THE Business of Film Workshop which began on Thursday at the CreativeTT office in Port of Spain, attracted a number of people in the film industry, given the calibre of international facilitators in TT for the event.
At the opening session, presented by the TT Film Company, the topic was “From script to screen: Understanding the film development process”. Facilitators Christopher Lockhart, story editor, WME, the world’s largest diversified talent agency, Richard “RB” Botto, producer, screenwriter, author and CEO of Stage 32, Liz Hinlein, director and cinematographer, and Jean Michel Gibert, French-born producer and executive producer of several local documentaries and docu-dramas, all shared their experiences in the business, as well as gave advice to the mainly young filmmakers present.
The panel gave suggestions as to how the development and pre-production phases of each project can go as smoothly as possible. Moderator Amanda Toney, producer and MD of Stage 32, first asked participants about their budgets to get an idea of what they are working with, and how far they can really go with it.
From the floor came figures that range between TT$250,000 for small films to TT$500,000. Given these relatively limited budgets, Lockhart suggested that filmmakers find material that makes their clients happy, look for stories with universal themes and create a character who is going to change along the way.
Botto said when doing low budget films they cut scenes, or move them to where scenes are already being shot with obvious adjustments. Toney offered, sometimes “you kill your darlings to keep in budget.” Gibert suggested funding can be sought from companies, and those companies can be made co-producers.
Hinlein added to Gibert’s suggestion saying another creative way of getting investment is doing a film that is important to one’s culture. Lockhart then got dramatic. He questioned: “We’ve seen this before, what’s the difference? Is the story specific to culture?” Answering himself he said finding your voice makes it different and unique.
As for advice on pre-production, he said it’s all about proper and meticulous planning. Botto added, it’s about being honest about budget as well as with the actors, and assured there will be less issues with cast and crew while filming is going on.
Hinlein said that notwithstanding the money, filmmakers should be creative. “See what’s critical to tell the story and focus on that.”