Actor Marcos James, best known for his performance as White Rat in HBO’s Emmy Award winning series Game of Thrones, is aiming to make his debut as a feature film screenwriter and producer with his dramatic thriller Ceremony, which is currently in development.
The Jamaican born, LA based James– whose screen acting credits also include the Lifetime Movie Network series Keeping Up With The Joneses opposite Vivica A Fox and Oscar nominee Eric Roberts, as well as the Apple TV/ Amazon horror feature The Headless Horseman– plans to star in the production as well, marking his clear intention to become one of the entertainment industry’s newest multi hyphenates.
However, according to James, the addition of writer and producer to his growing show business resume is a natural and logical step in the evolution of his career, and one he has been preparing to make for some time.
“Many in the industry who know me primarily as an actor may not know that I actually have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from UWI in Jamaica and a Masters in Film Production from the University of Bristol in the UK,” he says. “So this is something that for me has been in the making from day one. I’ve always known that I wanted to expand my horizons into the realms of writing and producing my own projects. I think it’s important for all actors to do that, to enhance and sustain their careers. And now that my acting career has connected me to some incredible players in the production sphere, this is the perfect time for me to take things to another level.”
In a nod to his island roots, James’ Ceremony is set in Jamaica, but carries a strong Cuban influence as well. The story follows the mysterious and unexplainable events that occur when two estranged half siblings -a brother and sister- return to their island home to attend the ceremonial farewell for their recently deceased father. Their strained reunion, coupled with the often frightening incidents that accompany their arrival, forces them both to confront each other as well as simmering family issues around ancestry, infidelity and inheritance.
James has already completed the script for the film and he is excited about the project’s possibilities for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, several themes in the film such as difficult family relationships, sibling rivalry and confrontations over money are very universal. But that said, Ceremony is also unquestionably unique in its exploration of Jamaican and Cuban culture and folklore. The storyline leans heavily into ceremonial and religious practices that are misunderstood and feared in both Caribbean societies. This, and the beautiful Jamaican setting, heightens and compliments the drama. For this reason, we think that with the right execution the film has the potential to find a truly international audience.”
Central to his vision for the film’s success is that it be shot on location in Jamaica.
“As a born Jamaican, I think it is absolutely crucial that we film there,” he says. “There’s no other place in the world that can replicate that Jamaican vibe and the film will be another gorgeous tribute to the beauty and majesty of the island. So we are hoping we can get the co-operation and support from within Jamaica to make that happen.”
Already attached to the project as its lead actor, James has also secured the services of a renowned producer as well. Several highly recognizable acting names- including some of his fellow Game of Thrones alumni- have also indicated strong interest in joining the production.
The next major step at this point for him and his team is funding and finding the right director. The search has begun for the film’s financial backing and he is encouraged by the response so far. But he understands that signing the right director will be a priority and the key to how the project goes forward. At this point however, he is pretty sure that director won’t be him.
“At some point in the future I know I’ll slide into the director’s chair,” he says, “But definitely not this time. With Ceremony, the writing (and re writing), producing and acting responsibilities will be more than enough. But after adding the screenwriting and production duties to my resume, I know that with what I’m learning now, directing is in the future also. I’m definitely looking forward to that too- so stay tuned.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHN GORE