In a contemporary Eden, a man and woman stand in a kitchen preparing a meal. As they peel potatoes, they eat the skins and put aside the peeled potatoes for sale.
As the couple, representing Adam and Eve, continue to peel, eat and talk, a spoken-word piece about replanting crops, proper food waste disposal, and the possibility of consuming much less than we do is recited.
Shot on a mobile phone, the one-minute short film Eden Eaten, by Renaldo “Red” Frederick, won the Very Short Shorts Mobile competition at the ninth annual Green Screen Environmental Film Festival on November 5.
Frederick, 26, said the festival brought awareness of environmental sustainability, and the sub-theme he chose was Waste Not Want Not. He settled on the topic of food wastage because he had not seen much on the issue.
“Usually when I approach competitions I look at the topics. I put myself in the public eye and think, ‘What would be the thing everyone is going for?’
"And I would not do that. I would look for things I myself have not really seen.”
He told Sunday Newsday he considered the type of people who would be able to survive on a minimalist diet, and thought of Adam and Eve. He then used the suggestion of nudity, showing only the actors’ bodies, and no faces except close-ups of their mouths. In this way the actors became not real people but a representation of society, to show that anyone could live like that.
“I didn’t want to have any face that people might know or be able to connect to. Instead I wanted them to connect to the space they were in, to the time, to the nature of the issue at hand more than the individuals in the film. It was very plot driven more than actor driven.”
Last year, Frederick was also the competition’s first Youth Winner, for contestants 12 to 25. At that time he told people he would enter the film festival again.
“I made it very clear that I was coming back much harder, much more prepared, for this year. I knew this time I would not have been in the youth category, so I did take a lot of time in preparation, and thankfully that paid off this year.”
He said the competition this year was “stiff,” so he would not have been surprised if he had not won. So he was especially grateful that his vision was well received.
“I know sometimes if things are too artistic it goes over people’s head, so I’m really glad it was understood and it was appreciated, in both the artistic and technical aspects.”
Frederick was introduced to film by Che Rodriguez when he met the filmmaker, producer and actor through his mother at 16. At that time he started acting on stage and films as well as working as an assistant on Rodriguez’s productions.
Since then he has acted as the devil in the Derek Walcott musical Ti-Jean and His Brothers, directed by Wendell Manwarren; in local films including The Hike, Mariel Brown’s Unfinished Sentences, and Pan: Our Music Odyssey; and in the international film Girlfriends’ Getaway.
He also did his BA in film production at the University of the West Indies, with a minor in theatre arts, and was accepted to do a masters in acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. However, he said the acting programme does not focus on film as much as he would like, so as he was on vacation in TT, he was exploring other options.
He said although he is interested in producing, his passion is film acting. Fredericks, from Arima, hopes one day to get an agent, go to auditions, and explore international opportunities, whether movies for cinema, TV, or streaming platforms.
He also wants eventually to produce and direct local films if there is a forum that piques his interest. Asked why he wanted to make local films in particular, he said it was because the local industry needed to be shaken up.
“We don’t have enough people producing local films in TT. There are a lot of projects that do not really appeal to a Trinidadian setting. A lot of the stories are like a parody of something already tried and tested abroad. Very few people have taken a truly Trinidadian story, adapted it into a screenplay and produced a film on it.”