Film Industry: Jamaican Stories Wanted

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In Jamaica, a group of interested parties involved in film, literature, television, dance, and theatre—who gathered in St Andrew’s Bookaphilia for a special public discussion entitled “Our stories: Are we ignoring opportunities in film, theatre, dance, literature, music…?—for well-written Jamaican stories to be made into film. Organized by Visual and Performing Arts Jamaica (VPAJ), the British Council and Book Industry Association of Jamaica, the group explored the dearth of Jamaican stories in local media.

According to film producer Justine Henzell, there is a lack of good scripts to take that great Jamaican story to the world. “Far too often I am faced with a great idea, pitch and treatment, but when it comes to the script, we fall flat,” Henzell said. She added that Jamaicans should stop discounting stories as being too local, stupid and only for old people.

Henzell pointed out that these same stories are being told by worldwide to great acclaim. “We have to make our films authentically Jamaican by injecting our culture and folklore, and thereby different from the rest of the world,” she said.

This was echoed by film producer Natalie Thompson, who noted that without good scripts the Jamaican film industry will not move forward. “Our industry will not develop if we don’t develop stories that are our own. It does not necessarily have to be set in rural Jamaica or downtown Kingston, but we must incorporate our folklore into our stories in order to move forward,” Thompson added. It was the same cry from book publisher Kellie Magnus. For her, one of the problems she faces is the lack of engaging Jamaican stories, especially for children.

For director of VPAJ, Trevor Fearon, Jamaica’s creative industries continue to “nibble around the edges of the treasure trove of local stories” which he believes, if transformed creatively, could become something major. Fearon, however, agrees there is a lack of substantial research of the country’s folklore and the stories which form a huge part of its culture. “How well do we know some of our folktales and stories; where did they originate? Stories about ‘ole higue’ and rollin’ calf could form the starting point for a great horror film.”

[Shown above, Bruce Hart (left) and Rick Elgood (right).]

For full article, see http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/WANTED–Good-J-can-stories_13101596

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