The influential and much loved photographer and film maker Pogus Caesar whose most recent project 'From Jamaica Row - Rebirth of the Bullring ' documents the multi million dollar 'overhaul' of Birmingham's Bull Ring area, was kind enough to talk to outsideleft, about his life and about his work. Part One of the Interview , his childhood, his early years, can be read by following this link: Pogus Caesar: From Jamaica Row.
We pick up here, sort of where we left off as Pogus tells of how it is his good fortune that his career in photography, film and television has allowed him to meet some of the most talented, and colorful musicians of the past 25 years, from Stevie Wonder, Prince and Aaliyah, to Lee Perry and Gil Scott Heron. These alliances form the basis of Pogus' forthcoming book, Music Kinda Sweet...
"Music Kinda Sweet, incorporates some of the work I did while producing a TV show called XPRESS for Carlton TV," he says, "I established Windrush as a production company to make entertainment based shows, with a cultural theme. XPRESS was one of the shows we made."
Pogus remembers Aaliyah warmly from her appearance on XPRESS, taped in Amsterdam. "She was one of the most unsuperstar superstars I've ever directed, a great personality and a fantastic performer. I still wonder what greatness was in store for her had she not tragically passed away."
He also interviewed one of our personal favorites, Gil Scott Heron in Nottingham, and filmed Prince in concert at the NEC in Birmingham.
His photography has always though, drawn the luminaries to him. Princess Diana, The Princess of Wales was a fan of his work. Perhaps no more famous a face could be found in the 80s. Check the OOM Gallery web site for a fabulous montage of Pogus with famous and infamous friends. It's fun. It's where we began and it made us happy. And made us want to talk about Cricket, the forthcoming cricket world cup and how that picture of Pogus with Brian Lara got in there... I mean, for people who don't know Cricket at all, it might be said that Cricket in the Caribbean is like soccer in the rest of the world, only more important. And Brian Lara is the Muhammed Ali of cricket. He's that famous and he's that good.
Pogus was producing the critically acclaimed TV series, 'Respect'. when he met Brian Lara. Respect trains its lens on the lives and achievements of black sports stars. "Brian featured in the film about cricket legend Gladstone Small, when Brian heard that we were producing a documentary he immediately said yes... A really nice person and a pleasure to work with, as was Gladstone Small." The series also featured World Heavyweight Champion, Lennox Lewis, Olympic athlete, Judy Simpson and Tony Daley, international footballer and renowned villian. Aston Villian.
Now about that Cricket World Cup, who's gonna win it... "This is a tricky one, who knows! These days in sport there are a lot of underdogs who are running riot around the established gods so I'll say lets wait and see as my uncle used to say 'new broom sweep clean but the old one know every corner'.
Forward Ever Backward Never was Pogus' first feature, made in 2002, located in Cuba it was a love story set against a backdrop of slavery. The movie was financed by the London based arts organization, ARTANGEL. "ARTANGEL asked me to direct a 20 minute film in response to the films of Turner prize winner, the artist Steve McQueen. ARTANGEL were great as they really do let you have a creative free hand, I was able to really let go and let the creativity run free. It was also good that the film was shown at selected cinemas throughout the UK including LUMIERE in London, WARWICK ARTS CENTRE in Coventry, MAC in Birmingham and UNITY Theatre in Liverpool." Despite the success of the film, Pogus opines difficulty in finding funding for future projects. But film, for sure is in the future.
For now Pogus will concentrate on growing the OOM Gallery, grooming Music Kinda Sweet and enjoying his adopted home town. "Birmingham can be great when it needs to be, there are great places to eat and just chill out." In our usual traveloggy way, we want to pretend to be part of something, we want to feel the fabric of an artist's life and live it vicariously. It's a living at least... So WhatWouldPogusDo? "Usually," he says, "I'll visit a bar in Moseley and meet friends, a lot of them are involved in the music and arts so I'll hear some great stories of life on the road, new music etc. The Carling Academy in the city centre is great for live bands, over the past few years I've seen Kanye West, Nas, Jimmy Cliff and the late Joe Strummer, just seeing these acts do you a world of good. Oh yes and cooking great food, as many years ago I was a chef!"
Read Part One of our Interview with the photographer and film maker, Pogus Caesar, Pogus Caesar: From Jamaica Row.
Main Image One Time Ago: (1999) and Pogus Caesar Portrait / Pogus Caesar / OOM Gallery Archive
OOM Gallery Online: OOM Gallery