My Jamaican Experience: Bringing Hollywood To The Caribbean
Jamaica! Love the island, and absolutely love the people. I was honored with an opportunity to help develop and launch its Inaugural Jamaica Film Festival this past July 7-11 in Kingston – home of the great Bob Marley. In fact, the Marley family’s Tuff Gong Records was an official sponsor along with Red Stripe… of course 😉
The week was filled with incredible new movies from local filmmakers, and panel discussions on the business of film, casting, music, TV, and even education sponsored by leading arts school, Full Sail University.
Arthur Wylie and I were there representing Global Renaissance Entertainment Group, and we brought with us Malik Yoba (Empire) and Writer/Executive Producer Jeffrey Reddick (creator of the $650 million Final Destination franchise). Other special guests included VP of FOX, Nicole Bernard, and actors Dorian Gregory (Charmed), Stephen Bishop (Being Mary Jane), Tonya Lee Williams (Young And The Restless), and m’lady, Ion Overman (Madea Goes To Jail). Everyone sat on panels and gave young filmmakers extraordinary insights on the business of entertainment. Even brand manager extraordinaire, Aniesia Williams, came out to help us launch what I’m sure will be a mainstay in the filmmaking community.
The opening night ceremony featured a special award given to former NBC executive Paula Madison Williams, who is truly one of the most incredible women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I’m looking forward to exploring opportunities to work with her in the future. You DEFINITELY want to read more about her => HERE
Here’s a video with Paula Madison Williams and Arthur Wylie, discussing their passions for Jamaica:
Here’s a video with FOX’s Nicole Bernard:
Now check out the closing party, showing you how it’s done in the Caribbean!:
How did I get involved with all of this? Well, it started with our production company’s press conference last year in Montego Bay, where we announced our commitment to shooting the $90 million film trilogy, “The White Witch Of Rose Hall,” based on the local legend of Annee Palmer (if you don’t know it, you might’ve heard of the song by Johnny Cash). Check out my post about the press conference HERE.
In working with Carole Beckford around this time (the film commissioner, and no doubt the hardest working woman on the island), I was made aware of her plans for Jamaica’s first official film festival – an event to promote the local industry for export around the world. Knowing the potential of local filmmakers, I committed right there to help wherever I could, and do my part to assist in developing the industry’s infrastructure.
Along with Arthur Wylie, Jeffrey Reddick, and Executive Producer Michael Rollins, I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and not only dig into our productions there, but as well, make a social impact through our non-profit efforts called EMPOWER JAMAICA:
Arthur Wylie Foundation is spearheading efforts to provide film industry and entrepreneurship training on the island with support from Project:NOW, an initiative I launched at the Clinton Global Initiative through my charity, Always In The Club Foundation. You can read more about Project:NOW and its launch with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in my earlier post HERE.
So check out the photo gallery below, and keep your eyes open for Jamaica! They’re coming out in a BIG way!