SHEA J. BEST
Filmmaker
Trinidad & Tobago
Darkie on Studio Anansi

This week, Shea’s film, “Darkie,” was launched on Studio Anansi. The film has been available for viewing on Shea’s vimeo channel, but with it’s launch on Studio Anansi, it has become part of the fastest-growing collection of Caribbean films being made available for online viewing.  We asked Shea to share his thoughts with us on the making of his film – check out the Q+A:

CineCaribés:
In your own words, tell us what this film is about and why you chose to tell this story.

Shea:
The idea was sparked in a Cinema and Gender course during my UnderGrad studies, as a reaction/response after reading Laura Mulveys’ article on the “Male Gaze” and other articles on the dichotomies of gener representation in film. I wanted to explore what I call ‘Male Introspection,’ that is, the emotional journey and thought process of males, in tandem or in contrast with how they are physically represented, in film.  I wanted to play with this idea in a Trinbagonian/Caribbean Context.  Although Trinidad and Tobago is rich in ethnic diversity, we are still dealing with social issues arising out of that diversity.  I wanted to make a film which represents/plays with the dichotomies of gender representation and racial representation – both on a very subtle level – so that if this subtlety misses some viewers, the film would still be entertaining, and be an authentic represent of Trinbagonian culture in a non-stereotypical way – ie, outside of beaches, carnival and alcohol……

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CineCaribés:
What was the most challenging aspect of making the film and why was that so?

Shea:
Not having no consistent crew. Most days the crew would consist of my actors, my Director of Photography and myself – the crew was ever changing – and one day, the DP was unable to be present to shoot.  Having to manage the inconsistency in the crew was quite difficult and was reflected in the overall quality of the film.

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CineCaribés:
If you were to pick an aspect of filmmaking – writing, directing, cinematography, editing – which would be your favorite?  Why is that?

Shea:
Directing, because it is like sharing bits of my mind with the public.  I like being able to interpret and tell it as it comes out of the depths of my mind and have it be rendered on screen for people to see and understand.  With this film, as pointed out by one of my good friends and colleagues, he was able to see how I worked with my screenwriter, also a good friend, to put different pieces of myself into each character in the film.

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CineCaribés:
Did the film turn out the way you envisioned?  Would you change anything about it?

Shea:
No film turns out exactly the way you want. I think the cast chosen was perfect – flaws in their performances were due to lack of time in preparation and rehearsals. If I had the chance to make this film again, I would work with the same actors over an extended period to get as strong of a performance as I could, out of them. There are many things that I would change, but I’d rather leave it as an object lesson.  I am ok with this film and I believe it is a very good stepping stone for me to use to move forward in my career.  The experiences in making it were invaluable.

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CineCaribés:
What do you hope the audience to takes away from this film?

Shea:
On the surface, I would like people to be not only be entertained but to leave knowing life happens and it comes down to management of things like your emotions and the choices you make, which ultimately determine the outcome of yournext step.  That you should just continue to learn, live and move on to the next phase.  Beyond that, I want people to look at the film and consider the vast multicultural landscape that is the Caribbean and to see it as another piece of work that aids in establishing the differing aesthetics of Caribbean-ness on screen and Caribbean gender representation.

About “Darkie”

Synopsis:
“Darkie,” tells the story of a young, mixed-race Trinbagonian couple, Chris (Christopher Naranjit) and Britney (Bretney Romeo), who break up as Britney is about to permanently migrate. The film explores Chris’ attempts at “getting-over” Britney, as her memory haunts him on a daily basis. It explores representations of masculinity in film, and unlike Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” the audience gets a glimpse of some “male instrospection,” as the film shares Chris’ thoughts in an effort to offer some insight into how men deal with a broken heart. The film also addresses themes of racial plurality, multiculturalism and how people function harmoniously or not, within a space, i.e. Trinidad and Tobago.

Watch the film here: http://studioanansi.tv/darkie.