Sat | Oct 31, 2020

JAFTA Propella on virtual schedule

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2020 | 12:05 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Tanya Batson-Savage at the Propella premiere in 2019.
Tanya Batson-Savage at the Propella premiere in 2019.

In this time of crisis, all film productions have come to a halt. Nonetheless, the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) Propella programme is still a go.

The short-film programme, designed to take film-makers on a capacity-building journey from script to screen, is still in the phase of figuring out who will be the final four granted production funds for their shorts. For the time being, JAFTA Propella maintains its pre-planned timeline, because it’s all online at this point anyway.

“For the top 10 shortlisted projects and applicants, their first script consults would take place virtually, before they move to the second judging round,” Analisa Chapman, JAFTA president, told The Gleaner.

The shortlisted top 10 scripts are Annie by Sosiessia Nixon, Dreadlock by Dale Virgo, High Strangeness by Didi Beck, Knock Knock by Dario Shields, Natality by Kamaal Manboard, Sink or Swim by Tony Hendriks, So You Want to Be A SuperHero by Deanne Allgrove, Sugar Cake by Joshua Paul, The Cane Cutter by Mark Deacon and The Downbeat by Noelle Kerr.

“Once the final four projects are selected, then it will move to the script-development workshop, and those can take place virtually,” Chapman added, with mention of the increasingly popular Zoom and Skype as working options.

The president divulged that discussions have already begun with workshop directors, and the association is in the process of finalising the finer details. “In light of this, we have to explore how we can take advantage of technology and how we can adapt to the situation in a way that communicates the same information,” she said.

Production pause

The final stages of the JAFTA Propella programme are production and a premiere screening. Historically, the film’s production takes place in July. But considering the current state of the world, no one knows exactly when it will be business as usual.

Though some guess that the economy could begin to revert to a semblance of normalcy by June, the projection doesn’t account for the film industry’s small scale. Still fledging, it may take more time for all players to fall back in line.

“We have to monitor the situation as we go along. A lot will depend on, not just whether it’s free and clear, but will everybody be doing shoots at the same time? That might have implications in terms of the availability of crew and equipment. It’s difficult to say at this time. We’re still hoping that Propella production can take place before the fall period,” Chapman said.

But film-making isn’t all about production. As the JAFTA Propella finalists will persist with virtual workshops, other film-makers can use the production pause to engage deeply with pre-production plans, or they can take advantage of online resources that have been freeing up and use this period to enable greater capacity building.

“ScreenCraft is offering virtual conferences, and Sundance is offering free online courses in directing and other fields. There are a lot of things being shared online. A lot of people around the world are volunteering their mentorship and other skill sets free of charge. People have been giving back during this period,” Chapman shared.