Saturday night, August 8, 2015 Jamaica was treated to a broadcast screening on TVJ of short films by local filmmakers. The four films screened were recently entered in the concluded GATFFEST and JAMPRO Jamaica Film Festival.
Heart Shaped Box - Kevin Jackson (GATFFEST Viewer's Choice Award)
Trapped in the Mirror - Mark Smith (GATFFEST Viewer's Choice Award)
Jessie's Baby - Audrey Williams
Proscenium - Allison Harrison (JaFF Best Short Film Award)
The 4 films provided suspense, horror and drama with refreshing story lines demonstrating that local filmmakers are capable of diverse topics and genres. I took a look at my twitter and facebook while the films were going on and most of the views I saw reflected how excited persons were seeing what was being aired. Some were even inspired to see such variety and it has given them hope that there is a bright future for the Jamaican Film Industry.
You might be asking what happens next? Does this mean we will be seeing more local content on local TV? Unfortunately, I think we are a long way from that, because film is an expensive venture. What will fast track things are simple.
1. When you see local content on TV, let the local stations know you appreciate it. They can show this to sponsors as an indication of viewership popularity.
2. Support the various film festivals. The International Reggae Film Festival, Lignum Vitae Film Festival, GATFFEST and JaFF. Seeing more and more people attend these events makes media coverage stronger and exposure stronger.
3. Search for these filmmakers facebook pages and websites and let them know what you think of their films. Showing that solidarity goes a long way in them demonstrating to their sponsors that there is an audience.
4. Support local movies when they come to the theater. It always hurts me to see a local movie release, and it's actually good and plays in the theatre for 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks straight and people are still saying they haven't seen it yet. But a Hollywood film is in the theatre for 2 weeks and everyone has seen it.
The principle buy Jamaican still applies here. In Asia theatres are mandated to show a higher percentage of local films over foreign films. Policies like these ensure that the local film industry thrives and that their culture is not lost.
Admittedly the aesthetic of our local films need to improve, but one step at a time. The more support our films get the better we will become as we go along. If you look at early Nollywood, early Bollywood and even early Chinese cinema, the aesthetic was a struggle, but they relied heavily on stories to capture their audience.
More film festival platforms need support to continue encouraging the development of our story tellers in film. They need this support in both patronage and sponsorship funding. More distribution platforms like TVJ and the cinema need to welcome and encourage local content consumption. More sponsors need to take a look at local films and the audiences reaction to them and see how they can be of support. Promoting the creation and exposure of more local content will lead to more jobs, a growing industry and growing opportunities for everyone involved.
I am a Filmmaker, Animator and Writer. I love telling stories and making them come true. You will see me on the big screen soon enough.