Sat | Aug 17, 2019

Over 1,000 Jamaican extras worked on ‘Sprinter’

Published:Friday | July 19, 2019 | 12:35 AM
Writer and director, Storm Saulter, poses alongside a banner of SPRINTER while at the film’s US premiere at the Grove Theater in Los Angeles, California, in April 23. ‘Sprinter’ opened locally on Wednesday, July 3.
Writer and director, Storm Saulter, poses alongside a banner of SPRINTER while at the film’s US premiere at the Grove Theater in Los Angeles, California, in April 23. ‘Sprinter’ opened locally on Wednesday, July 3.

Jamaica is known worldwide for its wealth of talented performers and actors, and the award-winning film Sprinter, written and directed by prolific Jamaican film-maker Storm Saulter, has created an international platform for this talent.

The film, which is now open in cinemas across Jamaica, showcases an extensive main cast of 61 actors, 57 of whom are Jamaican. The film also had a crew of 131 Jamaicans and over 1,000 Jamaican extras.

The cast includes seasoned Jamaican actors like Dennis Titus who has appeared in numerous theatrical productions and films, and plays the role of disheartened but loving father to the protagonist Akeem Sharp. Kadeem Wilson ( Ghetta Life, Home Again), excels as Germaine, the antagonist brother who movie fans hate to love, and Shantol Jackson, well known for roles in Thicker than Water, Real Friends and Idris Elba’s Yardie, plays Kerry, the voice of wisdom. There are also appearances from other well-known Jamaican actors Glen ‘Titus’ Campbell, Sakina Deer, and Dahlia Harris.

Breakout STARS

The critically acclaimed Sprinter also provided a breakout opportunity for fresh, new Jamaican talent, chief of which is lead actor Dale Elliott.

Elliot, a social media comedian known as ‘Elli the Viner’, was scouted by Saulter for the role. Other social media comedians K’Vonne ‘Prince Pine’ Legore and Mickel ‘Fat Skull’ Matthews also saw some screen time.

Sprinter is the debut film for Shak-Quera South, who plays Akeem’s love interest ‘Mira’, Sannetta Myrie, who plays the spiritual ‘Sister Pam’, and dancehall sensation Colin ‘Demarco’ Edwards as ‘Bossy’.

Sprinter features international Hollywood stars Lorraine Toussaint of Netflix series Orange is the New Black, who plays Akeem’s mother Donna; and David Alan Grier, who is known for his role in the hit sitcom In Living Colour captured the hearts of many in his role as Coach. Bryshere Grey who plays Hakeem on Fox’s Empire; shone in his role as rival American athlete Marcus Brick.

The film was shot in Jamaica over a 22-day period, with only five international shoot days, and features numerous cameos from Jamaicans known and loved worldwide.

Olympic sensation Usain Bolt offers sound advice to the lead character, while Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, offers a pleasant surprise. Other popular cameos include journalist Winford Williams and dancehall entertainer Chi Ching Ching.

Saulter underscores the importance of investing in Jamaican talent. He believes that the island has a wealth of potential that must be showcased.

“It’s always a joy to discover new talent. I keep my eye out for Jamaican actors that are doing good work on stage and screen, and when someone impresses me, I keep them in mind for future projects. Sometimes I even write the script with them in mind as was the case with Kadeem Wilson,” said Saulter.

And Renée Robinson, Jamaica’s film commissioner, lauded Sprinter for its wealth of Jamaican actors and crew. She believes the movie has also created an international platform for Jamaican talent.

Sprinter opening in theatres in Jamaica demonstrates the true viability of local content on local screens for local audiences. Storm Saulter and his team have created something that all Jamaicans can be proud of, and we must rally behind it with support – whether by buying a ticket, or by joining the long-standing advocacy for resources and ecosystem growth for the film industry,” Robinson said.

The film commissioner also shared that Sprinter highlights that Jamaica’s film industry is heading in the right direction, and called on others to also invest in local talent.

“In many ways, Sprinter heralds a new era of Jamaican cinema, one which displays significant potential for economic success and critical acclaim,” she highlights.

Sprinter was released locally on July 3, and is now showing in cinemas across the island and will be the opening feature film at Sunshine Palace in Portmore, St Catherine.