By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
This nation has been “losing out” on the opportunity to tap into the multi-billion film industry having failed to offer incentives necessary to attract big budget productions, Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) founder and Executive Director Leslie Vanderpool said yesterday.
Ms Vanderpool noted that BIFF, a non-profit organisation has been able to generate a $25 million economic impact since it began 12 years ago and has served as the only vehicle promoting the Bahamian film industry.
“We have not tapped into the film industry yet,” she said. “I think that having a film commission here is very important but when you do not incentivise runaway productions it prohibits that. We had amazing productions here such as Casino Royale, After the Sunset, Into The Blue and Pirates of the Caribbean. We are not tapping into the industry. We do not offer the necessary incentives or offer rebates. Even some local filmmakers going elsewhere to make their films.”
Ms Vanderpool noted that the film industry could serve as an avenue for economic diversification.
She added: “We need to start offering rebates and incentives for people looking to start their productions. My concern is that we are losing out. BIFF is a vehicle which is encouraging and providing exposure to The Bahamas and reminding filmmakers that The Bahamas is still open for business to the film industry.”
BIFF which kicks off each December, attracts around 1,500 persons, according to Ms Vanderpool, and offers a diverse presentation of films from The Bahamas and around the world.
“We have showcased major films before they have gone on to the theatres and before they have won Academy awards,” she said. “We have showcased many Bahamian films. I look at it as a way to attract other tourists. The tourists are gaining insight into our culture but at the same time we are filling seats on plane and heads in beds and to me that’s business,” said Ms Vanderpool.