Fine prospects for film sector
The Film Festival that ended last week once again impressively showcased local creativity and organisational and promotional endeavour. This year’s edition should confirm Trinidad and Tobago’s position as an attractive destination for filmmakers and filmgoers, regionally and internationally.
But, like other home-grown ventures in cultural and other areas, the T&T Film Festival has had to work hard to gain and keep support from public and private sector sources. As always, it is private commitment, dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice that have kept alive what might otherwise have been unrealisable dreams. It was fitting, then, that in an awards function last month, supported by energy giant bpTT, Banyan was celebrated for its 39-year-old achievement in making local films. Equally fitting, one Banyan founder, Bruce Paddington, director of the 2013 festival, was recognised as the producer of one of the festival’s most eye-catching films, Forward Ever, a documentary about the Grenada Revolution.
This year’s success should breed further success, but this can be made certain only with sustained notice and concrete support across a range of national levels. The T&T Film Company (TTFC) in its six-year existence has launched various initiatives designed to make this country an attractive location for movie-makers, as well as to encourage and finance local film-making. The TTFC has had some success in the former area, and very little in the latter. The T&T Film Festival, by attracting professional film-makers from around the world, should help with the networking which is an absolute necessity for success in this highly competitive field.
However, networking is useless if local film-makers have nothing attractive to offer foreign producers. Movies are the premier artform of the modern world, crossing all genres and embodying both high and popular art, with the best movies, more than artforms such as painting or novels, able to appeal to a wide spectrum of audiences. For most of the 20th century, however, movie-making was constrained by expense— only in societies with large populations could films be commercially viable. Otherwise, State funding was needed, as has been the case here.
In the 21st century, technological advances have greatly reduced the costs of film-making but, at the same time, production values have risen so steeply that, even in 2013, a $30 million movie is viewed as a shoestring budget while, in Hollywood and Bollywood, movies made for $200 million are categorised as low-budget.
Even so, the Internet has made movie-making for niche audiences a viable option and, with a good script and creative direction, even small movies can have an impact. With the T&T Film Festival as a vehicle and meritocratic financing criteria from the TTFC, local film-makers who attain these standards can focus this country in the world’s movie lens.