In 2006 I was hired to edit a coffee table book being produced on jeweller Barbara Jardine by Robert & Christopher Publishers. I had known of Barbie’s incredible work for as long as I could remember, but working on the book gave me a kind of access to her that I’d never had before. I was drawn to her emotive work, much of which was imbued with personal meaning and stories from her life. I made the decision to start filming with her around the time we were finishing the book.

Needless to say, I didn’t have a plan; no budget, no treatment, no timeline, nothing! Just a real interest in her. I brought in DoP Eniola Adelekan and we started filming. Our approach to lighting was very minimal, we locked the camera on the tripod (no pans, no tilts, no zooms) and we watched her work. We filmed with her at an exhibition in Scotland and we got permission to film in the Victoria & Albert Museum, where one of her pieces is held. It was a slow labour of love for me. Barbie and I became very close friends during the process, and I even grew accustomed to her corbeau, Grommit, flying in for love-ups and a meal from time to time!

Luckily, I was able to raise some money through the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company and the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago. It was a drop in the bucket of what it actually ‘cost’ to make, but that allowed me to pay for the DoP, pay for new music, sound mix, photography and poster design. Everything else I did myself. We filmed with Barbie for three years, and I spent about six months editing the film.

‘The Solitary Alchemist’ won the ttff award for best locally produced film in 2009. You can watch it here 👉…/the-solitary-alchemist-2009

The carousel photos are pulled from the soundmix, a mini rough-cut screening, the TT premiere, filming at V&A and with Barbie.

The team:

Producer, director and editor: Mariel Brown
Director of photography: Eniola Adelekan
Second camera: Sean Edghill
Assistant producer: Catherine Emmanuel
Composer: Chantel Esdelle
Sound mix: Martin Raymond

Read more about The Solitary Alchemist here.