Mon | Nov 11, 2019

Wide angle of storytelling - Michelle Serieux appointed as Filmmaker in Residence at The Department of Literatures in English

Published:Sunday | February 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMAmitabh Sharma
(From left) Danielle Russel, Shanique Brown, Michelle Serieux, and Tanya Batson Savage Voice of a Woman Film Festival in Ocho Rios.

When lights come on, cameras roll, and the action unfolds learning becomes fun. Michelle Serieux, the newly appointed Filmmaker in Residence at The Department of Literatures in English, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, plans to take aspiring filmmakers and storytellers, especially women, on a journey of creative expression through moving pictures.

"I want to share some knowledge, and, hopefully, equip others who are fully committed to this long haul of a journey with some of the tools I have found useful in my own trod," Serieux said.

During her tenure, which runs from January to May 2018, Serieux will do film screenings, lectures, engage in mentorship, and do workshops in screen-writing and creative non-fiction development.

The filmmaker-in-residence programme is part of the Department of Literatures in English artiste-in-residence programme to bring creative professionals to mentor young talent on campus and to share their expertise.

"The programme initially had poets, prose writers, and more recently, filmmakers have come on board," said Michael Bucknor, head of department, Department of Literatures in English, UWI, Mona.

"As a department, we teach literature, creative writing, film studies, and popular culture (for example, reggae poetry), and we value having students interact with creative artistes through this programme," Bucknor added.




He said that the department has a range of initiatives to kindle the creative minds Reggae Talks, where contemporary artistes share their creative journey with students; Meet the Author Sessions; Creative Writing Workshops; and Artiste-in-Residence programmes.

"Students get hands-on experience from creative masters and learn how to develop their craft as well as learn about the business of art as part of the creative industries," Bucknor said.

"In the past, we have had writers such as Olive Senior and Lorna Goodison in Meet the Author Sessions; Kei Miller and Erna Brodber as Writers-in-Residence; Chronixx, Jah 9, Nomadzz, and Shaggy have done Reggae Talks; and Storm Saulter was our first filmmaker-in-residence," he said.




The Department of Literatures in English focuses on the genres, aesthetics, politics, and development of films.

"These are complimentary areas, and our film studies programme will have at least one course in film production offered by CARIMAC," Bucknor said. "Production students also have access to Literatures in English courses in film studies."

He further said that the department has several streams of interest from literature, creative writing, film studies, and popular culture. They have expanded a minor in film studies to a major, and this move, according to the head of department, is good for students to meet with people who have made that professional journey.

Bucknor describes the artiste-in-residence programme as exceptional.

During the course of the programme, the students have benefited from training, workshop opportunities for refining their work, links with other artistes and professional contacts in the industry, encouragement, and publishing opportunities.

"One former student who did workshops with Erna Brodber was a finalist in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. three others were able to gain acceptance in MFA programmes," Bucknor said, adding that some went on to publish, and students of the screenwriting workshops have gone on to participate in the Propella project.

Serieux, for her part, says that she wants to share her knowledge as an independent filmmaker of learning, innovating, experimenting, and figuring a few key things out along the way about storytelling, about access, and about levelling the playing field.

"I want to talk about finding my voice as an Afro Caribbean woman and independent creative; about navigating an ecosystem not designed with me in mind; about finding out who I am, what I stand for, and what I have to say," she said.

Storytelling has a wider dimension for a 35mm perspective.