Jingle Blues Jingle Bells, a new feature film from Ebonywood Studio Productions written and directed by Sylvester Williams (East Enders).
Written, produced and directed by Sylvester Williams ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is the first UK black movie specifically geared towards the Christmas market. A seasoned comedy, ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ depicts a Caribbean family who are financially hard-up leading up the Christmas festivities and machinations that takes place between the parents and their children. Just what lengths will they go to, to make Christmas possible?
Itzcaribbean.com had the exclusive privilege of seeing ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ prior to its release and afterwards I spoke to Sylvester Williams (writer) and the films lead male character Christopher played by Glen John-Baptiste.
So why a Christmas movie?
Sylvester: Well firstly because we do not have one. There are films that people sit and watch year in and year out during the holiday season and it is my intention that Jingle Blues Jingle Bells becomes one of these movies. The struggle of the family is not untypical and so a lot of people will be able to identify with them although they may not opt for the same solutions.
And I guess in true Caribbean style it had to be a comedy?
Glen: You know how we like to laugh already and what better time than at Christmas. I was cracking up during the production I thought some of lines were really funny and well written.
Sylvester: I wanted to write a romantic comedy which has universal appeal and is in direct opposition to the ‘Guns and Gangsters’ purporting to represent black culture in films today.
Is this your first major acting role?
Glen: Yes it is. I have a number of theatre productions under my belt and usually I write and produce music so this was new to me and quite a challenge. I didn’t realise until now just how many hours had to be put in to make a production and the hours!! Whoa now I kinda respect the salary that some of the artists command.
So what about the rest of the cast?
Sylvester: All graduates from the Ebonywood drama school. I set out to create a club-style drama school, where all ages were welcome. We run very informally and yet encompass some of the fundamental elements that make a good drama school. Participants take part in workshop exercises that are designed to give them mental and emotional challenges and promote greater self awareness. This stood them in great stead to do this movie.
I was really impressed and I might say pleasantly surprised at the quality of this production. I know you didn’t have a Hollywood size budget so how were you able to achieve this?
Sylvester: Simply by working with an experienced, professional film crew.
Was it hard to get cooperation when doing location filming?
Glen: People were really great actually and we must thank :ABI Associates Ltd, Mr and Mrs Ault, Reverend Rosémia Brown, Chainbow Ltd, Chat’s Palace, C Jay’s International Kitchen, David Courts, Sheree Craig-Samson, Dockland Coaches Ltd and Lina Hamid.
Tell us a little about Ebonywood Studio
Sylvester: Ebonywood Studio Productions is based in the East end of London and it’s a new UK based film company. Our aim is to produce high quality black productions here in the UK. ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is the first feature length production, created with an ensemble cast gathered from the Ebonywood school/agency and filmed by a diverse and acclaimed professional film crew.
Sylvester, can you tell us what’s happening in your career right now?
Sylvester: Since leaving Eastenders I have taken active steps to regenerate inner city London by starting a drama school and an actor’s agency that encourages arts and positive creative action in deprived inner city areas. I grew up in Hackney and feel very passionate about trying to work towards the upliftment of the area and its people.
I haven’t asked much about the film because I do not want to give anything away, but would you say that the characters are typical of the average Caribbean family?
Glen: Not exactly and that’s what gives ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ much of its humour. I do think people will relate to some of the things we say though especially to our children and the relationship we have with them.
How do people get to see ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is it screening anywhere?
Sylvester: Not at the moment. ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is being released as a DVD on December 20th You can email Ebonywood Studio to pre-order a copy and details of stockists will be available on the Ebonywood Studio website.
Your final message to our visitors
Sylvester: ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is his first feature length production of its kind and I would like to urge visitors to get a copy and support the emergence of the UK black film industry.
Glen: If you want to watch something Caribbean this Christmas and have a good ole laugh then ‘Jingle Blues Jingle Bells’ is the one AND ONLY!!!!
Itzcaribbean.com wishes you great success with your first production and look forward to seeing what else Ebonywood has up its sleeve. Congratulations and best of luck guys.
Ebony Wood Studios