JAMAICA and the Diaspora are key drivers for Home Again recouping its near US$4-million budget.
Earnings from its main Canada market are constrained by single-digit margins, whilst releasing the film about deportees internationally spreads the risk, asserted Jennifer Holness co-writer/producer of the film.
"I do not know if I will recoup my investment, and its also too early to tell, because we are five months in [since releasing]," Holness told reporters and editors at the Monday Exchange held at the Jamaica Observer's head office in Kingston. "Out of Canada we did very well, but is it what I would have wanted — No. We take in three to four per cent of the box office on an annual basis so that is very low. So we tend to rely on international sales and releases and those things. So will I recoup my money? There is almost no Canadian film that recoups fully, but that's OK."
Home Again, co-written by Holness and Canadian-Jamaican David 'Sudz' Sutherland, centres on three persons deported from Canada, the United States and England to Jamaica.
The film, released in Canada and Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) earlier this year, will open today in Jamaica and next month in the UK. The film's team also hopes that its large financier, eOne Distribution will cut a deal with a US distributor for its US release. Regardless, the team will build partnerships outside the US in an attempt to hike revenue.
"We would like to cross over into the mainstream, but we have to get our own people to watch this movie first," said supervising T&T producer Lisa Wickham at the Monday Exchange. "The Jamaica Diaspora alone is huge, and then the Caribbean Diaspora is added to that. So we have to form the partnerships which is what we have done in the UK. When you look at the multiplier effect among the Diaspora we can fill the theatre with our own people".
The film shot on a budget of roughly US$3.6 million included some US$330,000 from the Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) Government in the form of a rebate. The rebate represented a percentage of the total US$1.7 million spent in the twin-island republic to shoot the film contrastingly about Jamaica.
"The amount was 35 per cent of what qualified for that rebate. [It] included all money spent on T&T nationals and companies," stated Wickham. "In terms of the reach of the money [there was] the airfare, hotel accommodation, the crew, the trucks, trailers, carpenters, painters, seamstresses, costume designers, Internet, telephones. It touched every aspect."
Holness, an award-winning film maker, indicated that she tried in vain between 2006 and 2011 to secure meetings with the Jamaica government to film locally.
"Jamaica missed the boat. At least five film-makers came to me saying that they wanted to film in Jamaica but couldn't do it," Holness recalled.