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Belle Holder shares experience working on popular film production right at home

by Barbados Today
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By Brittany Brewster

The popular HBO series Succession recently wrapped up its fourth season in Barbados, providing a remarkable opportunity for dozens of professionals in the local film and television industry to take part  in the acclaimed number one show on TV.

Among those fortunate individuals was Belle Holder, a versatile figure in the multimedia business who on this occasion, took on the role of art buyer for the show’s finale, working behind the camera as part of the art department.

Reflecting on the experience, Holder expressed gratitude for the chance to collaborate with the HBO production team.

“Though some people may think it’s Belle, so she must be working on camera for this, you have to understand that TV and film are team sports and it’s holistic, so everybody contributes to the overall final production.”

Media personality, video producer, MC, writer and PR consultant Belle Holder.

Noting that the opportunity would not be possible without local film production company Parachute Film Studios, Holder said she found art buying to be strongly connected to everything she’s done so far.

Belle admiring a piece of art by a local artist in the Queen’s Park Gallery.

“The opportunity to work on Succession season four was amazing and I really need to give huge props and thanks to Sanna Allsopp and Roger Moore who are the co-founders and directors of Parachute Film Studios. They do amazing work and have a wonderful body of work in terms of collaborations with overseas companies as well,” said Holder.

Scene from the Succession finale shot at a great house in Barbados. Photo by HBO.

Although the position of art buyer was different from what Holder was accustomed to, she appreciated the chance to expand her horizons.

She credited Allsopp for placing her in the art department, noting it  was something different to what I was used to, but a position that allowed her to develop a new understanding of art buying in Barbados.

Throughout the filming period, Holder’s responsibilities as an art buyer included sourcing a diverse range of items such as antiques, furniture, clothing, floral arrangements, cheese, luggage and materials for raft construction.

Despite facing challenges with tight timelines, she found motivation in the sense of accomplishment when she was able to fulfill production demands.

“When it comes to art buying, I think people maybe underestimate what you can source in Barbados, so I think when an overseas team comes in one of the first things they have to get used to is the understanding that we have limited shopping time. Art buying is not just shopping, it is about relationships, time management, budget management with that understanding of being able to find and source whatever the production may need for a scene to be a success”, she explained.

Scenes from the finale of Succession shot at a beachside villa.
Photograph by Sarah Shatz of HBO.

The filming took place last February, at various locations on the island including Bathsheba, St Joseph and spots in St. John, and two Great houses on the west coast. Notable individuals from the local scene, included comedian Simon Alleyne, lottery presenter Portia Blackman, Brand Architect Corey McClean, and cultural figure Jennifer Walker, who participated as extras in the filming.

While she offered no spoilers, Belle said it brought her and the crew a sense of pride and excitement because through the film, they got to be on the big screen and showcase Barbados.

“It’s amazing because I’m living my dream and telling Caribbean stories and working in the Caribbean  landscape but then still have the opportunity to do international projects while living in a tropical paradise…it doesn’t get much better than that.”

In a kind gesture, some of the tools used on the show were donated to local organisations. The raft from one of the final scenes was given to the National Conservation Commission to be used in their Children’s swim programme. Additionally, all unopened food used as background decor in the kitchen scene was donated to the Food Bank on behalf of HBO and Parachute Film Studios.

Reflecting on the success of the project and the role played by Barbadians, Holder emphasized the strength of collaboration and expressed optimism for the future of the industry.

She highlighted her good fortune to work with international production companies that chose Barbados as a location for series and short films, including the short film Run This Town, released by Rihanna and Apple Music.

While this is also one of the films she cherishes, Holder noted that every project will not be a Succession or a Rihanna Superbowl promo and urged those now coming into Barbados’ small film industry to try to gain as much experience as they can. 

 “There are lots of smaller projects and awesome local projects being done. It is imperative to get various levels of experience and learn, learn, learn – that part of the process shouldn’t ever really stop. You must understand that the industry ebbs & flows so it is good to have a diverse skill set but yet still be strong and knowledgeable in a specialized area,” she said.

Moving forward, Holder will don her producer hat as she works on bringing historic Barbados to life through an upcoming documentary, set to be released this summer.

“There are some wonderful indigenous stories to be told, and I can’t wait to highlight those aspects of who we are on film and on the page,” she said.

To connect with Belle Holder and follow her journey, you can find her on Instagram @BelleHolder246.

brittanybrewster@barbadostoday.bb

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