Film Industry Benefits From Festival

Vice President for Export and Market Development at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Robert Scott, speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’.

Vice President for Export and Market Development at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Robert Scott, speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’.

The film industry is already starting to see significant benefits and opportunities as a result of last month’s staging of Jamaica’s inaugural Film Festival, says Vice President of Export and Market Development at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Mr. Robert Scott.

“We have done something that has really put us on the map or began the process of putting us on the map, so persons know not only that Jamaica is a beautiful place, but that we have great talent and ability,” he told JIS News in an interview.

The film festival, a five-day event hosted from July 7 -11, attracted international attention and brought together persons from all sectors of the film industry. It included 14 capacity building workshops over three days. There were also 39 movie screenings, 17 of which were directed by Jamaicans and five done from start to finish by Jamaicans.

Mr. Scott said that FOX Audience Strategy Group, the department in 21st Century Fox tasked with identifying programming and operational opportunities that reflect diverse perspectives across all Fox platforms, was a part of the Jamaica Film Festival. He noted that they have since communicated that there is an opportunity for Jamaican practitioners to participate in their Writers and Directors Intensive Programme.

The Writers and Directors Intensive Programme readies diverse writers and directors for potential staffing opportunities on Fox’s television, film and digital entertainment productions.

“They came and they were very impressed with the talent, the energy and the enthusiasm of what we have here,” Mr. Scott said, adding that there have also been visits by individuals who are well-established in the international film industry, who have expressed interest in doing projects on the island, using Jamaican talent and content.

Mr. Scott said the film festival will further propel the Jamaican film industry into the global space and has created opportunities for Jamaica to export its talent and its stories.

“Persons must recognise that in the film business, you cannot be an island and it’s not just about using your (country) as a destination or as a backdrop for a movie. The fact is, it’s a lot more value-added; a lot of income can be gained by exporting our people and exporting our services,” he said.

Mr. Scott argued that Jamaican writers and producers should be the ones telling the Jamaican stories.

“One of the important things coming out of the film festival is (a change in) the mindset of the people. They are saying we can do this; we have the stories, let us get it out there,” he noted.

He told JIS News that it is important to note that Television Jamaica also aired four of the local films featured during the festival.

Mr. Scott said JAMPRO is working with the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce for the creation of a film fund where persons can get financing at a low cost for the development of films. He added that more needs to be done to encourage financial institutions to invest more heavily in the creative industries.

Planning for next year’s Film Festival begins in September, and JAMPRO intends to continue having its capacity-building workshops and initiatives.

Mr. Scott predicts that next year will be an even better staging. “We have learnt a few things; what to do more of, and what to do less of. We have a better reading of where the industry standard is, so we’ll be working with those individuals to fill those gaps,” he said.

Jamaica has been invited to participate in the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, which will take place from September 15-29.

Published Date: 
Thursday, August 13, 2015