Man on a film mission

Young filmmaker Yaphet Jackman is pictured with Dr. Paloma Mohamed, director of Mass Communication at the University of Guyana (left) and Margaret Lawrence, director of Masquerade - one of the short films from GineGuyana recently shown at the Guyana Cultural Association Film Festival in Brooklyn.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Young cinematographer Yaphet Jackman wants his audience to remember his name because according to him, he is a man on a mission to succeed in creating an institution in Guyana that would teach visual arts, media and film to young aspiring filmmakers.

The American-born producer is still pumped from his first big premier with a team of filmmakers that produced CineGuyana – a showcase of short films and documentaries recently unveiled at the Guyana Cultural Association Film Festival, in Brooklyn.

Jackman, who moved to Guyana with his parents to complete his early education, remembers all too well how at the tender age of nine, he was amazed by the graphics he said floated in the air while he watched an HBO movie.

He never really understood the concept at that age, but was however intrigued by the inner-workings of television and immediately knew he wanted to learn more of what he has seen on the screen.

Becoming a good student was the first step. So when Jackman entered St. Joseph’s – one of Guyana’s prestigious high schools, he worked as a freelance cameraman throughout his studies learning technique from Spotlight Production’s owner, and former CBS TV engineer, Rudy Saul.

His aptitude soon developed to video editing and writing. This landed him a job with Guyenterprise as a studio manager in 2006. But with his drive and determination to become the best at his craft, Jackman learned from various production companies, even moving to St. Vincent, to broaden his creative reach of film making, and the intricacies on how to shape, and visualize a story before bringing it to life.

However, he quickly discovered upon his return to Guyana, that jobs were limited in this field, and more so without a degree that would give him the opportunity to later enroll in his dream school – Ohio University.

“Ohio University has the most comprehensive media arts program said the talented artist adding, “This is where I want to complete my master’s degree and return to Guyana to create an institution that could properly teach visual arts, as well as media and film” reiterated Jackman.

Fortunately for the filmmaker, his dream would take shape when he enrolled at the University of Guyana. His workshop professor was no other than Guyana-born Dr. Vibert Cambridge.

The School of Media Arts and Studies Scripps College of Communications, Ohio University, where Dr. Cambridge teaches, was at the time collaborating with the University of Guyana.

However, Jackman was quick to point out that there is no course presently that is geared directly to film, or editing or visual effects. This is where he wants to focus his higher education to give young people like him the opportunity to learn the various aspects of filmmaking.

The 26-year-old Jackman credits Dr. Paloma Mohamed, director of Mass Communication at the University of Guyana for making the CineGuyana project possible through President Bharrat Jagdeo’s endowment for the arts.

“She restructured the program to give filmmakers, and budding filmmakers the opportunity to be creative through her workshops”.

With expert help from Brian Zahn, an American narrative filmmaker of the Master’s in Fine Arts program, at Ohio University, the group was successful in producing eight powerful films in just four months, said Jackman.

Zahn, with whom Jackman had produced Pepperpot – a documentary about life in Guyana, worked with Dr. Mohamed, to give Jackman and other students the opportunity to bring the film project to fruition.

He called CineGuyana history making and said the collective effort is a testament to the fact that Guyanese can make a positive impact on the world if they work together.

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