By Rhea Cinna
This week, The Missing Slate debuts a series of interviews which will hopefully spearhead the new direction we plan to actively take in offering emerging filmmakers a new platform to showcase their work. Christopher Guinness’ Captain T&T has managed to capture the hearts of many, including many on the film team, so requesting an interview with its creator was only natural. Watch the film and read about its inspiration and the writer-director Christopher Guinness below:
What inspired you to make this film?
Childhood memories, daily situations, the social and political climate of present day Trinidad and Tobago. And of course I always wanted to do a super hero story.
Do you have any favorites in the superhero genre that you are paying homage to in Captain T&T?
Not any specific origin story per se. However, throughout the story the film references many of the more popular heroes as Thin Foot searches for his power and by extension who he really is. So he tries to tap into the Hulk’s strength, a Jedi’s mind power and so forth, until his searching eventually leads him to important life lessons that shape the man he becomes.
You said you find inspiration for your film(s) in your childhood memories and day-to-day situations you encounter. Tell us a bit about yourself. What first got you into film?
I grew up on cartoons, comic books and weekends at the beach in Trinidad and Tobago, the southernmost Caribbean island. I was the kid who used to draw on the floor, walls, even myself. My love of illustration turned to animation and I pursued that degree in college. When the DSLR revolution started to kick off at around 09′ I took notice of the capabilities of these new affordable cameras. I decided to give it a try and fell in love with the aesthetic, ease and endless possibilities. Like animation or illustration, film was a way to express my ideas.
As your film tells us, you don’t have to be a superhero to do the work of one. Do you have a superhero of your own? Someone who inspires you or who you look up to?
Yeah, my wife is my hero, her cooking is her super power. She believes in me like no other, goes along with and helps nurture my little ideas. And my dogs, they are my super hero team. The way they love each other and take care of everyone in the pack is inspiring.
How do you get around the minuscule budget independent filmmakers usually have at their disposal? What are the tricks (so to speak) to making your films look competitive to a public more and more demanding in terms of high definition?
First off you have to know your production limitations. What can look grand without a Hollywood budget (unique outdoor locations) and what to avoid because it can look cheap (too many effects). You have to know your equipment and how far you can push it. A DSLR camera can only do so much, same with the Go Pro. Maximize their strengths and minimize their short comings.
Then it’s about getting inventive with your solutions to save money, I used a ziplock bag instead of water housing to shoot the rainy scenes. A ladder instead of a crane, lots of lighting courtesy the sun. Little stuff like that adds up.
What kind of equipment do you use?
A DSLR camera (5DMK3), a Go Pro, Glidecam and Glidetrack.
What are some of the problems you’ve encountered as an independent filmmaker and how did you overcome them?
Well, a lack of proper funding is always a problem for those now starting out.
But besides that, getting your film seen is pretty challenging. We’ve done fairly well online, using the power of social networking sites and curators like Vimeo and Io9 recognizing and promoting our work. If you are releasing online, contact bloggers, critics and taste makers. Ask them to watch your film. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
How do you intend to further promote your work?
Interviews like this, haha. We got pretty good coverage in our country, full page features in two of our national newspapers. And Captain T&T is doing a small festival run right now, screening in Aruba at the moment, then in London at the Caribbean Film Corner with hopefully a lot more to come.