No easy road to success
by Latoya Burnham
When most people think about literature, script writers for movie productions are honestly not the first people who come to mind.
But for writer and movie producer, Marcia Weekes, it’s the script that makes everything else possible.
The devout Christian said the Lord first spoke to her to write the trilogy Hush in 1998, as a way to get His message over to young people in particular.
Next week, Weekes through Step by Step Productions, will be premiering a new youth movie, Chrissy, about a young girl, who in the midst of taking care of a sick mother, is battling bullying and ill-treatment from both students and teachers at school, while doing her best to rise above it all.
“The idea came from God, I have to say because this came completely out of left field. I had no plans in writing it. In each of the films I would say I draw on my experience and a lot of times it is at the end that I say, wow, that looks like me. So it is not a deliberate thing that I go and sit down and figure I am going to do this.
“In each of the films and in this one in particular it is very touching for me and I don’t want to necessarily say which part is me, but it was very interesting at the end to look at it and think and I just started crying because I realised as I was watching it I was getting healing. It was just awesome because it did something for me emotionally,” explained Weekes as she sat with Barbados TODAY following a press briefing today to launch an anti-bullying campaign associated with the film Chrissy.
Jamaican by birth, Weekes told of coming from a literal ghetto and experiencing some of the same hardships that the character Chrissy, played by Makalah Harrison.
A certified accountant, she said the fact that it all came out of “nowhere” was what made the entire journey of writing, directing, producing, so dynamic.
“In Hush 1, in 2008, I got up one morning and God told me very clearly, I want to start making movies that will teach the nations My principles and that was it. So I got my first assignment that morning and it was Hush 1 and the scripts happened over that entire weekend, so since that time I have just started developing and getting better with each one. I am a certified public accountant.”
“The writing stage is easy, the production and post-production stage, bringing everybody together as a team and finding a good team, that is the hardest part.”
Her fourth film so far, she beamed brightly as she admitted that she never expected Chrissy to be able to do so much. There are already school boards in Canada looking at showing the film which premieres here in Barbados on November 4; it will then tour parts of Canada, with dates already booked; it will be shown in the Caribbean as well, and there is even talk of a UK tour as well.
Reflecting back to when it began, the writer, director, producer said there was no way they would have foreseen this success, even before the film is officially launched.
“The production is one of those things that you do it and it gives you a happy feeling. I was actually writing another Hush and in writing the other Hush I just felt this impression that I just needed to push that aside and write this other film, Chrissy. I resisted for a while, but then I just felt I needed to do it.
“I started and after every writing session there would just be this joy. So the filming has been great. There is a real, real excitement about going overseas and I just can’t believe it actually, it is a little nerve racking because you can’t believe these doors are opening up and we’ve never done this before. So we are a little excited but a little nervous that we don’t mess up anything.”
She recalled that when it all started with Hush, she had intended the production to be just shown in a conference of Praise Academy of Dance and an associate, Bongo Lights told her she should take it to the cinema.
“So I took it to the cinema and the rest is history.”
But there have been challenges, the main one of which has been financing. She said there was a cinema overseas that still owed them money from the showings of Hush, which impacted on Chrissy.
Throughout the filming, all of which was done here, using St. Elizabeth Primary and Bayley’s Primary schools in addition to other districts, Weekes had noted that financing was a challenge. She said Merville Lynch Studios came on board and offered assistance, making it possible to produce Chrissy.
She noted as well that a number of other individual sponsors, companies came through for her as well, to enable her to move from the script to the film stage. The public’s support of the Hush trilogy as well, she added, helped to fund this latest venture.
“It is the people of Barbados that have really, really been helping us, and of course, God. So financially it has been very, very difficult and each time you want to do better so then you incur more expenses and we thank God for Merville Lynch.”
She said now her eyes were trained on the technical aspect of productions.
“There is the challenge of finding people who can take you to the next level technically. So while we want to go to the next level, we want the technical side of things to also go to the next level and that is frustrating as well, to be able with the small funds we have to find the right people who will be able to take us to the next level.”
In all, Weekes said she believed her message was out with guidance counsellors in the Caribbean now using it as a teaching tool in places like Antigua, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation as well, she said, was helping them get into some of the overseas markets.
As for the future, she laughed.
“I would love to leave the Hushes alone, but I do really have another script that is already done. The scripts seem to be the easy part, thanks be to God and it all comes from Him. We have another Hush coming up and then there is the Chrissy touring.”