Barbados is looking to establish a Film and Digital Media Commission.
This was revealed last night by Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, at the launch of the Barbados Film and Video Association’s (BFVA) Barbados Visual Media Festival.
He told those gathered at Church Village Green, The City that such a body would be critical to the sustained development of the film industry in the country.
“The commission will, among other things, assist in generating employment opportunities for film personnel on the island; promote Barbados as a viable foreign film-making destination and facilitate foreign productions; train local industry professionals, through apprenticeships; contribute to the promotion of Barbadian culture through audio visual productions; and assist in bringing significant foreign exchange to the island,” Lashley said.
“Our aim is to develop our film industry into one of high quality and one where demand can be stimulated.”
Lashley noted that the sector was already making an impact on the island’s economic development, with a number of companies and individuals, both public and private, creating saleable products ranging from television commercials and documentaries to the more commercially-viable event and training videos, music videos and, more recently, full-length features.
“The development of a vibrant local film industry has the potential to become a major engine of growth in the Barbados economy, for it is widely recognized that globally, the film industry has been resilient even in times of recession. Our aim therefore is to develop a film industry of high quality, where demand can be stimulated,” the minister said.
“It is for this reason that my ministry is committed to working with the [BFVA] to ensure that high standards are met. It is why the Cultural Industries Act was enacted and will soon be proclaimed in tandem with the establishment of the Cultural Industries Authority, which would be the institution responsible for administering the Act.”
Lashley said the industry stood to benefit from the incentives offered under the legislation, which also provides for the establishment of a Cultural Industries Development Fund.
He said this funding facility would be set up to assist cultural practitioners, through grants or loans, to finance the production and/or expansion of their cultural products.
However, Lashley identified the rapid changes in the technological field at the global level as a challenge for the local film industry.
“The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, being very much aware of this, has made a digital media programme part of the remit of its Youth Development Programme. Indeed, many of the members of the Barbados Film and Video Association had their beginning in that programme. These students, after graduating, have the opportunity to pursue studies at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination where they are further exposed in an accredited programme in the area of filmmaking. This cadre of persons has become part of an important pool of support personnel to persons in the filmmaking industry, both locally and overseas, or embrace film-making as their own livelihood,” he said.
Lashley added: “This development has permitted my ministry to set its sights beyond the production of local films . . . It has given us the confidence to further promote Barbados as a location of choice for filmmaking. Over the years, foreign companies have visited Barbados to engage in this activity, but it has been, for the most part, an ad hoc and informal exercise. However, to our credit, we have been the chosen location for several feature films, documentaries and commercial photo shoots for over 50 years. It is, however, critical that steps be taken to regularize this activity if Barbados is to reap the maximum benefits to be derived there from.”
“But a regulatory framework is needed to assist the process,” he added.