Producers fight for film financing

BY NEKIESHA REID Business reporter

Wednesday, October 10, 2012    

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WHILE the average blockbuster can cost over US$50 million ($4.5 billion) to make, local screenwriter Scherrie Ducille said making a great film does not always need a million-dollar budget.

In fact, her 60-minute short film is expected to cost under $500,000 without scrimping on quality, she said.

The action flick — which is being created in partnership with a US-based media house — will be shot locally, making use of an all-Jamaican cast and crew.

But while owning 90 per cent of the equipment needed for the weeklong shoot takes a sizeable chunk out of production costs, Ducille said investors are still needed for the project.

However, local film investors are few, said Film Commissioner Kim-Marie Spence.

In an effort to get more people interested in investing in films, Spence said the commission has suggested an investor tax credit, such as those offered in Trinidad and Ireland.

In the meantime, Spence said, "the Film Commission will set up meetings with companies and individuals that we know your project might appeal to".

Operated through Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO), the Jamaican Film Commission attracts motion media production crews for movies, television shows and commercials to shoot here, while offering the support needed for productions to go smoothly.

Since its establishment 26 years ago, Jamaica's Film Commission has serviced over 3,500 projects, including the "Bond" films, according to its website.

Ducille's film would be one of numerous local films processed through the commission once it is approved.

Globally, the film industry is expected to be worth US$100 billion by 2016, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jamaica's contribution is recorded as over $600 million, Spence said, adding that of the many streams that exist in the local industry, only larger domestic and incoming projects are currently tracked.

"The Film Commission interacts with the larger projects so we track the larger projects," she said. "But we continue efforts to get more information about the local industry."

The development of the industry is a priority for the commission although Spence said funding sources for productions are scarce locally.

"Many countries have a film fund, but Jamaica does not yet have one," she said.

"We [are looking] for ways to finance a film fund and advocate for public and private investment in film and the creative industries in general."

Meanwhile, Ducille continues to look for creative ways to finance her budget, an important step since she said, "we want to change the scope of [the industry] in Jamaica by introducing more opportunities for making film here".

Once completed, the short film is expected to earn at least twice as much as the cost of production, she said.





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