Losing Patience with Jamaican filmmaker Teeqs

Caribbean director Teeqs discusses her very mini web series about those annoying little moments.

By
Jessica Straker
September 7, 2017

There are more universal truths in the world than there are absolute differences. It could even be argued that there is nothing anyone could do that can't be understood by someone else, somewhere. 

Losing Patience is one those things. Described as a 'very mini web series,' the show follows the misadventures of its beleaguered protagonist, Renee Patience (played by the multi-talented JA singer, Sevanna) as she navigates those annoying little everyday situations we all can relate to from her home of Kingston, Jamaica. Shot back to back over the space of two days, with limited budget and an intensely talented team what has been achieved is a fun delivery of these snapshot scenarios that are so lifelike and authentic. An inherently clear modern Caribbean perspective but completely relatable in their irksomeness. The season also aired this July on local television station TVJ and has been well received in the US too.

We spoke to the writer, editor and director of the show, Teeqs, over Skype to find out what motivated her to focus in on those passing moments seemingly sent just to test you.

 

What was your inspiration behind the series?

I keep thinking about this and I believe it started from a conversation I was having with a friend of mine. We were working on a project and she was telling me about her experience with the archive - one of the archives out here were literally giving her grief, exactly the same situation from the first episode - a really unhelpful, really roundabout rigmarole. It started from there. Even though she wanted to say something and tell them about themselves and how uncooperative they were being, she couldn’t because that might jeopardise your reputation, whatever relationship the archive has with the person you’re representing or with your capacity as a researcher. There’s so many things at stake if you decide that you’re going to speak up. So, from there, I started thinking of other instances of things that either happened to me or friends of mine that fell within that category - being frustrated but silent. 

You managed to capture it so succinctly and in under 10 mins, why did you decide to go with such a small format?

I don’t know. It was longer, there were a couple more lines in there but between filming and edits you realise to keep the interest of the audience you have to chop some stuff out, so there were a couple of things like that but with that scenario the essence of it was just knowing that there is no actual end here. You’re going to have to end it. The other person are just there to collect their cheque - helping you is an option, it's not an obligation... or at least that’s how I’ve felt during many instances where I’ve had to phone people like that.

When did you get started in film?

I’ve been involved locally since about 2005 or 2007. I’ve been around for a while, bouncing around working as a production assistant or interning. Then I got bumped up to coordinator but being shy of people is not a great quality to have for that role. I just got tired of having to chase up grown people and never having them respond to me. So I dipped out of that and started a segue into editing because that was something I’d been playing around with before so mostly I’m an editor now. 

Maybe that’s why the story is so succinct.

That as well. Episode 2 with the restaurant was supposed to be a lot longer but because I’d written these in 2015 by the time 2017 came around the restaurant had changed - it was a completely different location. And I guess being an editor helped me to figure it out.

In many of the instances time became a real factor for us. We shot over two days, everything. So two episodes per day, back to back and everybody was exhausted. There was many instances when I had to say to myself, “Do I need it? I don’t need it, lets move on.” 

So how big is the team that you are working with? 

The crew is a grand total of about 10 people. We had two camera’s luckily. The DP is a friend of mine and he was kind. 

How did the team form over those two years since writing the series - had you all worked together previously? 

Even well before that. It’s such a small community here that once you get into it people know you or know of you and so you build that kind of relationship. They’re like family. It was easier to look at them and say, I don’t have money but there’s this thing I would like to do and would you be interested - rather than going to a complete stranger and asking. We were very incredibly fortunate in that we had these pre-existing relationships and could ask because of that. 

Even the actors too?

Sevanna we didn’t know. I wanted her to play the part from way back when I wrote it but thought she wouldn’t be interested in the project. When our executive producer Justine reached out to her team and she said yes that was amazing because literally I’d been sitting on the idea of her playing the part for two years. As far as the other actors, Kimberly Patterson plays Desirae - she used to work for Justine, so I knew her from back then. I think she is the only person who’s worked on a project like this, as she was in King of the Dancehall.

The storylines are relatable; you did well to get a natural response out of everyone regardless of experience. Was there any space for improvisation?

I said to people if a line doesn’t feel comfortable to you, feel free to move things around or say it a different way but other than that we stuck as close to the script as possible. We did that because of the time. I didn’t feel confident editing heavily improvised dialogue as this was my first time attempting anything like this so I was very... a phrase we use out here... boomy about trying to experiment too much. Maybe with season two I’ll feel a little bit more comfortable.

What are the aspirations for season two?

I was talking to someone and they were saying that we have to avoid it becoming too repetitive, which I agree. I might consider that maybe she doesn’t always win, she doesn’t always get the last word and create conflict that way. It would allow us to emphasise with her more and give her more insight into Renee. I have already written the episodes for season two but now I’m going back through them to make the stories flow into each other a little more. Right now they operate as independent entities and I’m hoping to build more of an arc with the next season. 

What frustrates you in general?

I think it would be the lack of empathy, people not caring about the fact that the world doesn't revolve around them. that’s in small situations like calling the archive and that person wasting your time or in bigger situations like underfunded education policies, climate change not being taken seriously.

Too much focus can be put on the ego at times. That’s my take on it.

That’s true. It’s the self. How does this serve me instead of how can this help everyone. That bothers me to think that people don’t care enough beyond their own existence. 

Perhaps - in a subconscious way - that was what you were trying to expose with Losing Patience or is it not that deep?

Actually, that was something I wanted people to take away from the episodes, to stop and think in what small ways they might be inconveniencing another person today. How did me cutting in front of the line at the patty shop make the person I cut in front of feel? Thinking about how you are impacting another person’s day. That’s not to say that you should constantly have anxiety about existing but just to be a little bit more courteous to each other. I have a little saying - please be kind to each other. I don’t think we are doing that enough nowadays.

Are there any other artists in Jamaica or Caribbean community or larger diaspora that you admire?

There's quite a few people actually. Some, in no particular order are: Gabrielle BlackwoodNile SaulterKurt WrightDarren ScottCorretta Singer (she's a 3D Animator), Factory 75Ikem Smith and Taj Francis who is mostly an illustrator but occasionally animates his work.

There’s also people from the Caribbean diaspora who are doing things like Cecile Emeke who had her Ackee and Saltfish series but now she’s branching off into bigger things. I saw her commission for the Tate recently.

One thing that doing this project has opened up for me, from the overwhelming response of it, is getting to see other creatives. I’m learning a lot as this goes along, we don’t get the same kind of exposure as you would if you were in the “first world” and so it’s opening up a lot of networks.

 

Losing Patience is available to watch on Vimeo.

@lpwebseries

MORE FROM THE JOURNAL