“Know your voice. Make friends in your chosen field, be prepared to fail, but above all else, just do it!”
This advice came from three prominent artistes in Barbados as they addressed secondary school students at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre during a forum on the Creative Industries – one of the activities commemorating Education Month.
Creative Director of Hall-E-Wood Productions Rommell Hall, whose movie Hall tells the story of notorious Barbadian fugitive Winston Hall and has received international acclaim, told the students there was a lot more to the film industry than acting and photography.
“Apart from the more high profile jobs like directing, acting, set design and photography, there are also people who are responsible for taking the day’s footage off SD cards and putting it onto hard drives, and others who make sure the camera’s batteries are charged. If they don’t do their jobs properly the whole production can suffer. So certain jobs may not be as glamorous as others, but they are all important,” he said.
Hall advised them to “know [your] voice; that is, do what you are comfortable with even if others do not agree with it.” Citing an example, he stated that when he first got into filmmaking, he recognized that a lot of Caribbean films were somewhat depressing. So he decided to focus on comedy and despite his struggles in the beginning, eventually he reaped success with his TV series and movie Keeping Up with the Joneses.
The artistes got the students to create a song “on the spot” with assistance from lead singer of the band Lock It and member of Krosfyah, Joaquin Brewster, and Mahalia Cummins of 2 Mile Hill. Then, music producer and founder of Daedream Entertainment, Adaeze, told them, “I love what I do, but a lot goes into this industry from an emotional and business standpoint, and it is important for you to embrace your fears [and] to use those fears in a positive way.”
Both Adaeze and Cummins said a number of Barbadians still did not see a career in the performing arts as a “real job”, with Cummins adding, “sometimes it does help to have a ‘day job’ while trying to become a professional entertainer because it is tough. In fact, all of the members of my group 2 Mile Hill had corporate jobs at one time and we all have degrees not related to the entertainment business. For example, mine is in Computer Science. But if music is your passion, keep on writing, recording, singing, practising your craft; it might take years, but you will eventually get that ‘big break’ you’ve always wanted.”
All three said it was important to “make friends” within the industry, “to find a group of people with the same interests and passion as you and work with them. While you may fail at times, keep on trying because you may reap success with a different approach.”
In terms of seeking avenues to display their talents, Cummins reminded the students of her Mahalia’s Corner showcase, while Hall told them that the Barbados Film and Video Association, of which he is vice-president, was planning to start a film competition among the island’s schools, in which the winning entrants’ productions will be broadcast on CBC Television.
A number of students also performed during the forum, including vocalist Shania Kishnar and bass guitarist O’Neil Jordan from the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, and Therese Lambert from the Frederick Smith Secondary School, who sang two songs, including the self-penned Weirdo, while playing the keyboard. (DH)