The third edition of the Skylark Film Festival’s first night saw alumni The young and the restless actress and Blackjack Christmas screenwriter and director, Victoria Rowell, calling for tax incentives to support the local film industry.
The film festival, held at Skylark Negril Beach Resort from November 4-5, showcased a host of films made in Jamaica by Jamaicans with the collaboration of foreign creators.
After local short films, Before Yu’s death, cross my heart, sugar cake, and Traytown; Blackjack Christmaswhich was filmed in both Jamaica and the United States, starring notables Fae Ellington and Oliver Samuels, was the highlight of the evening.
After the screening, Rowell, who is of Jamaican descent, said she had been coming to Jamaica since the 70s and considered it “a part of my life” and a “home away from home”.
Facing the audience, she spoke of her love for working on ‘The Rock’, saying, “The atmosphere is very good and it’s very creative, but it’s also business. We need a tax incentive, obviously, to do more filming here. A film fund would be great, but we are working on something comprehensive and stable.
Echoing Rowell’s comments on tax incentives for the film industry in Jamaica, the former The young and the restless and Blackjack Christmas Actor, Adam Lazarre-White said, “It’s not just about the movie. The tax incentive brings production here. It’s not just about actors, it’s not just about the industry. This means that taxi drivers have more work. Hotels have more work. Electricians have more work. The whole area explodes.
Using the state of Atlanta, which over the past decade has seen immense growth in its gross domestic product thanks to movie tax incentives, as an example, Lazarre-White encouraged Jamaicans “not to be myopic and to understand that this thing (tax incentive) generates so much profit, work and jobs for the community for a long time”.
A VIABLE OPTION
With hope for the future, COO of local production house, The LAB, Tashara Johnson said: “I’m very positive that sooner or later this will become a viable option and we’ll see more credits. tax dollars for grants or just access to things that will enable and propel our film industry.
Rowell later explained that to create her films, she raises private capital and investors.
“I do it for a specific budget which is considered a ULB (ultra low budget) to license films. I retain creative control. It’s a lot of work to keep a tight budget, but I’m doing it and I’m able to get a for-profit license, and because of that, I’m able to repay my investors, and because of that, I have regular investors,” she shared.
Noting that a good balance sheet always makes a difference, Rowell continued, “My investors are like, ‘wow, I got my money. I got my percentage and I can see it on television”.
Expressing her gratitude to Skylark for hosting the festival, she thanked organizer Gareth Cobran and Skylark’s Paul Salmon.
looking at her Blackjack Christmas team, she concluded from making movies, “It’s a lot of work. You have to have the right team and I have the right team.
To catch Blackjack Christmas on BET+ on December 15.