Local film The Hike a thrilling supernatural journey

The Hike main cast Keston Dick, left, Jiselle Huggins, centre, and Renaldo
The Hike main cast Keston Dick, left, Jiselle Huggins, centre, and Renaldo "Red" Frederick at the film premiere held on Sunday at Lady Chancellor Hill, Port of Spain.

THERE'S something strange in the forest. Some...thing.

A young couple who gets lost on a hike and has to flee supernatural forces is the plot of the short film, The Hike, which had its premiere on Sunday night at the FIXERFilm Studios' first Film and Folklore Festival at Lady Chancellor Hill, Port of Spain.

The 45-minute film stars Renaldo "Red" Frederick (Flying the Coup, Girlfriends' Getaway, Unfinished Sentences, Pan! Our Music Odyssey), Keston Dick (Flying the Coup, Moko Jumbie) and Jiselle Huggins in her début performance. It was written by festival co-founder Leslie Ann Wills-Caton and directed by co-founder Annisia Cadogan.

The themes of folklore and hiking were peppered throughout the event, from a ticket with an actual compass to nature sounds on the shuttle from NAPA to party favours with salt and "holy water" to a folklore character quiz. There were also booths featuring local liqueurs, rum cocktails and nature-themed items. The attention to detail and massive planning for the event were clear to all those who attended.

The set-up on the hill with the trees and shrubbery all around also helped create the mood for the film. The screen was a bit obscured by street lamps, but that was an inevitable hazard of the outdoor setting.

The poster for the film The Hike.

The night opened with an exuberant performance by Verses poetry slam champion Idrees Saleem doing a piece called The Midnight Robber. Next up was a short film, The Morning After, starring Dick, about a gunman haunted by his wicked deeds. Dick was asked by host Gerelle Forbes, dressed like a high fashion La Diablesse, about being in The Hike.

He replied: "Stories are important. Our stories are important. It keeps the culture and the people alive. We are a culture of stories, of oral tradition."

It was time for the main event, and the audience was treated to a thrilling, tension-filled supernatural adventure that featured strong chemistry between Frederick and Huggins as Neal and Alyssa respectively. At the end of the film Omar Jarra sang his moving original song Eternity, which was featured in The Hike's closing credits.

One attendee said: "You had me on the edge of my seat for the whole show."

Another said some of the concepts could have been better explained, but he found it enjoyable: "Money well spent."

A female audience member said she was amazed by the beauty of the forest and the chemistry between the romantic leads. Another said she enjoyed the acting, the ambiance and the pacing.

The Hike was shot over six days in Arima near Darceuil Lane and also in Calvary Hill and Cleaver Woods. The film had some audio issues, but during the question-and-answer segment, director of photography Nigel Thompson said it was still unfinished and there was much more to do.

He also had very high praise for the film's cast, saying the three actors were the pinnacle of the new crop coming up.

"I have been in this business for 20 years. This is the first time I felt absolutely confident about actors in anything in TT. These three have a very long way to go (in the industry)."

One attendee asked the actors if most of the dialogue was ad-libbed or they stuck to a script. Huggins said a lot of the lines were in standard English and they broke down some into local dialect. Frederick said he tried to make the dialogue natural and not adhere too strictly to the script.

"I really wanted to make it comfortable to hear, comfortable to look at. So I was just workshopping with Jiselle. It's her first time acting, but she did a really good job."

Asked what was the greatest challenge of the film, Cadogan said it was bringing folklore characters without the desired budget.

Canton was asked about the inspiration for the event.

Founder, producer and director Annisia Cadogan, left, and founder, producer and writer Leslie Ann Wills-Caton at the Film and Folklore Festival held at Lady Chancellor Hill, Port of Spain.

She replied: "We felt like more needed to be done with folklore. And not just folklore, but with culture. And not just culture, but with Carnival characters. Imagine one day a pierrot grenade falls in love with maybe a baby doll.

"There's so much we can tell. Everything doesn't have to be a horror. The same way we can't wait to watch Game of Thrones and see the dragon, maybe one day we will can't wait to go and see our lore. And we will have our stories to tell. Because if we run down the American culture, we will lose ours."

Of the film, she said they did not want to be campy with folklore, but give it a modern twist and introduce their own concepts. Canton explained the producers have been trying to raise funds for the last two years and have a series of six shorts for a folklore anthology called Tell Me A Story which were all in post-production.

Host Gerelle Forbes interacts with the audience at the Film and Folklore Festival held on Sunday at Lady Chancellor Hill, Port of Spain.

"We hope this is the incentive that persons need to support us. We really wanted to create a model for what can do with film. So we do this and other persons will be encouraged.

"The more stories we get the more we can have entertainment that you can put on your TV – our local stories."

Canton said the event was a "focus group" and they have a lot more in store.

"And we have scripts lined up. Once we can produce it, they're there."

There will be additional viewings of The Hike in Calvary Hill, Point Fortin and in South.

"It's very much an outdoors-y kind of film so we don't really want to put it indoors," said Canton. "We want this experience all the time."

The event is a small start, she said, but next year they plan to have submissions and to bring folklore from all over the world.

"So we can all celebrate and know who we are. Because if we don't know who we are, we lose our identity. So this is important for us, and we'll keep doing it."

A still from the film The Hike featuring Renaldo "Red" Frederick (left) and Jiselle Huggins.


"Local film The Hike a thrilling supernatural journey"

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