Joel Miller has credited creativity and ability to pivot and raise the bar as the catalyst for producing the winning entry, Blackbird, in the 2023 JCDC FiWi Short Film Competition.
Blackbird, a drama, outscored eight other entries to take the overall title at the FiWi Short Film Competition Awards at the Palace Cineplex on Thursday, September 28. The film also won sectional prizes for Best Drama, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Adult Film.
“In a competition, you set the pace, the height of the bar, and each time you enter a competition you change the game and so I knew people were coming to beat what I did last year so I knew I had to beat them on creativity; I have to change my style and do something that broadened my horizon, show them my technique more,” said Miller, who also won the top prize last year for the comedy-drama film Hairport.
“I tried out new techniques, I had to go back to the drawing board and come with something new. I knew I couldn’t come back with the same thing. I had to reinvent myself and I think this year I became so much more mature as a filmmaker,” Miller said of the simple love story of a boy who loves a girl who is an outcast from society.
Nine films entered the final of the 2023 JCDC FiWi Short Film Competition. Second Place went to Cool Breeze, directed by George Malcolm Walker, who was also the cinematographer on Blackbird. Third place was won by Shades of Clarity, directed by Malike D. Orane.
Other sectional awards were won by Cool Breeze (Best Comedy, Best Documentary, Best Sound Effects/Score), 5 More Minutes (Best Sci-Fi), Ripple Effect (Best Youth Film), and Full Circle (Viewer’s Choice Award). The other finalists were: Carbon Copy (Trishay Beadle), What A Calamity! (Jayda Pitter), and Fragile Fortune (Tiana Smith).
Drama and Theatre Development Specialist at the JCDC, Shaun Drysdale, said that the entries were all at a commendable level. “We received some new entrants and returning entrants. Despite the many challenges we had to navigate, including limited time to complete the films, the final products were commendable. There is always room for improvement, but we now have these emerging film makers who have benefitted from this exercise and in a much better position to move forward with their careers,” said Drysdale.
The FiWi Short Film Competition was started by the JCDC in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Competition is a brainchild of the JCDC’s Drama and Theatre Arts Unit and encourages Jamaican amateur filmmakers to examine one of seven selected Jamaican proverbs and create a short film treatment, based on their interpretation.