The Business Year

The government has taken major steps in recent years to bolster the island's cultural outreach to the world, a move that has been warmly welcomed by its burgeoning film industry and the young talent that sustains it.

Analisa Chapman

President, Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA)

JAFTA is a not-for-profit association formed in 2015 to help develop the Jamaican film and television industry through capacity-building and collaborative, educational, developmental, and promotional initiatives. Our association was born out of a need to bring more structure to the local film and television industry, bring together a network of local industry practitioners, and support the development of more local and cultural content. With the abundance of creative and technical talent within the local industry and the cultural and economic importance of film and television, JAFTA exists to use those tools to not only benefit local talent, but also to help propel our cinematic and television industry forward. One of our signature initiatives is JAFTA Propella, a short film script-to-screen developmental competition aimed at creating more diverse and unique stories from local filmmakers and providing a vehicle for more of our stories to be told. With a capacity-building component, the program provides workshops for emerging and sometimes experienced writers and filmmakers in script development, direction, and production. There have been strong calls and a sizable appetite for more local and Caribbean content, and we want to play a part in facilitating and inspiring others to put those stories on the big screen. It is just a matter of helping to create and maintain standards and facilitate skillsets that can compete with the thousands of short films in the international arena.

Kevin Jackson

Animation Director, Jamaica Animation Nation Network (JANN)

JANN is a Professional Trade Association that supports members of the animation community. We work alongside the government through JAMPRO and Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries (YEDAI) on various initiatives. Over the summer, JANN sourced animators and negotiated with the Vocational Training Development Institute to collaborate on a JAFTA Propella script to screen a project funded by the CHASE fund and supported by JAMPRO. Over the years, YEDAI and JAMPRO have been facilitating animation training both for students and teachers, so some of our members are teachers and have benefited from that. We want to provide opportunities in association with the government. By 2020, we want to have 200 animators trained and capable of working on international productions through all of the programs that have been going on. When it comes to expansion, we would love to work on projects in Canada, the US, and the UK, though in terms of distributing our own content, when we get to that stage, we are looking at Africa, South America, the UK, and Canada. Based on our research, there are substantial West Indian markets, particularly in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Nigeria, and South Africa. All of these have a good understanding of Jamaica and a large appreciation for its cultural heritage.

Storm Saulter

Filmmaker, Storm Saulter

In film in particular, there has definitely been a change in attitude from a governmental standpoint. People are starting to see the potential and value of all the creative industries, especially film and film content creation. The formation of JAFTA was extremely important for my industry. While Jamaican music has always been extremely powerful and had a large cultural impact, now our onscreen talent is getting there as well. There is a whole new generation of creatives—image makers, visual artists, musicians, and amazing writers. People like Marlon James and Kei Miller are winning some of the top literature awards in the world and telling Jamaican stories. The way Caribbean people are speaking about themselves now is a significant and powerful moment in Caribbean creative output. In terms of the main partners developing the industry, JAFTA has been central. Formed as a meeting place where filmmakers can strengthen their community, identify issues, and work toward solutions, it has launched a number of workshops and developmental programs such as the Propella Project, where filmmakers submit scripts and have a chance for their short films to get developed. JAMPRO also has the Film Commission there, and the Film Commissioner has truly been a fighter to make things happen. JAMPRO has been stepping up and making great strides in creating the right environment and pushing forward an agenda that helps filmmakers get projects done.

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