Conversation with creators of the Jamaican film "Out the Gate"

This week we interview The Village Brothers, a directorial team that consists of R Steven Johnson and Qmillion, directors of the Jamaican film “Out The Gate”. The film is a cross cultural urban action/drama that follows the journey of Jamaican E-Dee coming to America to pursue his dreams in the entertainment industry. Shot on location in Jamaica and Los Angeles, this film boast a cast that reads like a who’s who in Jamaican entertainment including Paul Campbell  Oliver Samuels, and dancehall reggae artists E-Dee, Mr. Lexx, Edley Shine, Lady G, Ms. Triniti, and more. Here is our conversation with the Village Brothers.

Tell us about the movie “Out the Gate”?
It is the story of a young man’s dream and journey to find love and success in America, and the challenges that come along with those dreams.

– Without giving us too much what is the underling message of the movie?

Its about the choices we make in life and the human passion towards the idea that we can make our dreams come true.

– What were some of the challenges of making the film?
Finding people with the resources and the understanding of Jamaican film willing to invest was challenging. Film making is an expensive venture. Other challenges were due to the fact that we made the film with SAG actors. It took our movie out of the our  traditional guerrilla style of movie making to being legit. That meant that we had to get insurance, film permits, deal with the unions, etc. Very challenging.

– How did the idea for the movie come about?
The story is based on the life of International Dancehall/Reggae Artist Everton (E-Dee) Dennis, who also co-wrote the story and starred in the picture, so the foundation of the story comes from  his life.

– Is this your first film/movie?

R. S. has appeared in tons of movies and I (Qmillion) have been blessed to contribute musically to several
hit studio pictures including The Five Heartbeats, White Men Cant Jump, The Sweetest Thing, etc, however, Out the Gate is the directorial debut for the Village Brothers.

– When will the movie be released?

We held the Hollywood premiere and Los Angeles sneak preview in January this year. The movie is coming to New York this spring and continues on to Jamaica, Miami, Toronto, London etc after our run in New York.

– Has it been entered in any film festivals?

Our focus has been on bringing the movie to our core audience first so festivals weren’t really a part of the original game plan.

– You have a A-list of Jamaican stars in the movie. Was it a challenge getting these stars?

Getting them on board was no small feat but their involvement in the project was key. Its a tremendous blessing to have them in the movie. I have been a fan of Paul Campbell’s riveting performances since Lunatic and Oliver Samuels’s career is nothing short of legendary. I would like to think that it was the strength of the script that help them take the chance and work with first time directors such as ourselves, but I know that
just like everything else in this project, it was God’s plan and blessing.

– How did the stars work together on the set?

The whole vibe was very family and very positive. When you are working with actors like Paul and Oliver,
their experience and presence on the set ups the level of performance of everyone in the scene. They were
both very generous with their talent and ideas and their energy had everyone giving 100%. Of course there
were tons of laughs on the set and off.

– What schooling have you had in filmmaking?

RS – I have have a Masters in Theatre/Fine Arts from USC.
Qmillion – My training has been hands on since 2005 when I started making videos for artists on Unseen Lab Recordings.

– Who have been the biggest influences in your movie making?

R. Steven –  Movie making is visual story telling.  I enjoy how Alfred Hitchcock captures the simplicity of tension, the wit of Billy Wilder, and the heart of Roberto Benigni.
Qmillion – I have been a long time fan of Spike Lee, and Haile Gerima who directed Sankofa and more recently Teza.

– Do you think there will be a Jamaican film that will break through and have commercial success other popular American films have?
We both feel like Out the Gate has the potential to be a Jamaican Slumdog Millionaire and reach the masses.

–  Do you have any other projects you are working on?
Qmillion – Everton and I are nearly finished with the script for Out the Gate part 2 and will go into production this Fall, with the Village Brothers directing of course.
R Steven is writing the screenplay adapted from the novel he just completed entitled Convertible Chocolate
and we have a Jamaican Horror movie and a romantic comedy in development.

– Thanks for your time. Any closing thought?
The entire process has been an incredible experience and we hope that everyone comes out to support. Thank you for the interview.

About the author

Xavier Murphy