Interviews

Interview with Jamaican Filmmaker, Toni-Ann Taylor

Written by Xavier Murphy

This week we interview Jamaican Filmmaker, Toni-Ann Taylor. She is working on her first feature film “A Way Out”. The film is about two young men, living on different sides of the track who switch lives with each other. Here is our conversation with Toni-Ann Taylor.

Where in Jamaica are you from?
I am from Portmore, St. Catherine

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got started in film production?
I am a self-starter. Back in Jamaica I was always coming up with creative ideas and making things that people would be interested in. I went to Wolmer’s High School and then went on to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Management. I love all aspects of creating and running a business.

When I wrote the screenplay for this movie I decided to go all the way and take on the role of director, producer, and editor. My hobby as a photographer has given me some experience in creating this film and I have always been interested in editing.

Tell us about the film you are making, “A Way Out”?
A WAY OUT is a feature-length drama about the lives of two young men who live with their parents. Due to an incident that left his father paralyzed, David (Othis Newton), a young Jamaican man, is the only one supporting his family. Nathan (Zachary Wuensch), the rich kid, has no responsibilities and always gets what he wants. With the help (though some may see it as a hindrance) of David’s uncle, Johnny (Dayne McDonald), David and Nathan switch lives and get a chance to see what life is like on the other side of the fence.

David is calm and focused. His goal is to get his family out of their current situation. Nathan, on the other hand, is just living his life with only himself in mind. Can you imagine what it would be like to change places? You’ll get to see in this movie.

Is this your first film?
Yes, it is.

Why did you make the film?
I am making this film because I wanted to see the concept of two people switching lives take on a dramatic twist instead of the usual comedy.

How did you choose the title?
I chose this title because both main characters are looking for a way out of their current situation… although one more obvious than the other. ‘A Way Out’ stood out.

Is this a Jamaican movie or a movie with Jamaicans?
About 50% of the cast are Jamaicans but yes, it is a Jamaican movie.

Is the movie based on a true story?
No, but many aspects of the movie are based on real life situations.

What percentage complete is the film?
The film is about 25% complete.

As an independent film company did you fund the movie so far?
The movie is currently being funded out of pocket.

How difficult was it to film a low budget film in South Florida with no funds?
We thought it would be difficult to film this movie but there are many people out there who are willing to help. Friends and some strangers have graciously offered us their homes and businesses for use in the movie since we do not have a studio. There are also a lot of talented actors in South Florida and we have attracted some of them.

Tell us about your effort to finance the rest of the film and how people can assist?
We have started a project onkickstarter.com

which is a website that acts as a funding platform for creative projects like mine. People can assist by visiting the site and donating to this project. In exchange for their donations and to show our appreciation they will receive rewards based on the amount they give.  The link:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paranoydent/a-way-out-movie-jamaican-indie-film

People can also go through the ‘A Way Out’ movie websitewww.awayoutfilm.com

  and be entered into the raffle. The prize is a 4 night stay for two in the Honeymoon suite at Villa Sonaté in Runaway Bay, Jamaica (airfare not included). They also get all the rewards mentioned.

How will the movie be distributed? Are you currently working on getting it in theaters?
We are working on getting the movie into theaters first through avenues for independent filmmakers.

Will the movie entered in any festivals?
If the movie doesn’t get into theaters then we may be entering it into film festivals for 2014.

Tell us about some of the talented actors in the film?
The lead actors are Othis Newton and Zachary Wuensch. Othis is new to acting for film but has acted on stage before.

Zachary is also in the beginning stages in his career. He has appeared in a thriller filmed in South Florida and we are glad to have him star in this movie.

Dayne McDonald, who plays Johnny, has acted in various Jamaican plays such as ‘Unda mi nose’ and ‘Room for Rent’.

Kevin Humes is one of those actors who have rubbed shoulders with some of the greats in Hollywood and we are glad to have him on board. He is a great guy and we learned a thing or two from him.

Many of the other actors have made appearances in advertisements, network tv shows and on stage, and there are some who are just getting started.

What was your biggest challenge making the film?
The biggest challenge has been scheduling. Everybody is available at different times but the actors are very dedicated and they are making every effort to get this completed.

What will be your next project once the film is completed?
I am working on some short webisodes for the new year.

What advise do you have for young film makers?
Try to get as much experience as possible! Create your own films, try new things, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly never give up… take breaks but never give up.

Will you be making any movies in Jamaica in the future?
I would love to make a movie in Jamaica.

Who are the filmmakers do you admire?
James Cameron

Are you striving to be like him/her?
Yes, of course.

What Jamaican movies are your favorites?
Rockers, Countryman, and Shottas

What are your other favorite movies?
There are so many. John Q, The Hangover, and Titanic

What is your motto?
My motto is ‘Age Quod Agis’ which means ‘whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability’

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Chicken! It can be cooked a thousand different ways… cyaa get tired of it.

Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Europe.

Thanks for the interview any closing thoughts for visitors to Jamaicans.com
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – MLK, Jr.

Learn More About “A Way Out” :Website – awayoutfilm.com Facebook -  Facebook.com/awayoutfilm

About the author

Xavier Murphy