Film Commissioner (left) Annette Nias who attended the event applauded the upcoming initiative. "It's a wonderful opportunity for our film community - especially our young people - to gain experience and network with an international group of filmmakers," she explained. "There are so many stories to be told right here in Barbados."

A growing number of film products created by Barbadian cast and crew, and what’s next…

A growing number of film products created by Barbadian cast and crew, and what’s next…

Film Commissioner (left) Annette Nias who attended the event applauded the upcoming initiative. "It's a wonderful opportunity for our film community - especially our young people - to gain experience and network with an international group of filmmakers," she explained. "There are so many stories to be told right here in Barbados."

The process of filmmaking in Barbados has crawled apace through the decades, starting with the era of such Hollywood location shoots as Island in the Sun (1957), through the launch of new government agencies, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Government Information Service (GIS) in the 1960’s, to the current digital age in which the playing field has been levelled due to the availability of affordable technology and increasing access to training, plus exhibition opportunities locally and globally.

Growth of the Sector

In recent years Barbadian residents have been exposed to a steadily growing number of film products created by local casts and crews. Paving the way was The Film Group, spearheaded by Mahmood Patel in the early 2000’s, known for their workshop-based, communityoriented medley of short films entitled The Shoe. In this period, the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) embarked on a tertiary-level film training programme. The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) established the Film Desk in 2007 to assist in the overall development of the film sector. Through a public/private sector initiative, the Barbados Film & Video Association (BFVA) was formed in 2011 to lead the sector through lobbying and advocacy, education and capacity-building.

These efforts spawned the beginning of an exciting period in which technical and production skills were amalgamated to manifest a plethora of Bajan film products of varied styles and quality: shorts and feature films, commercials, animation products, documentaries and more. Highlights include Hit for Six, a fiction story set in the world of West Indies cricket, produced by Blue Waters Productions (2007); HUSH 1, HUSH 2, and Chrissy, produced by Step By Step Productions (2008 – 2021); Pay Day produced by Let’s Do This Films (2013), and Keeping Up With the Joneses by Hall.E.Wood Productions (2013).

The NCF’s National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) also nurtured the development of original content though its annual Film/Video competition, in which successful entries have been awarded gold, silver and bronze certificates.

Streams of audiences have poured out of local cinemas with some degree of pride and satisfaction after viewing welltold stories about familiar cultural themes that survive the constant cavalcade of North American screen fare.

This emerging Bajan cinema represents yet another milestone in our journey of decolonization and independence. It will serve a useful purpose in the continuum of a dynamic Barbadian/Caribbean cultural identity, as it seeks to spread our tales and ideas across communities and diasporas globally.

Business Acceleration

For many years, film producers and film production companies have visited Barbados for the purpose of using the island’s beauty and unique features, either as a central location or as a backdrop for their lifestyle TV series, narrative and documentary films, commercials, and music videos.

Steps have recently been taken by government to regularize this activity, so that Barbados could reap maximum benefits from it by developing the local film industry as a major engine of growth within Barbados’ economy. It is widely recognized that the global film industry is resilient and performs even in times of recession.

Through the establishment of the desk of a Film Commission in 2015, government has been creating a system which facilitates the development of a symbiotic relationship between visiting foreign production companies and development of local skills and content.

Its main role has been the promotion of Barbados as a viable foreign filmmaking destination and the provision of a comprehensive service for all filmmakers in production or location scouting on the island. It serves as a liaison between government agencies, private sector companies and film productions. Procedures for filming on location are clarified with clients and apprenticeship opportunities are encouraged. The desk also encourages a means of monitoring filming activities and ensuring that the economic benefits are exploited.

Film shoots from the Caribbean, Europe, the UK and the USA have been facilitated over the years. Several Barbadian film production companies provide necessary services for such activity on an ongoing basis: Parachute Film Studios Ltd., 13 Degrees North Productions Inc. and Crucial Productions Inc.

READ THE FULL “BUSINESS BARBADOS” ARTICLE here

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