We’ve all been at the front end of the film industry, as moviegoers. But there is so much more that goes into the back end of bringing a film to the screen, whether big or small. The film industry is big business in itself through the sheer number of people who benefit from the process locally and on a global scale – a well-supported industry can also be a strategic part of international soft diplomacy. From Hollywood (US) to Bollywood (India) to Nollywood (Nigeria), the film industry is not only an artistic and cultural expression for local talent and practitioners but is also a part of a country’s soft power apparatus. So supporting a film industry where the country’s talents, music, cultures, people and places are showcased, can create awareness of who we are, win friends and influence people. The production process also builds an entire ecosystem of support industries with catering, accommodation, technical support, hair and make-up professionals, telecommunications, sound and light engineers, insurance companies and the list goes on! Financing therefore, is especially important for an industry that is this all encompassing, and finding consistent government funding as well as corporate and private investors for the creative industry has always been a challenge.
A film festival, like the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which is now in its fourteenth year, can have an educational purpose. Watching films expands one’s knowledge of the diverse cultures of the world, as we explore themes and issues that challenge and entertain. Through workshops and industry events, filmmakers can also hone their storytelling and technical skills, and learn from the work of their colleagues. Government and corporate support for the industry goes a long way in helping to develop an indigenous film industry and contribute to the diversification of a country’s economy. Film production encompasses every aspect of the STEAM fields of learning: science, technology, engineering, arts and maths all come together seamlessly, so it is an exciting avenue for internships and jobs for many school leavers.
Filmmakers who premiere their films at film festivals also receive valuable feedback from audiences and critics, as they pitch their new films and projects. Local filmmakers are able to discuss possible co-production deals with visiting filmmakers or producers while learning about the availability of financial incentives. Film festivals are also market places where talented film makers can interface with sales agents and distributors which in turn allows them to make some money, hire more people and make more films for future screening.
Part of the ttff’s mandate is to showcase the talent of local filmmakers but it also works as an incubator. A large part of this year’s film festival workshops, is aimed at building the business of our local industry through networking with regional directors, production companies and industry talent, as well as exploring the different routes to film financing, successful marketing strategies (especially for micro-budget films), contracts/clearances and copyright – all of which are necessary for a film production to make it to the big screen.
* Lisa Williams is a communications consultant and the ttff’s press liaison officer.
The ttff runs from August 17-23 and coincides with this year’s Carifesta celebrations. For the full schedule of events visit https://ttfilmfestival.com/