Jamaican vampire series offers different narrative in local film industry
Jamaican film-maker Lone Wolf is determined to change what he views as a one-dimensional approach to creating films in Jamaica.
His first online series Campus, set in a college and follows freshman Shawn (Oshane Panton), who finds himself in a battle with the supernatural world when dead bodies start popping up across campus. The first episode debuted on YouTube three weeks ago, and has amassed almost 5,000 views.
"The reception has been just love on top of love. Everybody is looking forward to the next episode on December 6, which will definitely hook other people. It's gonna be bloody, there will be some fight scenes and a lot of drama," Lone Wolf told The Gleaner.
EXPLORING THE SUPERNATURAL
The horror series plays on the theme of good versus evil, as a vampire wreaks havoc on campus. Despite the blood and gore, Lone Wolf said he was not afraid of any backlash.
"I actually asked around and found out what people liked, and most of them said Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf ... supernatural stuff, so I am giving Jamaicans what they want," the 23-year-old told The Gleaner. "I realise most persons are too scared to do something controversial, so most films done in Jamaica have one genre - it's like the same one song being sung by different artistes. Well, I'm the artiste with a different song."
Written and directed by Lone Wolf, Campus is a six-part series shot at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus. The director also scouted talent from the institution, but said this comes with challenges. Even though Campus was birthed one year ago, the first episode took time to film due to conflicting schedules.
"Some of the team and cast are students, others work, so we had been working on the first episode from November 2017 to April this year," he said. "Even though I have some assistance, we don't have a production studio, so I am basically a one-man production, which makes the turnover time really hard, so I put a one-month interval between each episode."
The director also doubles as an actor in the series, as he plays the supernatural character Rogue. "Acting has been one of my biggest dreams, but I can never live my dream because if I am not behind the camera it will not be done properly. Luckily, I have some camera assistance so I get to experience that and get outside of my comfort zone."
Despite the buzz around the first episode, Lone Wolf is not ready to pitch it to streaming services or television.
"This season is an introduction to Jamaica, to show what we can create," he said. "Hopefully, we can get sponsors to make the steps we want to make so by Season Two we have a full-fledged professional series where actors can be paid, and we can get some proper equipment. Most people carry a piece of paper to pitch to people, but investors want to see results."
Lone Wolf, born Mario Allen, is from Manchester, and adopted the name Lone Wolf based on his reclusive nature while at the Victor Dixon High School. He started taking production seriously two years ago, and completed a film course at the UWI. He now operates his own production company, Lone Wolf Filmz, which specialises in cinematography, writing and video production. He has done music videos for acts such as Wayne Marshall, Bugle, Brown Shuga, Serani, and has shot commercials for companies like ATL, Audi and Sagicor.
With Campus as a platform, he hopes to ultimately "bring Hollywood to Jamaica". He said, "I want to do a Jamaican version of Kill Bill, a Jamaican superhero movie, zombie movie, romance, even a Fifty Shades of Grey vibe - just basically create everything Jamaica isn't creating. People want to see more, they want to come home and look forward to watching TV, but instead they have to go on YouTube because TV is boring. I'm about extraordinary content, so expect the unexpected. I would love to recreate the Tivoli Gardens incursion from the perspective of the police with buildings blowing up, and everything that happened. I think it would sell. Those are the type of things I think about."