There are many Trinbagonians who work and thrive in the world of film and television. They have dedicated their talent and careers to the screen and the reel. Their stories are often unknown or seldom fully told. However, they can motivate, help to shape and create. Pauline Mark of The Trinidad and Tobago Performing Arts Network is excited to present “Reel Trini Tales”; a series of interviews, testimonials and stories of local audio visual players, movers and shakers.
Read Previous Article: REEL TRINI TALES: From Gray to Golden Pt. 1
Men of Gray was the first television “Movie of the Week” produced in Trinidad and Tobago and the national broadcasting channel (TTT) played an integral role in its execution. G. had previously contacted Horace James (who promised him equipment to assist with the production), as the prolific content creator was based at the station. The week G. and his crew wrapped editing and walked out the halls of TTT, was the same week the 1990 Attempted Coup took place. The team returned to Los Angeles and never saw the local premiere of the film. Back in California he received scores of faxes and phone calls from the media, fans and friends praising the film as an achievement for local content.
His career was literally on a roll and he began to land more speaking parts and featured extra gigs in the States. He also received his Screen Actors Guild card. However, the pull of his homeland was strong. “Industry people” began calling him back to the island; as they craved a part two to the hit movie. This time the goal was a theatrical release.
Before returning to T&T, G. had one of the most memorable experiences in his acting career. He was called to read for a major network series, set to film in Canada for Universal Studios. The opportunity was one of a lifetime; as G. was auditioning for the lead character. He received a call back after the initial audition and proceeded to the next. On the eventful day, G. entered the auditioning room and met a boardroom of onlookers, television executives and other persons involved in the project. Only then did he realise the weight of the opportunity and according to him, he “choked”. It was a valuable lesson for the actor and one he will never forget.
Soon after the traumatic audition (in the early 1990’s), G. and his wife packed all their belongings and placed them in storage in anticipation of a six month long shoot for Men of Gray 2-Flight of the Ibis. The Trinidad and Tobago film industry needed him and he was ready to birth his next project. However, what was supposed to be a half year of pre-production and funding from page to film projector, turned into four years of arduous crawling to get the film off the ground. Once again, Joseph had to start from scratch.
He returned to his martial arts school and worked aggressively towards financing the film. One day, while sitting on his father’s door steps and feeling defeated by the ordeal, his loving dad gave him a shoe box full of retirement savings to fund the project, (after several investors fell through). G. did not have the heart to deprive him of the money and one of his Kung Fu students’ uncle eventually funded the film. Carla Foderingham, who was then head at the fledgling Trinidad film commission, also assisted the determined filmmaker. G. can clearly recall running up and down the steps at Riverside Plaza to see her at her single desk office.
Flight of the Ibis was released in local cinemas by ATM film distributors and Globe Cinemas throughout the Caribbean in 1996. It became one of the biggest regionally-produced films and the buzz throughout the islands was contagious; making G. a bonafide star. The film also created a platform for co-star Tricia Lee Kelshall, who not only lent her acting skills to the project, but also contributed her vocal abilities to the soundtrack. Other noted cast members include Michael Cherrie, Hansley Ajodha (of No Boundaries fame), Michael Walker, as well as G.’s mentor- Horace James.
G. received positive feedback from many citizens and members of the corporate sector. To him, this was a clear indication that the previous funding woes and irreverence for the art form were over. However, the passionate film aficionado was wrong. Once again the praise did not transfer to his pockets; as the local business sector was not willing to fund the third instalment of the franchise and other projects G. and Ric Moxley had in development. They loved what the triple threat had accomplished, but were not willing to invest in developing the industry and other ventures. Struck with the realisation that he was fighting a losing battle and feeling like he had “accomplished nothing”, G. packed his bags again in 1998 and returned to the States to resume his original acting goals. Upon his arrival he and his wife found their storage items pilfered, in spite of paying the extended rental fees.
He worked as a limo driver, and driver for Breakdown Services; a company that delivered hard copy scripts to actors and stars when they landed major roles. He returned to acting classes, tackled Shakespeare and continued to audition, until he landed a part in the 2001 TV documentary In the Footsteps of the Holy Family. Then, in 2002 he nailed a guest starring role on American Family. The winning streak continued, as he landed another gig alongside Craig T. Nelson in the CBS season premiere of The District. In 2003 he appeared in Jag, one of his father’s favourite TV series.
The Breakdown Service drivers were now delivering scripts to him, at his doorstep!!! He continued to do work as an actor; both on stage and on screen. He will soon be seen alongside Malcolm McDowell in the movie Wizardream and is also in rehearsal for an upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”, where he is cast as Duke Vicentio. As an active producer, G. has worked on a number of significant feature film projects and even returned to Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 as one of the co-producers of Limbo. He also produced the Netflix & Millennium Entertainment release of Contract Killers, which can still be viewed on Amazon Prime.
G.’s tenacity may just be his greatest asset; as he is presently and passionately working on Men of Gray 3-Liberty in the Fires, as well as a spin-off television series that has been kept tightly under wraps. Soon we will be able to consume the first locally-created cinematic/television universe; once the franchise takes off. The actor has come full circle and is a mentor (privately) to many local developing actors, directors and producers. He even confessed that there are young men who admitted to joining the police service after being inspired by his role in the Men of Gray film series. He still has great hopes for his land of birth, (where the film industry is concerned) and continues to live and enjoy his life with his children and wife
G. Anthony Joseph returns to Trinidad and Tobago to hold a two (2)day seminar for Actors and Producers on April 27th and 28th at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. CLICK HERE for more information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pauline Mark is a Film Producer, Writer, Director and Actor who has been involved in entertainment, culture and the arts since 2003. She has appeared in noted Trinbagonian productions, including: Positive and Pregnant (2011), The Cool Boys (2012), Home Again (2012) and Bazodee (2015), and has been featured in many local and regional print and television advertisements.
Pauline has served as a content creator for state-media; co-producing and scripting two seasons of Wired 5.0 Carnival series. She also created, produced and directed X and Y TV series in 2016, and produced The Apartment: About Last Night pilot film in 2015, among other projects. A true patriot, Pauline continues to do work that promotes Trinbagonian culture, people and places.