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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » ACTRESS/PRODUCER TONYA LEE WILLIAMS, URGES JAMAICAN FILM MAKERS TO “TELL BETTER STORIES!”

ACTRESS/PRODUCER TONYA LEE WILLIAMS, URGES JAMAICAN FILM MAKERS TO “TELL BETTER STORIES!”

By Richard Johnson— 

 American actress and producer Tonya Lee Williams speaking with Jamaica Observer’s reporters at Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) headquarters on Braemar Avenue in St Andrew, on Monday. Looking on is JAMPRO president, Diane Edwards.—

ACTRESS and producer Tonya Lee Williams is calling on Jamaican film-makers to start developing stories which can make it on the international market.

Williams, who is familiar to many as Olivia on the long-running soap opera Young and The Restless, is currently in Jamaica for the Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) Jamaica Film Festival which kicked off yesterday.

Williams, who has Jamaican roots, said she is tired of the “violent, shoot-them-up” films about drugs and gangsters, which, for her has become boring.

“I love to see when film-makers think more about the real stories and not how they can make films about a big shoot-up, which can get dull and boring over time. Historically, such great storytellers come out of the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular. You can just walk out into the street and ask for something as simple as directions and you get a full story. It’s a natural gift,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer.

She continued: “The mistake we make in small markets is trying to compete with the larger markets. Trying to tell stories and make movies like the ones seen in Hollywood which have insurmountable amounts of money. But I always say look at the Oscars, those huge budget films are usually the ones that win. It is usually the very small relationship, character-driven movies that do well. Britain and Australia have done well with these types of stories.”

She added that Jamaican film-makers must develop interesting stories, not to copy what everyone else is doing, and find that story which is different. Create stories with a handful of characters set in small locations and make the story so riveting that audiences cannot help but be drawn to the story.

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For Williams, the story is key. She said film-makers should not concern themselves with financing their project, but instead focus on perfecting the script.

“If your script is good, and everyone who has read it said it is fantastic then you will have no trouble getting the money for the film. The scripts you have coming out of Hollywood have been written and rewritten over years until what you have is a polished gem. In many cases, nothing is done until the best possible script is produced. The problem is not a lot of writers are honest enough to say their script is not good.”

The film festival continues until Saturday with workshops and screenings at various locations.

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