Stefon Bristol, writer, director, of “See You Yesterday,” who proudly said his parents, Elizabeth and Clinton were from Georgetown, Guyana, is excited his feature film, produced by Spike Lee, is set to be released on movie channel Netflix soon.
Filmed on location in Brooklyn and the Bronx, the movie, co-written with Fredica Bailey, follows two teenage scientific prodigies from East Flatbush, Brooklyn, who, bent on predicting a positive outcome, created a time machine to roll back the killing of their brother by a police officer.
In an exclusive interview with Caribbean Life recently, Bristol thanked Hollywood movie mogul, Spike Lee, for producing the flick based on Bristol’s award-winning thesis at NYU Film School, to complete his graduate studies as a director.
This sci-fi script about a kid — who goes back in time to prevent his drunk grandfather from committing the unthinkable act of killing his best friend while under the influence, was rewritten after Bristol, was inspired to highlight the killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown by police officers, during a hotbed of police brutality in 2014.
The short film, won the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival award, the Carl Lerner Award for a Film with Social Significance from NYU, and was a finalist in the HBO Short Film Competition at American Black Film.
A sci-fi buff by all accounts, Bristol watched ‘Back to the Future,” and decided to blend two different genres, political and sci-fi, that birthed, “See You Yesterday.”
There is no doubt, Spike Lee saw potential in Bristol, whom he met while the director was in college, and mentored at NYU film school, before ultimately offering to produce his full-length film, via an email in 2016, that said “would you like me to produce your movie.”
Now awaiting its release, with scenes shot at Nostrand and Flatbush junction, and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant, Bristol, a first generation American, whose parents were hesitant of him studying directing, are now ecstatic about his success in the industry, thus far.
“It took my mother a while to be onboard, but now she is my biggest fan. She refinanced her house to invest in my short film.”
“I hope this movie has a huge impact in Guyana. I wanted to include my country and this is one of the reasons my casting team sought out Guyanese and Caribbean actors,” said the director, thanking renowned stage and screen actor, Ron Bobb-Semple who won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Marcus Garvey. I Love my Golden Arrowhead writer and performer Courtney Noel, and Haitian and Barbadian actor, Dante Crichlow, one of the leads.
He said Bobb-Semple’s message to him was heartfelt, and thanked all the other Caribbean folks who auditioned for the role of Nigel Thomas, the character grandfather of Sebastian Thomas.
He said Bobb-Semple brought authenticity to the role, adding, that the veteran actor is very expressive, and working with him was very easy. “I cast him right away after seeing his performance as Marcus Gravy.”
“It is an honor to represent my country Guyana in this film and especially East Flatbush. It’s a personal reflection of my youth growing up with black influence.
“This culture has never been seen this way in American cinema,” said Bristol, adding, you cannot talk about the black American experience, unless you include African blacks, Caribbean blacks, and even Brazilian blacks, who contribute richly to our culture.
“There is great representation of the Guyanese culture in this film. This is very important to me. Watch the movie!,” exclaimed Bristol.
“It was an absolute pleasure and delight to work on this project,” responded Bobb-Semple, who was in Florida at the time, when a friend called him from New York. He thanked this reporter, and Caribbean Life for publishing the casting call.
He was impressed with Bristol’s interest in working with a Caribbean cast, to showcase the life, and “our culture that is overlooked on many occasion.”
Bobb-Semple, who celebrates 50 years as an actor, after beginning his career at Theatre Guild Playhouse in Georgetown, noted that despite his long career, he has never experienced any project of this magnitude, and stated that he was honored to work with Bristol.
“Whatever I do in this life, I think about the next time. I am true to myself, said Bobb-Semple. His mantra — It takes a longtime to become an overnight success. He also hinted that Guyana’s Golden Arrowhead flag is well represented, adding that he feels proud, that Spike Lee produces the movie, but more so, that Stefon Bristol is the writer and director.
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