Peter Sagnia and crew with pupils on the second day of filming flashback scenes for the film.
PHILIPSBURG--Over the weekend, thirty pupils of Methodist Agogic Centre – Reverend John A. Gumbs (MAC JAG), ages six to twelve years old, became actors to produce a short film called “What if I told you.”
The story features a man being sentenced for his crimes and tells how his childhood experiences led him to commit them. The film aims to teach pupils about the local court system, children’s rights, and the basics of film-making while promoting more meaningful youth participation.
upils are ready to start filming the courtroom scenes of short film “What if I told you”.
The script, written by Teacher Rosan Hartley-Gayle, was performed by her pupils at the second annual Interscholastic Spoken Word Competition organised by Men’s Mental Health Awareness, where it received a standing ovation and won first place. After seeing the performance, the Department of Youth, in collaboration with UNICEF the Netherlands, offered to produce the film as part of a series of initiatives.
During the Youth Roundtable Conference last year, young persons expressed the need for more creative opportunities to express themselves. In response, the Department of Youth organised a film production for pupils to learn about the local court system, children’s rights, and the basics of film-making. According to Soraya Agard-Lake, Head of the Department of Youth, the short film and its societal messages will be used as an introduction for future youth participation events. The film production aims to provide a fun and creative experience for pupils to express themselves while also educating them about important issues.
The filming for “What If I Told You” started on International Youth Day, Saturday, August 12, at the Courthouse and took a collaborative effort from various organisations, including the Pointe Blanche Prison, the Police Department and the Courthouse.
The Pointe Blanche Prison provided clothing for the defendant, while the Police Department provided uniforms for the roles of police officers and a patrol car on standby to assist in filming the opening scene. Additionally, the Courthouse provided official robes for judge, prosecutor, clerk and lawyer roles. Daniels, a support staff member of the Courthouse, even brought her sewing machine to help adjust oversized clothing. The film crew set up their filming equipment and UNICEF the Netherlands representatives provided all logistics and catering.
Eleven-year-old Tyler Timothy, who played the role of a strict teacher, expressed her excitement about being on camera during the first day of filming. “The first day of filming was professional, it was like from Hollywood. It is my dream to be on camera,” Tyler said shyly during an interview. However, her shyness disappeared when she played her role on the film set. Tyler’s character believes that the lead character is a bad child but does not know what is going on at his home. Tyler noted that her character should have helped him instead.
The pupils who participated in the production impressed industry professionals with their acting skills. Peter Sagnia, who has produced films for over 20 years, expressed his admiration for the pupils’ ability to stay in character and improvise when needed. Lenworth Wilson, Youth Participation Specialist for UNICEF the Netherlands, served as an acting coach for the weekend and praised 11-year-old Venndy Isaac, who played the lead character, for his excellent performance. Despite having the most scenes to complete over the weekend, Venndy knew his lines by heart and recited them with great emotion.
The next step is organising a film premiere and viewing opportunities for the public. This activity is part of the Child Resilience and Protection Project (CRPP) executed by UNICEF the Netherlands in collaboration with the government of St. Maarten, financed by the government of the Netherlands, through the St. Maarten Trust Fund, and administered by the World Bank.
For more photos, the upcoming trailer and viewing dates of the film, the public can follow “Department of Youth SXM” or “UNICEF St. Maarten” on Facebook.