without giving him a lobotomy, all Bajan Reporter had to do was beg his family real hard after his film showed at the Bridgetown Film Festival (BFF) on Saturday night (the photos shown are his mum, Flavius & his sis Michelle at Olympus Theatres that night)…

How long did the movie take to make?

Pre production= 6 months – Production = 12 days – Post production = 1 year (because we didn?t have the money to do it at once. I visited Australia twice once to work with the picture editor and another time to work with the color grader and post sound mixer.)

When was it filmed?

Donkey years ago. Crop Over 2004 in the middle of hurricane season. Rough. Don?t try it unless you?re mad.

Where has the movie been shown?

Bahamas International Film Festival. Carifesta ? Trinidad. Loyola Mary Mount University ? Los Angeles

Will you be coming out with another movie?

God, I hope so. This one was my first feature and I?d like put the lessons learned to good use on another one. The script is done for #2. All I need is time and money to get started.

What are some of the challenges that you encountered?

a. Shooting in Barbados. b. Getting help from the government? c. Dealing with the lighting problems of shooting out doors during hurricane season where the perpetually shifting cloud and shadow patterns made life hell. d. Dealing with location sound problems. Much of what we shot we shot was useless because of bad sound conditions. For example: We?d have to stop in the middle of most of our takes because of noise pollution. That meant wasted time and money. e. Dealing with green monkeys. Finding them and filming them was difficult hence the lack of more monkey footage. We had to work with young ones because the after 2 years of age they?re very dangerous and hard to train.

How did you get such high quality sound?

Working with a well trained location sound recordist (Fern Daly) and working with an experienced post production sound editor and mixer (Michael Gissing). Sound is one of the most important elements of filmmaking and is often overlooked. It?s why many directors prefer to shoot on a sound stage because of they can control the audible environment. Microphones are much more sensitive than human hears and they pick up things you?d never hear in real life, that?s why it?s good to have a person who knows how to capture and mix sound on the fly. The best shooting experience we had during the movie was shooting at CBC because we didn?t? have to worry bout, dogs barking, pigs oinking, planes flying overhead, passing traffic, every other Bajan turning up their stereo system down the street.

How many cameras did you use?

Only one. We used another camera strictly to record a second track of sound because we were too poor to afford a DAT or Hard drive sound recorder and could get a second camera from my school for free. That back up sound saved us many times. In the professional world, sound is recorded on separate device from the camera. a. to free up the sound recordist to move around and b. because most cameras don?t have the best sound recording technology like enough multiple tracks or on board mixing.

But single camera production is actually the norm for low budget movies and was the norm for most cinema?s history. Today many bigger budget movies use B and sometimes C cameras to capture the action at many angles without having to change setups.

What type of cameras did you use?

The Panasonic DVX100 (PAL). We also used PS Technique Mini-35mm lens adaptor to attach a removable 35mm lens for the sit down interview stuff and some of the wild monkey footage to achieve film look depth of field.

What do you plan to do with the film?

Sell it. We?re looking for international distribution as this is being read.

How can we get in touch with the writer/director?

Look for him at the corner of Hollywood blvd and La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles begging for money.

How much did the movie cost?

Yuh too malicious! I can?t tell you dat. What I can say is that we didn?t have enough money to shoot our dream the way we wanted to hence the technical imperfections. Actually, we?re so broke after shooting and posting (post production) that we can?t even afford airfare to come to the screening.Very low budget. Funding was very hard to come by. Producer Chryssy Tintner almost lost her house putting up the money. There was some support from the BTA, friends, and family.

This is Miguel?s first feature film. With the exception of the main players, all other actors were untrained and filmed without rehearsal.

FBWL was shot documentary style over a period of 12 days during the crop over season of 2004 all over Barbados.

{Miguel lives and works in Los Angeles. Writes & teaches film production there. Attended Foundation in Barbados. B.A. Stanford University / M.F.A Film Producing University of Southern California (same school as John Singleton, George Lucas, etc.). First Bajan to attend the prestigious film Producing Program at USC. He met Producer Chryssy Tintner in film school.}

{It is Miguel’s view and also many participants in the Film Festival, that Barbados needs a film commission in Barbados to benefit ALL indigenous film-making efforts. With such a Commission, it would be easier for local artists to secure financing from overseas film commissions with whom they can have co-productions.

{Miguel noted that Chryssy Tintner could have gotten better financing through the Australian Government if Barbados had a film commission, even if the Bajan film commission wasn?t putting up any money.

{In Miguel’s view, if the Bds Government is serious about developing local talent, then they need a film commission, just as in Jamaica, Trinidad, The Bahamas, etc. He also wants to see Nala, Mahmood Patel and Kerri Birch keep the BFF flame burning high! It is the only way to get the industry fwd, he says.}

What does the film mean?

If you?re confused, it?s not a bad thing. I personally love movies I can?t totally figure out. Maybe you?ll think about it hard enough and when you make a discovery you?ll go ?ah-ha? and smile. But I can tell you this. We?ve fooled ourselves for too long that life is all that sweet in Barbados. Maybe if you live in Millennium Heights it?s so sweet you don?t even need to fear the police, but for most Bajans, it?s getting tougher. Pretty soon Barbados will be too expensive even for the green monkey to afford. We should pay attention and do something about the colonial strings and banana peel that are still tripping our country up, be those strings from the old empire, the new empire?or even from puppet masters right here at home. If we?re to survive the 21st century, we need to get all kinds of monkeys off our backs? if not we?re likely to wake up one morning without any power at all.

With the exception of an old hymn, all of the featured music is local from artists like Magnet Man, Sydney Chester (Majic), Baytown Crew, and others. The movie is appropriate for ALL AGES?
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