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‘Funding’ a must to push film


John Sealy

‘Funding’ a must to push film

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A young man’s determination to help vitalize the Barbadian film industry has seen the creation of the Bridgetown Film Academy.
Ever since the 1980s, Douglas Newton, aspiring film producer and director, has been seeing the lights and cameras, but very little action: little to take film forward in Barbados.   
“It [the industry] is not going to get off the ground unless there is some substantial funding. The truth is that since the 1980s we have been hearing that there is need for a film industry.”
Newton, among the who’s who in the just concluded CaribbeanTales Film Festival 2012 held in Barbados, had held at the Island Inn last Friday a screenwriting clinic at which members of his academy read scripts from up and coming writers.
“All countries who are successful in the arts,” Newton said, “their governments have had to subsidize . . . . We can’t get off the ground unless we have some substantial grant financing.”
He referred to South Africa and Canada, who he argued were doing well because they had support from their respective governments.
 The Bridgetown Film Academy evolved out of a series of workshops, assisted by the Community Development Department and Arts And Sports Promotion Fund.
After running a number of workshops in screenwriting and digital film-making in 2008, Newton “saw the need to continue because I was getting a lot of interest in this area, and persons wanted to know how they could continue, and make films and get involved in acting and further themselves”.
It was as result of that interest the Bridgetown Film Academy was conceived: to train people for the business of film in Barbados and the Caribbean.
“I have been in photography for about 25 years and I have learnt a lot as a still photographer . . . . Then in the late 1990s I wanted a career change. I was not so happy with just being a photographer and I recognized that the governments wanted to develop a film industry to have more content to be shown on television.
“For example, they were saying that CBCTV needed to show more local programming.”
To prepare himself Newton furthered his film education overseas with acting classes in New York; training with Robert Mckee, a Hollywood top screenwriting tutor; and studying at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, also in New York.

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