ACTOR Paul Campbell has ditched the villain role — a part he has perfected — in exchange for that of a very concerned dad all wrapped up in Christian values, which he plays in The Heart of Summer, a movie scheduled for release this summer.
Campbell, whose signature style is that of a cold, calculating character usually on the wrong side of the law, says he is looking forward to the reaction of his fans on seeing him in a different role.
“After Dancehall Queen, people only saw me as a villain,” he said during a telephone interview with Splash. “This movie is different from the others … there’s a human interest component which is very strong. It really can be called a love story. And I have enjoyed playing the role of the father,” says Campbell.
Campbell, who also has productions credits on the flick, explained that The Heart of Summer is the first feature out of his company, Par Pictures. “It feels good… now it feels like I’m holding the knife by the handle,” he said of this experience.
Interestingly, Pulse model Oraine Barrett makes his big-screen debut, as friend of leading man, Omari, with whom Campbell’s daughter Naomi, finds romance and sets off the explosive journey at The Heart of Summer.
Campbell, while looking forward to the release of the new flick, was still in celebratory mode, as a movie in which he had starred won Best Thriller in the Toronto Reel Festival last week.
“The film is called Machete Joe,” he said, sounding very American.
Detecting a pause, he interjected, “In Jamaica, we woulda say cutliss… Cutliss Joe,” Campbell said, laughing out loud.
It starred Paul Campbell, Ernie Hudson, and Gordon Greene — who did the screenplay. The film is directed by Sasha Krane.
According to the film blurb, Machete Joe tells the tale of a group of out-of-work actors who decide to take their careers into their own hands by shooting a low-budget horror film, about an urban myth. With only 15 days to shoot their unfinished script at a remote castle in the desert, getting through the first night becomes a nightmare. As their egos begin to surface, so do the bodies.
Campbell noted that at the film festival, “they had to open two extra theatres” to accommodate viewers and the win was “wonderful”.
Passionate about making a contribution to the local film industry, Campbell says he has offered his services to the powers that be; has had a meeting with them, but so far nothing has come of it. Instead of just talking Jamaica, he is now talking — and acting – Caribbean.
“We, Mark Parris and myself, have formed a new company, Cine Enigma. Our intention is to move the Caribbean film industry to a global level … to collaborate with Caribbean companies, do distribution on their behalf and get their actors and producers out there,” Campbell said excitedly. “Caribbean people have not been a together people, and that’s owing to the divide and rule mentality, but we share so much history that it is natural that we should get together and learn from each other.”
St Lucia has expressed an interest and so too has the Belizean government, which has invited Campbell and his team to their film festival, and have sought his assistance in setting up infrastructure to teach persons in Belize.
With regards to Jamaica, he noted that Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville has reached out to him.
“The time is right to move the film industry forward, and in Jamaica we have so many stories to tell — the White Witch of Rose Hall, the Morant Bay Rebellion, Lovers’ Leap — great stories …stories about the ghettos. We shouldn’t have to wait until Palm Pictures or some foreign company comes in and decides to do a film and use Jamaica for the backdrop,” he stated.
“Somebody sent me the Aljazeera documentary and I wondered why didn’t we in Jamaica produce this,” said Campbell, sounding frustrated.
He added, “If Jamaica’s film industry gets up and is on the run, there are so many jobs that can be created. We owe it to the next generation,” said the man who in June will open a one-man show titled The Life And Times Of A Jamaican Actor.