A claim that the TT government paid for some cast members of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (L&HH), the Viacom, Reality TV Show on VH1, to visit TT during the Carnival season earlier this year was not exactly so, according to Randall Mitchell, Minister of Tourism.
“The lure of Carnival brought them here for taping. The Ministry of Tourism and Film TT, that falls under the trade ministry, paid for some of L&HH’s transport, to and from sites and attractions where taping was done, and security.
“Tourism spent $75,000 for the transport, but that was paid directly to the local service providers, and not to L&HH.”
Mitchell added that in exchange, TT, as an island destination, would have been exposed to the large viewership the show has in North America.
When Newsday caught up with chairman of FilmTT Dionne McNicol-Stephenson yesterday, she shed more light on the joint venture.
“As the Film Commission, we facilitate film and television productions that take place on our national soil and seas, whether those productions are local (for example Bazodee) or international (for example VH-1’s Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and UK ITV’s Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen), and promote TT as a premiere location for film, television and commercial production. To the latter end, we have recently engaged in an international marketing campaign, targeting international productions to come to TT to #MakeAScene.
“The producers of L&HH were not invited to come to TT to experience Carnival, either by FilmTT or the government of TT. We were informed that cast member Karlie Redd, who is of Trinbagonian heritage, was encouraging the production to come to TT for the last three years, and 2019 finally provided the opportunity for the production. As to the reported claim made, perhaps they were referring to their overall satisfaction with their experience of being facilitated by the different agencies that must (and did) work together to ensure TT is film-friendly.”
In facilitating the production, McNicol-Stephenson said FilmTT contributed $150,000, to the expenses of transport and security for the duration of the production on the ground.
She said activity in the film industry benefits not only those behind and in front of the camera (directors, producers, actors, and so on), but generates economic activity in support services, without which film or television productions cannot be made.
And like Mitchell, she said no payment, at any time during the production, was made by FilmTT to the international producers, crew or cast.
She instead stressed that Film TT has established a film-friendly network, where a combination of public and private partners contribute in their areas of expertise to the continued development of the national film industry. This network includes ExportTT, Trinidad Tourism Authority, THA,TT Hotel Association, Incoming Tour Operators Association and the Port Authority of TT.
L&HH Atlanta is one of VH1’s most popular shows, running over eight years and continuing to trend in the US, European, African and Caribbean markets internationally, with billions of viewers. Two episodes of the current season eight were filmed in TT earlier this year and were scheduled to air this month. The docu-soap franchise tells a tale of artistes striving for stardom in the rap game while trying to survive relationship and family struggles.
Among those who were in TT in February were Mona Scott Young and Stephanie Gayle, producer/CEO and SVP-Talent & Current, Monami Entertainment respectively, Trinidadian actress Karlie Redd and dancehall artiste Spice from Jamaica.