Local action crime thriller Pendulum began as a student project but it grew to become a feature film that will swing into theatres next week and filmmaker Michael Rochford says that features like The Cutlass and Green Days by the River helped pave the way.
Rochford about the film during an interview last week at Newsday’s Port of Spain offices. Pendulum is about a former Marine turned journalist investigating the murder of a CEO, which he is accused of committing.
Rochford said he likes urban environments and “unusual stories”. “I have been told over and over it does not like anything that somebody in the Caribbean would cook up. And I’m like ‘I guess. I wasn’t trying to not be Caribbean. I was just trying to express myself basically.”
The 25-year-old filmmaker from Arima said his favourite films were some of the first movies he saw growing up, namely The Matrix and Men in Black. He liked the “dark grunge underground vibe”.
Asked when he first wanted to become a filmmaker Rochford said it was from the first time he saw a movie. At about age nine he and his brother would video tape themselves re-enacting scenes form movies like Men in Black. Rochford said it felt right but then he had to figure out what to do with his passion.
He decided to pursue animation at University of Trinidad and Tobago and praised local animation pioneer Camille Selvon-Abrahams. But for him animation is about paying the bills and then went to the University of the West Indies (UWI) and enrolled in their film programme.
Pendulum in its initial form, and about 60 per cent of what it is today, was a class assignment and final “capstone” project. He said it was one of a number of projects that he was throwing around and his classmates chose the crime thriller. He released it in 2014 and when Rochford realised it developed a following he decided to do more with it rather than just “brush it off as homework.”
“I think in the entertainment business everything is governed by what (the public) choose to pursue.”
The film stars Jovon (Tariq) Brown as the lead Ryan, a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and Stephen Hadeed Jr as software CEO and Ryan’s friend Luther. It also stars Anokha Baptist, Scott Evans and Francés De Lancey. Rochford said that his filmmaker friends around the world and in places like New York can have actors lining up for their project but in Trinidad it is tough to get actors.
He said he cast the film a little bit at time and included his fellow film students and people who had never acted before. He recalled that it was difficult for some of the students balancing their studies and taking part in the film which included shooting into the night.