Horace Wilson Does Film The Write Way
It is a very big deal that Horace Wilson’s film, HappySAD, an ensemble dramatic story of mother/daughter abandonment and ultimately redemption, was filmed on location in Trinidad and Tobago. For when filmmakers make movies on our shores, they gift our indigenous film industry with skill development, employment and aid the economy of our country. That is why the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) was delighted to award Horace, a 15% rebate as part of their incentive programme. And what a film! HappySAD according to Horace,
“...has themes that are very universal; struggle, compromise, redemption within a family. It debuted at the Pan African Film festival which is like the biggest film festival for films within the African Diaspora. They had over 2500 entries from over 42 countries and they choose 140 entries of which ours was one and then the top ten and we were among the ten and they say we came second and some said it was the best film at the festival.”
So what made the international audience sit up and pay attention to what Horace playfully calls an “ultra low budget” film”? He explains,
“I’ve been in the California movie industry for 19 years and everybody recognizes you have to have a good script. Although some think you just need a big star and a big budget but then again, you get US $100 Million films that flop and investors lose big bucks. Lots of money is not what is needed. Just recently at Cannes a film debuted that was made for just US $70 dollars. To do an independent film it has to be the story. That is where it has to start.”
Horace knows what he is talking about. He is a top notch scriptwriter and graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute in Los Angeles where luminaries like Charlton Heston and Steven Spielberg, served on the Board of Directors. For those who need a little more jogging of their memory, Horace Wilson is the writer of two groundbreaking local series in Trinidad and Tobago, No Boundaries and Turn of The Tide. How many of us were glued to the television screen in the 1980s because of the power of a good story?
Writers who become film producers approach filmmaking with a more nurturing approach after all it is their characters, their “babies” being birthed. This tends to attract dedicated midwives at a moderate price. Horace reveals,
“I got a very capable Emmy-nominated director, a woman called Dianah Wynter, holder of a Masters in Direction from AFI, our alma mater. She previously did episodes of Sister Sister, Moehsa, Showtime’s Soul Food, The Parkers, as well as movies- for-television like Intimate Betrayal (BET) and Daddy's Girl. We got an actor named Bill Cobbs, he was in Night at The Museum and The Bodyguard. I think it was quite an amazing pool of local talent. There was a girl called Angel Ross, it was her first time and she did a fantastic job of it. Our Director of Photography was John Simmons and he has shot over 30 films and the only reason he agreed to shoot this film was because he liked the script. His agent thought he was crazy and told him, ‘Why are you going to go down to the Caribbean to shoot this film when you can just stay right here in LA and work two days on a commercial and make loads more money?’”
The same applies to the crew, Horace shares,
“The whole movie was shot in 15 days and I really have to commend the crew for their hard work. I would really like to work with those actors again and those crew again. I was pleased with what we were able to achieve with a very small budget.”
Horace knows about the ups and downs of competing with writers in Hollywood.
“I actually wrote and produced a film Sinners Need Company which aired on Lifetime and in several countries in Europe. It starred Gail O'Grady (star of NYPD Blue and American Dreams) and Jennifer Morrison, the female lead in the hit series House. It was edited by Richard Halsey who won an Academy Award for editing Rocky.”
Right now, Horace wants to see more in-depth understanding of the film industry on the local front and more importantly, he wants filmmakers to become as efficient as they are creative. He shares,
“Our film placed second next to a film with a budget of around ten million US, big name actors and I think the BBC was one of the studios involved. But in the big marketplace, the budgets do not matter, it is the quality of the end product and how compelling the story is.”