Kia Redman (Picture by Nigel Browne.)
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Kia Redman bagged six Barbados Visual Media Awards last Sunday night for her animated short film Roots|Routes. It wasn’t something the 23-year old videographer and designer expected.
“I was hoping but I didn’t really come here expecting anything. After a while it became a shock. I’m not a person who enjoys the spotlight. I like to be behind the camera . . . . It was a real shock and I’m really, really grateful because not a lot of people have the opportunity to be appreciated in their home country. People usually leave and get the recognition and come back. I am extremely grateful to the Barbados Film and Video Association,” she told EASY magazine in an interview after the ceremony
Kia won the Best Short Film award, Best Film Editing For A Short Film, Best Cinematography For A Short Film, Best Original Story For A Short Film, Best Director For A Short Film, and Best Sound Editing For A Short Film, which she shared with Ronellon Farley for Beyond The Husk.
The award she loved the most has to be “the film nerd in me is saying the one for sound editing, the one I tied with, because that’s my favourite part of shooting. Unlike a film with actual people, animation cannot come alive without audio, without any sort of sound. So I had to do just as much work, mixing different sound effects, creating different sound effects to bring life to the animation as actually making.
“They (the awards) all hold a special place in my heart but the film nerd in me is saying, ‘Oh yeah’ to the Best Sound Editing,” the Barbados Community College (BCC) graduate said.
The genesis of the ten-minute, six-segment film is grounded in her search to find her history. It was a project she started while studying for her bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
“The name (Roots|Routes) came from a Stuart Hall quote which says, ‘If you think of culture always as the return to roots you’re missing the point. I think of culture of routes. The various routes by which people travel, culture moves, culture develops, culture changes, cultures migrate.’
“For me, it started because I really didn’t have any contemporary Barbadian history knowledge, because I realise that the people that would have taught me, it was their life that they have taught and they would not have seen it as history. So my education in history ended around Independence.
“And there was this vast amount of time that seemed like a blank to me. I was trying to find a way to identify and connect with my culture because all of my friends were leaving to go abroad and find other things. They weren’t identifying as Bajan and really having those deep cultural roots. So this was my way of doing that and really trying to find the things that count as culture. The things that could count as everyday experiences, the things that you can only find in Barbados. The things that you can, no matter where you go, you could still identify as Bajan,” Kia explained.
Eating Shirley biscuits, for example, helped her understand the little things that identify as Bajan. She then incorporated them in the film in which she drew on “childhood memories, everyday experiences. Just things that are inherently Bajan that I can say. ‘Hey, this is who I am. This is my culture and I am proud.
“There six mini shorts in this short. The first one is Psst, My Sexy Friend. It’s a sexy coke bottle walking down the street getting catcalled by Stag and Stallions and Deputies. That was the first one I did. I would walk to catch the van to school and you know the men would behave a certain way.
“The next one is Home Of The Shirley Biscuit. After that it’s Pop In De Van. Again, you know you’re on the van, you’re hot and it’s sweaty you feel that you’re about to explode. That’s where it came from with the balloon. Then there’s one called Staycation where I have an inflatable palm tree and it’s going about doing all this tourist stuff around the place and when it gets home, you see it’s in a Bajan home and it deflates . . .”.
The other segments are White Washing featuring a bar of blue soap and Class Dismissed, with hair beads which represent “the idea of summer and freedom and the end of school”.
Kia said the film is “continuous. It’s not something that I think is done”. There are “countless other stories” she is waiting to tell and “countless other characters” ready to use.
Describing her entry into animation as “a happy accident”, she said she started out sculpting and drawing the scenarios. Then one day she decided to make them move.
“I wasn’t planning on being an animator; it just sort of accidentally happened,” she chuckled. She is grateful to her BCC tutors, who she said gave her “a lot of freedom and flexibility and input.
“Honestly, I think I got a better degree at BCC than I would have anywhere else. They really went above and beyond for me and all my peers. They hold a special place in my heart. They brought an artist from overseas to see our work. They helped us to get to go to the Venice Biennial and to see Europe. They really pushed us. It really was some of the best years of my life.”
Her next step is building her portfolio. She wants to do her master’s degree in animation and visual effects, after which she would like to return to Barbados, open an animation studio and teach. (GBM)