Reviving the audiovisual industry in Haiti

With the support of the ACPCultures+ Programme, Velvet Films was able to create something with many economic benefits for the country

The feature film Murder in Pacot gathers two Haitian artists of international fame: the director Raoul Peck and writer Lyonel Trouillot. Both have collaborated in the creation of this film that showed a double ambition: strengthen the Haitian film industry, including technical skills, and obtain an international audience.

Murder in Pacot tells the daily life of three characters in the aftermath of the earthquake of January 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince. A couple of intellectuals bourgeois saw their big house collapse and have to reinvent a life in great material poverty in the ruins of the house. In parallel, a young woman from the urban ghetto wants to enjoy the arrival of Western aid to change her life.

The goal of the project was clearly achieved. First of all, Murder in Pacot is an existing film which has had a significant operating success and a significant critic: press, prestigious selections in festivals premieres such as Berlin and Toronto, collaboration with partners from diffusion. Critics have unanimously acclaimed a real artistic proposition and the expression of a unique and salutary voice, coming from Haiti.

After the presentation during the festivals in Berlin and Toronto, the production company began operating the film with a worldwide distribution, and adapted to different types of targeted audiences.

Rise of revenues in Haiti

National markets in Southern countries generally do not reach only the perfect financial viability of a film. Funding for Murder in Pacot has appealed to a number of entities that we could consolidate the financial balance (primary) and leave space in the sharing of future operating revenues between partners. Producers were able to keep 100% of operating revenue in the hands of partners. Very frequently, some funding sources require in return for their investment high percentages of operating revenue. This arrangement will allow making foreign currency directly enter into the local economy. The revenues can be reinvested in new local projects, consolidating a little more industries and jobs in Haiti.

As explained by Raoul Peck, the film has generated a virtuous economic circle based on the ability to bump in revenues in Haiti and thus reinvestment: service delivery companies (subcontractors) have had the opportunity to enlarge and renew their fleet of equipment with the money received because of the shooting; the film production companies could invest the revenues in other projects with the same approach and taking the same structural commitments for local industry.


Another major result achieved: the professional capacity building through team building in which the leaders were able to transmit their knowledge and experience to locally recruited staff. Young and passionate Haitian volunteers were able to acquire not only knowledge that they will reuse, but also an experience they will be able to put forward to be part of a professional career. A total of 76 people were recruited locally, framed by 10 French technicians. Some Haitian and Dominican technicians were entrusted with the management department and therefore entire teams on location: chef of teams for costumes, makeup and hair, machinery, electricity and administration.

Economic impact on the territory

The use of local resources has led significant local economic benefits: 125,000 Euros just for the main expenditure items: accommodation, meals, vehicles, building materials. To this amount, we have to add the amounts spent locally (for example expatriate staff received 13,999 Euros per diem spent on site).

"We make our projects durable in a more general way, as evidenced by the previous films of Raoul Peck: The Man on the docks, Lumumba, or Sometimes In April, which are sometimes still operated regularly even twenty years after their production (broadcast TV, DVD edition, VOD, etc.)", says Rémy Grellety, producer of Velvet films. "It is the same for broadcasts in schools and universities. Murder in Pacot will benefit from these networks, both in terms of commercial exploitation and educational, with an accompanying work in schools", he concludes.

Encouraging reinvestment in the local film industry

The success of the project is of interest to local authorities which, on the basis of very concrete elements and experiences, will judge the relevance and urgency to help the structuring of the local film industry. Local authorities have in fact concretely measure the impact of the film in terms of jobs, economic spin-offs and visibility of Haitian culture abroad. "This is a commitment to long-term, but we have laid the concrete foundation of this reflection," explains Rémy Grellety.

Filming attraction

The film has strengthened the Haiti appeal as a destination location. "Shortly after the movie of the film, we were contacted by a Franco-American production to film in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. We were able to use local personnel we have trained and who has acquired prior experience of filming. This new project is a source of employment, investment and significant economic spin-offs. That is our long-term objective", summarizes Grellety.

But there is still more benefits for Haiti's industry. "We support the development of a proposed fiction feature film, initiated by three young Haitians who participated in the shooting of three of our previous films in Haiti", says Rémy Grellety. "This is an artistic and advice support (production structure, timing, financing, rewriting the scenario, contacts with technicians). Moreover, the success of our film has for effect to attract investors interest, who partially funded Murder in Pacot", he concludes.


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August 24, 2016
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