Four T&T filmmakers have been chosen to take part in the CaribbeanTales Incubator (CTI) 2016.Greenlighted for the CTI are projects by Juliette McCawley, Kafi Kareem Farrell, Sean Hodgkinson and Aurora Herrera.
McCawley's previous projects have included The Apartment, A Boy's Choice, Drink, and One Good Deed. She is an actress, director and producer. Her telenovela project Bitter Fruit is being sponsored by the T&T Film Co for the CTI.
Big Man Dan, an animated comedy series by Kafi Kareem Farrell, has also been selected. Farrell is a screenwriter and multi-platform media producer; her past projects include the short film Thanks and Giving. She has worked for Disney Interactive and is now a content producer for Story Play Media Group and is based in T&T.
Sean Hodgkinson and Aurora Herrera are in the CTI this year to work on a "risqu� melodrama" called The Weekend. Hodgkinson is best known for his film Trafficked and the two-part A Story About Wendy. Trafficked will have its Canadian Premiere at the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival immediately following the CTI.
"Big Man Dan is a quirky animated comedy web series following the antics of Dan, a man with a magnetic attraction to trouble and a talent for telling tall tales," wrote Farrell in response to an emailed request for information on her CTI project.
"The project is the first original production emerging from Story Play Studios, a newly established Trinidadian media company dedicated to developing, producing and distributing quality scripted content for Caribbean audiences.
"The company's team is made up of film and animation professionals who put storytelling first and believe that seeing your culture celebrated on screen is a positively transformative experience.
"That, ultimately, is what Big Man Dan is; a celebration of the magic that lies within the everyday, common place Trinidadian experience."
The 31-year-old said, "CTI offers an incredible opportunity to further develop the series' pitch package and marketing plan with insight from industry professionals outside the project's core team. This external feedback is invaluable since it's easy to get lost in your own creative forest."
Herrera, a 30-year-old sometime Guardian freelancer who is applying for her PhD in journalism law, has hosted, produced and directed, as well as been a casting director and blogger, among other things. She worked as first assistant director with Hodgkinson on Trafficked; The Weekend sees them pairing up again with her as producer and him as director.
The pitch for the new project sounds complex: "The Weekend looks at the intimate connections between a diverse group of friends over a nine-year period including Gregg, a successful filmmaker who has just ended a ten-year relationship.
"Gregg is attempting to reconnect with his former BFF and muse Heather, who starred in Gregg's first two films, Bougainvillea Dreams and Under the Sycamore Tree; Heather has turned her back on acting and television after Gregg gave away her part to Claire in Gregg's previous film, Four Days in the Sun.
"Gregg's inner circle includes his childhood best friend Colin, who is married to uptight Cristina. Ganesh, a former New York socialite, who was dumped by his lover and has returned to Trinidad, jilted and penniless; Patrice, Trinidad's number one florist, and his partner Issac, a recovering drug addict who is having a clandestine affair with Sita, the current stylist on Gregg's film Smuggler's starring Claire and model turned actor Maxime."
"The film is a study of relationships," Hodgkinson and Herrera wrote in their emailed response to the Sunday Arts Section.
"Everyone will be able to relate to the intertwining stories of this group of friends. We hope that it will make people laugh and also reflect on their personal stories. We also really want to put our Caribbean-ness with all of its richness that we are so proud of, on a global platform."
Farrell, Herrera and Hodgkinson are all enthusiastic about the potential the CTI could unlock for their projects. A major sponsor of the CTI is telecommunications giant Flow, which opens up other possibilities.
"Of course, Flow's partnership with CTi also promises a great opportunity to get our series funded," wrote Farrell.
"It would be amazing to get funding to turn The Weekend into a miniseries," said Herrera and Hodgkinson.
"We have outlines for seven more episodes. We would also like to show our talent regionally and globally and that we can produce an economically viable product based on Caribbean content that different diasporas will enjoy.
"We want to do well but winning isn't everything. We look forward to developing our pitching skills, networking with like minded creatives from the region and achieving what we set out to do with The Weekend, make film for the pure joy of creating."
The CTI is a project of CaribbeanTales Worldwide, a Caribbean-based content distribution and development company. Its founder Frances-Anne Solomon has previously told the Sunday Arts Section the incubator is designed to help Caribbean filmmakers monetise their content. It takes place annually during the Toronto Film Festival.