On Screen- Making Films Trinbagonians Can Love

Pint sized filmmaking pixie Reneé Pollonais has no intention of falling into the role of local artistic elitist who makes films only an exclusive few can understand and enjoy. She believes popularity is key to the commercial success of a local film. Her piece, “Directions” now available for all to enjoy at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW6v9ztAEyU won ‘Best Short Film’ at the 2008 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival was a crowd favourite.

When asked about her recipe for audience approval she recommends,
“Pick a relatable subject and interview people who are not camera shy about expounding on it.”

Directions was a short film that captured in full comedic poignancy our authentic, “Trini” way of giving directions, as she explains,

“You know we are famous for it… ‘Look just by the mango tree,’ or ‘It right ‘round de corner,’ when actually it’s miles away. I like our people a lot. Trinidadians have a fabulous way of expressing themselves and I thought what better way to do a film than do something natural.”

When asked about why so many local projects turn into a production nightmare and seldom deliver bona fide emotional content. Reneé says,

“I just feel like acted dramas in T&T are not particularly well done. People when they get in front of the camera tend to not be believable. We tend to over-act and over-demonstrate and I was fortunate in that everyone I interviewed for Directions was a natural.”

Authenticity is a value that this young woman holds close to her chest both in front and behind a camera as she expounds,

“Our daily experiences are rife with material but sadly we do not consider ourselves or our intrinsic cultural interactions important or entertaining enough to explore. What I want more than anything; to make something relatable. I want to make sure of that in whatever I do. I want people to love it here!”

Reneé believes it makes sense to use what is real rather than try to imitate what Americans and Europeans do. Reneé optimistically says,

“If we just be ourselves and film it well and it will sell. I think the time is right too because although Hollywood is Hollywood, there is a little more focus on independent features and foreign films. So this is a good time to get into this and I have always had it in me. I want to be one of the first here to break through!”

Reneé is full of praise for the BA in Film Programme at the University of The West Indies and looks forward for expansion of the curriculum to include more film direction and cinematography. Till then this former CCN graphic artist and editor proactively seeks out opportunities to get her hands on a camera any chance she gets. She also takes full advantage of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company’s many workshops and seminars and hopes the TTFC is given the autonomy to really go the distance for filmmakers this year,

“I think the TTFC are doing all they can right about now with whatever funding they are getting, but it is really up to the business community to put that funding behind the projects,”

The excellent collaboration of the private sector with the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company to pull off a local film festival three years in a row is also something she finds heartening.

“I was so surprised that a lot of people actually did go. There were a lot of people who were interested in seeing what Trinidad and Tobago had to offer and I was happily surprised that a lot of locals went.”

Reneé will once again be participating in the T&T Film Festival this year and hopes to do a short dramatic piece. If she does, she will be leaving the scriptwriting, casting and art direction up to those she considers the experts among her student peers. She knows her strength is what she playfully calls, “Being God on set,” a role that is a lot less glamorous than it sounds. As for the future, Reneé unabashedly proclaims,

“Acadamey Awards man!”

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