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 (L-R) Film Commissioner Carole Beckford. Nicole Bernard, executive vice president of Fox Audience Strategy–

JAMAICANS now have a chance to be part of the writers and directors intensive organised by United States-based media and entertainment conglomerate, FOX.

This is one of the benefits to come out of the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival, organised by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) from July 7-11.

Film Commissioner Carole Beckford said that this FOX Writers and Directors Intensive is how the hit television series Empire was born, and this opportunity for Jamaicans comes directly as a result of the presence at the festival of Nicole Bernard, executive vice president of Fox audience strategy.

“FOX is seeking to diversify it’s writing pool and having Nicole Bernard here, opened up the Jamaican talent to this opportunity,” said Beckford.

“The intensive takes the form of a four-month-long master class on episodic writing. We at JAMPRO will issue the call for local writers to vie for positions. We are still working out the details. The next cohort will commence in October,” she continued.

Beckford said despite it being early days yet this was one of the positives coming out of the festival.

Among the other positives she disclosed is the formation of a local actors group, which had its first meeting a week ago, as well as the formation of the Jamaica Film and Television Association.

“The formation of these groups is critical to the viability of a local film industry. It makes us seem professional and organised to the outside world rather that disjointed.”

Scene from Destiny, starring singer Christopher Martin.

Scene from Destiny, starring singer Christopher Martin.

She further disclosed that come August 8, Television Jamaica will be airing a one-hour special on the offerings at this year’s festival. In addition the winner of Best Feature Film at the festival, Diary of a Bad Man, is in final negotiations for a theatrical release of the film here in Jamaica. Jeremy Whittaker’s Destiny, which was also screened had its premiere in London last Friday and Brad Klein’s Legends of Ska, which won for Best Documentary is set to show at various other film festivals around the world.

Beckford further noted that based on the workshops and discussions it is clear that local filmmakers will have to improve the skills in the areas of pitching, writing for television and documentary making.

“JAMPRO is also looking to support the industry. So starting in September, every two months, we will be organising a workshop or something that will improve the players,” said Beckford.

— By Richard Johnson

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