Providence filmmakers go cruisin'

The Islands
By ABIGAIL CROCKER  |  September 2, 2009

Any artistic triumph involves a little luck.

Providence native Ben Chace was in Brooklyn's Prospect Park two years ago when he watched a raffle ticket turn into a pair of tickets for a Jamaican cruise.

Chace asked kindergarten chum Sam Fleischner to come along. And three months ago, the pair won a $50,000 prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival for the movie they filmed during their Caribbean sojourn: Wah Do Dem (island slang for "what they do").

The pair screened the film at the Providence Black Repertory Company Friday night after rain spoiled plans for an outdoor screening, regaling a reporter with tales of their Jamaican adventure.

To shoot the film, the directors made their way to the island weeks in advance to map out the territory and pick the cast. Then they brought the actors along for the cruise. Among them: Carl Bradshaw, a bit of a celebrity in Jamaica.

"Because we had him with us, everyone was curious," said Fleischner.

The movie features Max (Sean Bones), a scorned lover looking to find his way in cruiseland. And the on-board scenes prove some of the most amusing.

On formal wear night, with the blue-haired dressed to impress, Max takes solo pictures at the grand velvet-carpet stairway, striking his best action poses — high kicks included.

"We knew there would be comedy in formal night," said Chace. "There would be a cruise photographer, unattractive people at the side of the pool eating gross food. We knew there would be some things there."

But there were struggles, too. Keeping up morale on a tight budget in an unknown land was difficult. The directors ran into their share of con artists.

And those struggles make their way into the film: Max faces down a theft of his valuables that leaves him with nothing but a swimsuit and an uneasy feeling about his surroundings.

Sharmila Subaran, a Providence local who grew up in St. Catherine, Jamaica and attended the Providence premiere said there was some truth in the film's exploration of the island's dark corners.

"People are hungry, they don't have food to eat," she said. "So they'll go looking for trouble thinking they'll find something."

But whatever the difficulty for the filmmakers and for Max, both come to a sort of reckoning with the place. In the last scene, Max talks down a man who wants to mug him and the pair eventually strike up a friendship.

A little luck and a little moxie can go a long way.

  Topics: This Just In , Entertainment, Movies, Providence Black Repertory Company,  More more >
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