STORM SAULTER and EMIEL MARTENS
FRAMING STORM SAULTER'S WORK
In January 2015 Storm Saulter was appointed as Filmmaker in Residence at the Department of Literatures in English, University of the West Indies (UWI). During his tenure, which lasted until May, the Jamaican filmmaker contributed to the Department’s Film Studies programme by teaching the course, Creative Writing: Screen/Stage, and offering guidance to students interested in the world of filmmaking.
“I wasn't sure what to expect teaching this class but very early I realised that there was a room full of great storytellers with really strong and deep ideas and who were passionate about film. We ran it like a script development workshop and each student had their own idea to develop into a feature film. Young Jamaicans are way more exposed to all kinds of media and are influenced as much by Japanese anime as they are by Hollywood studio films. Thankfully they are trying to break-out of the Hollywood storytelling archetypes and develop a new aesthetic. That is what I encouraged and that is what the students set out to achieve, and the results were really surprising and powerful. I definitely want to see some of those stories on the screen. I never went to a classic university myself so working with students that age was a new and energizing experience for me as well.”
Besides teaching, Storm also participated in the annual ‘March is Movie Month at Mona’ series hosted by the Department. He named his talk, which was supported by different excerpts of his work, ‘Towards a New Caribbean Cinema’, after the title of this interview.
“In my talk I really tried to hammer home the importance of developing our own aesthetic. In looking at the things that make the Caribbean unique, our landscape, the physicality of our people, the mixed up languages and sounds, the richness of colours in our world. Not to shy away from those things but to intentionally weave them into the fabric and texture of our filmmaking. To create a filmmaking language that transcends any one film. This was also the aim of a short film workshop I ran in the summer months. This workshop consisted of four intensive weeks where participants came with ideas and left with a fully developed script that was ready to be produced.”
Following the residency, Storm was selected to take part in the inaugural Caribbean Film Mart at the tenth edition of the Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival. Co-financed by the ACP Cultures+ Programme, funded by the European Union (European Development Fund) and implemented by the APC Group of States, “the primary goal of the Caribbean Film Mart is to foster direct relationships between the Caribbean and the international film industry, by stimulating and creating viable cinematic co-productions” (ttfilmfestival.com). In total fifteen filmmakers were selected to pitch their projects (in development or pre-production) to international film producers, commissioners, sales agents and funds—and one of them was Storm with his fiction film project, Spinter.
“This was one of the most helpful development programs I’ve participated in because of its focus on Caribbean films specifically and because of the quality of industry professionals brought in to meet with us about our projects. The collection of filmmakers there was a great representation of the new wave of Caribbean cinema and all projects involved in the mart moved forward in some way. This was the unanimous feeling of the filmmakers. I developed new partnerships for Sprinter and I know the seeds planted there will bear fruit.”
STORM SAULTER PORTFOLIO
Photograph of Storm Saulter by YardEdge founder Karin Wilson Edmonds.
Still from Storm’s early work Waterboot, a 2003 video art piece that was part of the exhibition ‘Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art’ at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. “I regularly returned home and just documented everything with my digital camera, little random Jamaican things, which I then edited in a certain way.”
Poster of the third and last edition of the Flashpoint Film Festival in 2008 in Port Royal. “I believe Flashpoint kicked a lot of people on the island in the butt in terms of realizing that this is what we need to do to get the film industry going.”
Official film poster of Storm’s first feature film Better Mus’ Come (2011) featuring Sheldon Shepherd and Sky Nicole Grey. “I really wanted to make a film about the seventies. I had always been fascinated with the Cold War and the international geopolitics at the time.”
Commissioned film poster of Better Mus’ Come made by Jamaican artist and graphic designer Leasho Johnson. “It became clear that, for me, the ultimate story of the Cold War era was about the poor people who were the sufferers, so the story had to represent them.”
Film still from Better Mus’ Come featuring main actor Sheldon Shepherd. “The Green Bay Massacre became the endpoint of my story which I then built backwards – into a journey of one character in particular.”
Film still from Better Mus’ Come featuring Everaldo Cleary (front), Sheldon Shepherd (middle), and Ricardo Orgil (back). “We pretty much auditioned anyone in the community who was interested. This is how we found Ricardo Orgil, who plays Flames.”
Storm together with Michelle Serieux, co-founder of New Caribbean Cinema, at the British Film Institute in London (photo by freelance photographer Frederique Rapier). “Michelle and I decided to join forces to create opportunities for young filmmakers to produce work that could put them on the map.”
Four members of the New Caribbean Cinema team: from left to right, Nile and Storm Saulter, Joel Burke and Michelle Serieux (photo by Jamaican photographer Marlon James). “New Caribbean Cinema became a mix of a feeling of getting work done and a method of how to get it done—a ‘by any means necessary’ approach to filmmaking.”
Film poster of Ring di Alarm (2013), the first round of films by the members of the New Caribbean Cinema team. “We all made one short film and worked together on each other’s films.”
Announcement of the screening of Ring di Alarm at the 2013 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles. “I definitely think New Caribbean Cinema is a driver for Caribbean cinema in general. I just see it.”
Film still from Watching Him Kissing Her, the Ring di Alarm film directed by Storm. “Although the Ring di Alarm films are very different from each other, I do think they have something in common and that is a slight interest in the dark side of life.”
Film still from Coast, the Ring di Alarm film directed by Nile Saulter on which Storm worked as a cinematographer and co-producer. “The Caribbean film aesthetic is still very much open, but it is definitely magical, colorful, kaleidoscopic, language-rich and musical.”
Image from Storm’s photo-shoot of the band Arcade Fire at the Trident Castle in Port Antonio, Jamaica, published in the Rolling Stone magazine (2013). “Throughout the week I am often in touch with a couple of production companies.”
Photograph by Storm of Trinidadian fashion designer Ayana Rivièra, also published in the Rolling Stonemagazine (2013). “I oversee treatments, I deliver edits, I go to meetings, I scout locations, I am in pre-production or I am actually shooting.”
Production still of Storm shooting the music video “Who Knows” by the Jamaican artists Protoje and Chronixx. “I usually have a few of these projects going on at the same time, in different stages of development.”
Photograph by Storm of Chronixx as part of a campaign for Lifted Research Group (LRG), a creative lifestyle clothing company (2014). “I do quite a bit of commercial work; that is actually what I do most of the time.”
Film still from a video piece Storm did for the Canopy Guild, a community photography, fashion, and object-design project-cum-exhibition initiated by Trinidadian artist Rodell Warner. “I feel any moment now we can make the big hit films, I definitely feel that.”
Screen shot of Storm’s homepage http://stormsaulter.com featuring a photograph by Storm of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for media technology company Soul Electronics. “I want to make the films that epitomize Caribbean cinema.”
Links | Better Mus’ Come Official Trailer | Interview with Storm and Better Mus’ Come lead actor Sheldon Shepherd | Feature on the Better Mus’ Come premiere in Philadelphia on the Lavonne Nichols Show | New Caribbean Cinema Featurette | Feature on New Caribbean Cinema on Dutch television (VPRO Cinema) | Ring di Alarm Official Trailer | ‘Who Knows’ Music Video | Storm’s Official Homepage
Copyright Storm Saulter and Emiel Martens. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License although certain works referenced herein may be separately licensed, or the author has exercised their right to fair dealing under the Canadian Copyright Act.