St. John resident Brummel Germain, left, and Sulay de la Rosa during the filming of a St. Thomas Carnival scene in “Timeless.”
While the Virgin Islands is often a beautiful backdrop to feature films, like “The Chronicles of Benjamin Button” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” no films have yet to tell a gripping tale about these islands or use local cast; until now.
“Timeless,” the movie weaves a compelling story that instantly resonates with the viewer. Even from the short trailer available to view, it’s obvious that this production is no amateur effort.
“Timeless,” is writer and director Edward La Borde Jr.’s third feature film, yet his first movie solely about the Virgin Islands and featuring local actors. La Borde is originally from St. Thomas and attended high school in New York. He entered the film industry after serving in the Navy for four years.
His first feature film “Me and Mrs. Jones,” earned rave reviews at film festivals around the world and is still in distribution today. La Borde made his second feature film “Get Money,” starring Carl Anthony Payne II in 2003. He’s been working on Timeless while also racking up local Addy Awards, producing music videos and more.
La Borde formed Cutting Edge Entertainment with University of the Virgin Islands theater instructor David Edgecombe, who serves as the film’s executive producer. The two are working with local production company Digitek and have a strong cast of Virgin Islands actors.
The film weaves a tale about love which begins in 19th century Ghana and transcends to modern day St. Thomas. The movie is about the lives of Asante and Akwasi, who are ripped apart by slave traders in Ghana in 1800, but their love survives and their souls find each other again in modern day St. Thomas.
Nothing is easy, of course, as the couple is once more plagued by slavery, this time in the form of poverty, prostitution and racism.
“Audiences will relate to the romance, corrupt politics, folklore and Caribbean culture displayed in the film,” according to the Timeless press kit. “The movie explores the idea that hurricanes are really the souls of people that suffered during the Middle Passage. There will be scenes set in West Africa and will definitely appeal to those interested in the historic connection between West Africa and the Virgin Islands.”
The cast includes female leads Kmisha Counts and Sulay de la Rosa and Love City’s own Brummel Germain as the lead male. Germain plays Alphonse Walcott, a best-selling author who recently retuned to the Virgin Islands from the mainland.
Count’s character is a St. Thomas senator who helps Germain secure a job and definitely has some ideas about what she expects in return. De La Rosa plays a recent transplant from the Dominican Republic with less than perfect English, who falls for Germain’s character and things quickly start to get interesting.
Timeless has plenty of talent, creativity and professionalism at its core. What it doesn’t have is funding. Far from being even a low-budget indie film, Timeless has been a zero-budget production so far.
The actors are not being paid for their work — they have agreed to work on deferred payment contracts and continue to work their full time jobs — while Digitek, which owns its equipment, and Cutting Edge Entertainment are working gratis and have used their own funds for the film to date.
With the first half of the film completed, including scenes from St. Thomas Carnival, the crew is beginning work on the second half of the film, which is going to be costly. The Timeless team is launching a kickstarter campaign to help cover costs of traveling to St. Croix, historical scene building, costumes and marketing, and is hoping the Virgin Islands community steps up to the plate.
“The second half of the movie will be the most difficult and costly to shoot, which is why we need your support,” according to the Timeless Kickstarter campaign website. “We will be shooting in St. Croix and building sets for Timeless’ West African scenes. The cast that has been filming so far won’t be in the 18th century scenes of the movie but we will need to transport the crew as well as equipment over to St. Croix from St. Thomas.”
To support the film go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timelessthemovie/timeless-a-virgin-islands-love-story-feature-film.
The film will not only benefit the cast and crew, but the entire Virgin Islands, according to Timeless’ kickstarter website.
“The success of this film will not only benefit everyone who is directly involved but it will help to serve as kick-starter (no pun intended) for the film industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands; an industry that has fallen by the wayside,” according to the site.
Before Timeless, Germain had no professional acting to his credit, explained the father of two and St. John business owner.
“It was really crazy,” said Germain. “I have not had professional acting experience and I’ve never been in a full-on movie. I went to the audition and got the call back and it’s just been crazy since then.”
“I was really excited and intimidated at first,” he said. “It was weird at first to try to bring to life someone’s vision and tell their story. You have to buy into it 100 percent.”
Working with the seasoned director La Borde was a great help, Germain explained.
“It was tough in the beginning but once we started getting together and doing readings and started practicing, I learned so much from Ed La Borde,” he said. “His tutelage made me realize he really knows what he’s doing and he can really help me.”
Now firmly bitten by the acting bug, Germain loves filming scenes for the movie, he added.
“It’s addictive,” said Germain. “You look at the takes and you can’t believe it’s you on the screen. It’s really fun.”
While shooting the film has not been easy, especially since Germain has agreed to deferred payment, it’s been a rewarding experience, he explained.
“The tough part is the filming schedule since for me, on a day-to-day basis, I have two kids and a business to run,” said Germain. “It’s been a sacrifice but it’s worth it. I didn’t know anyone in the crew — we were all perfect strangers — and now everyone on the set is family.”
The crew hopes to have the film wrapped by early next year as long as funding comes through and the production schedule remains on time. To help ensure that happens, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timelessthemovie/timeless-a-virgin-islands-love-story-feature-film and make a donation. Fans can also follow the film’s progress on Facebook.