Film company pushes T&T in US
Trinidad and Tobago was represented at the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations Show 2013, one of the largest and most influential meetings of film professionals in the world.
The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) hosted a booth at the annual exposition, held in Los Angeles, California, from June 27-29. The booth was set up with a mandate to market this country as a preferred filming location for US film and TV productions and to promote the incentives offered to producers filming in Trinidad and Tobago.
Additionally, potential film investors were the guests of honour at luncheons hosted by the TTFC in New York and Los Angeles on June 26 and 28, respectively.
The biggest selling point of Trinidad and Tobago at the Locations Show and the luncheons was the Production Expenditure Rebate Programme, which the TTFC administers. Under the programme, productions filmed in Trinidad and Tobago are entitled to cash rebates of up to 50 per cent, depending on their total budgets and what goods and services are purchased in this country.
The 50 per cent cash rebate compares favourably with incentives offered by other territories; for example, Abu Dhabi offers a 30 per cent cash rebate, and Puerto Rico offers tax rebates ranging from 20-40 per cent.
“The big scouters, when they send location managers out on the road, want them to look for incentives,” notes Steve Bornn, of the US Virgin Islands Film Office, in an interview published in the AFCI magazine Beyond Cinema, “no longer are they really location scouting, now they are incentive scouting.”
Each TTFC luncheon was also used as an opportunity to share information on Trinidad and Tobago’s airline, hotel and communications networks.
There were 22 invited guests from the music, TV and film industries at the New York luncheon. Thirty US film and television industry executives were invited to the luncheon in Los Angeles.
The value of such ventures lies in “putting Trinidad and Tobago on the radar within the entertainment capitals of Los Angeles and New York, where Trinidad and Tobago is a late entrant into the field and not as well-known as some of its regional counterparts,” TTFC CEO Carla Foderingham said.
US producer and director William A Baker, of D’Licious International, who attended the luncheon in Los Angeles, said in response to an e-mailed question, “My experience at the luncheon was amazing. If you love the film industry you love your work, but to work in Trinidad and Tobago is working in paradise at half the cost! I do look forward to filming there soon.”
The AFCI Locations Show was an opportunity to network with “hundreds of global production VIPs from independent filmmaker to industry veteran to media to film commissioner,” the AFCI Web site said.
“Interest was expressed by many people on Trinidad and Tobago’s versatility as a location,” said TTFC CEO Carla Foderingham, citing dialogue with a location scout from Warner Bros regarding the next installment of the movie franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
“Two projects that were looking at Cuba and Belize are now willing to consider filming in Trinidad and Tobago, and links were made to US film institutions such as the Location Managers Guild of America and the Directors Guild, and film marketing media such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Creative Handbook.”
Every day dozens of industry professionals passed through the TTFC booth, where the company distributed printed materials and conducted informal networking and negotiations. Visitors included executives from Shine America, a production and distribution company that has worked on “The Biggest Loser”, “The Office”, “Ugly Betty” and “MasterChef”; executives from UBU TV, an urban television network; and Archstone, a film distribution company. BET executives and the executive director of the European Motion Picture Association also visited the booth.
Foderingham said that coming out of the Locations Show, US film producer John Milton Branton has expressed interest in shooting a feature film here.