Tobago is aiming towards building a robust and sustainable film industry to diversify its creative sector and impact tourism.
The Tobago Rural Film initiative was launched last Wednesday, which is now expected to encourage and combine the strengths of emerging film-makers on the island, through the Tobago Heritage Festival, as the pillar to create a portal for the Tobago film industry onto the international stage.
At the launch of the initiative at the Tourism division’s compound at Sangster’s Hill, Scarborough, Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips said, “This seeks to promote the development of Tobago’s unique cultural and tourism industries, through the use of film. We are mindful Tobago has a rich, vibrant history and heritage; this initiative will further enhance that pertinent aspect of Tobago culture and heritage and accurately document, preserve and market the island.”
She added that there is hope this programme will act as a “springboard for investments and research tourism, whereby the island of Tobago can become a premier destination for both film making and research of indigenous, local and West Indian history and practices.”
Facilitator Melvina Havard said the initiative will shine a significant spotlight on Tobago’s dynamic and rich cultural history.
As part of the programme, members of Tobago heritage groups will be invited to submit their stage scripts by May 20. The scripts will be evaluated and the top pick will be converted into a 30-minute film. There will also be a weekend of workshops leading up to the Tobago Heritage Festival in July.
Havard said, “This workshop will not only be available to local heritage groups but also members of the public who are interested in film making – this will be a general workshop on translating scripts to the screen. We will also be having breakout workshops, looking at how you can take other skill sets such as hairdressing, tailoring, woodworking, accounting and how one could assimilate them into the world of film. The thing about the world of film is that almost every single skill set can be applied.”
Aspiring producers, actors and film-makers will also be treated with two nights of community screening of four films and, according to Havard, this will demonstrate what is expected at the end of the programme. The locations of these community screening will be announced soon.
She said the goal is to develop a rural-based film of high quality production. “On the second day, we are going to have more detailed workshop where one mentor will be assigned to each of the group and they are going to be focusing on making the scripts more production-ready.”
The winner of the film initiative will be chosen by a judging committee. The winning script will then receive funding from the THA to produce the film, which will be shown at next year’s Tobago Heritage Film Festival.
Havard continued, “The objectives are to train film-makers to produce heritage films in the rich history, talents of the annual heritage festival, also to demonstrate the possibility of film as a viable cultural product that integrates the culture heritage sector, cultural tourism and community development towards a long-term Tobago-based film industry.”
She said this would promote Tobago as a top location for production to the international market.