This business of One Love

March 4, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea


Jamaica does not have a shortage of armchair experts. This has clearly been in evidence since the première of the Marley biopic, One Love. Never has so much been heard from so many who know so little.

Let me hasten to say, however, that it is not my intention to determine how anyone should speak on a particular issue of public importance. I certainly do not subscribe to the notion that only “experts” should have a right to their opinions.

However, I believe that if one is desirous of making public pronouncements on a supposedly important issue, one should at least apprise oneself of the facts.

Sadly, many of us have been consumed by the sideshows and the morality plays and have lost sight of the big picture. I have stated elsewhere that my fervent hope is that One Love will secure a major financial return on investment. Let me hasten to point out, however, that I have no direct fiduciary interest in this project and I am not in the pocket of Paramount, or the Marleys for that matter. I want to see the venture succeed because of the long-term implications of such a development for the Jamaican motion picture industry, in which I have more than a passing interest.

Jamaicans, both here and abroad, should encourage their friends, neighbours, and co-workers to go and see One Love. While critical acclaim is always desired for an artistic production, a strong showing at the box office is paramount.

Many members of the public have weighed in on the casting choices for the project without being conversant with the the factors which might affect such decisions. There are those who contend that the role of Marley should have been played by a Jamaican, and perhaps even one of his progenies. There are, perhaps, very talented Jamaican-born actors who could have portrayed both Bob and Rita with great fidelity. I believe Paramount wants realistic representations of the Marleys, but not at the expense of having bankable stars in the cast. Big names help to sell films.

Recall one wise man opined: “It takes cash to care.” Woody Allen once explained that there was a reason we speak of “show business” and not “show show”. There are business imperatives which need to be satisfied.

While investors in motion picture projects certainly welcome critical acclaim, a positive return on investments will trump rave reviews any day. There are considerations such as co-production treaties and waivers on duties which can affect casting and location decisions.

A number of Jamaicans play prominent roles on the project. Jamaican Natalie Thompson heads the production team, which includes outstanding figure of broadcasting and theatre, the inimitable Fae Ellington, who helped to guide the likes of Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir through the nuances of Jamaican speech patterns. A host of Jamaican rising stars, including singers Naomi Cowan and Sevana play prominent roles in the movie.

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