Blog By: Ben Boquist
I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. ~ Billy Joel
Film is an extraordinary medium because it plays so nicely with all the other art forms. Some movies incorporate dance, others are made entirely of drawings, etc. etc. etc.
But my favorite movies have always been the ones that tell stories with music. That’s why I’m excited about a new musical film called Rude Boy. Set in a slum in 1960s Jamaica, Rude Boy follows a poor young man named Winston Brown, as he pioneers ska music (an early predecessor of reggae).
A while ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rude Boy’s producer, Bruce Wayne Gillies. Read on and be inspired by the triumphant story of Winston Brown!
FilmFunds: Hi Bruce! Where did the concept for Rude Boy come from?
Bruce Wayne Gillies: A few years back I was approached by the Jamaican group THE HEPTONES to write a story about their struggle, reggae music and their oppressive experience growing up in Trench Town, Jamaica. The Heptones wanted their story to be told – and I certainly agree with them given that it’s a natural Hero’s Journey.
FF: Cool! …What is Trench Town?
BWG: Trench Town was a garbage dump before the government built public housing on the land. In the early ’60’s police oppression and the British Commonwealth combined to keep the voice and music of a new generation from being heard… These were mere kids – young teens navigating battles (and limited studio time) to produce profound rebel music.
FF: What kind of music?
BWG: Many groups followed the same path in Trench Town. Our lead, Winston Brown is a composite of Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert, Barry Llewellyn, Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan, Dennis Brown and Don Drummond… [But there are] nearly 70 source cues.
FF: It sounds like a lot of research! Will there be any original music?
BWG: Some of the film’s music (15 to 20 tracks) will be original ska, rock steady or reggae songs. This provides a unique opportunity for the original creators to go back in retrospect and re-create songs and music to tell their story again.
FF: I can’t wait for THAT soundtrack!
BWG: Not to be presumptuous, but [we’re encouraged] by past Oscar©-winning songs like LOSE YOURSELF or IT’S HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP. If those songs could win an Academy Award – we’re in good company! On top of that the soundtrack [will also feature] major hits from Jimmy Cliff, The Wailers,The Skatalites, Stranger Cole, Derrick Morgan, The Heptones and much much more.
FF: Talk to me about the story.
BWG: This story has never been heard or told or seen. It’s a simple story about a complicated character facing true-to-life insurmountable hardships. [It’s a] spiritual, coming-of-age, rites-of-passage dramatic musical epic – all-in-one! And not only has this story never been told… This music has never been heard; It was banned from the radio in Jamaica. Plus, it wasn’t really played all that much once it was allowed. To hear it you had to go to the dancehalls – the ‘jump-ups’.
FF: What made you decide to partner with FilmFunds on this project?
BWG: Having pushed this project around Hollywood – I am perfectly and painfully aware how easily dismissed a movie set in a third-world ghetto – with a minority cast – is. I was appreciative of FilmFunds for the unconditional opportunity to represent this project to larger, more main stream international audience and take advantage of the social networked ‘grass roots’, crowd-sourced support. And I am constantly reminded and inspired by movies like SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – an Oscar©-winning movie with an unknown, minority cast set in a far-off third-world ghetto – sound familiar, right!? It can be done – no doubt about it – proof is in the pudding.
FF: Can’t wait! Thanks for talking with us Bruce!
BWB: Maximum Respect!
FF: Right back at ya!
There’s a contagious kind of enthusiasm people give off when they’re doing what they love. It’s only heightened when what they’re doing is good and “about something.” I can’t wait to see Rude Boy! Or to buy the soundtrack!
If you can’t wait either, help streamline the process by promoting the film and pre-ordering your tickets! Click here to learn more