J’can director wants to ‘change the game’ with short film about Nanny of the Maroons

Director Saeed Thomas (right) Co-Director Joshua Paul (centre), and Camera Assistant Delroy Johnson (left), on set of Black Girl in the Ring (Photo:Dane Nelson)

Saeed Thomas is hoping to put Jamaicans on the screen like never before with ‘Black Girl in the Ring‘, a short film revolving around the life of National Heroine Nanny of the Maroons. The project, shot in August, is currently in post-production.

“I want this project to change the game in Jamaican cinema,” Thomas told Buzz. “I want it to show the international marketplace that we do have talent, and we can create the content. I especially want to convince our people that tend to look abroad before they look to Jamaica for this kind of talent and content,” he added.

Thomas, who is also President of the Jamaica Film And Television Association [JAFTA] board, is determined to prove to the international market that while cinema remains underdeveloped within the creative spaces in Jamaica, Jamaicans do in fact need, want to see themselves represented on the screen.

Creatively retelling history

It is Thomas’ dream to see more funding become available for these kinds of projects as opposed to the “run-of-the-mill content” that has represented Jamaican culture across the globe; some of it not always being the most positive.

Thomas says creating a film around a historic figure like Nanny was significant for a number of reasons.

“Doing a film like this is important for various reasons. For one, we don’t have a strong filmmaking culture in Jamaica, and I think that we need more stories, and stories showing ourselves, retelling our history in creative ways so generations coming up can tap into these stories and drive creativity as well,” he said. “Creativity is a big part of our culture however I feel like we don’t capitalise on it as we should. And visualising things is always a means to do that.”

Thomas, co-directs alongside Joshua Paul and says the team is pulling out all the stops with top-of-the-line equipment to make this film a creative and critical success.

Top-of-the-line equipment was used in the making of the film (Photo: Dane Nelson)

Aesthetically, they are looking to capture the feel and essence of the period to a tee.

“It’s a piece set in the 18th century so it needs to feel like the time. Production design plays a big part in that. Selecting the right locations, and props to make scenes authentic,” said Thomas.

According to Thomas, the next step in revolutionizing Jamaican cinema is to present the final product at international film festivals.