Improving film industry in the Caribbean

The project was designed with two objectives in mind – to increase opportunities for economic growth through the Caribbean Film Mart and to increase regional and international knowledge about the Caribbean film sector through the Caribbean Film Database.

The Caribbean Film Database

The Caribbean Film Database is a comprehensive online film information system that is meant to contribute to the growth of the Caribbean film industry. 

The ttff and the project partners and associates spent the full twenty months of the project gathering data on films, collating existing film materials, as well as copying, editing and fact checking each title to be included in the database.

The database went live at the launch on 24th September 2015 to rave reviews. It provides a comprehensive online, easily accessible resource for and about Caribbean films. “By providing a well organised and user friendly database, the opportunities for Caribbean collaborations, co-production, distribution and inclusion in film festivals will be greatly increased through direct access to films and filmmakers from the region and through the integration of new technologies in order to compete in the global market”, explains Bruce Paddington, ttff Festival Director. “The database contains information on independent films from and about the Caribbean including narrative, documentary and experimental feature films from 2000 to 2014”.

All films on the database are translated into three languages - English, Spanish and French. Accordin to Paddington, this synergy and cohesion will help overcome some of the barriers impeding the development of a Caribbean film industry in a region containing many countries with different native languages.

The Caribbean Film Mart - The formal launch took place on 24th September 2015 jointly with the other part of this project, the Caribbean Film Database.

The Film Mart provided a platform for fifteen local and regional filmmakers to meet face-to-face with the international film market for distribution, sales, finance, critical review, co-production whilst also providing many other local and regional filmmakers opportunities for meeting and networking with the international industry professionals through the panels, roundtable discussions and numerous informal events.

The combination of both formal and informal dialogue with international industry professionals at the Film Mart provided Caribbean directors and producers with the experience to build confidence and skills to help them secure financing and distribution for their films. The events included focused interactions in the form of one-on-one consultations, networking events, pitch sessions, presentations by industry professionals that serve to create both access to funds and distributors, as well as educate Caribbean filmmakers on how to present a professional and desirable film package;


“In the short term, we know that the Caribbean Film Mart was delivered as planned and that the participants local, regional and diaspora filmmakers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the training events and opportunities for networking”, says Annabelle Alcazar, Programme Director ttff. “Caribbean filmmakers were provided with a forum to represent and sell their work to interested sales agents, distributors, festival programmers and press. They will also be able to access information that can help support financing, production, post-production, co-productions and sales. However, to assess whether the mart produced concrete results in terms of growth of the industry through co-production agreements, sales, distribution, financing will require a longer realisation period. The signs are already promising with two partnerships confirmed but not yet finalised”, recalls Alcazar.

“The ttff will continue to remain in contact with both the participating filmmakers to track progress and we estimate that within six months of the mart, ten Caribbean filmmakers will have secured financing through sales and distribution avenues, two filmmakers will have regional co-productions agreed and an additional two filmmakers will have international co-productions agreed. Only then can we confidently state that the action of the mart contributed to the regional film industry growth”, commented Alcazar. 

The Caribbean Film Mart will continue to be part of ttff activities after the support from the EU has ended. ttff is already planning to incorporate its immersion training  programme into the Caribbean Film Mart with a focus on script development. This is a response to feedback received during the Film Mart where training in script writing was identified as an area of need. Access to the immersion training will remain limited to ten emerging professionals but access to other training sessions and the one on one inter-actions with industry professionals will be opened to other filmmakers attending the Festival even though they may not be previously selected for the main Film Mart activities. The ttff has agreed to constitute an inter-partner Film Mart committee to ensure high standards in content and delivery are maintained throughout the Caribbean.

In terms of the Caribbean Film Database, the short term goals of providing an online database of Caribbean films and filmmakers that showcase both the creative talents and products of the region to the global market has been realised and the database is currently up and running with a quantity of films that exceeded our projected targets. Consumers can now access information about how and where to buy films made by Caribbean filmmakers as well as stream/view short films. Interested international industry professionals now have greater access to information on film products and filmmakers in the region, and researchers, development agencies and students will be able to access information on film history and filmmakers working in the present. 

All partners reconfirmed their commitment to the long term maintenance and ownership of the database. The ttff will provide initial funding for 2016 at a cost of $100.000TTD for maintenance and administration with partners making contributions in the following years.

Positive extra results

In addition to the ongoing results of discussions between filmmakers and industry professionals there were other positive results that came out of the discussions between the event organisers and the industry professionals. Institut francais World Cinema Support fund head Nathalie Streiff, announced that Trinidad and Tobago filmmakers would now be considered for grants from the fund. In previous years, Institut francais used the Development Assistance Committee list (created by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) as an eligibility criteria for determining grant funds. With Trinidad and Tobago listed as ineligible for ODA (Official development assistance) they were automatically ineligible for World Cinema Support funds. Following on from this mart, they have now decided to make an exception and allow Trinidad and Tobago filmmakers access to their funds.

Following in their footsteps, Elizabeth Opdal, Project Manager for SØRFOND Forum, has agreed to push the same with Foundation Films and their SØRFOND: the Norwegian South Film Fund is now open to Trinidad and Tobago film professionals.


Read more best practices HERE.

October 13, 2017
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