IN November 2010, following an approach by a team of film-makers (including Birchmore Simon and the late Denis Ward) to the President of Guyana, His Excellency Dr. Bharat Jagdeo, the president created a small grant of $10 million to stimulate a film-making industry in Guyana.
Professor Paloma Mohamed Martin, who was at the time Director of the Centre for Communication Studies at the University of Guyana, and is now the university’s Vice-chancellor, managed the project which was named “The President’s Film Endowment Project 2011.”
The project gained support from USAID, Ohio University, the University of Guyana, The Theatre Guild of Guyana and several other private organisations.
Over four months, approximately 188 persons were trained in all aspects of film-making by US Director Brian Zahn and eight short films were shot & produced in Regions Four, Five, Six, and 10.
These films premiered in Guyana and were shown in festivals in the UK, USA and The Caribbean.
CineGuyana Inc. is officially incorporated under the “Companies Act of Guyana.”
Following the initial eight films, three additional short films and one full-length have been produced
“We have been strengthening our voice and emphasising the importance of making Guyana an important and lucrative film-making country. The opportunities for tourism, employment for youths and the Creative Arts are endless!” the company said.
“The Board of Directors-headed up by Burchmore Simon- is in the process of engaging the government to include in the national budget, funds towards this objective. We urge them to continue the vision supported by President Bharat Jagdeo in 2010; our membership drive continues as we continue to be the leading voice and company in the Guyana film industry.”
The Pepperpot Magazine sat down with Interim President of CineGuyana and Secretary to the Board of Directors, Denise Harris, to get a better perspective of the future of Cine Guyana and its vision.
According to Harris, the film industry can serve as an industry to create jobs.
“The vision of our now President Burchmore Simon and the team-the rest of the Board of Directors-our vision is to be a force or a voice in our country to promote film in a serious way, where somebody from Hollywood has a movie to make and would consider Guyana as a destination,” Harris told Pepperpot Magazine.
Harris boasted that Guyana has excellent film-makers and storytellers that can do better than African moods.
Advocacy for more money for the film industry
Harris could not help but stress the need for money for the film industry. So assistance is being sought from the Government of Guyana for assistance in the form of more money, the annual grant specifically for film-making and also the management of the film industry.
“I look around and I see a lot of budding film thing bubbling up all over and I rather suspect 2010 re-emerging of films had something to do with that, because let us not fool ourselves, films were being [made] long before 2010,because you had things like ‘If wishes were horses’ and a lot was going on. But the problem was sustainability, and I believe why CineGuyana is still floating, is because we have energy, and we love what we do,” Harris pointed out.
Copyright Laws a critical element for the film industry
The urgency of the copyright law being a legislation passed in the National Assembly could not be stressed more by Harris, as she detailed the fact that the quality of films shown by television stations could be significantly improved.
She stressed that there is disorder in the working of the media versus the creatives.
“I will acknowledge the crossover is rough but [it is] necessary to do that crossover, and when we do that crossover, it lends to us earning revenue,” Harris told Pepperpot.
According to her, if proper copyright laws are put in place, then TV stations will be forced to show local content.
Sustainability is paramount
To achieve sustainability of the film industry, Cine Guyana is hosting several workshops and arousing children’s curiosity to become interested in the industry.
“We can earn on an international level, because Hollywood, they outsource animation, colour correction [and] editing; therefore much [sic] hours needs [sic] to be spent in order to achieve quality production. It therefore means that financial resources need to be provided to achieve this goal.”
With this goal in mind, she stated that they are ready for the international market and that requests and letters have been sent out to have engagements with the top brains in the industry.