Cayman’s increasing status as a hotbed of film production has been highlighted by the first official CayFilm festival, which took place June 18-20, and the upcoming Poinciana Festival slated to occur towards the end of the year.
The newest offering from Cayman’s film community is “Man.” set to be released in October, having been in production since the end of last year.
The film follows Man, a professional painter suffering from artist’s block in the run-up to an exhibit celebrating his career. Man is played by Jay Evans. Through the story the viewer meets gallery owner and art collector Lola, played by Rachel King; Man’s agent, Gold, played by Michael Joseph; his best friend Guy, played by John Sutlic; and a host of other characters.
Director and writer Pascal Pernix hopes that his film will prove that good quality productions can be made with a small budget, as long as there are motivated and talented people involved and that a storyline doesn’t have to shock audiences to garner their attention.
“The message that I’d like to get through is that you don’t necessarily need to portray violence, sex or fall into cliches to develop a good story that can be entertaining or thought provoking,” he said.
The movie is a real local endeavor, having been filmed completely on-island, and showcases a local cast.
“I cast each character individually,” said Pernix. “I had a precise idea of who I was looking for and I’ve been lucky enough to find people who committed their time and really dedicated themselves to deliver quality performances.”
Local talent was also utilized for the various skill sets needed behind the camera.
“People tend to forget, or don’t realize, what it really takes to put an independent film together with a shoe-string budget,” explained Pernix. “You have to have a crew who’s embracing the project and believing in it, because you’re looking at several months of work, and there are some specific skills such as sound and hair and makeup for which you need real pros. There is no other way around it.”
Pernix used Bradley Bernard for sound and Jackie Soriano for hair and makeup, as well as relying on good friend Molly Dalby as production manager.
Pernix calls the film a “slice of life,” and the script is an adaptation of a short novel that he wrote in 2012. With the help of Harriet Moon, Pernix transformed it into a ready-for-screen piece. Moon is also assistant director of the film. “She keeps me on track with both the story and the little things I tend to overlook while handling the technical aspects of filming,” said Pernix.
The scripting and casting for “Man.” took seven to eight months, followed by three months of filming, which took place around the cast and crew’s regular jobs. Post-production is due to take three or four weeks, and Clever Knots is busy working on the music score for the film.
Pernix produced the movie under his company Pcreative, which he and his wife launched in 2013, specializing in art direction, video, photography and design.
“I’ve been around filmmaking since I started as an assistant for a director of photography in my early twenties, before becoming a freelance photographer back home in France,” Permix explained. “I’ve been in the creative field since then.”
Locally, Pernix has directed a short film dedicated to Maya Angelou called “That’s Me,” which came out in summer of last year, as well as a documentary on motherhood called “A Beautiful Struggle,” which premiered on Women’s Day (March 8) of this year. The public may also have already seen some of Pcreative’s shorter productions, as they are to thank for most of the cinema pre-show commercials, such as those for Kirk Freeport, Island Heritage, Catch and the Motorcycle Riders Association.
The production of “Man.” also received generous support from local businesses such as Agua Restaurant and Lounge, Camana Bay, Creative Tech, Subway and BlueDot Studios, providing locations, gear or food.
“We’re really fortunate to have dealt with such open-minded people, who believed in the project from the start and helped as they could,” Pernix explained, while recognizing that while monetary donations always help, community involvement can come in many different ways.
“Producers and directors sometimes get caught up with trying to cover costs when there are other ways to get it done … It’s a small community, and if you have a decent professional reputation, there is a chance that people will pay attention when you talk about developing ‘out of the box’ projects.”
Pernix hopes that the release of “Man.” will encourage support of independent films by companies and corporate entities in Cayman, and therefore help the local industry thrive.
“I wasn’t born here, but my wife was, my two daughters were, and my responsible role as a citizen is to try to share my skills and knowledge with the next generation,” he said. “There are plenty of young people who are currently in art school, design school and film school learning the craft, and it would be a shame if they cannot come back to their own country and use their refined skills professionally because the demand is limited. At least we should give it a shot.”
“Man.” is due for release in the first week of October, with details still to be confirmed. Pernix would ideally like the venue to be the Cayman Islands National Gallery, with a series of intimate showings followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew.