Film: Gabrielle Blackwood tackles “Bully”


The Jamaica Observer’s Richard Johnson writes that twenty-nine-year-old film-maker Gabrielle Blackwood is steadily carving out a name in filmmaking. Her most recent project explores bullying through the eyes of a teenager.

With less than a decade of work, the cinematographer and director is slowly building an impressive résumé. The latest project, which she conceptualised and shot, is part of a UNICEF project which looks at violence. The short entitled Bully examines bullying through the eyes of a teenager. It is these projects which Blackwood is most drawn to, explaining that there must always be an underlying message.

“I am most interested in narrative film-making. And it’s not deliberate, but of late, I find that I am quite metaphoric in the way I deal with my projects. A recent film I did, Dennis, looks at a man with Lou Gerhrig’s disease and because he could not speak, I had to create the story based on what I was told by his wife. So I am drawn to this type of storytelling. I believe that a film-maker, whether consciously or unconsciously, must project a message through his work and this is determined by either how you grew up or how you would like the world to be,” Blackwood told the Sunday Observer.

Blackwood grew up in Kingston and, as far back as she can remember, she has been telling stories through various means. Whether it was directing plays at home with family and friends as her cast, or critiquing films, she has always yearned for the life she now lives. With no film school in Jamaica, she took on the next best thing and she studied multimedia for her undergraduate degree at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The Commonwealth scholarship in 2009 allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

As the president of the Jamaica Film and Television Association, an umbrella group aimed at creating projects and promoting the film and television industry in Jamaica, she is seeking to bring more cohesion to the sector. “One of the biggest hindrances to the development of the industry has been the division among practitioners. That is changing as more of us recognise that it works to our benefit if we come together to tell our stories. There are so many great stories to be told about Jamaica and not from the stereotypical negative perspective or the tourism side of things. So, it is critical that we place importance on telling these stories and overcome the insularity in our industry to move forward. Everyone just has to know their strength, whether it is directing or writing. We are slowly getting there.”

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