Newz from Caribbean Tales – Survivors’ Project by SkyLARC
The Survivors Project: Voices from the Inside-out! by, will screen at the CaribbeanTales Youth Film Festival on 2010 at 9.30am. The film explores the traumatic impact and implications of gun violence on young people and young black men in particular, living in low-income, racialized neighbourhoods. The film follows the story of a Grenadian born, ex-gang member from “The Town” in Rexdale, Toronto, Canada.
The son of Barbadian parents, Cabral Trotman was born in Toronto, and became interested in films during a grade 11 Media class, when he began to understand the importance of having a voice. That spark ignited his interest in Filmmaking which evolved to a responsibility to share stories and perspectives relevant to his community. The revelation spawned the birth of Skylarc a name he adopted as his own once he made his commitment to rhyming. When asked about the interpretation of his name he responded “The Skylark is known to originate from Africa, migrating to North America, hovering higher than all other song birds while singing the longest most versatile song“. His persona as a artist from lyricist to filmmaker began to take flight. LARC is currently a Technical Officer for the Film Unit at the University of the West Indies, Barbados and is in production with his first Bajan drama “Back Shots”.
Here LARC is interviewed by Patrice Benn, founder and CEO of BENN MEDIA GROUP, a boutique Marketing Company committed to supporting Arts and Culture. Based in Toronto and Barbados, BENN MEDIA GROUP offers consultation services and innovative marketing solutions for Events and Audio, Visual and Performing Art Products.
Patrice Benn: Can you tell me about how you ended up here at the Caribbean Tales Youth Film Festival and why it was important to show this particular film “The Survivors Project”
LARC: I was approached by Frances Anne Solomon as she is familiar with my work and she had a sense of what I was doing in Toronto with my workshops for youth in underprivileged, high risk communities. So I thought it would be a good fit since the main subject I followed for my piece was Grenadian-born who moved to Canada with his family as a youth.
I find the film often sparks discussion which to me is it’s intended purpose as well as to bring awareness to the impact of violence on mental health.
Patrice Benn: Before we get into how you do what you do, let’s talk a little bit about your background?
Larc: I was born here in Toronto but my parents are both Barbadian. We moved to Barbados after my Mom remarried. I was 9 years old then. I spent 7 years here before returning to Toronto. So I have some great Barbadian experiences to draw on, but I spent most of my life in Toronto to date.
Patrice Benn: So it’s safe to assume that you got your film training here in Toronto?
Larc: I went to Humber College and did the film program there. That’s not really where I got my start, but it’s where I made my first films. I really started at RAJE Film House in Toronto, so really and truly my training began there. This was a music video and commercials production company owned by Alison Duke and Jeremy Hood in Toronto. I was working in the industry with them on videos and commercials so my introduction to the craft and art of film was really there. I always big up RAJE any chance I get. It was a movement for Black Film in Canada that I felt impacted tons of people at the time.
Patrice Benn: So how does coming from a city like Toronto influence your work?
Larc: Growing up in Toronto I actually started out in Hip Hop. I see Hiphop as the artistic expression of ghetto youth living in the hood. This really informs my work if you really take a look. My ancestors are also huge to me, from the Caribbean straight to Afrika. You can go to certain jams in Toronto or look at a music video, I’m sure you might think it might’ve been shot in Jamaica to Trinidad or sumthin’. Blacks in Toronto have alotta love for the Caribbean I find. It’s also part of our expression as a people, it’s mixed up in there. Even blacks from the continent get caught up just because the influence of the Caribbean is so strong at school. Mix this with some Hip-hop and the Toronto black youth is pretty much born for the most part. So I’m not unique really, just one of many and my work is informed by these experiences.
Patrice Benn: So where are you now? What are you up to?
I moved to Barbados three years ago. A film movement is growing here, and I wanted to be a part of building it. I currently work at the Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. The program also does Dance, Theatre, Music and so on.
Patrice Benn: What are you doing there?
LARC: I’m a Technical Officer for the Film Unit. However outside of my work at the University, I also facilitate workshops, shoot documentaries and more recently now drama. In Barbados, there’s alot of room still for further growth and development, still trying to work out the kinks, garner support and so on. I’m just glad to be a part of it. Expect big things from us in the near future. We’re really trying to position ourselves as a go to spot for Film in the Caribbean.
Patrice Benn: Is there any special projects in the mix cause it seems like you got your hands full from the sounds of things. Any thing you’re working on in Barbados at the moment?
LARC: Yeah… there’s this film I’m currently making called ‘Back Shots’ – a drama. It’s looking at the issue of sexual assault and its set in Cave Hill which is also where the university is located. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about women being assaulted in different ways in that area, in Barbados in general. It’s the hidden side of the culture. I lived in the ghetto region of Cave Hill for a year and a half before I started writing the piece. Didn’t wanna miss the mark and flop on my first Bajan film, not a cool look, so I did my studies. It’s an issue that the country is trying to address so I felt like it was worth my while telling this type of story.
Patrice Benn: Wow that’s a title?!
LARC: Yeah…. I gave the name a lot of thought, Hahaha!!….ummm the ‘Back Shot’ to me is more the ‘back-stab’, the betrayal, but playing on the gun as opposed to the knife. Hence the ‘shot’ being used instead, the gun being the weapon of choice in this piece while still commenting on the sexual act itself as it pertained to the assault. It’s kinda packed with meaning to me, which is what I need. Rappers might get the title more quickly Hahaha!
Patrice Benn: So what excites you about Caribbean Film today?
Larc: I think really it’s being a part of defining what that is and what that will become in the future. Most of the approaches or philosophies to filmmaking are already established in other parts of the world, in North America they have their model and their process fundamentally which is the ‘Studio’ for the most part. They have a particular methodology you know, same thing for Asia, India, Africa… I think the Caribbean’s next! There’s a movement toward establishing a Caribbean Film Industry and the wheels are definitely in motion. As the work gets stronger and we start to tell better stories while staying true to the Caribbean aesthetic which will ultimately inform an all new film language. This is the key that will differentiate ourselves from the current marketplace. So I’m front and center, and I hope to put in my 2 cents for what it’s worth, when and where I can. It’s not just about me making Caribbean films, but training as well. This is where the real building takes place I think.
Patrice Benn: What were the challenges that you faced when creating Backshots.
Larc: The film was a part of anas well, which comes back to my point about building. At this stage in our development we really wanted to enhance capacity by transferring skills and providing opportunities. You know, the Spike Lee model, or Clair Prieto model if we’re talking Toronto, where someones’ always being trained or given an opportunity. I got support from the National Cultural Foundation here in Barbados and the Errol Barrow Centre at the University. I also got people from the neighborhood and mixed them with film students and gave them opportunities to work in front and behind the camera. So we’re building as a community. It great and it’s something I plan to continue with as a model for Skylarc Pictures. But getting back to your question, um: It was challenging in that there was a learning curve for the trainees and that curve caused us to slow down a bit you know so our days were longer, especially on a low-budget independent film like mine. My DP Stan Barua who’s also from Toronto said the number one thing he took from this production was patience. Hahaha …but at the end of the day, we’re just starting, he understood that and it’s been fun.
PB: True, true well said. Finally, I’ve been dying to ask; what was it like working withFrances Anne Solomon on the Back Shots film? Is that how you met?
Larc: Well, um, I think she had not too long come on board as a Visiting Lecturer at the Errol Barrow Centre and, I told her about the project and she asked if I had a Producer, so I told her no smiling inside. She initially just wanted to come on board as a Producer Consultant cause she’s mad busy herself, but after taking in the project and identifying what the film needed she really took the helm, mobilizing everyone and everything, she really gave the project wheels and got it going. So yeah she’s a trooper and I thank her for help on the project. Putting “Caribbean Tales” on film is a huge passion of hers obviously, and I think she saw this an opportunity to put another check mark on the list. I’m not a bad horse to bet on I don’t think. So she gave her time and energy, very valuable resources. She’s my big sis now, film comrades from Toronto so it’s great. Hahaha!!
Patrice Benn: Frances Ann Solomon always the get it done lady. Larc, I want to thank you for taking some time out to tell us about your projects, your experiences and your upcoming Arts Workshops. I’m sure the talented youth of the Caribbean will truly benefit from your specialized training in the region. Please keep up the fantastic work and we look forward to all the updates.