Five Questions with Joel Miller
Joel Miller is one of Jamaica’s fastest rising filmmakers. The young creative first started his journey into the arts well over a decade ago in the theatre when he set his mind to writing his first play. With stellar reception, Sins of the Father opened in 2012 at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts. Now switching mediums, the St Andrew-native is embracing filmmaking. For the second year in a row he has emerged as the victor at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission FiWi Short Film Competition.
Miller copped the top spot with his romantic ‘dramedy’ Blackbird. Shot in Jamaica, the seven-minute short film expounds on the Jamaican-proverb ‘Ev’bry hoe have dem tick a bush’ which in English, translates to ‘Every hoe has their thicket of bushes’. At the award ceremony for this year’s competition, held at the Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, St Andrew, The Gleaner caught up with Miller for Five Questions.
1. What is your favourite movie?
So my favourite, and the reason why I say [this] is my favourite movie is because every time it’s on TV mi watch it, every time mi pass it on streaming, mi watch it and it’s No Country for Old Men. It’s a movie by Joel and Ethan Coen, they are brothers and they adapt it, it’s a western movie, mi love westerns. Mi like the western genre, the things like the shootouts, the cat and mouse chases. And it gives you avenues fi see things like landscapes and them things deh. I love that movie, No Country for Old Men would be my favourite movie but if you ask me what my favourite comedy is that would be a different answer.
2. You have experience with both on-screen and theatre actors, which one do you think has the harder task?
Theatre. Without a doubt, theatre is more difficult. Theatre is more difficult because in film you can move around. You can create [a] heap a drama, you can go up desso, mi can go up desso, mi do whatever, yuh understand. In [theatre], you [are] limited to the spaces and you have to create drama in spaces. You have to create two hours worth of drama in a space and it is incredibly difficult. You have to create all the imagery right there suh and all the live-actioness of it and it can go all awry. Everything can mash up right when the audience dem deh deh. In a film you don’t have that, you can stop production, you can call your actress, somebody can sick and bam, bam, bam. Theatre is just so spontaneous.
3.Who are some of your film influences?
Two of my influences Joel and Ethan Coen. Those are two big directors a foreign, and them just do a Macbeth, cause mi love Macbeth. My three biggest influences William Shakespeare, Louise Bennett and Bob Marley. Most a the interview mi do mi tell dem seh Bob Marley a mi creative father, and Louis Bennett a mi creative mother and now I guess Shakespeare a mi great great grand father out desso. So these are my three influences and mi like dem fi different reasons. Mi like Shakespeare fi him dialogue skill and complex imagery. Mi like Bob Marley because him do special things and it just revolutionary and mi like Louise Bennett because she just great and brave and know how fi talk in a we own language that’s so colourful and dem inspire mi on a bigga level.
4. What is your favourite Jamaican film?
If you ask me my favourite Jamaican movie, mi ago tell you say it is The Harder They Come because it is modelled after a western. It’s like a Jamaican kind of western with music in it.”
5. You have experience in creating media for a variety of genres, which do you think you are best at and which is your favourite?
Mi love horror from dem time deh. Mi always love do horror and people say mi do horror the best. Like mi know how fi make things at the base of your spine tingle and mi woulda wish fi do a horror but then again, it’s money. We need support, we have to get support.