Featured Artist: Sage Love

Monday March 16, 2020

We are so excited to announce the first recipient of the Russell J. Efros Memorial Award Fund from the School of Visual Arts – Sage Love.  The funds from the award helped Sage Love complete his thesis project: AYITI: THE AWAKENING. Congrats Sage Love! We are so honored to be able to assist such a determined, motivated and talented artist.  Come join us at the first screening on August 22nd at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ayiti-the-awakening-screening-tickets-63170854727 and check out the trailer below.

Visit http://www.sva.edu/alumni/alumni-society/funds-and-awards to learn more about The Russell J. Efros Memorial Award Fund.

Meet Sage Love

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself 

My name Sage Love, I am an award winning filmmaker, photographer and entrepreneur.  I have produced numerous films that have gone to film festivals and my photographs have been published on numerous indie magazines. When I’m not making movies I am teaching it. I teach at Trey Whitfield Middle School and Goddard Riverside Community center. Representation is a big part to why I make films and its important that the next generation see themselves being represented in the most honest way. My passion for telling stories was ignited by the death of Trayvon Martin, who was murdered by George Zimmerman. My whole perspective of the system I live in changed when Zimmerman was found not guilty. That frustration and rage motivated me to write my first film, and one year later I produced a film entitled HOODY: The Trayvon Martin Experience. The film was released on Trayvon’s birthday, February 5th, 2015, and it has since gone on to screen at 14 film festivals (including one in Finland) and won 2 awards. As a filmmaker, I understand that in order to make a difference, you first have to embody the difference you wish to see.

2. What inspired the film? & Why did you want to tell this story?

In December 2017 I went back to my homeland Ayiti for the first time since 2009. While there I decided to make my thesis film a documentary. My intention at first was to make the documentary solely about the beauty of Ayiti. Once I got there and saw the conditions of my people and how everything had changed due to the earthquake that happened in 2010, I couldn’t ignore the silent cries I saw in everyone’s eyes. My cousin Steve sat with me and told a story about how he almost died. Steve, who was 12 at the time, survived having a house nearly collapses on top of him. He first described the phenomenon as a miracle, but later told me our ancestors protected him. After he shared his experience with me we decided it was time to go back to where we were raised, the original capital of Ayiti Marchand, Dessaline, a name given by our beloved great-great grandfather and the first ruler of Ayiti, Jean-Jacques Dessaline. Dessaline is one of Ayiti’s founding fathers who lead the Haitian revolution after Toussaint L’ouverture was captured by the French. Under his leadership they beat the British, French, and Spaniard army. Knowing my family history I felt it was the perfect time to step into my destiny. While there I visited the house of Dessaline and his wife.

The feeling I had stepping inside the house was a feeling like no other. In there I saw the bed he used to sleep in. Touching his candle holder that still had the wax from the early 1800s and all the gift baskets from past presidents of Haiti and other family members of the same bloodline was the most spiritually fulfilling experience I’ve ever had. There’s something powerful about standing in the room where your ancestors once stood and being at one with your surroundings, really taking it all in. After learning more about Dessaline, I decided to go to the military fort my people built, located up in the mountains near my grandmother’s house. What looked like an easy climb ended up being a 25-minute climb with no water – but I wasn’t complaining. Instead, I was in awe of the view and the hard work my people put in to build a route system with steps in place, and then stood there to build not just one but six forts.

Once there I saw a big cannon and cannon balls all over. There was a prison and near it was a chamber. Behind the chambers the route continued onward to the remaining six forts right above us. A few feet from the prison was an underground tunnel that is blocked off now but it led back into the town. At the time the town was a fighting zone. Seeing all of these technologies my Ayitian brothers built made me feel proud. With a new purpose and a fresh drive, I decided I was ready to tell the story I feel has been shaping me for all these years. It’s not only the narrative of the real Haiti, but it’s also my own.

3. Tell us about the role that SVA played in creating this film. 

SVA was very supportive in making sure that my story is told. From the moment I pitched the idea to Mary Lee, (chair of the film & animation department), she made sure I knew when the deadlines where to apply for grants and stay in touch with me. My thesis advisors Ed Bowes and Joan Brooker helped me develop the story in my third year. Once I knew what story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to do it, the rest was up to me. I received the pre production and alumni society grant which helped with funding for the project. 

4. What was the most challenging part about this process? Most rewarding?

The most challenging part of the process was people telling me the way I wanted to tell the story wasn’t going to work due to deadlines. When I kept hearing this, I thought to myself “these people have no idea who I am.”  I work best when my back is against the wall. I thrive under pressure and it hasn’t been the first time I took on an ambitious project and executed it well. The reward was seeing all of the Naysayers faces after showing the film for the first time at our school’s film festival. People always think they know what you’re capable of and I just love proving people wrong. You have to believe in yourself and your abilities. 

5. What was the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to was Black & Ugly by Rapsody. It’s like an anthem to my life right now. 

6. What sprouts your creativity? 

Everything sparks my creativity. One of my favorite things I like to do is go to the park to people watch. You meet so many interesting people in the park and hear so many interesting stories. I listen to the sound of their voice, how they walk, and interact with one another. I’m always writing stories and developing characters. One of the ways I like to develop characters is by watching them in real life.