Saige Nesbitt, a 25-year-old actress is preparing to announce herself as a film producer with her debut short film ‘Wise Up’.
Wise Up is a social problem film about a dyslexic teenager who finds an unlikely mentor in a homeless woman.
“I was inspired to write this because I wanted the dynamic relationship between two different people who you’d never think would be in contact with each other or have a relationship with each other,” she said.
Nesbitt plays the character of Hilda Johnson, the protagonist in the film, who befriends a former bestselling writer (Greta) who happens to be homeless. Greta lost her entire family in a car accident and has been unable to cope.
Hilda, she said, translates to a period when she moved from the island of Antigua to Bronx, New York and was constantly made fun of because of her accent or because she couldn’t do or say certain things.
“It was definitely difficult coming from Antigua to New York because I had an accent, I was taller than everybody else, I was darker than everybody else” … “It was like wow, what part of Africa are you from,” she remembered.
The film highlights people’s propensity to arrive at quick judgement, the lack of acceptance for differently-abled people and the ability to redeem ones self.
Nesbitt will launch the film under the name of her production company – Woods Media Inc. – which she named after Woods Mall in Antigua.
“For me it just hit. I was like Woods. I like Woods because it seemed like Woods, Antigua,” she recalled.
“My sister and I are very rooted in our Antigua life because we grew up there,” she said, noting that they always wanted to brand a place in Antigua.
Although Nesbitt said she had to shorten the film because of budget issues, remarking that “it was about 30 pages when I first wrote this script”.
“I produced this project entirely with savings, with word of mouth, with having executive producers donate to the film … and then you have friends and you have family”.
The film, which Jack Walker-Pearson, the Director of Wise Up said was “smooth sailing” was shot in two days.
“Most projects, big or small tend to have some bumpy moments along the way but Wise Up was pretty smooth,” he told Island Press Box.
In fact, he repeatedly said that it is “a story that deserves to be seen”.
“A lot of people who make shorts and film content, think they’re going to make a lot of money or it’s going to change their careers and most of the times that’s just not the chase but this is a phenomenal story and it deserves a chance to be seen,” he explained.
Walker-Pearson who also played a small role in the film said he most enjoyed one scene in particular, a scene that was enough to convince him to be a part of the production.
In the scene, Hilda which is played by Nesbitt, visits Greta in the hospital where they talk about the people whom they’ve lost.
According to the director, “Their performances are phenomenal and I think that’s the scene why I jumped onboard the project in the first place” … “It’s a really well told story with a lot of heart and that scene just has it in spades”.
Because of the content of the film, he expects that it is good enough to get onto streaming platforms like Amazon or HBO short series.
“More than anything, it’s my hope that this piece can have a platform where a lot of people can see it and enjoy it as much as we did making it.”
“We’re hoping to get it into as many festivals as we can and then we’ll probably drop it on a streaming platform after the festival has run its course.”
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to get it on one of those streaming platforms,” he concluded.
Nesbitt is hoping that the film will be completed by mid-January after which it can be submitted to various film festivals.
Life in Antigua
Saige Nesbitt is the granddaughter of Lolita Peters who is well known for operating South Street Bakery in St John.
Nesbitt is an Antiguan by descent as her mother was born in Antigua but was later sent to live with a family friend in the United States when she was young.
Nesbitt and her sister, when they were also young, moved back to Antigua to live with Ms. Peters until high school.
“For me, I can’t remember the exact experience of flying to Antigua because I was only 10 months old but I remember being pushed around in buckets filled with water, running around bare foot and being scratched on with cassie (Acacia farnesiana) … I have so many scars from those,” she laughed.
She remembered growing up in a very strict household which she said has shaped who she is today.
Compared to the children in the U.S., she felt she and her sister was placed on a path of having a life that they never imagined.
“There were certain rules that were different from when I came to the U.S. and so, growing up in Antigua taught me a lot of responsibility, taught me a lot about discipline, taught me a lot about culture and most of all respect,” she explained.
Nesbitt and her sibling grew up in a Christian home. She recalled having to go to church every Sunday and attending prayer meeting on weekdays.
“We had to know all the scriptures and that also taught me a lot about spirituality because I’m a very spiritual person and I really do believe that all of this happened for a reason,” she told IPB.
She also remembered having to help her grandmother in the bakery.
“I think waking up at 5 o’ clock in the morning really taught me how to get up,” she remarked.
“She was very strict but I understand that. People were crazy and she wanted to make sure her grand kids were okay” … “I really, really owe my grandmother for just putting us on that path,” she added.
Nesbitt said moving to the Bronx was also influential to her career and she is hoping one day to give back to that community.
Who is Saige Nesbitt
Saige Melanie Nesbitt, a Bronx Native and Caribbean descent is known for her appearance in the Film Marshmallow Mystery Tour directed by the Beal brothers.
While majority of her early adolescent life was spent in the Bronx, she spent a majority of her youth in Antigua.
Saige attended the John Phillip Sousa Middle school in the Bronx where she dominated in basketball and academics. She has passion for basketball and is a beast with the Bow and Arrow and swords.
As a perpetual reader, Saige continues to spread awareness in the importance of education and learning by advocating the 1skin1world yearly Laptop Drive. She is also a Virgo.
Who is Jack Walker-Pearson
Jack Walker-Pearson grew up in the Great North East, on a remote island in Washington State. He later had the privilege of studying acting at the prestigious SUNY-Purchase Acting Conservatory in NY; where after graduating he had the honor of teaching at.
He also taught at The Juilliard School of Drama in NYC after graduation.
“I have found my voice in writing, directing, and acting. I’ve always liked being at the helm of a project. I’ve produced Theatrical and Film work in NY, TX, and CA. As an actor I’ve mostly worked OFF and ON-Broadway, but have also graced the small screen in shows like Madam Secretary on CBS.”
“I was very excited to work on Wise Up as a director for Saige. It is an important story about redemption and second chances – and about not judging. It’s about love, and understanding. And those are always storytelling values that interest me.”