Damien, Clish “the dream team”
They are not yet at the Crossroads but they are on Cloud 9. Damien Pinder and Clish Gittens have claimed the top prize in the recent Barbados Film and Video Association 48 hour challenge.
Winning Best Film three years straight is no easy feat and came with blood, sweat, tears, many disagreements and even a late submission that almost cost them points but still managed to win.
Damien and Clish are as similar as they are different. Damien is more laid-back and last-minute while Clish is vocal and organised.
They met at the University of the West Indies (UWI) while Damien, who holds an associate degree in mass communications, was finishing up his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majoring in creative arts.
Clish, who is in his last year of the same programme at UWI, lives in St Philip and, realising that Damien was from the area, started to give him a ride home on evenings. They then started to work on various projects together, each encouraging each the other to do well.
“We used to hang out in the car park after classes venting about any and everything wrong at uwi. We used to call ourselves the I Bun Committee,” explained Clish. “When we wanted to enter the competition, we said we needed to get the name professional and so we came up with Individuals Bringing Creativity.”
The film’s challenges were as the name suggested – challenging except for 2012 when Damien and Clish entered Caribbean Tales 48-hour challenge with a team of professionals.
“They had all the equipment and the knowledge so we won Best Film, Best Edit and Best Sound for Alfonso,” said Damien.
“That was the greatest film experience that we had,” they said simultaneously.
With full freedom of creativity and all hands on deck with the script, Alfonso was about a hitman who rode a broken down bicycle.
There was an ad in the paper and if someone needed the killer for hire the person would call the number and the code was “I want a dog put down.”
Clish was the lead actor.
“Even now people come up to me and say the line,” said Clish, laughing.
For that challenge, the turn-in time was 7 p.m. and for every minute late for submission a point was deducted.
“We turned it in at 7:03 and got three points deducted and we still won,” said Damien proudly.
Last year, The BFVA replaced Caribbean Tales and the team, hesitant to enter, did so after much back and forth.
“We had to get a new team but thankfully they had some experience in theatre and film,” said Clish.
And so, True Con was born. But it wasn’t all roses for the team.
“When we first did True Con, Damien didn’t like the script,” said Clish, “But I stood my ground.”
“It was too late at the time to change anything,” said Damien.
Last year they had a female actress, Rotchell Gibbons, and they took home Best Actress, Best Sound, Best Edit, Best Cinematography and Best Film, losing out in Best Script and Best Actor.
Fast forward to two weeks ago and the team has handed in Crossroads.
“And to think we said we weren’t entering but everyone said we had to defend our title,” said Clish.
“This script was the hardest to write. We were struggling to come up with the concept,” said Damien.
Clish said they agreed to write around the one element they had that no one else had – a pregnant actress. And the fact that everybody on the team was artistic.
It was about a struggling cameraman whose girlfriend was pregnant with triplets. The crux of the story was what would push him to put down the camera to commit a crime.
“The ending is left open to interpretation,” both said.
And, yes, this film came with its own set of challenges.
“We almost thought we weren’t going to finish. It was a lot of last-second changes. There were a lot of things you want to do but cannot because of time frame,” said Damien.
The duo said that all they wanted this year was to win at least one category – to let the team know their efforts were not in vain.
“When my name was called for Best Actor I was emotional,” said Clish. “Because of all the challenges.”
Winning Best Film was the icing on the cake since that means they hold a three-peat.
“I was happy with the competition. When I saw all six films that night at the awards I said it was going to be tough,” said Damien.
Damien, 26, is one half of Nu Visual Media and Clish, 31, is a draughtsman at the Ministry of Public Works.
“We love being creative,” said Clish. “Any chance we get to get our hands and heads into theatre or film we do.”
Both friends have travelled the world working on projects, such as Italy, Suriname and Trinidad.
They have received numerous awards over the years and on October 17 they are looking to add some more to their collection.
“We are up for the BFVA awards against big screen productions such as Chrissy and Payday. I am up for Best Actor too. It’s an honour to be even nominated,” said Clish.