Director praises cast – ‘A Beautiful Exchange’

The cast of ‘A Beautiful Exhange has been working hard to get movie made.

The teaser alone is enough to send chills down your spine and make you wish producers would hurry up already and release what just may be one of St Lucia’s most anticipated films. The cast and crew for the locally produced film ‘A Beautiful Exchange’ have over the past few months been putting their every effort into creating what producers are hoping will be the first film out of St Lucia to hit the big screen.
The film script revolves around a man who returns home to St Lucia after 16 years to attend his mother’s funeral. He learns that he has a daughter who is troubled. He tries to save her from the street life but finds out he only has a short time to live. What he does could save her life or cause him to lose his. The screenplay for the production was written by 29-year-old Elijah Anatole who’s also the director. Producers include Anatole, Elijah Leonce and Michael Joseph. Bebiana Mangal, a 15-year-old student from St Joseph’s
Convent, Kervin Lucien and Olympia Vitalis fill starring roles.
Director for the production Elijah Anatole says his team has been in contact with several international film agencies including Miracle Films, Advent Films and Submit Entertainment and if all goes well, the film will be opening in quite a number of theatres in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in 2012.
“A Beautiful Exchange is being locally produced in collaboration with a few crewmembers, persons who are skilled in St Lucia,” Anatole told the STAR. “It’s of international quality just like any regular film you’d see being opened at theatres. It’s the same as that even though it’s being locally produced, it will be of international standard.”
Boasting a regular cast of 15 and crew of about 25 people, Anatole is attempting to do something no other St Lucian has managed to accomplish. The director says he started writing the film in March this year, and completed most of it by May. Once completed, he held auditions for about a month. From the ending of August 2011 he’s been working with the cast and having rehearsals as often as possible.
““The main focus is on international standards,” he said. “How to use proper diction, inflection in words, body language, that sort of thing. Body language is still something I’m concerned about but during filming we can work with that. Other than that the cast has been really great.”
From day one he says the cast and crew all bonded naturally.
“It’s been like a family ever since,” he says. “You’d see them now and you wouldn’t think they got to know each other in such a short space of time; it’s like they’ve known each other for years. The crew works well, they’re very efficient and always willing and able to come for every rehearsals when we have filming.”
The STAR wanted to know, was it more difficult than he thought to put together a production of that magnitude so we posed the question.
“I’ve always been writing,” he started. “I’ve done many plays before, stage productions locally so this was nothing new for me. I saw this and said okay,
why not just reach higher instead of just doing small stuff, take a chance and do something bigger. Every day you have to be risking something, that’s life. You just take a shot and if you fail, you learn from the failures. If you succeed it’s a plus for you. The screenplay was very good. The people I spoke with were impressed with it and initially they wanted to buy it off. I decided to make the film and send to them.                     “We have persons who are willing to assist, willing to endorse this project, people who are into theatre arts. I’ve been persistent with it, I’ve been determined—even though some doors are closed in terms of finding assistance and that sort of thing, I still move on and I’m still able to find other doors that are open. We have persons giving up their homes for filming. We have people willing to assist so I can’t complain so much. Films of this genre (drama) don’t normally take long, there are no special effects—we’ve really progressed and I must really commend the cast. They’ve stuck through this and they’re really excited. They have made a lot of sacrifices just to be onboard a. The premiere will be in Los Angeles next year, the opening and that’s what we’re working on.”
One would think there were avenues for young aspiring filmmakers in St Lucia to turn to in order to get assistance with various projects, but it turns out that the St Lucia Film Commission is presently inactive. Anatole says the team has still managed to get assistance from various business places including No Limit and Hobbie who’re providing full wardrobe for the entire cast, Renwick and Company and other sponsors.
“The film is attracting a lot of people right now, “ Anatole told the STAR. “A talented St Lucian musician came to me and told me he wanted a role in the film. There are one day actors who have not been cast yet so I’m still searching for people who can fit the role.
“Acquiring funds is difficult, however we’ve been promised by a government minister that funding would be put in place, how soon I don’t know but they’re working
on it,” Anatole continued. “It’s not so much funding we need, persons who are on board are voluntary right now but there are benefits when the film is released.”
Filming for ‘A Beautiful Exchange’ is being done on location all over the island. The young St Lucian director notes the challenges but says he’s taking things one day at a time.
“Although there hasn’t been a big production like this before on island
we do have people who have done theatre arts and people who are just naturally talented and they’re very good. They can actually make you cry and make you feel what is being done in a particular scene. Film is not something so new to St Lucia, but on that level it’s new where the film will actually be featured in theatres. Some business people jumped on
board right away after learning about the film in depth but others were skeptical in terms
of helping us and I’m hoping that will change when we release the first trailer early next year.”

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