Montserrat’s natural assets can help build film industry, says Oscar-nominated filmmaker
BRADES, Montserrat — Award-winning filmmaker Behn Zeitlin says Montserrat can capitalize on its natural assets to build a film industry.
Zeiltin, the Oscar-nominated director of Beast of the Southern Wild, has been visiting the island since September 2013 in preparation for his next feature film expected to begin production in 2015.
“A film commission will make it a lot more efficient for production companies to work on Montserrat,” Zeitlin noted. “While Court 13’s style of film production is more flexible, it can make it easier for others to be able to understand where to go and what is necessary to make a film here.”
Montserrat has seen an increase in the number of film crews and news agencies coming on island to produce documentaries, features and even reality shows.
However, the island does not have an established process: to deal with inquiries in a transparent and consistent manner; to negotiate with producers in order to manage the island’s reputation; and to use film production as a way to promote Montserrat.
Media strategist Nerissa Golden, whose company has been facilitating the production process for television and film producers on Montserrat, said, “While the relevant agencies are open to working with film producers, it can take time to figure out how the local system works and having an established structure will make it easier for filmmakers to decide where to shoot, what equipment and staff they will need to bring in order to have a successful production.”
Zeitlin, who has been spending time on Montserrat researching and writing his next film project, said it has been refreshing and educational. “It has been really interesting going on the hikes with the local guides, getting to know the people. I am very fascinated with the learning about traditional ways of farming and cooking, healing remedies and the wildlife. Everyone has been very open to teaching me what they know and I am looking forward to incorporating their stories and the people in my next project.”
He admitted to being enamored by the stark contrasts of Montserrat’s landscapes declaring that the island’s “natural diversity makes it a great place to shoot. You are steps away from a rainforest and a volcano with Plymouth giving you another dramatic experience of devastation and desert.”
Golden also wants to see the island join with other regional film commissions to exploit the potential for growing the Caribbean film industry. “In 2013, nine of the region’s 14 film commissions formed a partnership to work together to attract more international film productions to the Caribbean, as well as to promote the development of an indigenous film culture. Montserrat’s abandoned capital Plymouth offers a unique location which you can’t find anywhere else in the region and it can be added to the portfolio of film sets for the region.”
“We have the potential to capitalize on what is naturally available here to promote and build our economy and this is the time to work towards that,” she added.
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