Putting local filmmakers in the frame
Keith Caesar believes the Island could be on the precipice of an emerging film industry if local filmmakers pull together.
Mr Caesar, host of CITV’s ‘Filmmakers’ Corner’, is currently serving as a Bermuda International Film Festival juror alongside Virgin record co-founder Nik Powell and other big names in film.
“I am pretty stoked because I didn’t see it coming,” said Mr Caesar. “Normally, I am just trying to get my show done for CITV.”
He is the associate producer of ‘The Last/First Kiss’, a short film that will screen at BIFF this year that was written by Andrew Stoneham and directed by Ashley Ashton.
Mr Caesar also wrote a short film called ‘Perfect’ while a student at Winston-Salem State in North Carolina, where he studied film.
He got his first video camera at age 13 and has been passionate about filmmaking ever since.
He has written many film scripts, but never really considered it possible that they could become actual films until he saw Lucinda Spurling’s 2009 documentary ‘The Lion and the Mouse’.
“That pushed me to think that it is possible to shoot here,” he said.
He found script writing to be a bit of a lonely enterprise here.
“When you are away in college you have many people who are interested in film, so you have that kind of community,” he said. “Here I haven’t found that kind of community. As a filmmaker you feel sort of alone sometimes, because you are creating this piece and you don’t know if you have a base to share it with. Then I started the show ‘Filmmakers Corner’ [where people] come into the studio and talk about films. This has helped me to connect with people. For example I interviewed Bermudian actor Earl Cameron. I was so nervous during that interview. I have also interviewed Bermudian actor Daren Herbert and filmmakers like Bayard Outerbridge, Lucinda Spurling and Choy Aming. These filmmakers are taking local film to a whole new level.”
Mr Caesar said he hasn’t so much been inspired by a particular filmmaker, but by Bermuda itself. He is a Bermuda history buff.
“People in Bermuda spend a lot of time renting DVDs,” he said. “Why don’t we have an industry here to promote local films? Bermuda has so much potential material. Why are we not capitalising on that? How can we bring Bermuda’s story to light? I enjoy all movies, but we do a lot of documentaries here. We don’t do enough narratives. I know I want to tell tragedies and love stories. I want to do science fiction.”
He is a big fan of independent films, and said that these days with cameras easily available to anyone, the industry has opened up.
“With a lot of discussions I have with filmmakers they say, ‘How am I going to do this? I am not going to find enough money to do this. How am I going to make it nice? I want to make it big’. I have had these thoughts myself but then I see other people who have made a film with $10,000 (as opposed to millions of dollars). People have cameras on their phones now. The digital single-lens reflex cameras out there right now are pretty inexpensive. You can just get out there and shoot a film. A lot of the independent films were shot with DSLRs. It is about us not waiting for anyone. Granted, if you want to play in the big leagues you have to get support and money, but sometimes you just get out there and make a film.
“I hope that one day we will create a system where filmmakers come together, but we also need a way of getting these films out there. In Nigeria they have an emerging film industry they call ‘Nollywood’. They are just making films and creating an industry for themselves. Can a film industry be maintained in Bermuda? I don’t know. We have a lot of things that are against us, but I think if you want it bad enough you will make it so.”
His dream is to one day go into a movie theatre and see the words: ‘screenplay written by Keith Caesar’ float across the screen.
“That is why it is an honour being in the film festival and being asked to jury it,” he said. “I feel like it is an awesome opportunity.”
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