Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 28th 2016 Contents B1
---in the Caribbean
Bissessarsingh: We all
remember something---Page B4
Danielle Dieffenthaller, one of
the most well known and acclaimed
television producers in the Eng-
lish-speaking Caribbean, is working
on a new series that she boasts will
be unlike anything viewers have
seen before. She just needs actors,
a platform to show it, and money.
Dieffenthaller, and her long-time
writing partner Mervyn de Goeas
discussed in a recent interview the
immense challenges of putting
together a series---even for people
with their stellar creative track
record. They wrote, produced and
directed Westwood Park, a soap
opera popular across the Caribbean
that originally ran from 1997 to 2004
and still airs on cable TV in North
The two last worked together on
the drama series The Reef, which
aired for one season on CNMG in
2008. There was no second season.
An attempt to get one off the ground
illustrated a big problem with getting
funding for film/ TV production in
"We had the second season of The
Reef written," Diefenthaller said.
"And when I started to go looking
for money, one of my regular spon-
sors said, Well, Danielle, you know
we give to charity already for this
year. I got so incensed. I was offend-
ed, livid, vex.
"All this time people feel they were
giving to charity," she said.
"After we work 18-hour days non-
stop to put out a product that is giv-
ing you a vehicle for your product."
The new series---a drama called
Plain Sight---will show the different
sides of the crime problem in T&T:
looking at the experience of law
enforcement officers, criminals, vic-
tims, residents of high-crime areas,
and residents of upper-class areas
whose hands aren t as clean as peo-
ple might think. Plain Sight is
intended to destroy misconceptions
people on different sides of the issue
have of each other.
With the series, Dieffenthaller said
she wants to "burst bubbles".
"Let s get an understanding of
who we are as a people," she said.
"We all live in little microcosms and
little bubbles and we don t really
know each. Westmoorings doesn t
know Laventille, and Laventille does-
n t know Westmoorings, and there s
this suspicion of each other.
"Let s give a human face to every-
one, on every side of the divide,"
"When you hear somebody s been
shot, automatically there are many
assumptions that are thrown, and
we don t know the real story," she
continued. "We decided let s put a
human face to that killer, that mother
who said her son was the greatest
thing on Earth and he was a good
No side would demonised or glo-
"We are all villains, and we are all
angels. It s to show the good and
bad in everyone," said Dieffenthaller.
The idea for the series "has been
on my mind for a while," she said---
six years to be exact.
Dieffenthaller said she doesn t
think the show "can be compared
to anything." The one series that
comes close is drug-trafficking saga
Narcos on Netflix, she said.
"It s an amalgamation of many
people," she said of Plain Sight.
The new show and Westwood
Park are "like chalk and cheese," she
The only similarity, said de Goeas,
on the phone call with Dieffenthaller,
is that the storylines will come from
the experiences of real people.
In their research for the series
Dieffenthaller and de Goeas are inter-
viewing police officers, former prison
inmates, mothers of criminals, social
workers and others.
But whereas the storylines on
Westwood Park were tweaked almost
to the point of parody, Plain Sight
will attempt to reflect reality.
Asked if the series, then, is not
intended to stir up patriotic feelings,
Dieffenthaller said that despite the
tough subjects she believes Plain
Sight will make Trinidadians and
Tobagonians feel good about their
"You will be proud," she said. "Our
country is beautiful no matter what
you do. (In Plain Sight) there will be
good people and bad people and
beautiful vistas. You ll be, like, Wow,
that is Trinidad, boy! "
But, she said, the soundtrack will
not include nationalistic anthems
like Sweet T&T.
Instead, jazz musician Etienne
Charles will score the series and the
soundtrack will include old soca
songs and calypsoes.
Dieffenthaller and de Goeas have
the script for eight hour-long
episodes. They even have a Canadian
distributor willing to raise US$1.4
million for them and help get the
show on an online or television plat-
form. Michael Mosca, head of
Equinoxe Films, is "willing to work
with us" and "do whatever it takes
to make it an international produc-
tion," said Dieffenthaller.
"He s very excited about the proj-
ect. He loves the script. He doesn t
want us to compromise the integrity
of the story, which is basically
Trinidadian," she said.
The problem is that s only half
the money they need to raise if they
want to produce something of the
quality that will interest distribution
platforms like Netflix, Hulu and
Amazon Prime. They are hoping to
raise enough money to at least do
a pilot that will impress people
enough to attract more funding.
They re currently casting roles.
Experienced actors earmarked
include Michael Cherrie, Errol Sitahal
and Winston Duke, according to a
document provided by Dieffenthaller.
In December the producers put out
a casting call for 29 parts.
The show is set to begin produc-
tion by the end of March and the
first episode will premiere in Sep-
tember, the document said.
Getting the actors ready will be
another challenge. T&T has a lot of
raw talent and a lot of theatre talent,
said Dieffenthaller, but they ll have
to be trained for the particular
approach needed for television.
"It s a very different beast," said
duo looks to new drama series
Mervyn de Goeas.
Producer/director Danielle Dieffenthaller.
PHOTOS COURTESY DANIELLE DIEFFENTHALLER
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