WRITER and director Kurt Wright wants to expose Jamaican talent and culture to an international market through his series Origins, based on the award-winning short film.
Wright is currently writing a series bible for the project and intends to partner with a major digital-streaming service provider.
“At the moment we’re writing the first episode and developing the series bible which breaks down the characters,” Wright told Jamaica Observer weekly Splash.
“The ideal situation would be to do the pilot, have a script done and pitch it overseas. It’s still an ongoing process, but we’re aiming for that overseas market, whether it be Amazon, Hulu, Netflix…we want to make the product as polished as possible and not necessarily for Jamaica or the Caribbean only,” he continued.
Wright said the series should contain eight episodes, each lasting 45 minutes to an hour, in keeping with standards by streaming providers like Netflix.
Origins is a culturally-laced film produced by Noelle Kerr. It follows folklore character Three Finger Jack in his quest to reclaim a stolen artefact from the White Witch, Annie Palmer. National hero Nanny of the Maroons comes to his rescue when his mission is threatened, but Anansi outwits them all by stealing the national treasure.
The film is set in modern times and features other well-known folklore characters like Quashie and Jamaica’s first serial killer, Dr Louis Hutchinson. The cast comprises Leonie Forbes, Kevoy Burton, Isobel Whittaker, among others. Wright hopes to maintain the Jamaican cast.
“For the pilot, we want to keep it close to the cast as possible,” he said. “The reality is when you approach somebody like Netflix or whomever, they may want different people or bigger names. My main thing is to make sure Jamaica is represented as much as possible. I would love to see Jamaican talent in it; you don’t want to see an American playing Three Finger Jack unless they really understand the culture or they are of Jamaican heritage.”
Origins premiered in 2016 at the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) Propella, where it won the award for best film. It also earned the Lennie Little-White Award for Best Local Film and the Viewers’ Choice Award for Jamaica Film Night 2 at this year’s GATFFEST Film Festival.
Jamaican actors have been in the spotlight recently, landing roles in international productions. 2017 Actor Boy Award winner Desmond Dennis is featured in season two of the Netflix series Luke Cage, while actors Shantol Jackson, Sheldon Shepherd, Everaldo Creary and Antwayne Eccleston appear in Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie. Wright, who has been in the Jamaican film industry for 15 years, said things are progressing.
“The growth has been slow and steady. It’s definitely growing, but not what people want it to be yet. Progress is being made and we are opening ourselves up to an international market.”
Origins aside, Wright’s resumé includes Me & Mi Kru, where he was the director for season two, and music videos for Christopher Martin, Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo. Wright is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television and Radio Production.
By: Sade Gardner