Caribbean Beat Magazine

Trinidad & Tobago: location, location, location

Trinidad and Tobago can offer the perfect backdrop for almost any feature film

  • The Caroni swamp at dusk. Photograph courtesy The Trinidad And Tobago Film Company

It’s a film location scout’s dream. Trinidad and Tobago, two islands separated by a 12-minute flight or a two-hour seabridge, where you can shoot an adventure in a tropical rainforest; a horror film in swamps that stretch as far as the eye can see; a movie set in an Indian village complete with temples and mosques overlooking rice paddy fields; a romantic comedy in a bustling cosmopolitan city; a gritty gangster movie in the ghettos and projects; a witty, dark drama in an affluent suburb framed by golf courses; a period piece in an old colonial mansion surrounded by cocoa estates; intrigue on the high seas with clear blue waters, coral reefs and soft white sandy beaches. In fact, the only settings it lacks are railways, subways, frozen tundra and snow-capped mountains.

Trinidad and Tobago is an independent democratic nation with a thriving energy sector. Its people are of African, Indian, European, Asian and Middle Eastern descent. So if your film calls for ethnic specificity, multi-ethnicity or cultural festivals, it’s all here—and simply gorgeous.

There is a highly skilled English-speaking workforce at every level of production, and no shortage of acting and musical talent. There are over 70 production and media houses, including digital recording studios and internationally affiliated advertising agencies.

The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) offers a 150 per cent tax concession for private-sector partners who sponsor local productions, and a production-expenditure rebate of up to 30 per cent for local and international film-makers on location. The TTFC also works with the Customs and Excise Office to help you import film and television equipment temporarily, offers seed funding for production and script-writing and sponsors training programmes for local filmmakers.

The results of the TTFC’s work can be seen in the annual Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, the Caribé Animation Festival, the facilitation of over 80 international productions in Trinidad and Tobago, and the success of local films at international festivals.

The company’s head, Carla Foderingham, explains, “We aim to develop a national film industry which will create content to help to shape the identity of our people, and in addition create an industry that will afford opportunities for future generations.

“I feel that the world is hungry for stories to be told from a new perspective. We are a diverse, multi-ethnic, and cosmopolitan country, and can begin to contribute to the global arena of films by telling stories from a Caribbean perspective.”

Taking T&T to the world

The Ghost of Hing King Estate (2007), mystery drama produced by Francis Escayg, one of Trinidad’s top musicians and producers. Directed by Horace Ové, Trinidad-born filmmaker and a leading black post-war director in Britain.

Jab, documentary on Paramin’s Blue Devil Carnival characters, directed by Alex De Verteuil in 2006. Awarded Best World Cinema Prize at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Selected for the prestigious Cambridge Film Festival and the World Documentary Film Festival.

Sista God, directed by Yao Ramesar, screened in Los Angeles and the Toronto Film Festival. Best Caribbean Film and Best Director at the Bridgetown Film Festival, Barbados, and Most Popular Feature at Jamaica’s Flashpoint Film Festival.

Calypso Dreams (2002/3), award-winning documentary by Toronto-based Karen Richardson, co-produced in Trinidad by composer Alvin Daniel and calypsonian Lord Superior. Television and DVD distribution in the works.

Merchant Ivory’s Mystic Masseur (2001), filmed in Trinidad and Tobago over six weeks.

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