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Tuesday 19 November 2019
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Trini to intern at Overbrook Entertainment

IF YOU’VE seen and been inspired by movies such as Ali or The Pursuit of Happyness, then you can just imagine how excited director and special effects makeup artist Steven Taylor is to start his internship at Overbrook Entertainment later this month.

Overbrook Entertainment is the production company – founded by American actor Will Smith and business partner James Lassiter – behind these and many other blockbusters.

Taylor, 27, will be working in the company’s development department.

The highly sought-after internship is part and parcel of Taylor’s course of study at the University of Southern California (USC) where he’s pursuing a Master’s degree in cinematic arts, film and TV production. Getting to USC was no easy feat for Taylor and he wants to use experience to inspire other locals to follow their dreams and help nurture the Caribbean film industry.

“The experience I’ve had out here, I want for every film-maker, musician, artist in TT , but we have to have the infrastructure to support that and create a market here at home,” said Taylor in an interview with Newsday via Skype. The programme has been so exciting that Taylor said “USC has been a highlight. I can’t choose one moment.” Caribbean culture has had tremendous influence on Taylor’s aesthetic as a film-maker. He’s recently completed filming a scene from his upcoming series SUE, which is described as a soucouyant love story, and is also pitching a Caribbean version of the reality TV show Face Off.

Most importantly, his thesis project, a feature length film titled Buck Begins, will continue work started with his award-winning short Buck: the Man Spirit.

As a film student and makeup artist, Taylor has worked on numerous projects filmed in TT such as the movie Home Again directed by Sudz Sutherland. Although, he’s been happy for these opportunities, he wants his work to represent a new era in Caribbean film-making. “I want Buck to be a franchise. Something that people in TT and the region can look forward to. We’ve had a lot of stories told in the Caribbean, but it’s different when someone from the Caribbean tells that story.” Being an international student in the US, especially at USC, where there are few to no Caribbean people, has actually helped Taylor to foster more pride in his identity. “During my first year I had to make a decision about whether to keep my accent or not. It’s allowed me to stand out and I’ve created my own space here. [Fitting in] has been easy once I made those decisions.

The Caribbean is where I enter the world and I love film. USC is helping me put my stamp on my work. My films will represent the ‘Caribbeaness’ that I know,” he said.

Taylor completes his programme of study in December.

As a scholarship student, he’s required to return to TT to work for two years, but has some reservations about this homecoming.

“I don’t want to come home and be stuck in an office where I’m not using my skills.” However, as someone accustomed to “creating my own opportunities” Taylor said he plans to submit a proposal to the relevant Government agency upon his return. “Ideally, I’d like to become a cultural diplomat.

I need to keep the networks I’ve been building in TT and in LA alive in order to facilitate and foster development in the country and region in this field.” Taylor noted that relationships were important to cultural exchange and said this is one area that has been lacking when it comes to local film.

His commitment to development of the local film industry is already evident. Last month, Taylor hosted his second special effects make-up workshop where he trained 15 participants on various aspects of special effects makeup such as creating contusions and animatronics. “It was fantastic and I got to work with fresh, excited participants who have a burning fire for the field,” he said. These and other programmes are the type of initiatives Taylor hopes to partner with organisations on when he gets home. While he thanked the UWI Film Programme for their support of the workshop, he lamented that agencies such as FilmTT do not back more programmes like these.

To follow Taylor’s journey and see previews of his upcoming projects, visit his website: www.

stevenmichaeltaylor.com

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