Trafficked… a cautionary tale (September 13, 2015)

Trafficked articleThe film Trafficked tells the story of three friends on vacation abroad who are seduced into carrying drugs, with dire consequences. The film, based on true events, is the brainchild of late journalist Marcia Henville, Eye on Dependency Founder, Garth St. Clair and A Story About Wendy director Sean Hodgkinson.

Both men paid tribute to Marcia Henville for her role in bringing them together and her contribution to the film. Hodgkinson said “I think the fact that she never saw the end result is really sad, but I think she’d be really proud of what we did, to be completely honest.”

Hodgkinson said he was fascinated by the premise of the film and warned that the ending would be unexpected. “I have a very quirky style about my filmmaking and in the beginning of the show it’s very light. I think you get to like these characters and when they find themselves in difficulty, the film spirals downward very intensely and very heavily and you get sucked into that descent with them and it’s awful. It’s a tragedy of what could happen, and if one person watches it and they’re like “I’ll think twice about it” it’s worth it. I hope people leave very disturbed, it’s not a feel-good movie, it’s not a fun movie. It was really hard to make and very intense but I think everyone did a fantastic job. You know Trinis are always wary of doing drama because we like to laugh, so I’m curious to see how it will play out with a very heavy drama. The fact that the film has been nominated for Best Local Feature Narrative at the T&T Film Festival (ttFF) says something interesting.”

Producer Garth St. Clair said he was inspired to create the movie after collecting compelling stories through the Eye on Dependency program. “We wanted people to actually see what happens to people who are either coerced, trapped or volunteer to traffic drugs and this is how the film came about. We’re really happy that the Film Festival saw it as one of the best submissions so we are looking forward to the public’s response to the film. Afterwards, we plan to cut it up into 20 minute sections and air it on local TV as part of an education campaign.”

Hodgkinson said it was unexpectedly hard for them to find funding for the film and praised the cast and crew for staying around. “It took us eight months from when we first started shooting, not including the six months of pre-production, to actually get the money, so we had to start and stop repeatedly and that was really hard for everybody. But I think we all believed in the message and what we’re trying to do, so the cast and the crew and everybody involved, really sacrificed a lot to get it done and that’s testament to the story and what we’re trying to accomplish.” St. Clair stated “It was a task to get financing from different institutions, especially government Ministries. We approached the British High Commission, who sponsored, then FCB, the National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program, and we finally got the Trade and Tourism and National Security Ministries and Toyota.”

“The film industry here is not well funded because making movies is not something that we see as a priority really, because although we actually open up the doors for a lot of people to come here and film movies because of the tax exemption, local filmmakers struggle a lot. There’s no local content on our TV stations whatsoever and even after all the Film Festivals in T&T, it’s a task to convince our national airline to include a film, even the best one from the Film Festival, on their lineup. To get local film on TV is like pulling teeth as the TV stations rather buy programs from overseas and put it there, so our local stations are saturated with foreign shows, but people with cable are not watching them. I think they’re doing themselves a disservice by not having local stuff on local TV and their viewership would go up tremendously because people could see themselves on film. So I think the film industry in this country is just for kudos and applause and bragging rights, but what happens next with these films?”

///Since I wrote this article, Trafficked has been across the world at various Film Festivals and was recently aired on TV6. For more information, go to Trafficked on Facebook.

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