Big plans for the big screen

  • Film lover: Tashel Bean (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Personal favourite: My Nephew Emmett, a film by American director Kevin Wilson, starring Austin D. James, right, and Joshua Wright, inset, is being shown at Biff
  • Tashel Bean (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Screenwriter Tashel Bean has helped pick 26 short films for next month’s Bermuda International Film Festival from more than 600 entries. He tells Nadia Hall what to watch out for at the event and how he aspires to be the next Steven Spielberg

Tashel Bean is a sucker for a good story. It was that love for a well-spun tale that helped him get through the 636 short films submitted to Biff this year.

“You can have a bad movie with a good script, but I don’t think you can have a good movie with a bad script,” he said.

“The script is the first stage of any story. If proper care is put into that, you can’t go wrong, as long as you stay true to that story.”

The former head boy at the Berkeley Institute had dreams of becoming a teacher before he discovered his love of screenwriting. He studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design and is head of pre-screening for the Bermuda International Film Festival.

“Film speaks to me because it’s concise. I like that you have to say what you need to say in an hour and a half, which means that there’s no time for fluff,” he said.

Less than a month ago, they still had 500 films to sort through before picking the 26 that will screen in May.

The category “short film” is a bit of a misnomer. Running time can be anywhere from two minutes to 40; watching can be gruelling.

“We brought this together very quickly,” Mr Bean said. “That’s the power of teamwork — creating a plan and seeing it to fruition.

“You just have to love what you do. You have to really be passionate about films to get through this process — and I am.”

A personal favourite in the upcoming festival is My Nephew Emmett, a film by American director Kevin Wilson.

Told from the perspective of his uncle, it’s the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till who was brutally beaten and murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after being wrongfully accused of flirting with a white woman.

“[It’s] one of the most famous lynching stories in American history,” said Mr Bean.

“I was so blown away. It’s such an important story to be told — it reminded me of wanting to be a teacher.

“That film was such a teachable moment because a lot of people do not know that story.

“I want to do something like that one day. I want to teach people through film.”

He believes that media is so influential it shapes the way most people view the world.

“Our parents teach us right and wrong, but then you watch these superhero movies and they show you good beats evil,” he said. “It’s a Hollywood cliché, but it’s not a bad one. I’m OK with good overcoming evil. It’s a good message to teach.”

He balances his responsibilities at Biff with freelance graphic design work and shifts at the Hamilton Princess.

“I got that from my parents who taught me, sometimes in life it’s not about what you want to do, it’s about what you’ve got to do,” said the aspiring filmmaker.

“I have such big plans. I want to own my own production company. I want to make animated shows and movies. I’ve got to work hard now, so that later that’s even possible.”

His mother Tianja Bean was an entertainer before she became a teacher.

His father, Shelton Bean, is a carpenter, a musician and a music teacher.

“Teaching is in my blood. Like entertainment.

“Like my grandfather [drummer] Tootsie Bean and my other grandfather, [musician] Bill Caisey. All of that stuff is in me,” he said.

“SCAD is very much like getting a slap in the face from the real world. No matter how good you think you are, you’ll realise there are 80 people better than you.

“The takeaway that I got, above everything else — no one can do you better than you. And you can never do someone else better than they can.”

Meetings with Beyoncé’s editor Alexander Hammer and Geoffrey Fletcher, who wrote the screenplay for the Oscar award-winning film Precious, pushed him to pursue his dreams.

“I’ve touched base with these prominent people. It humanises them and it makes it more real.

“You look at someone like a Steven Spielberg and I feel like I’ll never be him in my life. He feels like a fictional character, but then when you meet these people, you think, if I work hard like they did, maybe I can get to that level one day.”

• The Happy Hour Shorts programme runs May 1-May 6. Learn more at<;/i>