The ‘Storm’ next time

The ‘Storm’ next time

Written by Editor

Topics: Film & Theatre

It’s been over 15 months since Storm Saulter debuted his highly acclaimed feature film “Better Mus’ Come” in Jamaican cinemas in October 2010, and during this period the movie has earned several plaudits as it continues to gather impressive momentum outside of Jamaica’s shores. The film has established Storm as one of the bright young talents on the vanguard of a new age in Jamaica’s film industry, and has positioned him for bigger and greater things in the future.

“I have been working very hard to get to this point where people know that I am serious about what I am doing and [recognise my work] as a film maker. They know I am serious and now people are seeking me out and are interested in what I have to do,” Storm told Pree Jamaica.

"Better Mus' Come" director, writer and cinematographer Storm Saulter shooting a scene with actress Nicole "Sky" Grey.

“Having gotten ‘Better Mus’ Come’ to the point where it can be shown to an audience was something major for me as a creative person, because I put a lot of energy into it. I also feel like I have taken another step creatively and everything that I’ve done in the film, right or wrong, I’ve learnt from it and I am a better artist at this point in time.”

The young auteur indicated that while he has learnt many key lessons about the art of filmmaking from the “Better Mus’ Come” experience, the most critical thing that he has gleaned from the process is the importance of having a solid, trustworthy and united team, as well as a clear understanding of how a successful project should be distributed once it is completed.

Tributes and Awards
Storm has received many positive reviews and compliments on the film, which tells the story of the infamous Green Bay Massacre against the backdrop of the politically turbulent turf wars of 1970s Kingston, Jamaica. However, one compliment in particular from Beverly Anderson Manley, the ex-wife of former Prime Minister Michael Manley (who was in power during the era in which the film is set), resonated with him.

She saw the film when it was brought back to local cinemas for a special Christmas showing in December 2010, and subsequently sent Storm a letter in which she recounted her memories from the period and discussed the impact of the film.

“She said pretty much that I am doing what I need to do in my generation with this film and the film is doing what it needs to do to move our story forward and to kind of heal the things that were broken in that time. So from someone who was at the apex of power in the time that the film was based, for them to feel like this film was a good thing and wasn’t a misrepresentation…I think, for me, that was the highest compliment,” stated Storm.

In terms of awards, “Better Mus’ Come” has won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at both the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and the highly regarded Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF). Storm was also the recipient of the 2011 Gleaner Honour Award in Entertainment, along with Mark Hart (“RiseUp”) and Christopher Browne (“Ghett’A Life”), for their roles in the development of the local motion-picture industry.

From left: "Better Mus' Come" actress Nicole "Sky" Grey, director Storm Saulter and Leslie Vanderpool, founder and executive director of the Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF).

Storm Saulter (2nd left), stands with American actress Zoe Kravitz (left) and Better Mus’ Come cast members Nicole ‘Sky’ Grey (2nd right) and Roger Guenveur Smith (right) at the 2011 Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF).

Storm Saulter (left) accepts the Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Feature Film from Brian Collins (right), VP and General Manager of Flow Trinidad at the 2011 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.

Canadian & US Premieres
On February 4, “Better Mus’ Come” is scheduled to have its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox as part of the screening series entitled Music, Magic, Clash: New Voices in the African Diaspora.

The film has also just been accepted to the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, which is a respected industry event that celebrates films of the African Diaspora. The festival is scheduled to take place from February 9 to 20.

“It’s a festival that I went to when I was at film school in LA and I’ve always thought that I’d like to one day show a film there, so it’s amazing that we’ve been accepted and it looks like that will be our US premiere,” Storm revealed.

Production photo from "Better Mus' Come"

What’s Next?
As it relates to projects and activities this year, the biggest event on Storm’s horizon is the development and production of the feature film on the fabled White Witch of Rose Hall project with Mark Kenny of MJK Productions.

“It is in development and our plan is to go into production later this year, with a view to completing the film in 2013. We are in talks with financiers…development is an interesting thing. You’re refining elements of the story, refining a lot of key elements that you want to get completely right before you take the next step,” explained Storm.

Rose Hall Great House, the legendary home of the White Witch of Rose Hall, Annie Palmer.

“The White Witch project is an international story…the lead of the film or one of the main leads is very likely not even going to be Jamaican. It’s an international film that we’re going for, so that’s going ahead nicely. I can’t go into major details of the story itself. It’s a strong film, it’s a thriller and it’s not going to be exactly what people expect.”

Storm indicated that his slate for 2012 also includes taking the New Caribbean Cinema movement, of which he is an essential part, to the next level. The New Caribbean Cinema short film “Coast”, directed by Storm’s brother Nile Saulter, won the Best Cinematography award at London’s Portobello Film Festival last year. Also on Storm’s agenda is a small, experimental project based on a script that he has recently written. He disclosed that the entire story takes place in a day and is more about “the human condition in a simple way that doesn’t require gunshots and explosions”.

Production photo from the New Caribbean Cinema short film "Coast", directed by Nile Saulter.

On the set of the short film "Coast".

With all the ongoing projects and prospects in waiting, 2012 is clearly going to be a busy year for the talented and ambitious filmmaker. Jamaica and the rest of the world are best advised to brace for the ‘Storm’ next time.

“This year is going to be a big year. I’m just getting to the stage where I wanted to be for very long time. I don’t have to ‘over talk’ my work…my work can speak for itself. I had a lot of years trying to prove to people that I can do some of these things. Now I can do them because people believe in me.”

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