RasTa: A Soul’s Journey Interview: Patricia Scarlett

An eighteen-year veteran of the international television industry, Patricia Scarlett has developed an impressive list of clients, partners and co-producers around the world. As president and owner of Scarlett Media Inc., a television and film distribution consulting company, she has developed ongoing relationships with many international broadcasters and producers. Patricia’s early experience in the industry began at TVOntario where she worked primarily in international sales. During that time she developed and nurtured a number of valuable relationships with producers and broadcasters which have culminated in a number of significant professional achievements, including her representation of “Ataranjuat:The Fast Runner”, winner of the Camera D’Or at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. Here is our conversation with Patricia on her new film: RasTa: A Soul’s Journey  

Tell us how the idea for the film was conceived?
In my earlier career, I worked as an international TV Sales rep for TVOntario.  During this period of my life, I had the good fortune to travel extensively.  Everywhere I sent, I encountered Rastafarians — not just people wearing dreadlocks as a hairstyle.  Know the humble beginnings of the Rastafarian movement, I thought that this was a story that needed to be told, on film, in an interest and dynamic way.

Bob Marley’s grand daughter Donisha Prendagast is the main character in the documentary. Was she targeted because of the history of the film idea or did she approach you?
The idea for the film was conceived long before I even knew Donisha existed.  I had, in fact, shot a promo of the film with a journalist as the lead.  Even though broadcasters and funders, liked this journalist, they felt that she did not have a name.  So, I went in search of a name.  At the time I was shooting another documentary in Jamaica and I mentioned to Jennifer Armond, our local production manager that I was looking for someone with a name and who was Rastafarian to take the lead in this documentary that I was developing.  It was Jennifer who suggested that I contact Donisha.  I called her and from our first conversation, I knew I had the right person.

How long from Concept to production?
From conception to production was six (6) years.  We shot the first segment in Washington at the Smithsonian and then had to stop due to a lack of funding.  In the last two years, with much pain and suffering, we managed to pull additional funding together to complete shooting the film.

When will the film be released?
The film will be released in Canada October 2011.  Thereafter, we roll it out in other countries.

Ahead of the release can you tell us the countries on the Rasta journey?
USA, United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Ethiopia, Israel, Canada & Jamaica

Why did you want to do this project?
I wanted to do this project because the face of Jamaica that the world knows belonged to that of an unapologetic Rastaman, Bob Marley.  I think, in fact I know, that Rasta culture — music, fashion, etc — put Jamaica on the international stage.  The film is also a hommage to Leonard Percival Howell, Dr. Barry Chevannes, Bob Marley, Stephen Wade, and all the other Rastafarians, particularly the artists who continue to spread the message via reggae music.

Who is the audience?
All the peoples of the world who know and love reggae music, Bob Marley, Jamaican and Rastafarian culture.

Will there be subtitles for non-Jamaican speakers?
Only in select areas of the film.

Do you have full funding for the project? If not how can others help?
We still need some funding to properly market and promote the film.  People can help by doing any of the following:

  1. making a small contribution online
  2. purchasing a RasTa eco T-shirt
  3. purchasing a copy of the official poster for the fillm (it will be online next week.)

With the emergence of technology that now allows anyone to create a film do you think it is watering down the art of film making?
Like any art or craft, it takes time and practice to really develop and your skills.  I personally think its great that the barriers to filmmaking have eroded as a result of digital technology.  Now, young men and women who have no tradition or link to the art of filmmaking can now build careers in this field if they choose to do so.

Do you think in the future reality/documentary type films will dominate the industry similar to how it dominates TV?
I think in time reality TV will fade.  However, future documentaries will continue to incorporate elements of reality TV.

Any chance we will see this at a  film festival?
We submitted the film to the Toronto International Film Festival but it was not accepted.  In some ways, this may be a blessing as we are now busy executing our Plan B which includes private industry screenings followed by a theatrical release in October.  The film has also been invited to many international film festivals.  We will be persuing some of these.

What is the best documentary you watched recently?
The British Empire in Colour

Are you working on any other film projects?
I have a few other projects that I’d like to do that are about some aspect of Jamaican history/culture.  However, at the moment, I am physically and emotionally exhausted from getting the film to the finish line.  Will need to take some time out.

The best career advice I was ever given was
. . . keep focused and keep going.

What is playing on your mp3/player today? 
Shaka Zulu Pickney, Back to Your Roots and One Love arranged by Playing for Change.

What is your guilty pleasure?
The guilty pleasure I can’t live without dessert, preferrably a fine pastry.

Thanks for the interview. Any closing thoughts?
It’s important that we finds ways and permit ourselves to tell our own stories. We bring a different and an insider perspective to our stories.  Years ago, I read a French poster that had the tagline, “Il ya des chose qui ne se disent qu’en francais . . .”  (There are things that can only be said in French.)  Well this is also true of patoi.  Irie.