Photo caption (l-r): FilmTT's Directors, Lorraine O'Connor and Richard Chin Fatt; Chairman, Dionne McNicol-Stephenson and General Manager, Nneka Luke.
Part 3 of this article provides more insight into FilmTT's operations and addresses questions on film financing.
- What are FILMTT's obligations as a state enterprise regarding the freedom of information act?
- FilmTT’s obligations regarding the Freedom of Information Act are the same as any other state company.
- Can FilmTT approach cinemas to have one cinema (e.g. one screen out of 10 in Movie Towne) to always show local movies – old and new movies? Everyday show movies, not on special days or times. Show one movie more than once just to fill time.
- The opening up of exhibition spaces in order to develop and cultivate new audiences for T&T productions, is critical. Cinemas are also businesses, and so in most cases, a business case has to be made. In the last 5 years, the success of audience turnout at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival and other spaces that have focused on showing local films has proven that T&T audiences want to see ourselves on the big screen. We will explore the options in the strategic plan.
- What level of autonomy does FilmTT have? In other words, are all of its daily functions, decisions and disbursement of funds controlled by CreativeTT? If so, what is that process like?
- CreativeTT provides overall strategic direction for FilmTT, FashionTT and MusicTT, and also provides the daily functional support for each line of business (Marketing and Communications, Finance, Administration, etc.). FilmTT’s General Manager and Board determine the strategy and action plans, and reports monthly on activities and progress to the CreativeTT Board and to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. So, FilmTT is the driving agency in setting the strategy and actions for developing the sector.
- What is FilmTT's current operating costs?
- Our recurrent costs are built into CreativeTT’s operations; our project budget for 2016-2017 is TT$1.419 million.
General response to questions regarding funding:
- During a period of strategic development of the sector, there is a role for FilmTT to fulfill, as part of its overall approach, to invest in creation of content. It demonstrates to other investors, both private sector and international, that the country is getting behind their own producers and is therefore serious about becoming a country known for its production.
- However, FilmTT is not a funding agency; our primary roles are to develop the sector in a sustainable way for all who want to work in it, and to be the film commission for the country that encourages and manages inward investment through productions. Through its various content development programmes, TTFF and FilmTT have spent a large sum on scripts and productions over about 10 years, with a small percentage of those productions being completed and finding audiences, with an even smaller percentage making any money back.
- Through the current strategic planning process, which will be completed in December 2017, FilmTT will take the opportunity to ensure that future investment in content creation is in line with international standards, is focused on the full value chain (not just script development or production, but also distribution, marketing and exhibition), and that have the potential to make money for its producers and investors. Because ultimately, this is a business.
- Also (and this is in line with our overall purpose as the state agency driving the development of the sector) we will put more strategic effort into stimulating and encouraging the creation of more diverse sources of funding and financing for content creation, which exists in other countries with healthy and fully developed sectors. Crowdfunding, bridge financing, rebates, tax credits, private and public grant funds, private investors, investment from sales agents, etc. are all valid, necessary and acceptable means of making a film in the current international industry.
- We have taken a step toward this by reconnecting with Exim Bank, who has in principle agreed to consider loan applications from producers and use the rebate programme as collateral, once FilmTT improves the administration of the rebate (a project in which we are actively engaged right now). This is a step in the right direction re opening up the sources of funding for local content, and we will be doing more of this in the near future.
- What grants/funding is allocated for production of documentaries related to local performing arts? See above.
- Is there funding available for new projects please? See above.
- Will the Sector be getting two sets of funding-each about $10million- for feature films, TV series, and another fund of $6 million for an animated feature in this year’s Budget? See above.
- What are the upcoming opportunities for film funding? See above.
- What types of grants are being offered for films? See above.
- How can I get funding for equipment and resources to start a feature film? See above.
- What is the budget specific to supporting film under the creative sector umbrella and how will it be used in the formative years of the effort? See above.
- For years, the Film Company gave grants to Film Makers (which I benefited) and we never had to pay back. I was thinking (wondering) how would FilmTT feel if grants were changed to loans and film makers had to pay back? Reason for the pay back is that many film makers do not push the marketing aspect of their film as far as they could. We are creative people and are always thinking about the next project. It is like doing 10 push ups and stopping when our bodies can really do 20 push ups. I believe, if we had to pay back the money to FilmTT we would approach filming more as a business venture than a creative project and focus on selling the film in order to pay back the loan. What do you think about giving loans for films (after FilmTT's consideration of the script)? See above.
- Our Grants from Film Company always excluded hardware (Camera, software etc)… Can this change? If grants are changed to loans, can we buy hardware (cameras, editing programs etc) when seeking loans to make a movie? See above.
- Just curious about what are the funding criteria for different types of projects and to get some insight into the funding application process. See above.
- What is the guarantee placed on the 55% cash back policy? (rebate)
- The production expenditure rebate programme is a Cabinet-approved programme; this is the guarantee that the rebate commitments will be fulfilled.
The 4th and final article in this series will be published on 26th July, 2017. Click here to read Parts 1 & 2.
Photo courtesy: Bain Photography.