Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Communications, Culture and Information Technology
Year of graduation: 2006
When Jeremy Whittaker set out to make a film about his Jamaican homeland, he was determined to tell a different kind of story. Rather than violence and non-stop action, romance and music are front and centre of Jeremy’s first feature film, Destiny which opened the ReelWorld Film Festival in Toronto this month.
“Based on a coming home story, the film shows the rich diversity of the country’s culture, particularly the music,” says Jeremy who was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
As a teenager, Jeremy was “shipped off” to boarding school in Toronto where he had relatives living, to help tame his wilder side. After studying economics at the University of Toronto for a couple of years, he wanted to pursue another direction so he returned to his homeland to decide what to do next. Always interested in filmmaking, Jeremy landed an internship at a media production house in Jamaica. He started by rolling cables and soon learned how to set up an entire film set. He was hooked. So he returned to Canada with a plan to enter the film industry. As luck would have it, Sheridan was introducing the Communication, Culture and Information Technology (CCIT) a joint program with the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). The CCIT program combined traditional academic arts courses with hands-on instruction in digital media.
“I jumped at this brand new opportunity. I remember being blown away by all the programs that were at my fingertips at Sheridan. It didn’t feel like school anymore,” recalls Jeremy, who graduated from the program in 2006. “The professors were excellent, particularly Kathleen Hearn.”
While at Sheridan/UTM, he actively pursued internships, completing stints at CBC and Universal Music. After graduation, Jeremy returned to Jamaica, worked as a TV producer at a local station. His lifelong passion for music led him to direct music videos, one of which received a Jamaican music award in 2010.
But Jeremy was determined to make films so he returned to Toronto and worked on a script for Destiny that he started in 2007. The film was eventually shot in both Toronto and Jamaica. It wasn’t long before ReelWorld came calling, keen on sharing the film’s unique perspective on the Caribbean nation.
With sold-out screenings throughout the festival, Destiny is now poised to go global. Jeremy is actively working to distribute the film throughout North America and beyond. He also has big plans for his production company which is based in Jamaica and Toronto. “I’m looking over some great scripts. The future looks very bright and I am excited.”
Jeremy’s success is likely great comfort to his parents who chose professions outside of the arts. (His mother is a doctor and his father is an actuary.) “It was a special moment when my Mom came up from Jamaica for opening night as a surprise.”
More about Destiny: https://www.facebook.com/DestinyFeatureFilm
More about the Sheridan/UTM Communication, Culture and Information Technology program.