Island Filmmaker Focuses On Culture Clash

November 22, 2011

Bermuda filmmaker Bayard Outerbridge — the island’s first ever Producing Fellow at the prestigious American Film Institute — hopes to soon bring his thesis project to the screen: a movie about the seemingly unending culture of conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Filmmaking has been a dream job for Mr. Outerbridge [pictured] since he was lucky enough to visit a couple of film sets in Toronto in 2001 while attending a nearby boarding school. ”Strangely enough, I found myself in my element although I’d previously been completely unfamiliar with the filmmaking process,” he said.

It wasn’t until 2006, however, that the young Bermudian became fully determined to pursue a career in cinema after taking a short filmmaking course with the New York Film Academy hosted by Oxford University.

After working in Bermuda to work for LookTV and as a freelance videographer/editor on short documentary segments showcasing the island’s entertainment and culture, he was accepted to the small and highly selective Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal.

Completing his BFA with distinction, he gained television experience interning for “So You Think You Can Dance, Canada” and won an award from the school for his short documentary “Face of the Rock” about Bermudian quarry worker/artist Trevor Todd.

Bayard Outerbridge’s “Face Of The Rock”  Bermuda Documentary

“I was subsequently accepted into the AFI Conservatory’s MFA programme as a producer where I am completing my final year and interning at Hollywood production company Phoenix Pictures,” he said.

The AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles is consistently ranked as the world’s leading film school. Founded in 1969, its graduates include such celebrated filmmakers as writer/director Darren Aronofsky ["The Black Swan", "Requiem For A Dream"], producer/director/writer David Lynch ["Blue Velvet",  "Mulholland Drive"], director John McTiernan ["Die Hard", "The Thomas Crown Affair'].

“An integral part of the MFA program at the AFI is the completion of a short fiction thesis film, which traditionally has been instrumental in launching the careers of many of its notable alumni,” said Mr. Outerbridge.

He said the thesis film he is currently working on as producer is titled  ”Maschom” –the Hebrew word for “Checkpoint”.

It tells the story of David Melamed, an Israeli soldier who lives with his little younger brother and his widowed, wheelchair-bound mother.

His father was killed in the same terrorist attack that wounded his mother and David works at the dangerous Huwwara checkpoint in Nablus/ West Bank, zealously screening Palestinians he suspects could be guerillas.

Yet after a startling and tragic event at the checkpoint, David begins to question his own maturity and confidence.

Promotional Trailer For “Maschom”

“I’ve been asked by more than a few people how we came to such a setting and topic for a film,” he said. “Well, you could say it takes its inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s observation that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

“As filmmakers, we, the principle team members — the producer, writer, director, cinematographer, editor — had all been discussing issues of intolerance in the context of different political backdrops and varying geographical locations, drawing on our different national backgrounds, finding many parallels, and bouncing many story threads back and forth.

“We knew we wanted to work on something that touched on similar themes, that dealt with the personal problems of a character within the context of a politically created situation and environment, and had discussed many possibilities.

“The director/writer. being Venezualan Jewish, was inspired one late night last year to write the first draft of what became ‘Machsom’. When he presented it to me, I knew the subject matter would be problematic for many people, and I reflected on how although this is a topic and setting that is addressed often in the media, it has been consistently avoided in Hollywood.

“That, I decided, is exactly why this film must be made.”

Mr. Outerbridge said while the filmmakers are well on the way to raising the funds for the film’s budget, they are still looking for support.

“If you believe in our vision and are able to contribute anything at all, we would be exceedingly grateful,” he said. “Any amount, no matter how small, will enable us to make it happen.”

Mr. Outerbridge can be contacted through the film’s official website.

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