A report by Paula Lindo for Trinidad’s Guardian.
Two T&T filmmakers attended the eighth annual CaribbeanTales Big Pitch Breakfast at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10. The Big Pitch was an opportunity to win funding for the development of their TV series.
Roger Alexis of Lexo TV, creator of the popular Web series Santana and Friends, and Janine Fung, creator of the comedy series Mix Up, were among 17 filmmakers from the Caribbean and the diaspora who competed for funding for their original long-running series projects.
Fung said her experience with the incubator programme was extraordinary. “My comedy drama TV series Mix Up—which follows the lives of three Trinidadian women: a Chinese, an East Indian and a Black woman all living under one roof—was really well received and the advice given by mentors and incubator participants was invaluable.”
The CaribbeanTales Market Incubator is a year-round development and production hub for Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora Producers that aims to create strong, compelling and sustainable content for the global market.
“The warmth and support from the intensive one-week programme was truly inspiring,” said Fung, whose documentary La Gaita won two awards at the 2012 T&T Film Festival.
“From this programme and Big Pitch I have furthered my Caribbean international team which will help me bring this TV show to Caribbean homes. It’s a story that makes you feel like home and you have your aunties right in front of you.”
Alexis said the incubator programme was rigorous and intense and was very positive for him. “They got industry professionals and professors to show us different ways to look at our projects,” said the director of the hit I am Santana: The Movie. “I couldn’t answer a few questions about my own project and it had me thinking if I knew my project.”
He was also grateful for the networking opportunities provided by the programme. “There were people there from the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, all over the region and we had the opportunity to network with them and find out if our projects will do well in their country or not. There was a woman from South Africa who was here and networking with her was so good that she wants to take Santana to South Africa in a true business sense. I’ve also been invited to an upcoming TV show/ movie expo in South Africa.”
Alexis said he was told his pitch at the Big Pitch Breakfast was second best overall, which puts him on a short list to get funding to develop the Santana series into a half-hour series.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I win the US $40,000 prize. I’d advise T&T filmmakers to apply for the programme in the future. Try it and reach for the stars, because I’m going to do it.”
In a media release, CEO of the CaribbeanTales Media Group and founder of the incubator programme Frances-Anne Solomon said, “This year’s participants include many of the most talented and accomplished filmmakers from the region, as well as the most inventive and resourceful.”