ON THE MOVE: Actors in a scene from Home Again, a Jamaican story filmed in Trinidad & Tobago.
Noelle Kerr and Kurt Wright were becoming disillusioned, constantly hearing of Jamaican actors losing out on film work at home for a string of unsatisfactory reasons. So when the 2013 Jamaican story, Home Again (starring Paul Campbell and The Fresh Prince of Belair’s Tatyana Ali) ended up being filmed in Trinidad & Tobago, after numerous attempts by producers to shoot here, they knew they had to say something. It was a “crisis” they simply had to respond to.
Their bold statement came in the form of the call-to-action short film Beyond the Lens (running nearly seven minutes), which upon its debut in April met with overwhelming praise for the budding filmmakers’ courage and candour in tackling a touchy subject.
The Home Again situation really struck a nerve with Kerr, one of theatre’s brightest young stars. “It was like, we’ve lost another one. For me, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And so we decided to say something instead of assigning blame,” explains the Actor Boy and Thespy-winning star, who invited close industry colleagues to lend their time and star power to the project. “We wanted to highlight the talent that is here. Would it change anything? We don’t know, but at least we played our part, let our voice be heard and let people be aware that it’s not for lack of talent why the work isn’t happening. We are here. We want to work.”
To Wright’s mind, the film did its job, attracting the attention of people in high places with the clout to bring about the right kind of change. “According to the government, a couple of things are in the works still, but the biggest news recently is the film lot they’re planning to build out in the country. I think in Trelawny,” Wright tells TALLAWAH. “So we are seeing little things happening already, and I’d like to be able to credit it to Beyond the Lens for creating a little ripple in the water.”
He continues, “I’m of the firm impression that when it comes to the film industry you really shouldn’t just sit around and complain about things that you want changed. Unless you’re gonna complain loudly as we did.”