Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 13th 2016 Contents SUNDAY 13TH MARCH, 2016 – UWI TODAY 11
Her most important lessons were practical insights into
working in Trinidad and Tobago. She says she returned to
Trinidad in 1990 technically adept (Bachelor of Applied Art,
Radio & Television Arts, Ryerson Polytechnic University,
Toronto, Canada) and then had to re-learn to adapt –
“we make it happen” – in the Trinidad arts and business
“It’s very important to be able to speak the language of
business in Trinidad, to be business savvy, not just an artist.
“A lot of people jump in to film with no thought about
making back some money. To some extent, I jumped in to
see how Westwood Park would go. That series went on for
six seasons, and in each season, we tightened and improved.
“You realize that you might be on the way to having a
sustainable business – building an industry. But you cannot
do it alone. Government supports are essential. The sectors
that are important to a film industry – tourism, trade,
culture, technology, community development and education
– are oceans apart. Forward-thinking businesspersons must
understand the opportunities for investment. Corporate
Trinidad and government ministries need to understand
each other, need to talk with each other.”
In 1990, Dieffenthaller and her colleague Walt Lovelace,
working with Banyan Limited, filmed the release of hostages
and surrender of the Muslimeen at TTT. This marked an
initiation into Trinidadian media, history and filmmaking.
Subsequently as CEO, producer, writer, editor of her own
company Earth TV (1991-2006) she produced the Ecowatch
series and the impressive Westwood Park series. Westwood
Park ran for six seasons – 100 half-hour segments – the
longest running, most widely viewed indigenous drama
series in the history of Trinidad and Tobago television.
“We have stories that are ours. We need to be ourselves,
to be genuine. We have to figure out how to be Trinidadian
in our stories, to tell our own stories, and to tell them
well enough,” says Dieffenthaller who has also produced
memorable music videos, documentaries, commercials and
corporate videos. In 2013, she received an award from the
Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival celebrating pioneering
work in filmmaking.
In 2007, she produced The Reef, a 13-part half-hour
series set in Tobago. Later this year, she expects to start
production on a crime drama series, Plain Sight. According
to the blurb, the new series revolves around two characters
who grew up in the same community. One becomes a drug
lord and the other a forensic detective, both operating on
their Caribbean island where “danger lurks just beneath the
surface and criminals hide in Plain Sight.”
As guest lecturer at the film school, she shared the
experience of 20+ years dedicated to her craft; including
Don’t do this for money or fame.
Look for financing up front; consider distribution
Your budgets will dictate everything: people, time,
Plan each project as much as possible: pre-
production is most important. Take time to get the
right people around.
Find your market: who are you making this film for?
Who will be interested?
Consider investors; and include a plan to pay back
the investment; never assume that you are being
given a grant.
What is your product? We have to start viewing our
films as products.
Hire the right crew, not just your friends. Feed your
crew and build a team.
Make sure everybody on your project is on the same
page: everyone must understand the vision for the
film. Take time to ensure that everyone knows what
everyone else is doing.
Select locations that are practical for everyone: visual,
sound, cast, crew.
Be honest about time and resources.
Dieffenthaller has learned that honesty about what
she can afford to pay is the best policy. She tells the story
of finding the main location for The Reef in Tobago. “You
knock on the door and find the perfect location. But you
have to say that $X is what you can afford to pay for a month
in the man’s house. It was not a lot for a place that goes for
a couple thousand US$ per night. But he looked at me, and
said ‘ok’. Sometimes you do get lucky!”
A Better Place
In November 2015, the Green Screen – Environmental
Film series, opened its annual event with a feature film
based on the work in five communities towards sustainable
development. A Better Place spotlights persons in Trinidad
and Tobago whose projects for survival and sustainability
might otherwise go unnoticed. The film is joyous and
optimistic in its vision of the natural land and sea scapes,
as well as the passion for life of ordinary and challenged
Trinbagonians. The lasting impression from A Better Place
is resilience, creativity and hope. Yes, we can build a better
Trinidad and Tobago!
The film is the latest production by Carver Bacchus
of Sustain T&T which is an organization focused on
environmental and sustainability education in Trinidad and
Tobago. Since 2011, the organization has developed and
implemented programmes to mainstream environmental
issues - in particular climate change - towards action. The
Green Screen – Environmental Film series was launched
with that mission; and because Trinidadians are easily
engaged by this medium.
“From my perspective the creative industries are an
important component of diversification. So we are sitting
at the crossroads between the creative sector, sustainability
and design. Sustain T&T is creating a platform for education,
information sharing, and social marketing of behaviours
that are necessary to maintain our environment while
diversifying our economy,” says Bacchus.
With a BSc in Communications from the Florida
Institute of Technology (1996), it had taken another ten years
to crystallise his personal vision and the focus of his work
Pat Ganase is a freelance writer and editor
in Trinidad and Tobago. The time spent in merchandising,
in marketing, in sales and communications, in private
businesses and in public sector institutions, provided the
bedrock for engaging with communities in all walks of life.
The Diploma in Motion Picture Directing from the Brighton
Film School, UK, (2008) was an important stepping stone.
“One of our core messages is economic sustainability
and diversification for long term survival in T&T,” says
“Sustainability is about how people live and interact
with their homes, places of work, school, communities and
each other. What people want for themselves and where
they see themselves in the future must be at the centre of
planning. People have to be engaged with this process and
care enough to make their voices be heard. It is Sustain
T&T’s job to make them care.” He knows he cannot do it
alone: environmental issues affect everyone, the nation, the
world; collaboration is essential.
“I am working to develop and formalise a network of
creative hubs to support the expansion and legitimisation of
our creative sector. Sustain T&T operates out of a creative
co-working space called Home, a partnership between
Anya Ayoung Chee and Abovegroup. Home provides a
space where creatives can meet, work, collaborate and
exchange, but there are many similar spaces, at different
levels of development, all over Trinidad and Tobago. My
goal is to bring them together and coordinate a series
of ongoing programmes to facilitate creative exchange,
training, capacity building and development, ultimately
positioning Trinidad as the creative industry hub of the
region. Sustain T&T has already designed an extensive
proposal for developing the hub network.”
Bacchus concludes, “Working for myself has been very
difficult but also incredibly rewarding. I have had to be very
patient but now I am seeing some fruits. The best part is
that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing – creating
media content and experiences for the purposes of social
awareness and behaviour change.”
Working for myself
has been very difficult
but also incredibly
We have to figure out
how to be Trinidadian
in our stories, to tell our
own stories, and to tell
them well enough.
Links Archive March 12th 2016 March 14th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page