Reel life makes dreams come true
What is common between cinema and self-esteem? It might seem to be a convoluted question, but in the case of Camelee Gaynor and Devon Flynn, it was the opportunity accorded to them, which, they say, has transformed their lives for the better.
Gaynor and Flynn say they were seeking some purpose in life and to hone their social skills, hoping that one door would open, which would give them a chance to prove themselves.
Even with five Caribbean Examination Council subjects, Gaynor was not able to make any headway with her dreams, or to find any opportunity for a career choice.
"I am an aspiring film maker with a dream. I did not know where to begin and was on the verge of giving up," said Gaynor.
The 19-year-old's life took a turn for the better when she decided to visit Jampro after watching a film festival programme on television.
She was introduced to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Community Film Project by senior consulting officer at Jampro, Kelli-Dawn Hamilton.
"I contacted the project office and applied," she said. "I was lucky enough to get accepted in no time."
For 23-year-old Flynn, the opportunity to be a film-maker was a godsend.
"I first heard of UWI Community Film Project through Peace Management Initiative (PMI), which is supported by Red Stripe. I said to myself, it was a gift sent by God," he said.
Flynn's dream, he said, was to experience tertiary education in some form. He did not have the resources to follow his dreams, but, he said, being a part of the community film project, gave him the opportunity to be at the UWI to pursue a diploma.
"The day I got selected was one of the happiest moments of my life," he said. "It was a dream come true.
"All of my family members were proud of me, which made me even more motivated."
It was not about learning cinema techniques alone. The initial days, according to both, were days of apprehension, fighting inhibitions, and expressing themselves effectively.
"In the early stages, we were to get acquainted with each other," said Gaynor. "I was a bit self-reserved at first, but that opportunity helped me to open up."
The programme, according to Gaynor and Flynn, went beyond teaching them the cinematography techniques.
"This programme has made a powerful impact on all of us," said Flynn. "Along with gaining the knowledge of screenwriting, directing, cinematography, acting for camera and video editing, we learnt work ethics - being focused, punctual, prompt, working as team."
For him, the most important lesson was to learn how to follow instructions. Gaynor, on the other hand, takes back a vision to be more creative and open to the film industry.
"The project is focused on helping to build communities," said Professor Ian Boxill, Carlton Alexander Professor of Management Studies and director of the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.
"Regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, participants from underserved communities have been able to accept and transcend their differences as they work towards a common goal in a group setting," Boxill said.
Converging from diverse backgrounds, Gaynor and Flynn forged a collaboration to produce 'Say Yes' for the 2016 edition of the GATFFEST. Gaynor is the director and Devon is the editor of this feature.
Having been equipped with skill sets, these two youngsters are beginning to see their dreams turn to reality.
"I remember as a little girl I use to dream of becoming a film-maker," Gaynor said. "God has brought me so far and He continues to bless me by using this project as a portal to my success."