Coming soon: a national film fund
Designing a framework to support an industry or to connect structures operating in isolation into one healthy, functioning ecosystem where one didn’t exist before is undoubtedly a monumental task. As one sector of the local creative, or Orange, economy, the film industry’s framework is high off the ground.
Last Tuesday evening, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation invited players to discuss how to raise and access capital for the creative industries. There, film commissioner Renée Robinson revealed that a national film fund has been under development for the past four years. “It’s now in its final stages of going through the approval process to Cabinet. I am anticipating and hoping that in 2020, we will be able to make official announcements to launch what that next stage is going to look like,” she said.
The First Stage
Getting to this point required years of documentation, tracking financials, and the monitoring and eventual mimckry of global standards to develop the sturdy structure that a thriving economy needs. Over the past few years, the film commission has implemented and sustained various initiatives and programmes that contribute to streamlining industry practices and affording international networking opportunities for film-makers and animators.
These initiatives include the Business of Sustainability for Studios (BOSS) programme, which grooms existing animation studio executives; the Film Lab (in association with the British Council) including writers, script editors, and producers, of which the final stage of the programme is the production of selected feature-length films; and the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) Propella, a script-to-screen initiative that has steadily contributed to the country’s short-film library.
Part of the reason the film commission is well on its way to presenting a White Paper to Parliament is because it is ‘bilingual’. During her presentation, Robinson identified the need for creatives and financiers to find ways to translate each other’s language. “Or we need to identify people, out of your partners and other people that you’re working with, who are able to function as translators, who are able to speak both creative and business, who are able to hybridise themselves to create an entire new classification of business people who focus on the creative economy.”
Robinson continued: “We are aware that there is an ecosystem planning. There are some things that are already in place. There are some things that are not. Essentially, the takeaway is that we are in the process of advancing the delivery of a fund geared towards screen-based industries, which will be geared towards the development of local content. It’s not going to be a big fund, but it’s going to be a start.”