Jimmy Cliff

REGGAE legend Jimmy Cliff says Jamaica's film industry is not where it should be globally. He believes investors do not see the medium as lucrative.

“In my opinion, the film industry is not being encouraged. People with money in Jamaica don't see it as a money-making thing. There were some movies that were made locally that didn't make any money... investors have become cautious. The funding is a big thing,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Cliff, star of the 1972 cult classic The Harder They Come, has experienced the effects of insufficient funding.

“When we were doing The Harder They Come we ran out of money. I was residing in England and I had to go back to England. When they got money, they said: 'Come back now. We raise some more money.' The break would sometimes be six weeks to two months,” he said.

Cliff, 76, starred as Ivanhoe “Ivan” Martin in The Harder They Come, which was directed and co-written by Perry Henzell and Trevor Rhone. Its plot follows Martin who came to Kingston from the country to make it big in the music industry.

Listed as Jamaica's most influential film, The Harder They Come – through its soundtrack – helped introduce reggae to the world. It includes Cliff's enduring songs You Can Get It (If You Really Want) and Wonderful World, Beautiful People.

He believes one way to overcome inadequate funding is to present appealing scripts.

“You need creativity. Creativity in terms of writing scripts, just like artistes need to write songs with a global view. There is a saying in the film business, 'To make a film you need a script, script, and a script.' Once you have a good script you'll get the director, you get the money, all of that,” he said.

Since last year Cliff has been off the road as the novel coronavirus outbreak shuttered the entertainment industry. But in addition to writing material for his upcoming 11-song album, he is dabbling in script writing.

“I'm writing a movie, but I'm not saying it is a follow-up to The Harder They Come. But it's a script and I feel positive about it. I do have some agents in Hollywood that I'll be sending it to,” he said.

“What I have is a synopsis, but it is fairly long. To get it into a screenplay, I have to get screenwriters to sit with me and get it done. To get dialogue and stuff like that. It is a great synopsis. I'm going to call it after one of my song titles. Journey could be a title; then there is Many Rivers to Cross,” he continued.

Cliff has also appeared in the action film Marked for Death (1990), which stars Steven Seagal, and the comedy Club Paradise (1986), which stars Robin Williams.

A native of Somerton in St James, Jimmy Cliff, whose given name is James Chambers, began making music in the early 1960s. He has won two Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Album and was awarded the Order of Merit in 2003 by the Jamaican Government.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

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