Local Filmmakers Marry Caribbean Heritage With A Universal Message

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An article by Carly Miller for The Ditmas Park Corner.

Ditmas Park-based Caribbean couple Claire Ince and Ancil McKain named their first feature film, Bazodee, after a Trinidadian slang word for a state of confusion and love.

“We set out to tell a different story,” said Claire, Bazodee’s screenwriter. “A lot of indie films tend to be dramas and thrillers, we wanted to be funny and fun.”

Set on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad & Tobago, to the rhythm of sensuous Soca music, Bazodee is a neo-Bollywood musical with Caribbean island flavor. The film’s cinematic inspirations include classic Bollywood mixed with Western films — musical elements from ‘Once’, and the Carnival-esque feel of ‘Moulin Rouge’.

But Soca music is the pulse that drives the film. Soca, also known as the soul of calypso, originated in Trinidad & Tobago as a combination of African and Indian rhythms influenced by funk and soul.

“The music that comes out of the Caribbean is dynamic and energetic, full of love and excitement. And Ancil and I thought it would be wonderful to make a musical that featured that music, with a love story at its heart,” said Claire.

Although the sounds will be culturally new for a national audience, it may be familiar to locals. “It’s the music you’ll hear in carnival and in Flatbush, but it’s not known to a larger audience,” Claire told DPC. “But the theme is universal,” added Ancil. “Its about love and family, and a woman making sacrifices for family which is a very common thing, women do it all the time.”

Clair and Ancil hope to spread the universal message of love and unity through the music, aided by the popularity of Soca superstar Machel Montano, who plays the romantic lead. “I think what we love about this film is that in these times, every time you turn the tv on you get a negative story,” said Ancil, “we’re excited about giving the world something different; beautiful colors, beautiful occasion, a story about pure love.”

Ditmas residents may also remember Clair and Ancil as the videographers behind Hollywood Falls for Brooklyn, a short film that got picked up by The New York Times in 2014 about shooting films in the visual oasis of Ditmas Park.

And they truly do love the neighborhood — not just as a film set, but a place to raise a family.

Claire and her husband Ancil, who is an actor in the film, moved to Cortelyou Road almost 6 years ago when their daughter attended a nearby preschool co-op. “Ditmas Park has been welcoming, there’s a real warmth here and we fell in love with it,” said Claire. Their two kids now attend PS 217.

“[Ditmas Park] reminds us of how we grew up in the Caribbean,” Ancil added. “Our friends’ kids get to grow up together. It’s a real community here. We didn’t find that anywhere else in Brooklyn.”

They’ve also found that their community was willing to extend support during Bazodee’s 5-week shoot in Trinidad & Tobago. “It’s so funny to use this phrase, but it does take a village to raise a child,” said Claire. “As filmmakers with two small kids, there is emotional support here, as well as people coming together to take care of the kids.”

Claire’s words echo onto the film set, as she tells us about what it’s like to turn her script into a feature length film.  “It’s surreal,” she said about watching her words come to life, “as a writer, so much of the work is about rewriting to get it right. But as a film it’s collaboration — we had amazing actors who worked to really embody those characters, it’s hard for me to think of the script separate from the film.”

Did Ancil help at all with the writing process, we wanted to know. “I brought her snacks and she did all the writing,” he said, chuckling. “But I tried to lift her spirits when she had a block. Writers go through torture.”

Ancil did provide essential cultural influence as well as moral support, Claire chimed in.

Claire is from Barbados and Ancil is from Trinidad. “We had similar cultures, but there’s unique demographic in terms of India and Africa so I helped out conceptually,” said Ancil.

“We have a lot of Caribbean people living in our Flatbush community but we don’t necessarily know a lot about each other,” said Claire. “This film is an opportunity for people who know Trinidadians but don’t get a full sense of the culture. A great way to learn more about this island, the music, and come away from the experience with a feeling of sunshine.”

And — the urge to dance.

Bazodee has a limited run in Brooklyn, so check it out this week — and what better way to chase away the Monday afternoon blues. Watch the official movie trailer here, then find the closest movie showtime here.

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