The new Jamaica Screen Fund has launched with an initial $6.5m (JMD $1bn) pledged to finance film and television development and production over two years on the Caribbean island nation.
The Fund’s structure includes support for local productions and eligible international features shooting in Jamaica. Half will be allocated for the 2023/24 cycle and the balance will go into 2024/25.
Resources will be accessed in stages from the ministry of finance and the public service once the ministry of industry, investment and commerce approves eligible projects.
Jamaica’s film, animation and music sector is the third largest contributor to the island’s gross domestic product (GDP). Government agency JAMPRO said it recorded an “unprecedented” USD $21m in film production expenditure between January 2022 and January 2023.
Paramount Pictures is currently on the ground working with the film commission on the Bob Marley biopic, while notable recent shoots on the island include No Time To Die, Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie, Storm Saulter’s Sprinter, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Beyonce music video On The Road, and the HBO / Marlon James’ series Get Millie Black,
Renee Robinson, Jamaica’s outgoing film commissioner, said, “The Jamaican film and TV industry is ready for this. Talent discovery programmes such as JAFTA Propella and the Feature Film Lab with JAFTA and the British Council, among many more, have equipped our local talent with script development, production management, and festival distribution strategy skills.”
Robinson will step down on March 31 after a seven-year tenure which makes her one the longest-serving Jamaican film commissioners alongside founding commissioner Sally Porteous, and Del Crooks.
During her time in office, contribution from film production expenditure to national GDP increased from below USD $5m to more than USD $18m from 2015-19; jobs for Jamaican screen professionals nearly trebled from under 1,000 to more than 2,800 in the same period; and international productions shot on-island peaked at approximately 120 per year.
“My time here has brought me both personal pride and professional fulfilment (and obstacles and challenges! Robinson said that she was proud of her work and has learned a lot from it. “I am grateful to the stakeholders, clients, partners, and my team that rolled up their sleeves to help me build this nation. Building the local screen ecosystem with industry partners has been the most rewarding part my role as Jamaica’s film commissioner. Thank you all for committing to this big hairy audacious vision with me and helping to make it happen.”
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