Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2014 Contents A7
January 5, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Creating our own economy:
Thousands can be employed in
film industries, says Ramesar
Do you get curious stares when you tell people
you were born in Africa, you looking more like
an East Indian person?
(Loud chuckle) Yes. They think I am saying
Guyana, but my dad was from Rousillac in south
Trinidad; my mom is from Kingston, Jamaica.
But I am actually a Trinidadian by reason of my
father s native land.
What drew you into the film industry?
Well, I always loved taking pictures. I am a
very visual person but I want to take the life that
I experienced in the "Caribbeing," which is to
reflect our realities in life and our culture on
screen. I went to a lot movies but I never saw
myself on the screen; it was always western, his-
torical or kick-ups, and I always had the urge to
produce films to show us.
Did you experience much difficulty in getting
this thing off the ground?
My work? Yes, it was very difficult. Up to today
I still struggle to get any sort of monies to make
my films. They are not seen as particularly com-
mercial and people really want to you imitate
Hollywood. I don t do that. It is a struggle, but
have to do, in spite of anything.
Are there many Trinis who are eager to get
into the industry, whether as actors, producers,
Yes, screen acting in T&T, in particular, in
recent times, has gotten better and better, and
there are a lot of areas of improvement: writing
is better, we are seeing more colour and texture,
and the world that we occupy here is more and
more reflected on the screen. The language is
sounding better, too. Camerawork is better; direct-
ing is better.
The actors are crucial, and they are actually
getting better; we have good actors now who can
sustain a feature.
Is the quality of your productions
attracting foreign audiences?
My work gets around the world: it has
been in around 140 countries. I really
have no problem with that. I don t do
the typical blockbluster, so my work is
in the global village a long time now.
Not just me; a lot of people are coming
to the table producing a product that
gets out there. T&T is a new kettle of
fish, and due to money and the very plu-
ral society, also a very individualistic
society. We are able to produce a variety
of stories that you probably won t get
You speak of financial difficulties.
Have you sought the assistance of suc-
cessive governments in pushing this
Successive governments have had
money and have committed, to a certain
extent, to the development of film and
film-makers here; part of which was the
diversification of the economy. So you
have many more who have been financed.
2006 was a critical year.
In what way?
The T&T Film Festival was started that
year; the UWI film programme started
in 2006; the Film Company of T&T
started in 2006 as well.
On an individual level, my film Sista
God is still the only T&T feature to get
official selection at one of the major fes-
tivals in Toronto. This festival is rivalled
only by Cannes. Then I got the first
(Anthony N Sabga) Caribbean Laureate
in Arts and Letters.
The material reward you got was
$500,000. Was that ploughed back into
It allowed me to continue to make
films and to also float a lot of boats---
I spent a considerable amount of money
on other artists work in T&T.
Did it pay off?
Yeah man, absolutely. They got a lot
of impetus from that. I saw it as a col-
As a whole, do you find many Trinis
being interested in the industry, at
Absolutely. Many actors are coming
on board now and they can act...It has
taken a quantum leap. It is very impor-
tant that the people sound believable. It
is quite exciting.
Successive governments have spoken
about the diversification of the econ-
omy. Do you see the industry contribut-
ing in any tangible manner towards this
Yes, it is starting to pick up. I would
like to see what I call the citizen s cinema:
my belief is that we can produce probably
the highest per capita of film-makers
anywhere in the world. I would like to
see maybe five per cent. It sounds like
a little bit, but it is not. We could produce
five per cent of GDP from film-making
here alone, which is comparable to Nol-
lywood (the Nigerian film industry),
which came from nowhere in the 90s,
and today it is the number-one producer
of features in the world. I think it is
number three in terms of actual economic
worth and three per cent of the Nigerian
economy, which is, like us, an energy
So I am looking at that; but you cannot
go with the old paradigm. We have to
innovate, create our own economy. You
have to create new jobs, new economic
How many people are involved in the
industry at this time?
Core people (number) several hundreds
When you look at ancillary areas like
catering and transport, set design and
all of these things, you can see potentially
thousands being employed in the indus-
Continues from Page A6
T&T is a new kettle
of fish, and due to
money and the very
plural society, also a
society. We are able
to produce a variety
of stories that you
probably won't get
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