FilmTT’s Stakeholder Q&A

Lisa-Marie Daniel


Selwyn Henry

Shari Petti

Steven Taylor

Navid Lancaster

Lisa-Marie Daniel

Fashion in Film

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the position you hold as FashionTT’s GM?

On a personal note, I am a family-oriented person, fun-loving, highly committed, love watching movies, visiting local fashion designers online and in store to buy products for my wardrobe. I believe taking care of your appearance and building your core personal brand whilst remaining authentic to yourself is key to your happiness and accordingly will lead to your success/contentment in other avenues in your life.

On my career side, I have a business and finance background spanning 15 years of which I have 10 years’ experience in senior management positions in the private and public sectors. This experience has boded well for my position at FashionTT as our company’s mandate is to stimulate the business development and export activity of the fashion industry which covers many instrumental areas in business and finance. I have worked with FashionTT for over 5 years next year March will be 6 years and in addition to the company meeting its key deliverables in industry expansion ie designer business and export growth, it is truly rewarding to make a positive difference in persons’ lives by providing support which would have contributed to a more sustainable way of living.


When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

I have always aspired to work in the Business of Fashion from my early teenage years, not only I love the beauty of fashion but this industry is such a successful one internationally generating revenues at approximately US$2.4 trillion, there are so many areas in the fashion value chain in which you can work and provide a meaningful contribution. I was so excited and appreciative to be granted with the opportunity to work with FashionTT in 2015. I remember my first local dress I bought years before by Lisa See Tai. It is absolutely my style and I still wear it. It looks great and that attests to the talent and good quality that is derived from purchasing local fashion.


Who has been your biggest mentors in this industry and what was the best advice they gave?

A couple of the persons I look up to at the top and have true admiration for are Ecliff Elie, Claudia Pegus and Professor Andrew Ramroop. Whilst being successful they have not lost their humility and personal touch with their clients, Ecliff, Claudia and Andrew have supported FashionTT so much and we are very grateful. The key tips they have shared with me and the designer community:

Ecliff: “As a designer if you just try to sell clothing you are going fail, because there are a lot of clothing out there but if you try to sell a brand, the marketing and marketing strategy becomes much easier. If you have a brand you can sell clothing, eyewear, cufflinks etc.” Remember with all the large brands around the world, persons are buying into the brand and not just the product.

Claudia: “I have been able to outsource local labour to support my production process. I think outsourcing specialists in different areas such as in cutting, stitching and finishing etc can support us in managing our overheads and it speeds production up at a much better price, I outsource primarily from Trinidad”

Andrew: “Don’t follow the pathway, create your own pathway, leave a trail”


The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you would give for staying ahead of the curve?

1. Always stay well researched and abreast of local and international industry developments, technology has progressed tremendously to support the ease of doing business, sustainability is a topic of focus and is much needed for conservation and the needs of consumers are always changing you need to stay informed of fashion trends and re-innovate where possible to the needs of your target market.

2. you need to always provide optimal customer service, create a one on one relationship with your customer and be in touch on what their needs are, customers who have a great relationship with you and receive a special warm experience will highly unlikely move to a competitor. It is fantastic to acquire new clients; however, it should also be taken into account that your returning clients will more than likely provide for 80% of your revenue. Client relationship management is key, there must be database of all the clients who purchased from you since inception for continued outreach and product promotion.


How can our fashion designers become more integrated into the film industry?

Our Fashion Designers should be the Costume Designers for all of our local films and beyond. We have so much creativity and skills that reside within our fashion sector and our fashion companies can support in creating these stories by dressing each of the key roles according to the various personalities.

Costumes are one of many tools the film director has to tell the story. Costumes communicate the details of a character’s personality to the audience, and help actors transform into new and believable people on screen… Most important, the audience must believe that every person in a story has a life before the movie begins.


What is it you love about fashion and by extension the fashion industry in T&T?

I love fashion because I can express my own individuality, my personal style and brand through my appearance every day. You feel good about yourself mentally and physically when you are dressed well. I love T&T Fashion because it is unique, beautiful, classy and of good quality. When I wear local fashion, I receive so many compliments, I stand out and I am sure when I walk into a room there is no one else wearing the same outfit. We have so much potential.


What was the biggest setback you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

When entering into a new organization there are often doubts by persons who don’t know you, your capabilities, your knowledge and skills to steer the company ahead. I overcame this by keeping in constant communication with team members on my vision, becoming fully aware of all issues, being a team member, remaining focused on my mandate and working hard. Key Performance Indicators were obtained, everyone derived benefits from our positive results and good team comradery was built and sustained.


What advice would you give someone who is new in this field?

Stay focused on your vision and plan for your business, work hard, deliver on time and most importantly, know your customer. Though the path may seem long through consistency and determination, success is imminent.




Costuming for Unfinished Sentences (image below).

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

As a child, I made clothes for my dolls, and all through my teens, for myself, but I never considered it for a career until later on. I reached a crossroads after finishing secondary school, and I wasn’t entirely sure which path to take, creative or academic. It was my mother who came across the college I eventually went to, in her home town of Dublin. That was when my fashion career began, so you could say I stumbled into it.


Who has been your biggest mentors in this industry and what was the best advice they gave?

Top of the list, Meiling, her motto is ‘do the work’, and she offers support and a listening ear always, I value her friendship immensely. Abby Charles from Bene Caribe is always enthusiastic about possibilities, and we have collaborated many times. Ours may not qualify as a mentor relationship, but she’s definitely someone I appreciate having in my circle, and her best advice is always ‘go for it’


When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

I actually went straight to work after completing my fashion course, as the college I went to hooked its graduates up with jobs directly after graduation. I was a designer/ pattern cutter at a high-end ladies fashion brand. The most valuable thing I learned was at the weekly sales meetings, where data re what items were selling actually informed the decisions as to what got produced, the design alone was not the deciding factor. This was a revelation for me at the time, but really taught me the importance of considering and understanding your market, and a lesson I carry with me up to today.


The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you would give for staying ahead of the curve?

Oh my, well first of all, what curve are we trying to stay ahead of? To me, the biggest change in fashion, is the recognition that the pace of it was simply unsustainable. Environmentally, emotionally, ethically, consumers experiencing diminishing returns, in every way. The strongest emerging trend is the forsaking of trends. I believe now is the time to really double down on who it is you are as a designer, and what your brand is about. Even more pressing is the supply chain reshuffling that’s happening in this time of Covid-19. Paying attention to your production, and finding alternatives closer to your home or your market is probably a wise idea.


Why did you want to work in the film costuming industry?

Again, it was something I kind of stumbled into. A filmmaker friend asked me to do the costuming for a project she was working on. Well! I cannot tell you how much I fell in love with that process. Creating the costumes for a film, balancing budget, with the Director’s vision, liberally applying my own creativity. All the make-it-work moments, the planning and attention to detail, keeping track of all the cast members, changes, incidentals, it’s like a giant puzzle that you are solving as you go. Add to that the great people you meet on set, and the experience you all share. I absolutely love it!


Where do you draw your inspiration from and what is your process when designing for a client/character being portrayed?

Designing clothing and costuming overlap a little, but they are also quite different. Designing for a client, it’s a custom piece for them, so I’m listening, advising, and designing to their brief essentially. Designing for my SewLisa clothing line is a little freer. I mainly draw inspiration from fabrics, stylish women on the street, and wanting a feeling of ease and comfort in the clothing always. I enjoy browsing street style accounts on Instagram, I just love seeing a woman doing fashion her way, looking totally put together, or casually undone, but ultimately herself. I really want women to take SewLisa pieces and make them their own. That inspires me way more than a perfect ad campaign in a magazine or a billboard etc. When it comes to movies my process is methodical first. I break down the script, to know exactly how many changes each character has, and get an idea of the quantity of clothing that will be required. Then I allocate the budget, so I know how much I can spend per character, and after that I get creative. I love the initial scouting trip, seeing what’s available in shops and thrift stores and taking loads of pictures. Then I sort and edit the pics, and add them to the inspiration file for each character. I do some sketching and mood boarding, and at this point, I look for some feedback from the director so I know I’m on track.


What does it take to be a costume designer on set?

Like any job in the creative industries, it takes a lot more than just creativity and design skills. The costume designer is telling a visual story, that interprets the Director’s vision, and implements it for the screen. She is also managing the logistics of dressing all the characters, and coordinating sourcing, fittings, approvals, there are a lot of threads that need to be neatly woven together.


How specific do you get with each character?

Down to earrings and facial hair., DETAILED! Once I get the character sketches from the Director, I begin to understand and even embody the character. It’s important to know the actor also, so you know what you’re working with, and how you want to transform. Whilst sourcing, I will oftentimes find the signature piece for a character, and that is what I build their wardrobe around. It’s an instinctive and organic process initially, that gets ever more granular as principal photography looms, and we get down to itemized lists of the last remaining items we need to get for each character to have their wardrobe complete by the time shooting starts. (I literally got a teeny tiny adrenaline rush just typing that ha ha!)


What in your opinion makes for a great designer and does it translate into costuming?

All design is essentially solving problems, and a great designer is someone who sees things in a new or different way, and can engineer an effective or novel solution. A great designer will also have a strong ‘handwriting’, meaning their work is recognizably theirs, even as it morphs and changes to suit the various projects she may be involved in. This holds true for fashion and costuming.


When do you start to work on a film project?

As soon as someone mentions they have a project coming up they want to talk to me about, my imagination is working. Formal work doesn’t start till script is in hand, and contract settled, but I always set up a file for each potential project, and if I come across an image or article or anything I feel is related to the project I save it as part of my initial inspiration collage, so I’m building the world from get go.


What tools do you need on set as a Costume Designer?

Quick reflexes, steady nerves, and a well-stocked kit. You have to be able to press, mend or clean clothing on set in the event of an accident, and you don’t want to hold up filming. Too many items to mention, but back up options are a must also, I have a bin full of extra clothing I rotate in and out depending on what the shooting schedule for any given day is.


Do you merge your concept design re costuming with your brand aesthetic?

My brand aesthetic is sustainable, down to earth, upcycled, and I definitely maintain those qualities in my costume design. Being handy at repurposing and transforming things is a useful skill that translates well between fashion and costume design.


What is the relationship between you and the Director?

I’m part of the team that helps her tell her story. I try to get a lot of info upfront and sign off on looks and creative direction early in the preproduction process, as the experience gets more and more intense as filming draws near, so I prefer to have that conversation early on. I really make a point of understanding what the director is looking for, so I can deliver, adding my own creativity and flair on top.


What was the biggest setback you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

Gosh, I’m terrible at these questions, they literally make me draw a blank… I wouldn’t call this a setback, because it’s probably my favourite thing about my life, but, when I became a mother, it was life changing. All the extra sweat equity I was pouring into my business, without stopping to count the cost, I could no longer manage. In a small business where you wear many hats, adding ‘mothering’ to the task list was a significant shift. But, the best way to overcome that is to develop flexibility. My children tag along with me very often, and have a front row view of what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the creative industries.


What advice would you give someone who is new in this field?

Be a sponge, the more you learn, the more info and understanding you can apply to your craft to get better and better. No two film projects are alike, and you can learn just as much or maybe more from a negative production experience as a positive one.


Selwyn Henry

What is a Gaffer?

The Gaffer is the head of the Electrics/Lighting department on a film set. He or she is responsible for assisting the cinematographer with lighting and providing power to the set. They work directly with the cinematographer to achieve the look of the film the DoP is going for.


What skills do you need to be a gaffer?

You are not expected to have a specific degree to become a gaffer, but you will need experience and training in film/ TV production. A college education in this field is a great place to start to build your résumé and compile a demo reel of your work. Student films and independents are the best way to start learning the trade.


How did you become a Gaffer and how long have you been working in the industry?

I have been in the industry for 30 years to date I have always had a passion for creating scenes with light and the story that light tells it is like painting with lights.


What type of tools do you need to have on set?

These are some of the tools you should have: Utility Belt, a pair of gloves, Gaffer tape, Multi-tool like a Leatherman, Flashlight, Tape Measure, or Laser Light, Markers, Clothespin/A Clamps, Electrical Tester, and a Light Meter.


What is the relationship between the Cinematographer and Gaffer?

Having a strong relationship with the cinematographer is vital at the start of a production. Depending on factors like budget, shooting length, camera format, location, and more, the Gaffer will choose which units are right for a look and the scene the DP wants to achieve


When does the Gaffer join a film production?

From the inception of the production, the gaffer goes with the DP to scout the location for the shoot.


What is a Tech Reece?

That is when the DP, Gaffer, Sound, Producer, Director, AD go and visit the locations and make decisions regarding what is needed and plan the direction and look of the shoot.


What does a Gaffer look for during a Tech Reece?

You would look for things like electrical power supply, space for lighting, where is the strongest light source direction, place for storage of equipment, and accessibility.


What do you do when you are on set?

On set, you have to rig the lights, tweak the lights, check on the power supply, always be on attention to see what is going on set and if the lighting is to the DP’s liking. You also always must keep an eye on your equipment once the lights are on, as they can overheat and catch fire.


What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a gaffer?

I would say to love what you do and every day try to learn something.

Shari Petti

IG: @sharipettiii | ScenePresents IG: @scenepresents |email:

When did you realise you wanted to work in the film industry?

I realized I wanted to work in the film industry the first couple days I interned behind the scenes on my first film set. I loved the fast pace, the energy of the people around me, solving problems for people, and overall, just being in a creative environment of such high intensity. I never experienced anything like that before and wanted to learn more!


What was your first production job that you worked on and what was it like?

The first production I worked on behind the scenes was Bazodee, before that I worked as an actress on camera before. That experience working behind the scenes was a major eye opener for me and the reason why I decided to pursue a degree in film. It was a lot of hard work, I did a lot of things I didn’t exactly want to do (like clean toilets and taking out the garbage  all day lol), but I knew the work i was putting in would lead to other opportunities. I also learned a lot about other departments by observing how things operated and that gave me the confidence to take on other positions in the film industry in the future when presented with opportunities.


Why “Scene Productions” and what do you want to shoot?

I wanted to start a platform to display my work, since there were a lot of projects I wanted create, but I didn’t want them to all be on my personal social media pages, and I also needed to register a company in order to formalize my career, so the idea came at the right time. I started making my own content because I found that when I spent hours on YouTube, I rarely ever found channels dedicated to content from the Caribbean that wasn’t a vlog, or music videos, so I wanted to contribute to the kind of work people saw when they searched Trinidad or the Caribbean on YouTube. It’s a platform I want to grow beyond what it is currently, as a place where anyone from anywhere in the world can browse if they want to see mostly short form digital media from the Caribbean, and I hope to expand and make content in the diaspora as well. Whether it be short documentaries, narrative and documentary series, short films, investigative journalism, experimental work etc.


How has the pandemic encouraged you to explore film otherwise?

Honestly, during this time I have mainly been doing a lot of post-production work, and research. I filmed a good bit of projects right before lockdown, so I’ve seen picture locking projects I would have had in progress for a while, editing projects that were shot right before the pandemic, and jotting down ideas for new work I plan to make in the future, and watching a lot of movies and series.


As a Caribbean filmmaker what inspires you?

What inspires me is my community and my family and the fact that I want to be an example for them and encourage them to take steps towards achieving their goals and not using their circumstances as an excuse to settle for less. I want them to see that I look like them, grew up around them, and was able to make something of myself regardless of the challenges I would have faced growing up. And I also want to be in a position to assist them financially and otherwise, so I know I have a lot of work to do still.


What is your hope for the Caribbean industry?

I hope that one day watching a Caribbean film in the movie theatres, Netflix, television and other platforms across the region and the globe, becomes the norm and not a “once in a while” experience. I want us to be able to profit off of our films and really make our mark in the global film industry just as Nollywood, Bollywood and Hollywood.


What advice can you give to persons interested in working in the film industry?

I will say to research on YouTube or via books as much as you can about the industry to see if this is something for you because it takes up a lot of your time. I would also suggest reaching out to the people in your local industry and ask if they need a hand or assistance in anyway, even if it’s for free. A lot of times that’s how people get to experience being on set for the first time and if you perform well, I’m sure people would want you around more.

Steven Taylor

Director: | Ig: @steventaylorfilm |

Why did you decide to make this short?

Raise your hand if this is you: hypnotically binging content across platforms, numbly sliding your thumb across instagram’s infinity scroll or better yet, falling uncontrollably into the depths of Netflix’s streaming tunnel. I’ll put my hand down though, so I can finish typing — One morning at 4am, the finale rolling credits of another binged series descended us into darkness as the projection screen dimmed before our eyes. I looked quizzically at my wife and producing partner, Rheem and asked, ‘Why aren’t we making content?’ Think about it – we have an opportune moment to splash our stories, ideas and creations across screens that face humans who are bored to death while trapped in quarantine. Content, especially during these times, is I.V. drip therapy for the global, house-ridden captives. We’ve surrendered our attention to the online/virtual world in search of information, education and more than ever, a safe means of escapism through digital media. There is a very clear demand with no middle man to ‘jumbie the vibe ‘. (Plus, I was seriously having filmmaking withdrawals). In that moment, we brainstormed some ideas and fleshed out the concept that was the creepiest — ’19’ (2020) was born.


What did you have to do to prepare for filming and were there any challenges?

Honestly, I’ve been preparing all of my life through my early trial and error phases in academia and work experiences, so there wasn’t much preparation for this specific film but  ore of an action plan. Of course without a crew and professional equipment, my goal was to simplify the process and focus on the things that we can control. With that mindset, I wrote the script on WhatsApp that same night, all the while being mindful to incorporate the limited resources that we had at our disposal. The film was done with a cellphone, a flashlight, a small selfie mobile light, a broken tripod, an Osmo, a free mobile app, free editing software and the internet. The most challenging aspect was lighting. I wanted to preserve the image integrity as much as possible, despite shooting on a phone, by avoiding underexposed, grainy and soft-focused images. All of which was a bit challenging when working on a tiny screen with weak light sources and no grip gear.


Were you satisfied with the outcome?

Yes, and the extremely positive global response concretizes that satisfaction.


Is there anything you would change about it if you weren’t limited by the constraints of the pandemic?

Yes! I missed my production crew. (haha) I really enjoy their energy of collaboration and the fun of set life. However, I won’t change anything with regards to the outcome of ’19’. These ‘pandemic limitations’ forced me to make directorial choices that had to be technically accomplishable, economical, visually distinct and story/character-driven. Limitations pushed me to improvise…like using crunched up aluminum foil around the flashlight to control light spillage instead of the more convenient black wrap.


How have you been coping in this time and is there any advice you would give to fellow creatives in this time to stay afloat, mentally, financially and otherwise?

I am the kind of person that latches onto positivity in most situations. The positives may not outweigh the negatives, but they are sure as hell less tedious. For me, I am working on sharpening the skills that I have and embracing the idea of learning even more. #neverstoplearning I’ve started back editing and have since produced and premiered a global music video where we invited families from all over the world to submit personal cell phone videos singing along to Erphaan Alves’s ‘Hold On’. It was a new experience

where I directed persons from all over the world who had different languages and lived in different time zones to create a cohesive product while observing social distancing. I’ve also released, using untouched BTS footage, a new series entitled ‘Fly on the Wall’ where we give local audiences a peek into the behind the scenes of my local music video productions. I’m honestly, just sitting here thinking to myself, ‘What would I want to binge?’ – but , instead of binging, I’m creating. . This change in perspective created a more uplifting, purposeful mood and positively shaped my mentality towards work while allowing me to ultimately break it down to this – our digital products are made up of ones and zeros – it’s intangible – we sell air – and air is essential and always in demand, just like water. ‘What’s the difference between tap water and bottled water?’ — primarily packaging — it’s still water. Therefore, the crucial decision lies with how we determine the right packaging for our content for the appropriate method of distribution. It is important that we do the much needed research and find out more information about the demands and trends of our target audiences/clients and (re)package our content to suit their ever-changing needs for maximum financial returns.


How have you been spending the time generally?

Generally, I’ve been avoiding setting alarms or paying too much attention to time because counting the number of days spent inside can only become depressing. My days are a mix of cooking new recipes with my wife, social media management, grabbing the occasional seat in one of the many instagram LIVE sessions, constant online networking, dressing up for the occasional date nights and liming on Zoom with friends and family, both locally and abroad.


What do you think the future of the film industry can look like after this time?

If we use this time to truly hone our writing/development skills while drawing inspiration from our personal  experiences, we can become more consistent at developing stories that bare souls by creating on-screen characters that tug at our emotions. If we take a step back from the overly-indulgent cinematic gimmicks and return to a place of pure ‘gut’ creativity which could potentially lead us, as individual creatives and as a community, towards even prouder ownership of our authentic and unreplicable voices. I think we can look forward to seeing more films that are somewhat stripped of borrowed form to ones that boldly set out to birth a new legacy of memorable character-driven stories.


What do you think can be put in place to help filmmakers and other creatives recover from this blow?

Everyone will recover differently from this experience but why wait until after to put things in place? We need the opportunities at this very moment. One idea would be to curate an active, digital job offer board that connects creatives directly to global opportunities and also offers assistance that pairs paid brand partnerships with content creators. Additionally, investing in more financially incentivized opportunities for icons, new and emerging creatives, to share knowledge through virtual workshops, online conferences and mentorship portals. It’s about adding value to what is available within our borders and embracing untapped human resources as we shape our new “normal”. Overall, we will come out of it with a broadened scope of knowledge and some sense of financial sustainability.


Navid Lancaster

We’ve seen you and Steven work together on ‘Buck -The Man Spirit’. How has this relationship influenced your compositions used in “19”? And can you describe what it’s like working together?

We both started working together on ‘Buck – The Man Spirit’ in 2012 and since then our skill sets has improved exponentially. I have also scored works for Steven when he was a student at USC and we have also worked on various music videos where he was the Director and I had the role of Sound Designer. My job is to compliment the Director’s vision and to provide the Score or Sound Design that would best tell the story the Director wants to tell. This involves a lot of discussion and the spotting of the film. During a spotting session the Director and Composer will watch the film together identifying cue points of emotion, where to and where not to have music and what the Director wants the audience to feel in a scene. A film is a Director’s creative baby and after developing the vision, directing the cast and crew and overseeing the editing process the Director now has to hand over this creative idea to a person who is trusted to add the emotional finishes to the film. That person is the Film Composer. We have developed that trust.


Were you satisfied with the outcome?

We have received great reviews so far from various film critics who published their views on their blogs and other forms of social media. The film has also been featured on a video podcast and tonight (Thursday) a summary of the film was broadcast on CNC3. We have also received numerous positive comments about the film, through personal messages and social media posts, about how good it was or how it scared them with a few people asking if we are going to make a feature film from it. As the person responsible for composing the Score, developing the Sound Design and finalizing the total audio mix it is also satisfying that people were also commenting positively about the overall sound of this short film.


How has the current pandemic impacted on your approach to projects and what creative methods have you utilised to facilitate the changes?

My methods and approaches to projects have not changed much due to our current pandemic. Most of my interactions are already online and I spend most of my working time composing or audio editing. I am in a fortunate situation where my tools are readily accessible for me to do my part in post-production and I send the drafts/final products via the internet.


What would you consider the most challenging aspect of composing music specifically for a short film?

Just starting out on a blank slate and trying to express the subtext of the character/mood of the film. When scoring to picture, a film composer is like a filmmaker whose specialty is storytelling through sound. My job is to heighten, lessen or even go contrary to the story being told on screen and also to say things that the visuals can’t (or won’t) say. In a short film (or any length of film) I have to immediately immerse the viewer into its world, keep the viewer engaged, know when to have music and most importantly when NOT to have music and emotionally carry the story to its completion.


What is next for you? Are you currently working on any new projects?

I am currently composing the score for a short film called ‘Immune’. It’s a film about an authoritarian government who hunts those who are immune to a virus during a worldwide pandemic. The film was in preparation for a few months and was shot in England. It is Directed by Robert MacFarlane and Produced by Lesley-Anne MacFarlane and Mo Wani. I also composed the Score for ‘Unbreakable’, an app developed by award-winning Stack Designer Anthony Phills. The app uses Augmented Reality (AR) and portrays the life of Cujoe Lewis, the last known survivor of the Atlantic Slave Trade who was brought illegally to the United States on board the ship Clotilda. It is developed for iOS and will be ready soon.