This week interview filmmaker Bruce Wayne Gillies who is using crowd funding to underwrite the production of “Rude Boy” a Jamaican motion picture. Rude Boy is the coming-of-age story of Winston Brown who navigates the shanty town gangs, recording studios and government yards. Winston pioneers ska music into reggae celebrating his Rastafarian transformation and reaching rock star status.
How did the idea come about to do a film on Rude Boy?
RB: A few years back I was approached by the Jamaican group THE HEPTONES about writing a story about their struggle, reggae music and their oppressive experience growing up in Trench Town, Jamaica. Trench Town was a garbage dump before the government built public housing on the land – it is a portion of West Kingston – also known as Kingston 12 where many of the reggae artists grew up. In the early ’60’s police oppression and the British Commonwealth combined to keep the voice and music of a new generation from being heard. The music was a mixture of native mento and U.S. rhythm & blues from New Orleans and Miami drifting in late at night on transistor radios. This was the sixties – a lot was changing around the world and Jamaica mirrored this re-awakening by delivering revolutionary music, the spiritual reggae sound upon the world stage. These were mere kids – young teens navigating RUDE BOY battles and limited studio time to produce profound rebel music. I did much R&D and realized many groups followed the same path in Trench Town and composited all the characters – Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert, Barry Llewelyn, Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan, Dennis Brown, Don Drummond – into our lead Winston Brown. Another composite character is the Rastafarian wherein the Rasta drum beat plays a critical role in the sound and therefore affords the luxury of exploring this cultural phenomenon. The Rastafarians God, their Jah – H.I.M. Haile Sallasie I 1966 visit is depicted in the film – a second coming of Christ to the believers. The Heptones wanted their story that’s never been heard to be told – and I certainly agree with them given that it’s a natural Hero’s Journey. Having had the script written prior to screening the Oscar© nominated film CITY OF GOD I was excited at how closely it resembled RUDE BOY back drop. It’s powerful, and the progression of the music from ska to rock steady to reggae even follows a natural three-act structure. The sub-text of The Heptones’ motivation is ‘maximum respect’ for creating a music sound and beat that is basically the back-bone for modern day hip-hop & rap music. If you think about listening to 60’s rock and roll – it’s dated – but ska and rock steady and
Tell us about the film?
RB: This story has never been heard or told or seen. You sort of know Jim Morrison or Elvis all basically self-destructive – or – The Beatles & Motown sound. RUDE BOY rises above the cliché’ and pomp and circumstance and delivers a simple story about a complicated character facing true-to-life insurmountable hardships is triumphant. A spiritual – coming-of-age & a rites-of-passage dramatic musical epic – all-in-one. Not only has this story never been told but this music too has never been heard – it was banned from the radio in Jamaica. Plus, it wasn’t really played all that much once it was allowed – to hear it you had to go to the dancehalls – the ‘jump-ups’ . The Sound System dances in West Kingston ghettos was the place to be, a mountain of speakers blasting over-modulated music for dancers and RUDE BOYS! Ska music first broke in the UK in 1964 providing a much larger and diverse fan base in the European market and even finding it’s way to the South Pacific. The music wasn’t heard in the United States at all until finally reggae migrated onto America’s shore in late 1972 early ‘73 from Bob Marley’s Catch’a Fire LP. This was the first time reggae music was heard on the U.S. mainland and it caught fire with and remains revolutionary and associated with disenfranchised. RUDE BOY will most certainly increase general knowledge of this legendary story thereby finally affording MAXIMUM RESPECT to this spiritual music across all classes! A general appreciation of the music you hear in the malls. Perhaps, even lending a seismic shift in modern-music based on having modern-day recording stars re-record the soundtrack as a bonus soundtrack option. Not to mention, it’s an event movie – each time it premieres or shows in a festival – there will most certainly be Reggae Concert that follows with the original artists singing their own song from the soundtrack – just maybe – soon come.
When can we see the release of the film?
RB: This project has not been produced – it is in a funding development stage at present seeking support and like from a fan base.
Are you Jamaican? What is your connection to Jamaica?
RB: No, it is just by happenstance – but I gravitate towards great stories – and this is the greatest story never told! The Heptones are my main connection and this story, of course.
What is one of the main messages you wanted the film to convey ?
RB:Triumph-of-the-Spirit – a musical revolution that spread the world over – desrves maximum respect.
Tell us about the challenges of funding the film? How can crowd funding help?
RB: The hardest part about funding this story is the realization that there’s a very good chance it may never see the light of day based on the cold shoulder Hollywood and UK funding sources and studio and independents have afforded. I see this as a brilliant no brainier but apparently I am the only one. I do ask your readers and followers and subscribers and fans perhaps embrace the project and promote it through their personal friends and family and so on. In the near future we plan to launch a crowd funding campaign that can perhaps solve our financial shortfall. I think crowd funding is simply brilliant. It’s a massive market correction that benefits both the audience member, who’s already pre-disposed to celebrate and appreciate a project, and the filmmaker desperate to fund their project. It’s a pre-sale to the consumer instead of the foreign sales distributor that you can then bank – crowd funding eliminates that middle man and is fairly fascinating in that respect. For instance, if a TV show can’t afford the $2M an episode budget based on advertising sales even though they have 4M fans that want the show saved tell your fans. 4M fans crowd fund $.50 per episode and their show will continue and you bank the advertising sales – fascinating! A pre-purchase – it’s akin to ordering a car at a dealership – you go in you tell them what color you want and a couple weeks later – it arrives. In this case it’s a couple more months, but the pre-purchase amount is considerably less than a car down payment – so you get the point. Waiting for a film executive or sales agent to cross collateralize your cast against pre-sales or debt financing based on budget and return-on-investment you can die a slow, excruciating indie film producer death. With Crowd sourced film financing the filmmaker goes directly to the base and it’s do-or-die and in a timely fashion – you get your answer. A positive by-product is the story concept is king rather than the cast member or director – we should filter out the clunkers and only fund the classics. With the global reach of the web – social media empowers your project to reach farther than ever before – limitless reach into every corner of the world. Every time I have shot overseas – I always find the local watering hole blasting reggae music – it’s inevitable. The trial & error period of how crowd funding can work continues right now for us and we see the model developing in phases of funding in order to reach a high-dollar goal. That is, over the course of the production there can be several phases of crowd funding campaigns that will eventually deliver a completed and professional project. For instance – phase one get’s a trailer shot & cut and some cast on board while phase two can deliver the crew and pre-production process and perhaps phase three is principal photography and so on. Whereby, all phases will derive benefit from a larger, third-party fan-base grown and fostered over the course of physically beginning the production process. Have these individual crowd funding phases and by including these crowd funding fans directly in the production process a mutual benefit is realized for exposure and complete co-mingling of ideas and expectations. A harbinger for direct distribution model is not far off too based on the current rapid acceleration of web speeds and host sites. Essentially your own movie channel – YouTube and others like it already provide this avenue right now. There could not be a more suitable option for crowd sourcing than RUDE BOY. RUDE BOY is a project that already has a demonstrative built in fan base for reggae music – or rock steady or ska – it’s a perfect example. Case-in- point as RUDE BOY holds the ‘most popular’ spot on film funds for now – its ability to attract these international reggae and indie film fans is pretty remarkable – and deserved of Maximum Respect!
What movie is on replay on your DVD?
RB: CITY OF GOD
Any advice for upcoming filmmakers?
RB: Get used to being told no but you don’t have to accept that as the answer…