In this installment of Our Stories, young entrepreneur, Gemmar McFarlane shows us just how nothing can interfere with one’s true destiny… For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise- white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you’d find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience… this is Our Stories!

Many of us leave high school with the notion that we will attend college, leave with a tertiary degree and then get a really great job afterward and live the best life ever, end of story. What we never thought about were the other possibilities: illnesses, financial struggles, and other bits and pieces of everyday challenges that life decides to throw at us.

Meet Gemmar Mcfarlane – CEO of Gemagination Studios

This 23-year-old entrepreneur is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type One, a mental illness presented with very high highs and very low lows. For Gemmar, dealing with a mental illness that tends to sometimes take over his life was never a thought he would have mustered. Nonetheless, when we met with him for an interview, he explained how his illness actually fuels his creativity in a remarkable way. 

  1. How were you diagnosed with this mental illness?

I have Bipolar disorder Type1, I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist after a couple of misdiagnoses but I had an episode and the manifestations of my behaviour pointed towards that after more observation.

  1. How do you cope with this on a regular basis?

I do have to take medication on a regular basis and a lot of self-care. Type one is the more maniac type, it can have psychotic elements but it is the more emotional type and a very strange, mental process. You can have delusions and your perception and personality can change really quickly. As I said, a lot of self-care and self- management; taking time out to breath and relax and not think too much about business or anything.

3. What made you decide to leave school when you were almost ready to complete your studies?

I was going to UTECH and I decided to leave for my own benefit, for my own sanity, for my mental health, basically. I could not both go to school and run the business at the same time, it was starting to become very taxing on my soul and then I realised it wasn’t what I wanted, I was doing marketing so it could aid me to help get my business to another level but it just wasn’t what I wanted and it became depressing and school for me was always an issue; it always stressed me out.

4. I can imagine! Now, will you ever return to school?

Yes, definitely I do plan on going back at some point.

5. Ok, so being that you are an entrepreneur, does your mental health hinder you?

Actually, it does not; it plays a very integral role in my creative process. I tend to stay up late and be very creative, it can get very intense and passionate but if I go passed a certain point, I will get so high that I crash and the creativity just goes elsewhere. Medication can go so far, so I have to self-manage, take time out for myself and relax and therapy also helps, so no stress and a lot of me time. Having to go to school and managing my own business was a little too much stress so I obviously chose my business because that’s where my passion lies.

6. What is the name of your company?

Gemagination Studios

7. How did you come up with that name?

Well simple really, take the “Gem” from Gemmar right, and as I said I am a dreamer and my imagination runs wild, so add ‘Gem‘ to imagination and you get, Gemagination.

8. What type of service does your Gemagination Studios provide?

Gemagination Studios is a production company, similar to Sony or Marvel but we do not focus on any one element. We do film scouring, producing, script writing, commercials, and content ideation. Our main focus now is producing content; we want to be known for our movies and series.

9. Ok great! So is everything working out the way you hoped it would?

Yea so far so good but you know with everything in life there are challenges. We have done a lot in a short time; I had this company since I first left high school in 2015, but the bulk of the work happens in the last year, a very condensed time period. At the same time, you know my name is just getting out there. When I get jobs you know I have to put it back into the business and you know as an adult there is always a need for money to do something, so it is just up to me to transition from a small stage to a larger scale and expand. So far, we have worked with the USAID and of course my biggest client, Bignall Law. We have created a talk show called Gemagination cinema, an original project from the company that we invested in and we got a sponsor from one of our clients, and it is where we promote local film industry products with a local, unique flair, similar to improv comedy, kind of like a Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon. I want it to get so big that everyone wants to be a part of it and want to come on the show to promote their film.

10. Which celebrities would you like to work with?

Oh actors like Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio, so with this talk show I am hoping to pull in international talent as well.

11. That’s awesome, so where do you see your business within the next year?

Well hopefully this talk show would have taken off as an earner, and Gemagination Studios can become its own cushion where we have constant productions working on, much like a 9-5, and hopefully on our way to producing our first film or series.

Best wishes Gemmar and we know you will accomplish greatness! Thank you for sharing your story.

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