Show lo­cal films

Com­mis­sioner urges cine­mas to dis­trib­ute J’can movies

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Kim­ber­ley Small Gleaner Writer en­ter­tain­ment@glean­

THE RE­CENT re­lease of the low­bud­get fea­ture-length pro­duc­tion by Len­nie Lit­tle-White, It’s a Fam­ily Af­fair, has sparked con­ver­sa­tions abouty rein­tro­duc­ing an idea dis­con­tin­ued decades ago, per­haps due to leaps in tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment. Lit­tle-White’s plan of em­bark­ing on an is­land­wide tour with his lat­est project has en­cour­aged the sup­port of film com­mis­sioner Re­nee Robin­son. “Lo­cal cine­mas need to re­lease lo­cal con­tent, and lo­cal broad­cast­ers need to pro­gramme lo­cal con­tent,” Robin­son told The Gleaner, “... with­out the re­quire­ment of rent­ing screen time.” The film com­mis­sioner be­lieves that in­sti­tut­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion quota sys­tem or a screen quota sys­tem is the sus­tain­able so­lu­tion to get­ting high-qual­ity Ja­maican con­tent. These quo­tas, via di­rect leg­is­la­tion (or sim­ple buy-ins for eco­nomic growth goals) en­force a min­i­mum num­ber of screen­ing days for do­mes­tic films in the the­atre each year, to pro­tect the na­tion’s films.

“This is not a new model. It is a stan­dard best prac­tice all across the globe, with ex­cel­lent re­sults in Canada, France, the UK and Aus­tralia,” Robin­son told The Gleaner. “In­creas­ingly, we are see­ing this prac­tice grow in Latin Amer­ica and Africa as well, with South Africa, Colom­bia and Mex­ico lead­ing leg­isla­tive re­form in their re­spec­tive film in­dus­tries.”

Still, Robin­son is of the view that the most crit­i­cal so­lu­tion to get­ting Ja­maican con­tent seen by Ja­maican au­di­ences is the buy-in from lo­cal ex­hibitors.


“The ex­hi­bi­tion quota sys­tem for lo­cal con­tent needs to spec­ify that a cer­tain per­cent­age of ex­hi­bi­tion time (10per cent for ex­am­ple) is re­served for lo­cal nar­ra­tive con­tent,” she sug­gested, and that there be pa­ram­e­ters on sched­ul­ing, so that do­mes­tic con­tent is not pushed into un­de­sir­able pro­gram­ming slots.

“The first step for our in­dus­try is to en­sure that we are pro­duc­ing high­qual­ity con­tent, which is re­flected from strong script writ­ing and nu­anced di­rec­tion,” Robin­son said. “High-qual­ity con­tent can be pro­duced on low bud­get. The in­ter­na­tional Indie scene con­tin­ues to prove that.”

The often-men­tioned Pro­pella – a script to screen pro­gramme that nur­tures Ja­maican con­tent cre­ators and en­ables them to tell their sto­ries cin­e­mat­i­cally by pro­vid­ing fund­ing and in-kind sup­port, was un­der­taken over this sum­mer as a part­ner­ship of JAFTA, JAMPRO and the the CHASE Fund, pro­duc­ing five high-qual­ity Ja­maican short films on low bud­gets, which have now been screened at film fes­ti­vals in Trinidad, South Africa, Fort Laud­erdale and Belize.

“Get­ting your film into the fes­ti­val cir­cuit not only ver­i­fies the qual­ity of the work, but puts it in front of the in­dus­try play­ers who ac­quire and dis­trib­ute con­tent – both tra­di­tion­ally and dig­i­tally,” Robin­son said. “There are also many dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion plat­forms that ag­gre­gate films and al­low the film­mak­ers to take con­trol of their dis­tri­bu­tion and mon­e­tise their work. These op­por­tu­ni­ties al­low for broader vis­i­bil­ity and greater im­pact for high-ual­ity low-bud­get con­tent, when prop­erly man­aged.”

She con­tin­ued, “These five films will pur­sue lo­cal pub­lic screen­ing once they have com­pleted the fes­ti­val cir­cuit. Ja­maicans want to see them­selves on screen, and we will watch lo­cal con­tent. Across the is­land, we have limited screens and those that do play, are re­quired to ful­fill in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion con­tracts. Ja­maicans want to see them­selves on screen, which has been ev­i­denced by many of the lo­cal films that have in fact had the op­por­tu­nity to screen at Palace Amuse­ment in re­cent years. There is no doubt that specif­i­cally tar­get­ing lo­cal au­di­ences with eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble con­tent, has a pos­i­tive im­pact on ‘bums in seats’.”

Ac­cord­ing to Robin­son, high-qual­ity lo­cal con­tent should be treated in the same man­ner by lo­cal ex­hibitors as for­eign-ac­quired con­tent, but the chal­lenge for pri­vate ex­hibitors has been the dearth of high-qual­ity lo­cal con­tent.

Film Com­mis­sioner Re­nee Robin­son.

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