Roger McTair is a director, poet, professor and writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has had short stories air on CBC Radio and BBC Radio.
He was born in Trinidad and Tobago on October 7, 1943. Not having much to do while growing up galvanized his love of creating things.
“I grew up in a film-loving country and there were few outlets, one of them were sports for boys, soccer, cricket, the movies, hanging out – the movies,” says McTair. “There were very limited things to do. There was some theatre if you were middle class, but there wasn’t a lot of theatre.
“Yeah, we would go to the movies,” continues McTair. “Very specifically what happened when I was about 17 they would only show European movies and I found them so different. A lot of Italian movies, a lot of French movies, so I sort of realized at that point that you didn’t have to make movies only about cowboys and Indians. I looked at a lot of Japanese movies too.”
McTair came to Canada in 1969. He went back to Trinidad and Tobago for awhile, then returned to Canada in 1970.
“I had a lot of friends here,” McTair says. “I had friends in Brooklyn too.”
He went to what is now known as Ryerson University. He has also taken some courses at the University of Toronto and a lot of workshops. He studied film and a lot of philosophy at Ryerson.
“I did a lot of freelance writing for Caribbean newspapers and the black newspapers in Toronto.” McTair says about what he did after he graduated from Ryerson.
He started making movies in 1979. Mainly his career has focused on documentaries. His first film was called, It’s Not an Illness. It was about being able to run while pregnant to the very end. This film garnered McTair a finalist position at the Genies (Canada’s version of the Oscars). It also won an award with a medical association in California.
“I made Home to Buxton [next]. Home to Buxton won a Genie and it showed in New York and California. I made a film with Jennifer Hodge called Home Feeling. It showed a lot. It was about the relationship between the police and the Jane-Finch community in Toronto.”
McTair has done some work with Vision-TV. His almost complete filmography also includes Hymn to Freedom done in 1994 with Almeta Speak Productions. Children Are Not the Problem done with the Congress of Black Women of Canada in 1991. Jane-Finch Again done with Prieto-McTair Productions in 1997. Different Timbres that was a short at 14 minutes. His latest film was Journey to Justice done in 2000 for the National Film Board.
McTair has been teaching at Seneca College for about 16 years or more. He teaches media writing (basic writing), documentary, film, second semester media writing, advanced media writing, analyzing short stories and doing film and documentary.
McTair has done a lot of short story writing and written a couple plays, plus opinion piece writing. He used to write for the Star quite a bit. McTair has also done some poetry. He has been published with Caribbean newspapers and one of them broadcasted with the BBC, the fable book of Caribbean short stories is published with Faber. It’s called the Faber Book of Caribbean Short Stories.
“I have stories published in an academic text in Boston,” says McTair. “It’s for students doing courses, such as English and writing with a huge press in the States.”
He’s done so many things and no longer keeps a resume, so he has stopped keeping track.
In terms of health, McTair describes his as “mediocre for 65.” He has high blood pressure and could be in a lot better shape. McTair goes to his doctor on a regular basis and also walks.
“I’m quite casual about life, I don’t always know when I’m stressed.”
You can hear the pride and joy in McTair’s voice when he speaks of his son Ian Kamau Prieto-McTair.
“He had an Ontario Arts Council grant to work with Schools Without Borders. Now he is working on some youth project.”
Prieto-McTair is an artist-at-large.
“The apple did not fall too far from the tree,” that’s what McTair agreed his son says.
“I have always done the same thing that I have done. I have always worked in writing and creative fields. And when I leave Seneca I will continue to do that.”