Interviews

A Conversation with Jamaican Vivienne Chance the executive producer of the film the "Heart of the Summer"

Written by Denise Lee

This week we interview Vivienne Chance the executive producer of the film the “Heart of the Summer”. The movie is set to be released for screening on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 8pm at the South Florida Film Festival. Vivienne has been working in the film industry since 2003 along with Director and Cinematographer Adrian Allen. Together they own Steadyimage Film and Video Productions. Some of her projects include : Writing and producing the animated cartoon series, Ananse The Spider, being a part of the production team and the official voice of the annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, Producing the live stream and live social media experience at the annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, Producing HBO specials for The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2011 and 2012, various music video productions, including Billy Ocean’s newest “The Question is” to mention just a few. The Heart of the Summer was made with Jamaican actors and a Jamaican production team in and around South Florida. Here is our conversation with Vivienne.

Where in Jamaica are you from?
I was born in Brown’s Town, in the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got started in film production?
My parents emigrated from Jamaica when I was just 7 1/2 years old. We moved to Los Angeles, California of all place. Boy was I glad for that! I caught the acting bug very early and did quite a bit of it in and out of High School in Los Angeles, and was even voted “Most Talented”. I attended Loyola Marymount University in West Los Angeles and studied Theatrical Arts. After studying further at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale I met my business partner, the super talented Adrian Allen, who had just graduated from the Art Institute and had just established Steadyimage Multimedia, Inc. I joined him in 2002, and realized our strong suit was video and film production so we decided to focus all our creative efforts on that side of the business.

Tell us about the film “The Heart of the Summer”?
This is a story about a young college student who is finding his way spiritually. He visits his family during a school break and meets a young lady (Naomi) who captures his heart. Naomi’s over-protective father (Paul Campbell) won’t stand for any foolishness as he knows his daughter has inherited her late mother’s heart condition and really don’t want any drama in her life. However, love has a way of finding it’s way no matter what.

Is this a Jamaican movie or a movie with Jamaicans?
This is a movie produced by Jamaicans with Jamaicans in it. I would say it is a mainstream film.

Is the movie based on a true story?
No

Has the film been screened by an audience yet?
No. This screening on August 16, 2012 will be the very first screening.

Is the movie entered in any festivals?
The South Florida Film Festival will be the first festival entered.

How will the movie be distributed?
Are you currently working on getting it in theaters?
We are currently working on several avenues for distribution. We would love to be able to have it screened in the cities where the Jamaican diaspora is strong: Jamaica, NY, Atlanta, Toronto, UK, etc.

Tell us about some of the talented actors in the film? Many of them are Jamaican…right? The most recognizable actor is Paul Campbell. The film also stars Tesh Beckham, Lex Kelly-Meade, Sophia Nicholson, Paul Hamilton (aka DP aka Dr Paul), and super model Oraine Barrett makes his acting debut as well!

As an independent film company did you fund the movie?
We used our own funds, and called on some very special friends and family members to help.

How difficult was it to film a low budget film in South Florida with no funds to block areas?
We made it happen! We chose to begin filming on Jan 2, 2009 at a time when we knew persons were on holiday break from school and from other active productions. We were blessed all the way as things just worked in a positive way for us. We didn’t need to have any streets or highways blocked for any scenes so this made it easy for us.

What was your biggest challenge making the film?
The biggest challenge making this film was funding. It took us a while to finish it up as we needed to get pick-up shots and didn’t have the money to get it done. The South Florida corporate community was not able to help in any way either as the economy was experience a serious downturn. Because we are producing the film in-house this means we are also doing all the post-production which includes editing, music scoring, marketing, etc. etc.

What you want the audiences to say after leaving the movie?
After drying their tears I would love to hear how they were moved by the story, how well the film was produced, how great the acting was and that the cinematography was “off the chain”!

How many films have you made?
This is my first feature film

What is your next project?
I am currently working on “Ananse The Spider”. This is an animation project that is very dear to me and my producing partners as we are passionate about keeping our Caribbean culture alive! We all grew up on Ananse stories and it is a shame that today most young people of Caribbean heritage have no idea of who this character is and how important these stories are in our culture. The site for that project is www.AnanseSpider.com

What advise do you have for young film makers?
Get everything in writing! No, but on a serious note, 1) surround yourselves with positive people who are looking to move up in life. 2) Keep learning all there is to know about the industry in order to make yourself more valuable. School doesn’t end at graduation….continue to learn the craft and hone your skills.

Will you be making any movies in Jamaica in the future?
Yes, this is an absolute possibility as we are contemplating producing a horror film as well as a biopic period piece!

Who are the filmmakers that you admire?
Contemporary story tellers like Joss Whedon and Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Melvin Van Peebles who opened the doors for Black directors in America.

Are you striving to be like him/her? Yes. I want to be a brilliant producer who can tell stories with humor and intellect.

What Jamaican movies are your favorites?
I really enjoyed The Lunatic because it wasn’t your typical “Jamaican movie”. My other favourite Jamaican movie is the classic “The Harder They Come”

What are your other favorite movies?
I’m a hopeless romantic. I love Pretty Woman (I’ve watched it countless times), Thief of Hearts, and all the Batman movies!

What is your motto?
Do your best today because tomorrow is not promised to any of us!

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Stew Peas and Rice!

Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Bora Bora!!

Thanks for the interview any closing thoughts for visitors to Jamaicans.com
We have the power to make the world a better place. God is Love.

About the author

Denise Lee