Film-making infuses positive change in Greater August Town
Celluloid, it is where dreams unfold, become realities, invoke supernatural phenomenon, take a flight to the intergalactic space, invoke myriad emotions, and critically possess the power to invoke transformation.
The directives of 'Light, Camera, Action' are sowing seeds of community makeover in Greater August Town. A labour of love, driven by youth in the community, is translating life experiences into stories.
Ricardo Williams is one such agent of change who wears several hats - a football coach, community and social worker, and a recording artiste, among a number of other things.
"I am an optimistic individual, and a very hard-working person in whom the Lord has embedded a lot of love for the youth," he said. "I strongly believe community development is the key to the betterment of Jamaica."
Williams says he wants to focus on youth empowerment to bring about that change, and believes that creative industry is one formidable medium.
His involvement with GATFFEST (Greater August Town Film Festival), according to Williams, gave a direction to channel a change in the community - to shed arms and arm themselves with cameras.
"The first one I want to talk about is the impact it brought to the youth on the corner, or 'gangsters' as they are called," Williams said. "These very gangsters actually want to be a part of the film project, and they keep asking me, 'When is it going to start back again?'"
He added that film-making has given community members an opportunity to showcase their acting skills.
"Isn't that great?" he asked.
"The fact of the matter is this; the community really wants to be involved in film-making."
"The spirit of GATFFEST is one of social and community upliftment, cooperation and human development," said Professor Ian Boxill, professor of management studies and director of Centre for Tourism and Policy Research. "We do not accept films that ridicule or demean people, incite hatred towards individual or groups, or promote violence."
Added Boxill: "Our films should advance humanity rather than retard."
Williams' journey through the process has been exhilarating, finding a purpose and being among respected artistes.
"It was a wonderful experience to be in a class with Sizzla Kalonji," he said. "The classes were very stimulating, learnt how to write movie scripts, act, direct, shoot and edit movies."
SHORT FILM WELL RECEIVED
Upon completion of his training, Williams directed and produced a short film which was showcased in the festival.
"Smiles were all over the place," he said.
Williams said through his films, he wants to spread the message of love and highlight social issues - eradication of teenage pregnancy, ending of gang wars, and bring about unity in communities.
"That's just to name a few," he said. "The messages are abundant, and they are truly inspired by God, and hard work is inevitable."
According to Williams, there is no dearth of goodness or talent. All they need is an opportunity and a chance.
"My community can benefit from opportunities to act in films, join the film courses, to market and sell the community," he said. "The benefits are endless."
He is optimistic that through projects like GATFFEST, August Town can transform itself as a hub of creativity.
"In the future, we can produce quality films, have quality musicians, quality recording artistes, quality scriptwriters, and even quality sports persons," he said. "The community of August Town is gonna be known for greatness."