The Caribbean can offer more than pristine beaches, national dishes, and great music — it makes a great location for shooting a movie.
Providing Caribbeans with the tools of how to use a camera from A to Z — and trying to convince movie makers to use the islands as a backdrop — St. Lucian native Edmund Herman hopes his second annual Piton International Film Festival entertains and educates.
“The inspiration behind the Piton International Film Festival is looking at this billion dollar industry called filmmaking and how we could use that to build bridges between here in the U.S. and the Eastern Caribbean where they’re looking into new industries down there,” Herman explained.
This year’s festival is an evolution of Herman’s already established business — a 12-month initiative that focuses on celebrating, educating, exploring, and understanding the various aspects in the production of filmmaking.
Herman saw a need to bring this lucrative industry to his home where he believes people will be able to benefit from the new business opportunities that it will bring with it.
“Other than tourism, what else can we supply our people to give them more independence so they can use their creative skills and bring more things to the table,” he said.
The four-day festival features 22 unique films from filmmakers from all over the world and will include seminars to educate those interested on the ins-and-outs of filmmaking, converting stories and ideas into screenplays, how to make money, and more.
“PIFF is looking at the business of filmmaking,” he said. “We’re looking to do the classes so that we can increase the knowledge behind the camera from A to Z — showing the people what goes in to taking a story to a screenplay. We have great stories in the Caribbean so how do we help them become screenplays?”
Herman is a firm believe in the old adage, “give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish he’ll eat for a lifetime.” He views filmmaking and networking as another layer of opportunity the Caribbean is missing out on.
“I’m very passionate about this because I’m looking right now Marvel Comics has a dateline from 2008 to 2019 of movies they’re going to be producing,” he explained. “The last ‘Avengers’ movie, some of it was shot in South Africa with the Hulk. Of all those movies that DC Comics and Marvel Comics are coming out with, how many Caribbean islands are on their short wish list of places to shoot? If we don’t make ourselves available to them they will not put us on that list.”
The festival is not typical as the focus is fixated on building future filmmakers and entrepreneurs versus beating other filmmakers out for awards. There is competition aspect, instead, participating filmmakers are encouraged to explore the possibilities and benefit of collaboration.
“We don’t have to compete on everything. PIFF is about collaboration; talking to the filmmakers about how can we come together in the Eastern Caribbean and bring more industry to the Caribbean while saving ourselves money and while building a good network,” he said.