Joel Burke directs My Vote for Ring Di Alarm series Image

by Tanaka Roberts

Joel Burke of New Caribbean Cinema speaks on his short film "My Vote" to be featured in the series "Ring Di Alarm" which premieres in London on September 2nd at the British Film Institute Southbank theatre.

As the son of Ronnie Burke, founder and producer of the international music festival Reggae Sunsplash, Joel Burke spent most of his formative years within the entertainment industry. As a youngster he was also very fascinated with movies, particularly the 'behind the scenes' aspect of it. This fascination coupled with the exposure to live production through his father's tutelage, made his interest in film making no surprise.

Purely self taught but equipped with a creative eye, this 'techie' at heart first began editing music videos for two of Jamaica's renowned directors namely Jay Will and Ras Kassa. His close ties with the music fraternity led to his big break as a director, his very first projects being music videos for Jovi Rockwell and Bounty Killer.

Since then Burke has immersed himself deeper into the world of film shying away from directing music videos to focus more on his editing skills. He's edited local TV show 'Me and My Crew' and the featured film 'Ghett' A Life' by Chris Browne. Shortly after that he began directing again, working mostly on commercials. Thereafter he directed his first short film called 'Bad Lucky' and then his first full length feature "Candy Shop", both comedies.

Now as a member of New Caribbean Cinema, Burke has directed another short film 'My Vote' however unlike his previous works. 'My Vote' is a controversial five minute film addressing Jamaica's political reality. Burke explains, "Jamaica has had its history of politicians manipulating poor people to fight against each other and the idea came to me, what if that negative attention which the politicians caused the people to turn against each other, what if it was turned towards them?"

The film was shot in the Sandy Park community in Kingston, Jamaica as Burke sought to present a true representation of the issue. Of course with no intentions to condone violence against anyone, Burke's film provokes his audience to think about a social pathology that is almost imprinted in the psyche of Jamaican 'garrisons'. He strategically neglected the use of dialogue to keep the focus on the intensity of the action, all of which comes to and unforeseen end.

As a techie Burke pays close attention to the look and feel of his end product, ensuring that his equipment is set specifically to produce desired results. This is his forte within the dynamics of New Caribbean Cinema. Although being technologically savvy and highly skilled in editing proves to be very useful to the other members of the group he admits that, "Being part of a collective- creative group helps me a lot because if I have an idea and I'm not too sure about the idea, they all pitch in and say try it this way or that way and it just build you- builds confidence in what your doing. I'm a good editor, trying to become a better director, so being paired with someone like Storm who is great at setting up shots- he helps me in that way, just like how I help him in other ways too particularly when it comes to equipment."

He further added, "Its all a collaborative effort, especially with film making, no film maker can or should produce a successful film without collaboration meaning your missing the point if your trying to do something all by yourself."

With the premier of the Ring Di Alarm series in sight Burke hopes his film will achieve two things; 1. He hopes My Vote will get people to start thinking differently and 2. For young people to be inspired and realize that they too can round up a team and start creating their own films.

Ring Di Alarm premieres on Sunday, September 2nd at the British Film Institute SouthBank theatre in London.

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