The Jamaica Film and Television Association Limited (JAFTA) this week is taking part in the staging of the British Council’s Script Development Workshop.
Script Development Consultant, Ludo Smolski engages workshop participants as he discusses the screenplay development process.
Led by instructor, Ludo Smolski, a Script Development Consultant and Lecturer at the National Film and Television School (UK), the workshop focuses on the creation and development of strong screenplays through the analysis of script structure and the working relationship between the Screenwriter, Script Editor and Producer in the script development process.
JAFTA led the open call process in Jamaica and 15 participants were selected, following a rigorous selection process, by a 3-member judging panel represented by the British Council, JAFTA and JAMPRO. The 15 selected participants are:
Mezan Ayoka Morrison Tanya Batson-Savage Kerry Ann Ellington
Christopher Browne Kaiel Eytle Justine Henzell
Tony Hendriks Denise Gooden Danielle Russell
Kevin Jackson Janet Morrison Natalie Thompson
Letay Williams Ina Sotiroav Andre Wynter
Back (l-r) Christopher Benjamin (JAMPRO), Kaiel Eytle, Chris Browne, Ludo Smolski, Andre Wynter. Middle (l-r) Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick-(British Council), Denise Gooden, Kevin Jackson, Natalie Thompson, Tony Hendriks, Front (l-r) Justine Henzell, Janet Morrison, Tanya Batson-Savage, Mezan Ayoka Morrison, Danielle Russell, Ina Sotiroav and JAFTA President , Gabrielle Blackwood.
“JAFTA looks forward to the mentorship and training that will come from this workshop and we anticipate significant improvements in the development and production of feature-length scripts and films.” - JAFTA President, Gabrielle Blackwood.
The Workshop, which runs from the 1st to the 5th March, 2017, is being hosted at the offices of JAMPRO in New Kingston.
The Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) started a bold initiative this year to advance, diversify and ultimately propel the growth of Jamaica's film and television industry. JAFTA Propella has offered mentorship and JMD $500,000 for the production of five short films from inception to completion, chosen from a blind selection process of treatments submitted by just under 20 members of the local film and tv industry. The winning JAFTA Propella filmmakers are: Kurt Wright, Tony Hendriks, Natalie Thompson, Janet Morrison, Adrian Lopez and Sharon Leach. Their films will be showcased in a specially curated hour at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival later this month.
Funding for the films’ production was sourced through the CHASE FUND which has awarded the project a grant of $2.5M. The Film Commission sharing JAFTA's vision has come on board to assist with airfare expenditure for the filmmakers to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) where they will be exposed to film financiers, external distribution channels, international filmmakers and markets and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) where the films will have their World Premiere in September.
Few may know but film has been a part of Jamaica for over 100 years. Despite famous titles such as "Blue Lagoon", "Cocktail" and "The Harder They Come" being shot on the island, we are yet to have an industry churning out local content often enough to supply the demand of audiences worldwide. This is the problem JAFTA Propella aims to solve.
Viewing distribution as a crucial piece to the puzzle, JAFTA will market these films through various festivals and other marketplaces to propel the filmmakers and Jamaican film. The initiative is a year long one which will continue annually to build world class filmmakers that will inevitably transform our industry into a mature framework propelling our film and TV producers to success.
In part 1 of this article, we examined JAMPRO’s role in the local motion picture industry as well as the goals and challenges of Ms. Renee Robinson, Jamaica’s new Film Commissioner. Today we discuss the Jamaica Film Festival portion of the meeting. When this hot topic arose, Ms. Robinson ‘ducked for cover’ in jest in her acknowledgement that the festival has long been a sore point for the filmmaking community.
Diplomatically she shared the positives of the festival and tipped her hat to her predecessor former commissioner Carole Beckford for pulling off such an ambitious event. However she emphasized that it was ambitious and she believes it needs to be trimmed then grown in a more controlled fashion for more manageability and success.
The audience was in agreement but further drove home the point that the event should not happen this year as a clear year of planning is required for any festival to be anywhere near a real success for the industry. It was clear the majority of the gathering were in agreement. While this feedback was acknowledged, it seemed pretty clear that planning may be too far advanced to turn back. With that said she went to the next hot subtopic; that of the script to screen program.
For those unaware, the programme was a precursor to the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival in 2015 which was to unearth emerging talent. 53 persons submitted scripts to undergo a pitching process which would narrow the field down to a set of filmmakers who were believed to be the industry’s next big stars. They were to be put into a series of training sessions that would prepare them for each level of the production pipeline to raise their standards to an internationally accepted level. This did not go as planned and was unavoidably short changed due to its ambitious intentions. As a result 4 filmmakers were featured at the Film Festival but not in a prominent way and there was no continuity after the festival to ensure the ambitions stayed on track.
Ms. Robinson’s solution to this is to transition the concept from a competition leading up to the festival into an emerging talent development program set to debut them at the festival and run them through a series of training afterwards and send them to international events where they can network, pitch their content and strike their own deals. After all, that is what the business of filmmaking is about, a long term development plan. Each year a different 5 would be selected which would over time expose more and more filmmakers and provide them all with the same opportunities.
Even with her solid plans members of the Jamaican Film and TV community re-emphasized their concerns about planning a festival on such short notice before the close of the meeting. Wrapping up, the new faces in the room were introduced; an announcement was made for the next meeting which will be a working meeting to kick start JAFTA’s projects followed by announcements of the Francophone Film Festival which was currently underway and the GATTFEST, Lignum Vitae and Trinidad and Tobago Film Festivals, all of which are currently open for submissions. Last but not least, on April 20 join the Film Natives group for their inaugural Film Catalyst event with guest speakers Renee Robinson, Chris Browne, Deborah Hickling, Lilyclaire Bellamy and Jeremy Whittaker where they will talk about challenges, successes, strategies and the legal infrastructure for film in Jamaica.
It was standing room only Today (March 24) as Jamaica’s Film Commissioner met with JAFTA. Over 50 persons from the film and television community including Writers, Producers, Directors, and Cinematographers were all there to listen to Ms. Renee Robinson talk about JAMPRO’s role in the industry, her goals and her perceived challenges.
The presentation started with an introduction of her extensive background in film, from a P.A. grunt to a Film Festival Director at the internationally renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She explained that while in her position at TIFF, she was in contact with producers from Fox, Disney and other huge players in the industry. All the films screened at TIFF during her tenure came through her. She wants to use this experience of over 15 years and apply it here in the Jamaican landscape to facilitate opportunities between Jamaican Filmmakers and international production and distribution companies.
She said she has a mountain to climb which of course is the dichotomy of her portfolio. She is not only responsible for the Film Industry; she also has responsibility for the creative industries. This she admitted, represents a considerable challenge but not an insurmountable one because there are policies already in place for the creative arm that make the management that much easier. Admittedly her perception of the Film Commission has been met with challenges as there are vast differences between the local commission and other film commissions all over the world, the most obvious being that while others are sole entities, the Jamaican Film Commission is located within JAMPRO a government run agency responsible for export and trade. This distinctly frames the priorities and doesn’t necessarily coincide with what the film industry needs at the moment.
With that said, she has vowed that her manifesto will remain the same throughout her contract and it has been boiled down to 3 things.
1. Co Production treaties with other countries for film development.
2. Film incentives
3. National Film fund.
These will be the three things she guarantees to always mention wherever she is asked to speak.
By this time in the meeting, it was obvious Ms. Robinson had given a great deal of consideration to her strategy going forward in the short month and a half she had been in this position, but concern was still high about the duality of her roles and how much energy and time she will actually be able to allocate to the Film Industry? When asked about her team , she revealed that it is only 1.5 persons dedicated to assist her with the Film Industry. This is a concern as it suggests that as well 'intentioned' as the local film agenda may be, it may not be adequately resourced. I
This however is why she has engaged JAFTA, to partner with her to help contribute to making her strategy work. Based on the response of the room, we are all for it. We are very familiar with these challenges and at this point we are simply ready to move on and get things going. There is a lot of work to be done, and with open dialogue through JAFTA representation we can look forward to real changes as the film commissioner’s office and the industry work closely together.
If you missed last week’s JAFTA meeting, you missed out on a few very important announcements. Not to worry though, here’s a recap.
The meeting was held on March 3rd instead of the usual last Thursday of the month, which would have been February 25th, but we postponed the meeting for national important to recognize the nation’s general elections.
The meeting took place the following week at the UWI Community Film project office on the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. 23 people were in attendance, with several new faces among us. The minutes from the previous meeting were recapped as usual and approved. There after the new board was announced.
Photograph by Hugh Wright (Just Wright Photography)
President - Gabrielle Blackwood
Vice President – Kenia Mattis
Incentives Development – Yvette Rowe
Marketing and Communications – Kevin Jackson
Skills and training – Franklyn St. Juste
Distribution Development – Storm Saulter
Industry Database – Kaiel Eytle
Each executive summarized what their respective portfolios were and asked for volunteers and 6 persons stepped up to the plate.
Skills and trainingBasil Jones Jr and Jordan - Earl Fischer volunteered
Grant fundingDanielle Russell
Events and fundraisingBasil Jones Jr.
MarketingChevonnese WhyteAkeem Goldbourne
President Gabrielle Blackwood told the meeting there was a need for a treasurer to be elected.
Sarah Manley oversaw the election of a treasurer.
Basil Jones Jr was elected with 14 votes.
It was noted that the Film Commissioner and Jeremy Whitaker would be at a seminar entitled Film: A catalyst for the creative economy to be on April 20 2016 at the Vera Moodie Hall at the Edna Manley School of Music.
The meeting was adjourned.
The Fox Writers Intensive (“FWI”) is a highly selective writer’s initiative, held at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles, CA, January 2016 through May 2016. With the success of FWI the past four years, we will now be accepting and introducing emerging and experienced writers with unique voices, backgrounds, life and professional experiences that reflect the diverse perspectives of the audiences Fox creates for a wide range of Fox showrunners, writers, directors, screenwriters and creative executives. These collective individuals will work with the selected writers in a series of master classes to build on both their general craft and further their skillsets in the business of writing for television, feature films and digital content. Please note that while employment cannot be guaranteed, every aspect of the initiative is designed with a goal — to provide the accepted finalists with intensive creative and professional development, exposure and opportunity that would best equip him or her to succeed at Fox.
WHO CAN APPLY?FWI is for emerging and experienced voices and/or previously staffed, produced or published writers who have a strong command of their craft and who are deeply committed to pursuing that craft as a profession. The goal of FWI is distinctive in equal parts to create an optimal resource for both writers with diverse perspectives that will be reflective of our broad and diverse audiences and the cross divisional Fox creative executives who endeavor to continue to develop and distribute quality entertainment.
FWI is open solely to emerging and experienced referred writers with writing experience in film and/or television, as well as theater and other literary mediums, having an interest in expanding their professional opportunities to include broadcast, film or new media.
HOW CAN YOU NOMINATE?Email JAMPRO Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (firstname.lastname@example.org) listing up to five (5) writers that meet the qualifications and you would like to nominate. Please include their name, email, phone number and point agent/manager. (Please confirm you would like to be nominated and JAMPRO will send your names. They have been designated the agent from Jamaica in the meantime. Please include the information required)
The deadline for writers that have been nominated to apply is OCTOBER 16, 2015. Nominated writers must apply online and mail in notarized documents that must arrive on or before OCTOBER 16th. Once the writer is nominated they should expect an email from Film Independent with website and login information to apply directly. There’s no need to send samples. The nominated writer will send in samples directly when they apply.
For more information, please visit the FWI website at http://www.foxaudiencestrategy.com/
This tax is aimed at capturing persons liable to income tax but who are non-compliant and may not be in the tax base. It is expected that this tax measure will result in the broadening of the tax base, increased compliance, improved revenue collection and ultimately lower income tax rates.
Together, we can make a difference. JAFTA Execs give voice to the needs and concerns of our growing industry. Tapping into growth opportunities can be a reality!
Cineenigma Productions presents the first IPHIAS International Film Festival in Falmouth, Jamaica from November 12-15. For all the details, check their website, www.iphias.com
The Jamaica Film & Television Association (JAFTA) is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.