Filmmaker Michael Mooleedhar seems to have a never-ending golden reel of film in his camera.
Mooleedhar, who skipped into the national conscience like a flat stone across calm waters with the success of his film Green Days by the River, can now include ad award winner to his growing resume.
The in-demand director’s first TV advertising campaign has earned Gold and Silver ADDY awards from the Caribbean Advertising Federation and Silver ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation’s District 4 American Advertising Awards show earlier this year.
Much like the Oscars are to film and the Grammys to music, the Addy awards are the gold standard in the advertising world and honour the best in regional and American advertising.
“It’s an incredible achievement for me as we are just getting into ads, so to be appreciated for my work at the highest levels in the region and also North America feels really great and I hope this brings attention to 24P and its capabilities,” Mooleedhar told the Kitcharee during an WhatsApp exchange on Thursday.
Mooleedhar only started his production company 24P last year. Among his first tasks was bringing to life a TV campaign for a local optometrist and eye wear company. The brainchild of creative Brent Matthew the Addy winning campaign featured dogs wearing spectacles. Cinematographer Kerron Lemessy and colour technician Drew Howell also worked on the award-winning project.
“The advert was wildly successful, (the company) was pleased and dog lovers everywhere were super excited… I think being a filmmaker has so many dimensions to it and so many different directions. It isn’t like the corporate world where you can just move up or get a promotion. In this sense the awards are important, almost validates your abilities,” Mooleedhar explained.
Making films from home
The ongoing global pandemic has considerably slowed Mooleedhar’s progress. Like most creatives in the region the well-travelled filmmaker has found himself grounded at home, limited to virtual online platforms.
“The pandemic is unreal. I got really accustomed to a lifestyle of travel and being where I was needed. I was in the process of really trying to expand my brand and filmmaking onto the international scene. I was just about beginning to see the benefits from a few connections and boom the pandemic hit and we have all been grounded,” he lamented.
Despite the unusual challenges, Mooleedhar has been keeping busy. He completed a Masters in International Film Business at the University of Exeter and London Film School in 2000. And continues to collaborate with like-minded creatives locally and abroad on the Internet.
“Of course, the Internet is a great place to continue these connections. In light of all of this (the pandemic) I have really found a space which I enjoy, which is working with a range of people to bring ideas and concepts to life. At the heart of it that is what it is all really about. Seeing an idea grow through the various stages from pen or keyboard to reality. I get a rush each time it happens,” he explained.
Mooleedhar was also recently invited to lecture at The University of the West Indies’ film programme.
“I started off in person right before the pandemic started and quickly had to pivot to online classes. I must say, running a three-hour lecture on Z oom is a real challenge. But, one gain is to interact and meet the future generation of filmmakers and see how talented they all are. Being able to help guide them has been very motivating for me,” he added.
The ultimate dream is to establish a film company and production studio, Mooleedhar said. More than a filmmaker he sees himself as a film entrepreneur, he explained. And envisions creating a space where film creatives can express their ideas.
For those who keep asking, Mooleedhar says yes, Green Days by the River is currently available online. Mooleedhar’s adaptation of Michael Anthony’s classic book is now on the streaming service Kwelitv and is also available on demand on Vimeo. The award-winning film will also soon be on ROKU and Filmco’s new service FILMCO2GO soon. The DVD of the film can also be purchased at Paper Based Bookshop at Normandie Hotel.
“Distribution for Caribbean films is still a huge international challenge,” Mooleedhar admitted.
“We very recently signed a distribution deal with international French company Trace. So very soon, hopefully, Green Days by the River will be on more platforms and more accessible. For such a small movie it has been highly successful from playing around the world at film festivals, universities and cinemas and the film has taught me so much about filmmaking, distribution and the resilience necessary for being a professional filmmaker,” he added.
As for his immediate plans, Mooleedhar said surviving the pandemic both physically and professionally are his main priorities.
“I am starting with getting through this pandemic alive. It sounds like I might be a bit dramatic in saying that but I mean I am a filmmaker,” he joked.
“I feel very blessed to still be able to do my craft at a time when so many people are losing jobs and businesses are closing down. I am able to work from home so I have been very lucky and this is something I have not taken for granted during this time,” he continued more seriously.
“I think we will all have a renewed sense of passion for life when we are allowed back out. Remembering there was once a time we couldn’t socialise. A simple goal like that, of getting back a sense of normalcy I think we will all be happy with for the future,” Mooleedhar concluded.