Following a successful script-development phase, The British Council, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO’s), and the Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) are continuing their collaborative work this weekend. The organisations have partnered on Film Lab — a multi-year programme aimed at developing local scriptwriting and film development networks, as well as building business relationships between the Jamaican and United Kingdom’s film industries over a five-year period.
A series of script development workshops were held in April and October of last year and this past August to conclude phase one of the programme. Phase two continues this weekend at JAMPRO offices with a three-day workshop—The Business of Film Producing—Friday, 26 October 26 to today, October 28, hosted by acclaimed UK-based filmmaker, Chris Auty.
Auty, who is the Head of Producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK, began his career as a journalist with the likes of Time Out, Sight and Sound and Hollywood Reporter. He went on to launch his first business venture — a successful film distribution company that acquired cinemas (the Gate - London, Cameo - Edinburgh). He later extended into international sales and film finance, working in countries like Argentina, the USA, Germany, Italy and, of course, England.
The Auty-led workshop this weekend has so far been very successful and collaborating parties are excited to see the outcomes when Phase two wraps in November. JAMPRO Film Commissioner Renee Robinson sees Film Lab as the first step towards commercially viable local content, and is particularly happy this phase includes preparation for pitching to investors.
"JAMPRO is thrilled to be a part of this venture with the British Council and JAFTA. Jamaica is the only Caribbean country to have a co-production treaty with the UK and this programme lays a strong foundation for greater access and utilisation of that treaty. By improving our feature film product from the scriptwriting and business development stage, we hope to become more competitive in the international film market," she said.
Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, British Council Jamaica's country director, agreed.
Speaking on the programme’s knowledge exchange aspect, she said:
“Film Lab replicates the processes and framework necessary for a healthy film development ecosystem. Jamaica’s film industry is already doing well in certain aspects, but our partners identified script development and distribution as the two points in the supply chain that need strengthening and this is what Film Lab aims to do. We hope that industry professionals in the UK and Jamaica will continue to find the experience of working together and learning from each other, enriching and rewarding.”
The Film Lab involves capacity building initiatives that will impact people in various aspects of the sector, including writers, script editors, and producers. Participants will learn and sharpen their skills in script development, financing, networking and distribution; and, at the end of the programme, have an opportunity for their film to become a feature-length production.