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Shot between the beautiful parish of Portland and the cityscape of Kingston, Savannah is a 23-minute pilot that explores the dynamics of relationships, long-distance love and economic instability, all very common things in the lives of many young people today. Jamaica is moving towards creating a model that we hope will encourage investors and audiences to play an active role in the development of the film industry in a way that will enable us to feed the Jamaican Diaspora and the world with stories that reflect the honesty and diversity of the Jamaican experience.
The main character Savannah, (Donisha Prendergast), represents a middle-class existence, comfortable, stable, predictable life in the hills of Port Antonio, Portland. As an only child, she lives a sheltered life.
Georgie, (Joel Young Sang), on the other hand, didn’t have such a privileged childhood. He moved to the Kingston shortly after graduation and has found some level of success with a construction firm in the city, which comes with its own vices. His cousin Jerry, (zBek) a bully when they were children, graduated high school at the same time as Georgie, but suffers from depression and anxiety and tries to balance life by driving a route taxi from Portland to Kingston to make a living.
Writer Donisha Prendergast explains, “We wanted to tell a simple story about young people exploring ideas of love, independence and life outside of what they know. In Jamaica, sometimes that means dealing with situations that arise as a ripple effect of an unstable economy. Being aware of the times we are living in is key to survival.” Donisha first came into the industry as an actress over a decade ago, starring in Jambiz theater productions like Puppy Love and Cindy-Relisha & the DJ Prince, while appearing in national modelling campaigns and commercials on local television and radio. After pursuing Acting studies at Howard University in the States and travels to Africa with her grandmother, she shifted focus to behind the lens with music videos and documentaries. More recently she has occupied the stage as an activist for RasTafari rights to their heritage land Pinnacle, and travelling the world to research and platform her documentary film, RasTa, A Soul’s Journey, a Canadian production by Jamaican born executive producer Patricia Scarlett. “Deciding to act again, that’s a part of the healing… of the nation.”
Donisha expresses more, “ As a creative being, I don’t want to feel limited to any expression of my art. We have six more scripts already prepared for this series. I’m excited to continue to hone my Art in every way possible. Writing, acting, speaking, directing, singing, dancing, activating…the Mission hasn’t changed, we just continue to evolve to play a greater role in preserving humanity.”
After being commissioned to direct 5 made for television movies for MNET (Nairobi, Kenya) circa 2014, and doing music videos for Sean Paul, Damian Marley and Protoje, television shows like Mission Catwalk and NCB Capital Quest, Director Kush Asher (Mykal Cushnie) is ready to surf into the world of network drama series. “Imagine being able to watch a Jamaican movie, every Sunday evening, and follow each character’s journey as their story unfolds, that’s what I want to do” Kush remarks. Savannah is his first independently produced narrative short film, which he hopes to be a pilot for a seven-part series. “Telling a love story with Portland as the backdrop isn’t new. In fact, it hasn’t been done enough. “It’s a kind of beauty only poets could write about and appreciate. We were intentional in crafting a story with a female lead because I believe the voice of the Jamaican woman is yet to really be platformed on film in a consistently positive and beautiful way.” Actors Joel Young Sang and the actor known as zBek, both new faces to the screen, bring great depth to their characters and questions which will be explored in future episodes. Also with performances from John & Deanna McFarlane, and Rachel Allen. Special Thanks to our amazing crew, producer Stacy-Ann Sutherland and executive producer Peter Prendergast for taking a chance.
Savannah’s first screening (limited) took place November 5th, 2017 at The Pallet, a new swanky restaurant at 5A North Ave off Constant Spring Road. The pilot episode is now available to Film industries everywhere are witnessing a rise in narratives designed to instigate some level of social commentary while providing entertainment. In Nigeria, the film industry is the second largest employer outside of the government. Direct Shoot Edit (D.S.E) Jamaica is intent on being a part of those same conversations locally. We shot the film in 3 days with a crew of 23, including interns whom we recruited on location in the Breast Work community where the story is staged. Film builds come-unity, one of D.S.E.Jamaica’s key philosophies.
The challenge facing the Jamaican film industry today is not a lack of talent, skill, equipment, stories or locations, but rather a lack of funding and a lack of faith in what could potentially be a fruitful industry with a variety of benefits for local development. If Banks or Credit Unions, for instance, could understand and equate the value of creative capital into dollars then that could enable local production in a real way. Still, it makes no sense we create films and have no support mechanism to get it out there to audiences on local platforms.
IRIE Magazine invites you to donate to D.S.E. Jamaica so that they can continue to create more episodes to complete a full season of Savannah. By clicking on the DONATE button below, you will be taken to D.S.E. Jamaica’s website to donate directly to the Savannah Series (donate button at bottom of page). Give thanks!DONATE
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Official Website: DSEJamaica.com