Frances Anne Solomon: Filmmaker & Entrepreneur

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Frances-Anne Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, producer, curator, and entrepreneur in film, TV, radio, theatre, and new media. Born in England of Trinidadian parents, she was raised and educated in the Caribbean and Canada before moving to Great Britain where she built a successful career with the BBC as a TV Drama Producer and Executive Producer. Productions included Love is the Devil by John Maybury, and Speak Like A Child by John Akomfrah, both of which she executive produced for the BBC. She also produced and directed films and television programs through her production company Leda Serene Films. She moved to Toronto in 2000, where she continued to create, write, direct, and produce her own projects. She is currently in production with the feature HERO – Inspired by the Life and Time of Ulric Cross. Her film A Winter Tale received many prestigious international awards, including at Fespaco 2009 (Africa’s Oscars held biannually in Burkina Faso West Africa) where it won in The Paul Robeson Award for Best Diaspora Film.  Other directing credits include the feature film Peggy Su! (BBC Films, 1997); What My Mother Told Me (Channel 4 1995),  Bideshi (British Film Institute 1994); and documentaries Literature Alive (Bravo!/OMNI, 2006), Reunion 2 (BBC,1993), and I Is A Long Memoried Woman (Arts Council of England 1991). She produced the multi-award winning feature Kingston Paradise, with director Mary Wells – the first feature film written and directed by a Jamaican woman.

She was the Co-creator, Producer and Director of Lord Have Mercy! Canada’s hit Caribbean sitcom, that aired on Vision TV, Toronto/one, Showcase and APTN in 2003 and was nominated for two Gemini Awards: Best Comedy series, and Best Individual Performer (Leonie Forbes). She is the founder and CEO of the CaribbeanTales Media Group, based in Barbados and Toronto, a group of companies that creates, produces, markets, and sells Caribbean-themed film and television content for global audiences. It includes the CaribbeanTales Incubator Program, a development and production hub for original content; CaribbeanTalesFlix – the production arm; the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, — now in its 13th year —  that takes place in Toronto;  CaribbeanTales-TV, an SVOD platform; and The CaribbeanTales Youth Film festival, a unique screening series that showcases Africentric films for high school and university audiences.  Other initiatives include RED HOT, promoting new work by emerging creators of color; CineFAM – that supports bold film stories by Women Creators of Color, and #INTERSECT – film narratives by Queer and Trans Filmmakers of Color.

In 2010, together with Caribbean cultural industries specialist Dr Keith Nurse, media personality and producer Lisa Wickham, businessman Dr. Terrence Farrell and filmmaker Mary Wells, she launched CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, the first-of-its-kind film distribution company in the English speaking Caribbean, dedicated to the monetization of Caribbean diasporic content. She has lectured in Film at the University of the West Indies, and made presentations on her work at NYU and Duke University. She began her television career at Banyan Productions in Trinidad,  studied Theatre at the University of Toronto with Steve Martineau and Ken Gass, and poetry  with Jay MacPherson. She trained as a film director in the UK at Bristol University, and the prestigious BBC Drama Directors Program.

What do I do best?

I’m driven by a vision and then I am driven to make it real. Whether that is in the business, the art or the community and audience building aspects of filmmaking. That’s what I do best.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Solitude is essential for me to stay centred. And also conversely, having a great team. Both together bring out the best in me. I like to surround myself with people who reflect the qualities that I nurture value and defend in myself: creativity, entrepreneurism, and independence of mind

What are my aspirations?

My personal aspiration is to always stay connected  creative authentic and inventive. I still have a long way to go in terms of what I want to achieve as an artist. Professionally, my goal is to leave behind a business that reflects my vision of a better world and offers opportunities to others to create and grow as well.

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success is to be still actively working in the film and television industry, after 30+ years, and doing work I am proud of as a woman of colour. I am proud that I have been able to build and run a  multi-faceted media  business creating work that reflects my values, while at the same time, maintaining my own practice as a professional media artist.  It has been really difficult, I  persevered and never gave up, and that in the end  has been very fulfilling.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Having cancer changed my perspective completely.  It forced me to wipe the slate clean and refocus. Afterwards, to my surprise,  I found that I wanted to continue  doing the work that I did before -- I had thought it would engender a career change.  But I instinctively returned to this craft and vocation but with more satisfaction and direction.  Cancer helped me realize that I am exactly who and where I want to be, doing what I love. I am glad that I survived to learn that. I will die fulfilled when the time comes!   

(Still from HERO)

My Motto?

Live your truth.  

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My personal role model is my mother, because she always had integrity in everything that she did, no matter what it cost her. My professional role model is also my mother. Instead of teaching me how to cook, she taught me how to write a CV and supported me to become an artist and a business woman.  I am wildly inspired  by young and old women of color who stand in their truth and fiercely model creative and financial independence, and their own authentic voice, who lead, courageously and give back to their communities  big heartedly  - - From Rihanna to Mia Mottley (the new Prime Minister of Barbados) Leonie Forbes (the great Jamaican actress), Ava Duvernay … Intrepid Warrior women.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Barbados, my second home, because it’s a real tropical paradise.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I am a geek! Access to the internet is my favorite tool. It’s my most important business asset, my creative and artistic palette, and as an introvert, it’s also deeply -- my connection to the world.

My Current Passions?

My relationship with my family of 4  legged animals -- I have 5 cats and 3 dogs who share my life --  and with the great blue healing sea. These are two passions I hold closely.

(Still from Kingston Paradise)