Filmmaker: Industry dramatically improves

Filmmaker, Producer and Writer, Alison Saunders, believes that there has been a dramatic improvement in the film industry in Barbados.

While speaking to The Barbados Advocate recently she explained, “We came from nothing to having Barbadian films now showing in cinemas here and around the world and we are winning awards.”

Saunders recounted, “I started my active journey in the film industry about 13 years ago when there was virtually nothing. When I brought out ‘Hit for Six’ ten years ago, that was the first film to be exported and we only had two feature films before that at all. Hit for Six was the first one to be shown overseas commercially in a cinema and that was my vision. Why can’t we pay and go and see a Barbadian film in the cinema? In Barbados we have the talent and I always had this vision from when I did my MBA, it took 13 years from when I had the thought to when it actually happened.”

The entrepreneur, who had great success with Hit for Six, will be releasing “Panama Dreams”, a docudrama which she indicates has been a labour of love. It will premiere on March 17, 2018 and open in cinemas on April 4, 2018.

She added in terms of the development of the film industry, “We have also seen youth involved in the film industry who are doing well, Shakirah Bourne, Rommel Hall and others are producing quality work. I think we have made tremendous progress in this space of time, but what we have to do now is to make this really financially beneficial to those persons in their industry, and many of them are doing it as a personal sacrifice but for some it is a full-time job. However, it is still challenging financially and we need to make the industry viable. I think that is what we have to focus on now, so that persons develop this industry, which creates employment, etc. We should be able to reach the point that it can work financially and there are business models that prove it can work and we are getting there, but I believe we need to seek those partnerships internationally.”

Film Producer, Rommel Hall, believes that there is talent right here in Barbados and there is a market for locally produced films. Hall has produced quite a number of successful films in Barbados such as the Barbadian sitcom series “Keeping up with the Joneses”, “Keeping up with the Joneses: The Movie”, the web series “Abiola”, “Winston Hall Documentary”, etc.

Hall, speaking to The Barbados Advocate, contended: “We believe that the Government needs to do everything, but they shouldn’t. Indeed the Government should provide the enabling framework for the industry to thrive, but the private sector needs to get involved well. There are wonderful initiatives such as the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority and there has also been legislation to benefit those in the cultural industries, however though these things are in place there is still that hesitance from the private sector to invest in film as they still don’t believe they will see the return on investments. For Film to really take off, it needs that investment; we can’t keep asking people to do things for free.”

Shakirah Bourne, who has produced “Payday”, “Two Smart” with Alison Hinds and “A Caribbean Dream”, added: “We need more of our local films showing on television. There should be a stipulation that a certain percentage of content has to be locally generated, that would provide opportunity for more people to have an incentive to go out and do more local programmes. It is the distribution, it is not the talent, as we are full of ideas and talent.” (NB)

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