Exclusive: Jamaican government advances Screen Fund

International productions and co-productions will potentially be able to apply

By Chris Evans 4 Mar 2020

Exclusive: Jamaican government advances Screen Fund
Port Antonio, Jamaica. Credit: Visit Jamaica

Jamaica is set to launch the Jamaica Screen Fund Initiative offering up to 45% of a project’s eligible budget for both local and international productions.

The fund has been actively under development for the past five years by JAMPRO, Jamaica’s national trade, investment and export agency, and is now in the final approval stages by the government. JAMPRO engaged the international screen industry consultants Nordicity to deliver the operational guidelines.

This is a huge boost for the Caribbean island, which doesn’t have a tax credit, but has hosted some major projects in recent years, including the new Bond film, No Time to Die, which filmed at Port Antonio and Kingston.

The aim of the public-private fund is to stimulate Jamaican production, but it will also be available to co-productions and even international productions, as long as they demonstrate a significant level of contribution or economic impact to the country (eg: a percentage of local crew, number of shoot days in Jamaica etc).

Once officially launched, there will be an open call for screen projects, which can apply at the development and pre—production stage, in production, or at the marketing and festival attendance stage. They will need to meet eligibility criteria through a points-based system.

Applications will be overseen by an external third-party assessment body made up of industry professionals (both local and international).

Applications will be eligible for a maximum of up to 45% of their eligible budget from the fund, but will then need to demonstrate that the remaining budget percentage has been secured from other financial sources before the fund money can be released.

“[To help applicants achieve this] We are pursuing  a roster of partner companies, both locally and internationally, consisting of debt, equity, angel or distribution partners; who would see that the producers have qualified for the government grant, and can  then consider financing the rest of the budget from an equity, debt, or gap position,” explained Renee Robinson, Film Commissioner of Jamaica and Head of the Film, animation and music unit of JAMPRO, to KFTV.

The funds aims to launch with US $2.5M in its first disbursal, and will pursue further capital calls after establishment. The Development Bank of Jamaica has been involved in the fund development and its future management to ensure fiduciary and audit controls.

Robinson is planning to start operationalizing the fund in the coming months, by engaging the project team to oversee the application process, set up time frames, convene the selection committees, and develop the terms of reference for governance of the fund.

Phase two of the fund, which Robinson is most excited about, could see the creation of an incentive structure for private capital. “If you’re a private investor and willing to capitalize the fund that amount could essentially go into escrow within the fund and be held in an incentive vehicle for the 3-5 years that the funding is being used for to support the screen industry.” explains Robinson.

Dispersal of the Jamaica Screen Fund Initiative is set to begin next year.

Homepage image: Daniel Craig in Jamaica for No Time To Die. Credit: Eon/MGM

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