Originally from the island of Antigua in the West Indies, Melissa’s perspective as a documentary filmmaker has been greatly shaped by her experience of being a hearing child of deaf parents. Her parents’ deafness meant that she grew up in a unique world, where visuals had much more value than words. It is no surprise then, that her first feature-length documentary is a portrait of her parents, entitled Silent Music – a film that has turned into a five-year long labour of love, expected to be completed in late 2009. Melissa’s career as a filmmaker began at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, where she completed an undergraduate degree in Image Arts: New Media with honours. At Ryerson, Melissa produced and directed several short films, three of which were officially selected for the National Student Shorts Film Festival in 2001 and 2002.
Following these studies, Melissa returned to Antigua for three years where she founded and managed her own independent production company, “Cinqué Productions”, with her fiancé Christopher Hodge. During this time she worked in the capacity of Producer and Production Manager and her biggest achievement was the writing and producing of two seasons of EcoZone – a 12-programme, 45-minute reality television series aimed at educating the public about pertinent environmental issues affecting the Caribbean region. Both seasons were broadcast throughout the Caribbean in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
In 2007, anxious to specialise and broaden her creative horizons, Melissa pursued an MA in Screen Documentary at Goldsmiths College, University of London, which she completed with distinction one year later. That year allowed her to focus on producing and directing Share and Share Alike, a medium-length documentary which explores the relationships between three Antiguan brothers and the uniquely Caribbean way in which they continue to fight for a brother who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia almost 25 years ago. This film had its North American premiere at the 2009 Caribbean Tales Film Festival in July.