Posted by DJ Gravy
Make it here, you make it anywhere is what Frank said, and it still rings true as ever. For Sam Fleischner, writer and director of the award winning indie film, “Wah Do Dem”, his moment of truth comes tomorrow, Tuesday, June 15th, the film’s New York premier. His film about a Williamsburg hipster’s misadventure traveling across Jamaica by any and all means necessary under less than ideal circumstances debuts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
In the city known for having the heaviest representation of people from all throughout the Caribbean (especially Brooklyn) this should pretty validating for a cultural-crossroads type project combining Willy B x Flatbush culture… a hipster “dung ah yard”!
The film has created quite a buzz, winning “Best Narrative Feature” at the Los Angeles Film Festival, “Best International Feature” at Jamaica’s Reggae Film Festival and several other impressive awards. Largeup caught up with Mr. Fleischner to find out how this project came about and how it was able to tell a story that crossed cultural barriers with class and style…
LU: When, where and how did you get stung by the Reggae bug?
SF: I think the bug really started when I saw “The Harder They Come” when I was like 12 years old. That movie blew me away and the soundtrack was one of my first albums.
LU: The story in Wah Do Dem seems too real to have been completely made up, how did the plot form?
SF: Well the story was actually completely made up except the way it came about was real in that Ben (the main character) won a free cruise in a raffle. We’ve both traveled a bunch so it also came from the experience and perspective of a young privileged traveler. Ironically, I had my passport picked out of my pocket last fall (1 year after the shoot) when I was shooting for Puma in Cote D’Ivoire.
LU: How did the title of the movie come about?
SF: Initially we chose Wah Do Dem for the name of our LLC/production company. To us the term came directly from Eek-A-Mouse. We talked about calling the film “Don’t Rock My Boat,” “Cruzin 2 Kingston,” and “Go Easy With Me,” to name a few but then realized that none of those ideas were very cool or provocative.
LU: What is it about Billyburg hipsterism intersecting with Reggae and Jamaican / Caribbean culture that intrigues people so much?
SF: Well its all about style, and Jamaicans have the best style.
LU: Amazingly, your character comes across as approachable and cool rather than slick and spoiled. What inspired you to find that angle?
SF: I think Max’s character can be read a number different ways while maintaining a certain degree of familiarity. We wanted to see how the pretense of this type of Cultural Elitist would break down over the course of an odyssey in which he is stripped of his belongings.