About the project
Following two previous film initiatives, we are pleased to introduce you to the writer-directors taking part in the Commonwealth Shorts, Caribbean Voices initiative.
Early career filmmakers and screenwriters from the Caribbean were selected to attend a two-week online skills development workshop facilitated by Commonwealth Writers (now Commonwealth Foundation Creatives) and led by experienced filmmakers from the Caribbean, UK and Canada. The workshops covered script writing, directing and producing. Each writer/director received one to one support from a professional script editor to develop their screenplay, as well as individual Mentors to support the filming process.
On completion of the workshops, the participants had the opportunity to pitch for a grant to make a short 10-15 minute film.
Our valued local advisors on the project were: Mitzi Allen (Antigua and Barbuda), Shakirah Bourne (Barbados), Juliette McCawley (Trinidad and Tobago) and Kareem Mortimer (The Bahamas).
Please read more about the Caribbean Voices participants, workshop leaders, script editors and Mentors below.
Inderia Reeba Green, (The Bahamas)
Melanie Grant, (Barbados)
Felene M. Cayetano, (Belize)
Amanda John, (Grenada)
Rae Wiltshire, (Guyana)
Kaleb D’Aguilar, (Jamaica)
Akley Olton and JP Schwmon, (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
Elenie Chung, (Trinidad and Tobago)
Jason Fitzroy Jeffers
Meet of the filmmakers
Inderia Reeba Green (The Bahamas)
‘I love the idea of being a part of a community that aims to help me grow in this craft. I am very excited to be able to hone my skills as a screenwriter. I hope to get great advice and direction in knowing what works and doesn’t when crafting a script.’
Inderia Reeba Green started as an actor, has produced for television and stage, and is currently working on film projects. Inderia wrote and directed a stage play in 2017, Joey-The Musical, and produced a panel talk show, Her’Spective from 2015. Inderia has also released two books: The Adventures of Ezee and Breezy – a compilation of short plays, and Play Church – a collection of several plays for faith based productions.
Melanie Grant (Barbados)
‘I am truly grateful to be selected to take part in this wonderful opportunity that will connect me with other people who share the same passion as me for telling Caribbean stories. I look forward to taking part in the upcoming workshops and being able to share, learn and grow as a filmmaker.’
Melanie Grant is a Barbadian filmmaker and lecturer whose films have been screened all around the world. She believes that her purpose as a filmmaker is to use her films as tools to educate, document social and environmental issues and advocate for positive social change in the Caribbean. Melanie currently holds a BFA in Creative Arts from the University of the West Indies (U.W.I.) and a Masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester.
Felene M. Cayetano (Belize)
‘Telling Garifuna-inspired stories, like Ziricote, is my purpose. Being selected places me closer to bringing this story to the screen. This is a colossal shift from intangible to tangible possibility at a time when Garifuna beliefs and practices are becoming diluted. The workshop will help me address this dilution.’
Felene M. Cayetano is a Belizean, Garifuna author, mother, publisher, librarian and editor. Her publications include two poetry collections, editor and co-author of one short story anthology, and inclusion in regional (Caribbean and Latin American) journals and dissertations. She lives in Belize where she advocates for cultural continuity, literacy, artists and small publishers through the Belize National Library Service and Information System, the Belize Book Industry Association and the Belize Copyright Licensing Agency.
Amanda John (Grenada)
‘I am so grateful and excited to be selected to embark on this journey of growth; to learn, share and create. I look forward to this fantastic opportunity to polish my story telling skills through the medium of film, which has always been dear to my heart.’
Amanda John is driven by her passion for the visual arts. She has worked in the media and television industry for over 15 years as lead producer on local and regional productions. She is founder and co-owner of BrainStorm Productions, a Digital Media Solutions and consultancy company based in Grenada. Amanda is a skilled video editor and has produced over one hundred documentaries and short features. She’s known for her extensive coverage on health and community issues and has been awarded national and regional accolades for her work in these areas.
Rae Wiltshire (Guyana)
‘I am overjoyed to be selected and feel privileged to be given this opportunity. It will be the first time that I meet and interact with filmmakers from across the region. This opportunity will bring growth, and I will be able to network with other creatives and share ideas.’
Rae Wiltshire is my name. I have been writing since 2011. It was the year after high school; I realised I did not want to take the traditional route and have a ‘safe job’. I wanted to be an artist. I have won national awards for my writing (short fiction and plays). I love these two mediums, but film was always my first love. The technical skills I have were learnt through online videos and books.
Kaleb D’Aguilar (Jamaica)
‘It is an honour being selected for the Commonwealth Shorts, Caribbean Voices workshop this year. This creative hub piques my interest because of its emphasis on the Caribbean community meeting and collaborating. It is important that Caribbean filmmakers and storytellers be given the support to tell their own stories and echo the voice of our people within regional and international spaces’
Kaleb D’Aguilar is a Jamaican writer and filmmaker, currently completing his MA in Filmmaking, specialising in Directing, at Goldsmiths University in London. His interest in the arts started on stage as an actor, but after completing his BSc. in Anthropology at the University of the West Indies, where he graduated Valedictorian in 2017, Kaleb transitioned to writing and directing for film. He has completed three short films, all of which have participated in regional and international film festivals. His interest in ‘world building’ and ‘storytelling’ also presents itself in literary text, most prominently poetry as he is also a recipient of the 2019 Poet Laureate of Jamaica and Michael Cooke Prize for Poetry.
Writer and Director team Akley Olton and JP Schwmon (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) –
‘I am extremely grateful and humbled to be selected. We don’t have a lot of opportunities to develop indigenous cinema in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, so this is a great moment for us to share some homegrown Vincy filmmaking with the world. I believed the arts are vehicles for social change and that’s the goal of our short film. It’s an honour to be able to work with a fellow Vincentian as a creative team. I am celebrating our selection and looking forward to the workshops, learning new silks and bringing home the prize.’
Akley Olton is a Vincentian filmmaker and visual artist who explores the beautiful contradictions of Caribbean realities. He is an alumnus of The University of the West Indies film degree programme, and also a graduate of the prestigious Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television (EICTV) in Cuba. Olton has been building a professional career as a Cinematographer / Director, Media Producer, and has a wide range of experience, including on several local, regional and international productions, including award-winning music videos, shorts and feature films. Olton is a man dedicated to developing Caribbean cinema. He recently founded Island Rebel Media, a film, audiovisual and multimedia production business based in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
‘I am eternally grateful to have co-parented two beautiful legacies for whom my whole being yearns to help shape a better world. It’s an exciting opportunity to grow. The skill sets I am expecting to be honed through this exercise would greatly impact the burgeoning Vincentian filmmaking scene. Not only would they be showcased in our short film project, but we anticipate being able to enhance the quality of future productions that emanate from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – whether through other collaborative ventures or educational sessions. The chance to secure one of the £8000 bursaries makes it all the more appealing.’
A country boy born and raised in an extended family setting, JP Schwmon is a Writer, Farmer and Entertainer. I’ve always been attracted to words. Strange, because it was beaten into me. This love for the written word, in particular, propelled me to a Community College education. While there I learnt the most rudimentary form of dissecting my long time love so I could open it up for better critical appreciation. Physically, I express my love for words onstage, on camera and sometimes as seen when published onscreen or in The Vincentian Newspaper. My farm is momentarily neglected, but I’ve found in my continued hunt for stress therapy – ain’t nothing beats a good day in the garden.
Elenie Chung (Trinidad and Tobago)
‘Participating in the Commonwealth Shorts, Caribbean Voices film workshop will allow me to create a short film that meaningfully and empathically explores personal and everyday stories in this time of global political uncertainty, and to meet other filmmakers from the Caribbean region. For this I am deeply grateful.’
Elenie Chung is a filmmaker born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. Her films bring the everyday into sublimity and the unfamiliar to the everyday. Before pursuing an MFA in Film Directing/Production at the University of California: Los Angeles, she worked at Women Make Movies – a non-profit feminist media arts organization based in New York City – and also served as an assistant for artist Karina Skvirsky. She was also a recent resident at Praksis’ 15th Art Residency: Carrying Histories in Oslo, Norway.
Meet the workshop leaders
Anthony is a writer/producer/director, whose debut feature film Sunburn debuted on all the major VOD channels in North America and Canada in January 2020. He has a number of projects in development for film, TV and podcast platforms. Under, a graphic novel, whose adaptation he co-wrote, was shortlisted for the Spotlight on Trailer section at the Serie Series Festival in France in late June 2020, and was also highlighted for a Special Mention at the Sitges Pitchfest 2020. He is also working on another graphic novel TV project as writer/producer, Ezequiel Himes, created by Victor Santos (Polar) and Alberto Hernandez. Anthony is represented by Abram Nalibotsky (film) and Roy Ashton (TV) at The Gersh Agency and his company Born Wild, in November 2020 agreed an output deal with international TV distributor Eccho Rights.
Mitzi Allen is an award-winning broadcast journalist and film and television producer. Her career began as a broadcast journalist for CTV Canada however after relocating to Antigua & Barbuda she became the co-founder and managing director of HAMAfilms Antigua, which was established in 1992. Since then she has produced five feature films, The Sweetest Mango(2001), No Seed (2002) Diablesse (2005) The Skin (2011) and currently in production Deep Blue (2021). HaMafilms has been recognized for its pioneering work in film by the Antigua & Barbuda Department of Youth Affairs and Mitzi Allen has been honoured with a “Women in Film” award by the Antigua & Barbuda Motion Picture Association. She has produced four Television series, Island Magazine, Pet Playhouse, Queen Material, along with the Caribbean drama series Paradise View and countless documentaries. She is the recipient of an award from the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS for her work on LIVE UP a television programme, which she hosted for five years (2007-2012). As a part of the CBMP she has trained journalists across the Caribbean.
Mitzi continues to share her knowledge with budding media practitioners and filmmakers in a series of film/tv workshops. She is currently a member of the UWI TV Advisory Board and a consultant and facilitator with the Commonwealth Writers Caribbean Voices filmmaking workshop.
Juliette Mc Cawley
A writer/director/producer for 15 years, Juliette McCawley’s short films have been screened in film festivals worldwide. Originally from Trinidad, Juliette McCawley spent 15 years as an actor before directing her first short in the US. After moving to Shanghai, she spent the next 5 years producing, writing and directing short films and corporate videos. She was also the head writer for a 45 minute TV series for the Asian market. In 2010 she studied Advanced Film Directing at Central Film School London. Since returning to Trinidad she has written/ directed/produced several award-winning short films that have been screened and distributed regionally and internationally as well as collaborated on award-winning feature films and documentaries. Juliette has also worked as a mentor and facilitator for film workshops on directing, acting and scriptwriting. Her last film “Sampson’s Heart” won People’s Choice at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival 2019 (Carifesta edition) and has been selected for film festivals regionally and internationally.
Ian Sellar is a Scottish film-maker, teacher and mentor whose films have been distributed internationally to critical acclaim. He began his career as an art director on Bill Douglas’s Scottish trilogy, as an assistant to Kevin Brownlow on Winstanly and the reconstruction of the epic silent film Napoleon. During same period Ian was employed as film editor for various companies including LWT and BBC. His first forays into directing were the video shorts, LEICESTER SQUARE and SOUTHWARK, leading to him attending the National Film and Television School in 1981. Whilst there he wrote and directed the semi-autobiographical feature length TV drama OVER GERMANY for CH4 / ZDF. In 1989 his first cinema feature, VENUS PETER was chosen in ‘Official Selection’ at Cannes and Sundance. This was followed in 1991 by PRAGUE which was also shown in, Cannes, Tokyo and other major festivals round the world. As writer he has also worked in animation, notably HOME ROAD MOVIES winner of Cartoon D’Or.
Ian is co-head of Fiction at the National Film and Television School in the UK, been advisor at the Binger Institute in Amsterdam, and run directing and writing master-classes in Scotland, Cuba, Scandinavia and South Africa. Within the industry has works as advisor and script editor for a number of film and TV companies – Amongst the many films he has been involved in are award winning, WET SEASON, ILO ILO, GODLESS, AMERICAN ANIMALS, A PRIVATE WAR, PERFECT TEN, THE POWER, and WILDFIRE.
Meet the script editors
Kareem Mortimer is a Bahamian director of narrative films, documentaries, music videos, commercials, and experimental films that works globally. Kareem believes in creating unique, powerful and beautiful images that resonate with its intended audience long after being seen.
His work has been distributed in over forty countries with airings on PBS, AsPire, Showtime, NBC, Logo and Canal 22. His feature films include Cargo, Windjammers, and Children of God; national campaigns include spots for Aliv, Ministry of Environmental Health, Ministry of Tourism and Scorpios; television shows include: Hip-Hop Nation: Notes from the Underground, The Electronic Lounge, and Extraordinary Cuisine. His experimental films have been exhibited in galleries across Europe, North America, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Over the course of his career, Kareem has won over 35 awards for his work, including two Icon Awards and an African Movie Academy Award. He is an alumni of Berlinale Talents and Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab.
Shakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author and filmmaker. Her most recent feature film, A Caribbean Dream (writer/director), was awarded Best UK Feature at the London Independent Film Festival, and Best Drama at the National Film Awards UK. She has written and produced three other feature films: PAYDAY, Two Smart and Next PAYDAY. Her children’s novel JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA will be published by Scholastic in July 2021. www.shakirahbourne.com
In the performing arts world, Nicole Brooks is beyond a triple-threat. Her extensive accomplishments include: filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and ‘art-ivist’. Brooks has devoted over 20 years producing innovative content (for the stage and screen), with a focus on narratives that illuminate the peoples of the African Diaspora. In 2012, Brooks officially added playwright to her list of talents. Her debut theatrical work Obeah Opera – which she created, wrote, composed and performs in – has been staged in various incarnations from festivals to staged workshop productions in Toronto between 2009 and 2014. Honoured with a Dora nomination for Outstanding New Opera/Musical in 2012 and with continued development thereafter, an updated version of Obeah Opera premiered in August 2015, as a prestigious commission from the cultural arm of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games. Its final incarnation mounted in June 2019 as part of the critically acclaimed roaster of the Luminato Festival in Toronto and was honoured with two additional DORA nominations in 2020 for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Feature Performance. Most recently Obeah Opera was an official Festival Selection of the prestigious NAMT Festival of New Musicals late 2020. At present, Brooks is slated to make her opera directorial debut at Opera Columbus in the spring of 2021.
Janet is a freelance development producer and script editor. She is hired by broadcasters, production companies and writers, to develop and produce their TV shows, features and shorts and she currently has a wonderfully diverse range of projects on her slate. Her screenwriting background gives her a great affinity with her clients and she has a particular passion for championing new talent. Ultimately, Janet just loves helping people tell great stories.
Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Miami-based filmmaker (and occasional journalist) from Barbados whose work focuses on giving voice to the often-marginalized stories of the tropics. As a journalist, his work has appeared in The Miami Herald and American Way and on The Intercept. As a filmmaker, he has produced award-winning shorts such as Papa Machete and Swimming in Your Skin Again that have screened at film festivals such as Sundance, BlackStar, TIFF, Sheffield and more. The most recent, T, was the 2020 winner of the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at Berlinale. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Miami-based filmmaking and creative collective Third Horizon, which stages the annual Third Horizon Film Festival, a showcase of cinema from the Caribbean, its diaspora, and other underrepresented spaces in the Global South. It was named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” in 2019 by MovieMaker Magazine. For more information, please visit: jasonfitzroy.com
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