Jabari Daniel

Life is a piece of cake for filmmaker/photographer Jabari Daniel.

Daniel, 27, debuted his short film Cheesecake to rave reviews at the trinidad + tobago film festival (ttff) on Friday.

The Cascade-born filmmaker’s dramatic tale is about a man named Brian Francis (played by Daniel) who tries to charm his way, over a slice of cheesecake into an exclusive brotherhood called The Alpha Society. Daniel’s character is faced with two major obstacles: the admission fee and its next-day deadline.

“Internally hesitant, but externally confident, Brian makes the brotherhood a shaky but bold guarantee of meeting their requirements. ‘Everything’s Cheesecake’ he says, as he now has to figure out how to make this money by tomorrow,” Daniel said of the project when he spoke to the Kitcharee earlier this week.

Daniel’s still photos have been getting him as much attention as his moving pictures on social media. The talented digital editor has gathered a large following with his impressive explosive shots and movie poster recreations.

Daniel says he dreams of turning his high action stills into full-fledged feature films. He credits “the creative people” in his life like his cousin musician Rashaad Ahong with inspiring his crations.

“My inspirations are the creative people I have in my life. Some are Ryan Figuera, Laura Ferreira and my cousin Rashaad Ahong being the biggest inspiration if I’m being honest; people who never cease to impress me and I always let them know that.

“I’m interested in dipping my feet in almost every genre of film. I really love action and I’d really love to make an action film. It could be action-comedy, action-adventure, action-thriller etc. I wanna try them all,” Daniel said.

‘A weird time to be a filmmaker’

The months of forced lockdown, often in isolation, caused by the ongoing pandemic have done little for Daniel’s creative process. A people person at heart, he said he found it “tough to find inspiration,” but still tried to maximise the time “learning new skills”.

“I have to be candid and say that the pandemic has made it a bit tougher with finding inspiration because of lockdowns and constant Covid updates. But those difficulties were also a catalyst for inspiration and that led to me learning new skills and picking up new hobbies/interests which helped me to improve myself as a person wholly,” Daniel said.

Festivals like thw ttff are crucial to encouraging the creative process as it gives filmmakers an outlet to showcase their work, he said.

“This is an extremely weird time to be a filmmaker especially in a Caribbean island during a pandemic. I think now more than ever filmmakers need this extra boost to showcase their work regardless of if it’s being shown on a big screen or online. The landscape has changed and because of it, the viewing experience is also changing. Having this platform is great for us and now it’s a matter of building on this experience and allowing viewers to get the most out of it,” he reasoned.

Despite the unique challenges and unforeseen setbacks of the past two years Daniel is looking at 2022 with renewed optimism. He is set to collaborate with a couple local film creatives on an upcoming film project in the new year. He plans to also pursue a post-graduate film degree in Sheridan College, in Ontario, Canada.

“I have some new and upcoming film and photography projects with some great friends of mine soon. Although the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty, one thing that I’m certain about is that life goes on and I have to keep on moving with it as well,” Daniel concluded.

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