The Government of Jamaica has set up a billion-dollar screen fund to provide financing for the development and production of films and television shows locally.
The initial funds will be provided over two years and is to help with stimulating the push of local content by offering creatives greater access to financing, in order to properly develop projects.
The resources for the fund are being held by the Ministry of Finance and are to be drawn down in tranches once the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce approves eligible projects that have completed and fulfilled the application requirements. The fund may cover defined percentages of the production costs up to a maximum contribution for local productions.
The fund has been described as a welcome game-changer among members of the local film and creative industry.
Noting that significant work has gone into the industry over the last decade, Film Commissioner Renee Robinson said that with music being the traditional primary exportable creative product, "the film and animation sectors are also demonstrating significant economic potential for the future".
"I envision a vibrant bustling local industry creating high-calibre content that is commercially viable and investment-ready. There is a global demand for stories like ours that are culturally specific with universal appeal. With this new access to financing we can finally tell our stories in our voices with our aesthetic, to be experienced by the world," she said.
Jamaica's film, animation and music (FAM) sector is said to be the third-largest contributor to the island's gross domestic product (GDP), having a significant multiplier effect on the economy through its seamless linkages with other industries such as tourism and services.
With local professionals having partnered and delivered on a number of international films including No Time To Die from the James Bond franchise, Idris Elba's Yardie and more recently HBO/Marlon James' Get Millie Black, local talent has been making its mark globally. Investments in a number of talent discovery programmes have been equipping the industry with script development, production management, festival strategy, and distribution skills.
Generating millions in investments and creating over 2,000 skilled jobs annually, Jamaica's film commission boasts a vibrant film industry that is touted as the oldest in the English-speaking Caribbean. Between January 2022-2023, the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) said it recorded an unprecedented US$21 million in film production expenditure (FPE), which is the value of production budget contributed directly to GDP through economic activity in the film industry.
"Jampro has been working with our local partners to ensure that the Jamaica Screen Fund is supportive to the needs of our local film industry, and in line with best practices from other global film funds," stated Jampro president Shullette Cox.
"Government has recognised the great potential of the local film industry and has taken note of the challenges faced by our local creatives. This Jamaica Screen Fund will be that cushion that our creatives can use to assist them in bringing support and success to their projects, building Brand Jamaica internationally and ultimately attracting more projects coming to Jamaica," commented Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill.
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