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Fund coming for Jamaican film industry

The soon-to-be launched Jamaica Screen Fund will boost the local film industry, as filmmakers and producers could receive up to 45% of their budget for local and international productions.

Scenes of the new Bond film, ‘No Time to Die’, were filmed in Jamaica.
(Photo: hollywoodnews.com)

The announcement is big for Jamaica which does not have a tax credit but has hosted major projects in recent years, including the new Bond film, ‘No Time to Die’, which filmed in Port Antonio and Kingston.

The public-private fund will stimulate Jamaican productions  and also be available to co-productions and even international productions, as long as they demonstrate a significant level of contribution or economic impact to the country ( for example, a percentage of local crew, number of shoot days in Jamaica etc.).

The fund, which is now in the final approval stages by the government, has been in development for the past five years by JAMPRO, Jamaica’s national trade, investment and export agency. Dispersal of the Jamaica Screen Fund Initiative is set to begin next year.

“If you are a private investor and willing to capitalise the fund, that amount could essentially go into escrow within the fund…”

Jamaica’s Film Commissioner Renee Robinson

Already, JAMPRO engaged the international screen industry consultants Nordicity to deliver the operational guidelines. Once launched, there will be an open call for screen projects at the development and pre-production stage, in production, or at the marketing and festival attendance stage.

Applicants will need to meet eligibility criteria through a points-based system. Applications will be overseen by a third-party assessment body made up of industry professionals.

Applications will be eligible for a maximum of up to 45 per cent of their eligible budget from the fund, but will then need to demonstrate that the remaining budget percentage has been secured from other financial sources before the fund money can be released.

Jampro has been developing the Jamaica Screen Fund for the past five years.

“[To help applicants achieve this] We are pursuing a roster of partner companies, both locally and internationally, consisting of debt, equity, angel or distribution partners, who would see that the producers have qualified for the government grant, and can then consider financing the rest of the budget from an equity, debt, or gap position,” explains Renee Robinson, Film Commissioner of Jamaica and Head of the Film, animation and music unit of JAMPRO.

The funds aim to launch with US$2.5 million in its first disbursal, and will pursue further capital calls after establishment. The Development Bank of Jamaica has been involved in the fund development and its future management to ensure fiduciary and audit controls.

The Development Bank of Jamaica has been integral in the development of the fund.

Robinson is planning to start operationalising the fund in the coming months by engaging the project team to oversee the application process, set up time frames, convene the selection committees and develop the terms of reference for governance of the fund. Phase two of the fund, which Robinson is most excited about, could see the creation of an incentive structure for private capital.

According to Jamaican Film Commissioner, “If you are a private investor and willing to capitalise the fund that amount could essentially go into escrow within the fund and be held in an incentive vehicle for the three to five years that the funding is being used for to support the screen industry.”