“Egress,” a short film by Barbadian filmmaker, Sean M. Field, is set to launch on Studio Anansi Tv, next Tuesday, Feb 16. The film, a big winner at the 2015 Barbados Film and Video Awards, winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Script Awards, was also a winner at the MCNY Short Film Festival. Ahead of the release of “EGRESS” on Anansi, we talked to Sean about the film and his love for filmmaking in general.
In your own words, tell us what this film is about and why you chose to tell this story.
“Egress,” is a story about a man battling his way through life. He’s homeless and this isn’t where he expected to be at this point in his life. His struggle in today’s world for me was evident when I moved to NY and saw the amount of homeless people I knew would have to live through the cold. I was immediately floored imagining what they would have to go through, especially in today’s world, where there is social media.
What was the most challenging aspect of making the film and why was that so?
As an actor I’m part method. So I took on the task of sleeping on the streets of NY in mid February. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I froze. It was eye opening. After that, I had a new appreciation for the homeless. Especially in cold cities.
Actually acting is my favorite of them all. I love creating memorable characters. Now, out of the ones you gave as choices, I would say directing. I think this keeps in line with the acting part where I’m able to work with a full cast of characters. I also get to take the work from the page, visualize it, put the pieces together and then while on set see nuances that weren’t there before and adding them to create special moments in the film. My least favorite is editing. The hours and hours and hours involved in staring at the screen is quite tedious and you can make changes forever.
If you did not have to think about a budget, what film would you make and who would you cast as the lead actors? (ideal world question)
Ultimately I would love to tell the story of the British slave trade, especially when it comes to Barbados. I would need to have persons like Idris Elba, Minnie Driver, Daniel Day Lewis, Don Cheadle among others to be involved. More importantly, I would love to create a set of Caribbean actors to hold their own with these folks and put them on the map.
What do you want the audience to take away from this film?
I would love for persons to see a bit of themselves in each character. To observe themselves in a way they may not have before, especially when confronted with a situation they’re uncertain about. You never know, the outcome may just surprise you.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a filmmaker.
Since I was 5 years old, I’ve always wanted to make movies. I was in a tv commercial for KFC and fell in love with the cameras and the process. Little did I know that when I moved to LA years later, my first national commercial would be for KFC – bringing it full circle.
I love acting and for years was fearful of pursuing the career. I had an opportunity during university to go after it, but that fear kept be back. When I did make the decision, I went for it all the way. I also knew I wanted to learn as much as possible. I spent my time in LA learning how to direct, shoot, light, capture sound, basically anything I could learn about the process – writing and producing – the whole works. From there, I took the risk of creating “Egress,” as the first independent project on my own. Since then its been full steam ahead.
Did you use any visual references during preproduction? What was that process like? What did you choose from?
I spent a lot of time checking out Manhattan. Places I frequented, I would spend extra time walking through to see what I could find. From there, we also did research at the NY offices for locations. That process taught me how important location scouting is. Knowing that each building is documented with contacts and price points really educated me to the process. We also worked with the Bowery Mission to understand the plight of being homeless and the difficulties that lay with each person and even staying at a shelter.
Currently, there is a sort of awakening in the Caribbean to filmmaking as a form of artistic expression … you are a part of this “new wave”… can you share with us your thoughts on what is currently happening and where you see this energy leading filmmakers?
As a filmmaker, I am excited at what I see on the horizon for Caribbean filmmaking. When I moved to LA in 2007, there was hardly anything going on in terms of making films in the Caribbean. A few persons had been making a push, like Mahmood Patel, and others, but it was still difficult. Since 2011, however, I’ve noticed quite a few persons in several islands starting to make films. I think this “new wave” is essential to the future of films in the region. This is all part of the pioneering phase. From what I can see, in the next 10 years we should be seeing a constant flow of Caribbean films in abundance and finally be able to tell our stories for our future generations.
Do you think there is a “Caribbean film aesthetic” being created as more and more films are being made? If so, can you describe what you’re seeing as that aesthetic?
And then some completely random questions: What is your fav film (or 2 or 3) all time? What did you enjoy about it the most?
I would love to include Usual Suspects in this list but then I’d go on forever about the master Kevin Spacey and his uncanny ability to pull of that character.
What is your fav Caribbean film? What did you enjoy about it the most?