IN November 2018, Guyana will host its first ever Photo and Film Expo, a grand event birthed in the mind of 27-year-old Jason October, a young man who wasn’t always sure of what life had in store for him.
However, in an interview with the Pepperpot Magazine, Jason mapped out the events which led up to his desire to transform the photography and film industry, not only locally but throughout the Caribbean.
As a child, Jason was picked on in both Primary and Secondary School for not being as academically inclined as his fellow classmates.
But, deep down inside, despite what others said about him, Jason knew that he was destined for something special and never gave up on his education.
His determination paid off in Grade 10 when, for the first time, he was able to figure out a mathematical sum on his own and his academic life took a turn for the better.
From that moment, his grades increased and continued to increase when he later began studying as a Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) in later years.
The youngster soon began working at Qualfon and then became the Manager of Red Cherry where, through his interactions with customers, he came to realise his love for marketing.
At the age of 18 he opened his own clothing boutique which lasted only six months and later at the age of 21, he opened his own mini-supermarket in Port Kaituma which was short-lived as well.
Although he had a knack for business, when faced with these disappointments, Jason could not understand why his plans were not successful in the long run.
Looking back and assessing the situation, he said: “When [the boutique] closed I felt like a failure. I started that boutique with no money. I believed I just needed to start first and any other thing will come…It eventually closed because there was no business plan. I only did it because I wanted money or I just wanted to get into business.”
Later, speaking about the mini-supermarket, he said: “When that closed all my finances were depleted. All my money, all my hard work just went down the drain. I felt like I didn’t want to get back into business. I felt like something was wrong where I wasn’t planning properly. I got really discouraged and I felt really bad. I didn’t want to take any risks anymore.”
With the little motivation he had left in him, Jason returned from Port Kaituma to Georgetown where he eventually became the Manager at BuddyMax Gym and helped to significantly raise profits at the establishment.
But in his alone time, Jason realised that his short-lived ventures and the businesses he poured his efforts into were done for the wrong reasons and he was still, at the end of it all, left unhappy.
“I sat down and I said, ‘you know what? I’m fed up. Since the age of 12 I’ve always been searching for my purpose. What is my purpose?’ So I said let me sit down and think and ask God what was I created to do. And within that period I knew that I had some skills in terms of photography…I love videoing and I said, ‘I think this it is it’. And it wasn’t for the money. The other businesses were all about the money but this was where I wanted to do something that I loved doing, my passion,” he said.
With no money but a new vision, Jason shared his business idea with his friend, Phillip Persaud, and the two took a loan and bought their first set of studio equipment and gear which eventually gave way to their current business, PhotoEffx.
Throughout this period, Jason took the time to build his skills and, today, the company produces high-quality short films, documentaries, commercials, photography and graphic designs for well-known brands such as Luxe Beauty Bar, BranderZ Guyana and GTT.
The group landed its first major job of creating a documentary for the international non-profit humanitarian organisation Health and Education Relief Organisation (HERO) of some 40 volunteer medical practitioners.
Then, in 2017 Jason and his team began planning something even bigger and far-reaching after they realised that in Guyana there aren’t many avenues for photographers and filmmakers, both amateurs and enthusiasts, to showcase and develop their skills.
“We don’t have a platform where photographers and filmmakers can [express themselves]. There are mini exhibitions around the place and film festivals but there is no huge expo where photographers and filmmakers can come together and learn from one another…where you can go and network and gain clients.”
A PLACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM
As such, for two years now plans have been in the making and the Government has since indicated its excitement for the expo just months away from becoming a reality.
The proposed date is November 23-25 and it is being organised by Cineffx which is a 12-team organisation governed by Photoeffx.
The three-day event will feature 50 display booths and breakout workshops on topics such as directing, storytelling, lighting, photo composition and commercial, fashion, landscape and portrait photography to name a few.
Many of these presentations will be conducted by international partners such as Gregory Pai, professional photographer, author, humanitarian from New York and Matt Raven, South African organiser of the international Photo and Film Expo.
The event will also cater for model makeup artists, cosplay artist and a host of others in the creative industry.
In addition, the expo is aimed at stimulating discussion on policies which support the interest of local artists such as intellectual property rights, patents and the implementation of photography and filmmaking within the school curriculum.
October hopes that the influence of these notable figures, such as Pai and Raven, will help to attract big brands and companies to the country for possible branches which will, in turn, see local photographers and filmmakers becoming brand ambassadors.
As such, the expo’s organisers are encouraging more from the private sector to get on board even as several local photographers and companies have already expressed their interest in being a part of the expo.
“It is unique, it is different from any other expo that has been hosted in Guyana and it’s never been held in any other Caribbean country and Guyana will be the very first to do that. And we’ll be using that opportunity to brand Guyana as a destination for photography and film.”
Interested photographers, filmmakers and members of the private sector are asked to contact the event’s organisers for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 690-0951.