Dec 23, 2013 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Attention to detail and an uncanny approach are what make 31-year-old Richard Pitman one of the most sought after film producers in Guyana.
And according to Dr. Paloma Mohamed, who heads the Communications Department at the University of Guyana, this is so because of his gifts of organization as well as his training and mounting experience in the area of film making in Guyana.
This unassuming young man fell completely in love with filmmaking when he first came into contact with the art form in 2011 under the President’s Film Endowment Project, which was headed by Dr. Mohamed.
In an interview with this publication, he said, “There was this huge workshop where more than 60 persons were trained fulltime for over three months. We learnt about every aspect of filmmaking. In the end, we had to create eight short films and I ended up volunteering to be a producer for Tradition, which was directed by Margaret Lawrence. It was the best decision I made in my entire life. I honestly found my calling.”
He added, “I love to sleep so anything that gets me out of bed at 2:00am to prepare for a sunrise shoot is definitely something that I love doing. I recall that at one time I was at a desolate location on Water Street calling crew and cast members at 3:00am, making sure they were up and ready to head to the location so the shoot could start on time.”
While he is elated to have discovered “his calling,” he is saddened by “the fact that there isn’t enough support for this emerging and lucrative industry.”
He points out that Guyana is a perfect destination for film productions, since it has a variation of shooting locations which will come at a guaranteed affordable cost.
The film producer continued, “CineGuyana (a local film organization) was publicly promised 30 million dollars by former President Bharrat Jagdeo but I don’t know what happened. I haven’t really heard anything about that money since.”
“Filmmaking needs financial investment to get off the ground properly and create a life of its own. I believe that filmmaking is also a way to document and preserve our many dying cultures. Our young people are so caught up in American, Jamaican and other cultures besides their own and it is because we lack an identity as a people. We believe anything “foreign” is better. How do we solve this problem? Filmmaking can help! If you get the right storyteller, like screenwriter Mosa Telford, any of the film directors and producers (with a proper budget) plus a cast and crew from CineGuyana, you’re bound to get a quality film, which will definitely create interest in our Guyanese culture.”
As a third year University of Guyana Communications student, Pitman has also been volunteering for CineGuyana for the past two years.
He added that the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported CineGuyana in making three short films, which were screened this year at a Hollywood style red carpet event at the Avinash Theater on Water Street, Georgetown in January. “It was magical! Cast and Crew were welcomed on the red carpet with an opportunity to take a celebrity photograph at a backdrop designed for the event, it almost felt like a Hollywood premiere but it was right here in Georgetown. I can’t wait for filmmaking to become this big in Guyana,” he expressed.
Pitman’s first film “Tradition” was screened in New York, Washington DC, Caribbean Tales Film Festival – Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, Belize International Film Festival, Inter-Guiana Film Festival, Carifesta 2013, while “To the Night” was screened this year at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and continues to make its rounds on the film circuit.
He has been writing for the popular radio serial drama Merundoi since the first episode hit the airwaves in October 2006. “I have been writing for Merundoi almost eight years now and I still don’t feel like it was ever a job. I love writing and if I get paid for it then it’s a bonus.”
Pitman, however, complained of the lack of respect for the creative arts in Guyana and spoke of his experience of people calling him to “throw together a lil script”, stating clearly that they weren’t willing to pay a dime.
“Writing is my job, filmmaking is my job, and I spend hours, sometimes days on my scripts because I’m never satisfied until I’ve done my best. As a producer, I don’t settle for “maybe this could work” or “let’s use this instead,” I work with my director to get him/her the closest thing to perfection. People need to respect talent and creativity because that’s how some people are trying to survive.”
He also draws inspiration from two of his closest friends, Christpen Bobb-Semple, who is just a few years older than him but has achieved great academic success despite the many life hurdles he has encountered and Dr. Roger Welch, who is younger than him but has already achieved his life’s goal.
“I have to be grateful to the many people who played a part in nurturing me as I continue to grow. Dr. Paloma Mohamed, Dr. James Rose, Enrico Woolford, Dr. Frank Anthony through the Ministry of Culture are all responsible for me volunteering as Coordinator for CineGuyana, Coordinator for the Inter Guiana Film Committee and the Carifesta Film Committee which are experiences that continue to help build me as an individual and will certainly shape my film making career.”
Pitman lives in LaGrange, West Bank Demerara with his mother who he deems as the core of his motivation. “My mother is my rock and my reason for living. Without her I would have given up on life by now. With every step that she takes, she urges me to stay on the right path no matter how rough it may get.”
Desperate to hone his skills, he is constantly browsing the most famous filmmaking schools in the world. “I keep checking online for film scholarship every single day in hopes that I will get the opportunity to get myself qualified and take advantage of the great potential for film that Guyana possesses.”
“My fellow filmmakers are such passionate people when you see them at their craft. They’re trying to persevere despite the lack of support and that is what encourages me to keep at it.”
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