As part of the pre-festival events for this year’s Barbados Visual Media Festival, the Barbados Film and Video Association (BFVA) held a TalkBack Session at Ten Habitat in Bridgetown, on the state of the Barbadian film industry. Moderated by the former Director of the Cultural Industries Development Authority (CIDA), Andrea King, the session included discussions on where the local film industry is at present, where it needs to be in the future and the work that needs to be done to further its development.
Key to this process is the involvement of the Barbadian government, particularly in what was stated to be the best method of building the local film industry; facilitating overseas productions.
Educating the general public is also of great importance. There needs to be an understanding of the scope of what is possible through the use, and the importance of film in boosting the economy of Barbados. Beyond that, the public also needs to have an appreciation of what film, television and video production entails in order to understand its value; momentary and otherwise.
It was explained that by following the examples of not just our regional neighbours like Trinidad, but international nations like New Zealand and the state of Georgia in the U.S., and giving tax incentives and concessions to overseas productions to film in Barbados, this would entice them to film on the island, which will create jobs and generate revenue for the country with the potential to eclipse that generated by the tourism industry.
Special mention was made of the production of the Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.That production was one of the top three generators of revenue for the nation at that time, out-earning agriculture.
Further, by including stipulations like hiring a certain percentage of Barbadians to work on the productions’ crews, it would lead to the improvement of the talent available in Barbados and an increase in locally made productions.
However, in order to encourage the Barbadian government to get on board with the development of the local film industry, it was said, the BFVA – the advocating body for those involved in visual media production in Barbados – needs more members to strengthen its voice.
Membership is not limited to persons who have worked or are working in positions such as director, writer, producer or on-screen talent, as these productions require make-up artists, hair stylists, craft services (culinary), carpenters, electricians, wardrobe, sound engineers, musicians, transportation, accountants, marketers etc. The BFVA has free associate membership for persons that are part of other trade associations and organisations.
With more members, the association will be in a better, stronger position to advocate for those involved in the local film industry. The association will also have a better understanding of the needs of those working in the industry and how best it can serve them.
King noted that in the ten years since the BFVA’s creation, film has been included in NIFCA and Carifesta, a local Film Commission was implemented and the BFVA has helped shape legislation that governs the creative industries.
The association also partnered with the Commission of Pan-African Affairs. The two films that were a result of that partnership are nominated in this year’s Barbados Visual Media Awards. Mama’s Story, is inspired by the Barbados folk song “John Belly Mama” and was made by students of The Christ Church Foundation School. It has received nominations for Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Story, Best Director Fiction, Best Sound and Best Film Fiction. General Boussa takes its inspiration from the titular national hero and was made by students from St. Paul’s Primary School. It is nominated for Best Original Story.
It was remarked that film is an especially effective method through which Barbadian culture can be exported.
The suggestion was made for the establishment of a film academy in Barbados for ongoing training and a film centre where industry professionals can meet, network and have discussions, as well as a Master degree film programme.
For more information on this year’s Barbados Visual Media Festival and the Barbados Film and Video Association, visit the festival‘s Facebook page and that of the association and visit the association’s website.