THREE film location managers who have been involved in some of the biggest films and television series in the US and UK have spent five days touring TT.
A reception hosted by exportTT and FilmTT was held for the location managers – Dow Griffith of Los Angeles, Christine Bonnem of Atlanta, Georgia and Eduardo Rodrigalvarez of UK/Spain – on Friday night at Veni Mange restaurant, Woodbrook.
FilmTT chairman Dionne McNicol Stephenson said the purpose of the tour was to expand the productions coming into TT as a film location. She said FilmTT is a two-pronged state entity, doing development work in terms of increasing capacity and also dealing with film commission work, which includes introducing producers and location managers to "our diverse offerings so that they can select TT as a location for filming."
She explained films being shot in this country add business which generates revenue and also put this country on the map in terms of a tourism destination.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told the managers TT is building a film industry.
"TT is the ideal location for doing feature films. We have a bit of a history in film, but we know because of our diverse population, and because of what TT is and has become over time, that we are the perfect place for any types of films, be it documentaries or feature films."
She said the location managers would have seen a lot of things during the tour that would have enticed them.
She also praised the expertise at FilmTT.
"Because that is what we're building – a premier organisation that can really pull the thing together so that we can make this venture that you are embarking on a perfect one."
She said stakeholders in the film industry range from Customs to the Tourism Development Company to people from the Inter-American Development Bank.
"Several members from different organisations are here. And the idea is that when you say 'yes' (to using TT as a film location) we are all going to pull together to make this thing right."
Gopee-Scoon said the Government is 100 per cent behind FilmTT and the country is very focused on growing the creative industries.
"We understand the value of it. History has perhaps pushed us in that direction. As you know, we are primarily an oil and gas economy and for years we have been saying, 'We've got to do it differently,' and, 'We want to restructure the economy,' and so on.
"But it's beyond that; it is because TT is an ideal destination and it comes right back to who we are as a people, our history and what we've become and where we're headed. And the point is we do have a government that is backing the film industry."
From May 9-13 the familiarisation tour was scheduled to take the group to explore and scout locations in different parts of the country, including Ortinola Estate, Paramin, the Temple in the Sea, Hanuman Murti and other locations in Central Trinidad, Santa Cruz, Pigeon Point Heritage Park in Tobago and Port of Spain. It was the first familiarisation tour in a number of years.
Rodrigalvarez told Newsday he was getting a feel of the location and the country and what it has to offer.
"I come from London, so it is completely different from what I am used to."
He said location managers tend to go to countries that are more established, like Mexico.
"But now Trinidad is good, because it is picking up and we can see that it is taking shape, and it is getting interesting. It has a very good attitude, the people, and very good energy. This helps, and is always very positive."
Rodrigalvarez said Trinidad has a lot to offer and he was curious about Tobago and the more tourist-oriented side of the country.
"We will see the Nylon Pool and all the unique beaches you have here."
He said this country's locations go from refineries to plantations to palm-tree beaches going on for miles. He was also looking forward to seeing the local markets.
"Hopefully we can put TT on the market when we have conversations with our directors or producers: we can say, 'Hey, have a look at this. It's interesting.' And then hopefully we can come here and shoot."
THE LOCATION MANAGERS
Dow Griffith (Los Angeles, US): Mulan (2020); Ghost in the Shell (2017); After Earth (2013); The Bourne Legacy (2012); Contagion (2011); and The Last Airbender (2010).
Christine Bonnem (Atlanta, Georgia, US): Halt and Catch Fire (30 episodes, 2015-2017); Grace and Frankie (13 episodes, 2015); Fright Night (2011); He's Just Not That Into You (2009); Bad Santa (2003); American Beauty (1999); and Star Trek Generations (1994).
Eduardo Rodrigalvarez (UK/Spain): Love Island Australia (shot in Spain) (2008); Ready Player One (2018); and Black Mirror (three episodes, 2016).