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Copy Film Company, don't destroy it

I write in utter frustration and fear, for behind the scenes there are forces at work making decisions that will drastically affect my life and livelihood.

This is not in itself unusual and has certainly happened before, no doubt by the bandits that broke into my home in 2009. However on this occasion the plotters are the Government and their movements are just as furtive and threatening.

The People's Partnership Government has decided, without any form of consultation, to dissolve the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) and rebrand it as the Trinidad & Tobago Creative Industries Company (TTCIC). Under this new Company they plan to bring together Film, Fashion, Theatre and Entertainment. To this end the Trinidad and Tobago Entertainment Company (TTENT) has already been dispatched.

One floated rationale is that the film sector is doing so well that they want to apply that model to develop the other sectors.

The current success of the film sector is directly attributable to the singular focus of the TTFC with constant consultation with industry stakeholders.

It is lunacy and fallacy to believe that this same success can be achieved by destroying a successful entity, and splintering its focus into such disparate sectors.

What is most likely to happen is that any forward advancement of the film industry will be lost as the new entity struggles with the many competing needs of the various sectors and decisiveness and immediacy will give way to pandering and prioritising.

TIDCO (Tourism & Industrial Development Company), where film was housed, failed to achieve harmony in satisfying the many demands of its too-broad mandate.

This resulted in the Film Desk breaking out into the Film Company (TTFC) and tourism being liberated into the Tourism Development Company (TDC).

This singular focus worked with trackable and sustainable results; so it is therefore mind numbing to comprehend this backward thinking taking root and being embraced and touted as "best practice" by people who know nothing about any of the sectors but feel a need to justify their salaries with "bright" ideas.

Worse is the swiftness with which they are systematically dismantling the hard won gains of stakeholders without consultation and the total lack of understanding that would engender them to believe that all creative industries can be lumped together. I mean "obviously" film, fashion, theatre, entertainment! How different can they be?

And laughable is the proposed board with a famous movie city owner being touted as the Chairman despite the fact that this person has never displayed any inclination of supporting a local film Industry, unless it's a sure bet!

I ask the Government, what do you mean by "serve the people? This top-down, overhanded and yet underhanded approach to film stakeholders does not speak to the ideas of cooperation and inclusion. It displays a gross disrespect and ignorance of how the industry works and what it needs to grow and develop.

Also dubious are the rumours of the development of a "Film City" in Caroni. Where is the feasibility study?

How can you house a sound stage in an area that lies under the glide path of loud airplanes landing at Piarco? Why are you building a facility with huge electrical demands in a flood prone area?

Why do we constantly have third world thinking and cronyism corroding our first world ambitions?

Why is burning tyres the only way to get this Government to listen to the people?

I ask on behalf of the industry and in the name of all that's sacred that the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company be left alone to continue serving the stakeholders. If you are impressed with the model then emulate it, don't destroy it.

D Bonette

via e-mail

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