With a new board in place, film production in Guyana is poised to reach new heights. And though access to financing poses a challenge, President of Cine Guyana, Phillip Williams, confidently asserts that the body is in the process of sourcing grants from international organizations and subventions from government.
“Since the board changed, we’ve been sending letters out, seeking subventions from ministries”, Williams explained.
Membership dues are also one means of funding the film company depends on. His hopes are high to have the organization included in the second 2016 national budget, under the creative industries.
In terms of attracting corporate financial support, Williams said, “our strategy is to show Guyanese businesses how ads are done using film”. He noted that film is the next level in advancing and promoting businesses and innovatively capturing the attention of customers.
On the brighter side of things, a Cine Guyana team is currently working on a short film that depicts the national sovereignty of Guyana. This project Williams said, is being funded by a one million dollar donation from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The film is going to be launched mid-October in front of an audience to promote it and garner feedback.
Getting into the finer details as to how a short film is made, Williams explained that the production of a film has no standard cost attached to it. Instead, the quality of the output is dependent on the sum of money being pumped into it.
He said the average short film needs a crew of no less than 10 persons to produce it, in a timeframe of about three months. The talents needed include a director of photography, director, producer, executive producer, electrician, camera assistant, lighting crew, and the cast.
Williams said, “The interesting thing about film is it encompasses all players in the creative industry, from graphic designers to makeup artistes.” He added that a production does not start on set, but rather on paper.
The process begins with the brainstorming of ideas for the concept, the writing of a script in screenplay format and the forming of a story board. One might wonder what the next step in the production of films is. Well, they are usually entered into film festivals where they compete against films produced by other countries for prizes.
However, one rule is that once entered into the festival, the film cannot be shown to large audiences.
These festivals also present an opportunity for big executive producers to buy the rights to them.
In the film industry, this is a big deal for the production team.
It allows for the executive producer to invest in making the short film a feature one and an opportunity for it to gain wider recognition. Since Cine Guyana’s inception, its productions were shown to a wide cross section of people and have gained favourable feedback both locally and internationally.
Williams said Guyanese overseas seem to appreciate them more, noting that the films give them a feeling of nostalgia. He believes this is because most, if not all of the films, capture the true essence of the Guyanese culture.
Williams is of the firm belief that Guyanese should embrace their culture and exhibit it in what they do.
“If we were to compete with Hollywood we would join a long line of people doing the same thing but if we were to celebrate our ‘Guyaneseness’, then is when we would have something to share”, he posited.
Cine Guyana productions feature the country’s geography, its heritage, culture and peoples, making it uniquely Guyanese. Asked about whether live drama poses competition to recorded productions, Williams said it actually complements their productions.
“It’s a completely different type of acting. The actors in stage performances have to be louder so as to project their voices to the audience.”
He noted however, that the difference in techniques sometimes poses a challenge when stage actors transition to film productions, since recording calls for a more subtle and natural way of acting.
He believes that with movie theatres seemingly becoming more popular in Guyana, Guyanese are signaling their readiness for good quality local productions.
But, the President of Cine Guyana does not believe local talents are quite ready for the production of full length movies, as there are still some rules they need to learn in that regard.