Making stronger Caribbean TV (September 6, 2015)

Incubator articleCaribbean filmmaking is growing by leaps and bounds, and industry people are encouraging this growth by offering filmmakers immersion programs to help them refine their craft. This year’s Toronto Film Festival will see 10 teams of Caribbean filmmakers participating in the 2015 CaribbeanTales Incubator Program (CTI) between September 8 and 13.

CEO of CaribbeanTales Frances-Anne Solomon said the incubator was founded in 2010 in order to “address head-on, the issues of monetizing Caribbean audio-visual content, in other words, the issue of making money for Caribbean filmmakers and of Caribbean film. We’re an emerging industry and a lot of filmmakers were making films as a hobby but very few are making it a career. We wanted to address how film could be monetized, how we could build an industry just like sugar or agriculture or tourism that would contribute to the economies of the region, that would put money in the pockets of filmmakers, that would put people in the seats at theaters, etc. So we wanted to train filmmakers in the business of film.”

“We decided to have it during the Toronto International Film Festival so that the filmmakers who were undergoing the training would have an opportunity to actually participate in an international market environment, because the Toronto International Film Festival is one of the biggest festivals and markets in the world, so they would get an experience of the international market. Then in recent years we have been focusing on developing long-running series on the basis that long-running series are sustainable. We want to build sustainability as it allows you to build audiences over time instead of just on a one-off basis. It allows you to bring advertising on board, etc. so we’re focusing on working with people who are creating long-running series.”

The Caribbean teams include four from T&T, as well as Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Haiti and Guadeloupe.

“In Plain Sight,” a TV crime drama set in Trinidad, by producer Danielle Dieffenthaller, of Diefferent Style Flims Ltd, is one of the series which has been chosen from T&T. She has produced the popular television series Iere Vibe and The Reef and was also the force behind the television production company Earth TV Ltd. Dieffenthaller produced, directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed Ecowatch series and the groundbreaking Westwood Park.

Another T&T series is “Life with the Ramsinghs”, a web/TV comedy, co-directed by Rampaul Banseelal and Sean Mohan. The show is a look through a window to the past at a small fishing village in South Trinidad during the 1960s that centres around the Ramsinghs. Banseelal is an actor, playwright, director and producer, while Mohan is a self-taught editor and aspiring director.

Trinidadian-born and New York City-raised Omar Lewis will be presenting his animation series, “The Wonderful World of Myat” about a magical girl named Myat who can fly like a bird and swim like a fish. His children’s interactive adventure colouring book series of the same name has sold internationally. Lewis illustrates for Marvel Comics, created Crab Catcher, the Caribbean’s first studio produced video game, and has twenty years of art education experience including full-time lecturing for the Caribbean’s first English speaking university animation program.

Trinidadian-born, Canadian-based writer Maureen Hill has teamed up with Michael Mosca, president and CEO of Montreal-based distribution and production company Equinoxe Films to produce the series “Black Mariah”, a drama series in which the love child of an African slave and a Welsh plantation owner turns to piracy to regain her inheritance.

This year the CTI is supported by funding from the Inter American Development Bankthrough its Regional Entrepreneurial Asset Commercialization Hub (REACH); Telefilm Canada; the French Consulate in Toronto, and the St. Lucia Tourism Board.

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