BVI: Film Industry Hopes for Promising Year
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Faced with limited funds and the effects of the global economic climate in 2009, the BVI Film Commission (BVIFC) is now pulling itself together and has once again begin to market the Territory as a premier destination for small productions such as still shoots, advertisements, documentaries, commercials and music videos.
This year, the Commission has more of its budgeted funds available through the BVI Tourist Board than previous years, and it has already embarked on various projects to re-establish itself both locally and internationally.
In an interview with VINO, Film Commissioner Rhodni Skelton disclosed that as part of their efforts to re-establish the Commission, during last week, they worked with a local photographer to capture images of the entire Territory.
“These images will develop the FC Locations Library which will allow the FC to quickly match the location needs of potential productions and scripts, in hopes of enticing them to ultimately be filmed in the BVIs,” Mr. Skelton told VINO.
When Skelton took over the helm of the BVIFC in 2004, he said a number of productions had increased annually but in 2009 it decreased due to the global economic downturn and the availability of funds that was designated for the Commission’s budget.
Among one of its accomplishments with a small budget, In 2007 with just $80,000.00, the BVI Film Commission was able to generate direct revenues of over US$3million.
According to the Film Commissioner, this year’s funding is helping to conduct exhibitions and marketing at Regional & International Conferences and Tradeshows, production of new marketing material including marketing brochures and re-vamped branding. The budgeted funds have also so far assisted with the Territory wide film production to develop the FC’s location library.
Mr. Skelton also disclosed that as part of its marketing promotions the BVIFC is also teaming up with the BVI TB on their marketing campaigns and initiatives.
While there are no fees associated with filming in the Territory, Mr. Skelton said the Territory benefits from revenues generated from the hotels and vehicles being rented, meals and entertainment, extras hired to be in the productions among others.
When questioned as to why the VI only chose to embark on small productions and not the big ones, Mr. Skelton said, “We have a very sensitive infrastructure and sacred way of life that lends itself to high end tourism. Smaller but higher end productions such as pilots, commercials, documentaries, stills etc. fit perfectly within the BVI’s landscape. While we can accommodate larger productions, we must carefully weigh the benefits versus the potential harm to our beautiful BVI”.
He added that such small productions yield a higher return to the Virgin Islands and are less strenuous on the VI’s infrastructure and its daily way of life.
He said while many would love the glamour of having a “big named” production take place here, they may not automatically yield higher returns to a unique territory such as the VI.
Some of the past productions by the BVIFC include those for the Washington Wizards, Paramount Studios, Hooters, G5, The Food Network and GQ Magazine while repeat productions have been coming from Gillette, BBC, Victoria’s Secret, National Geographic and The Travel Channel.
Mr. Skelton disclosed that some of the upcoming potential projects include some pilots, whose names cannot be mentioned due to legal reason and the Wendy Williams Show.
Persons can learn more about the BVI FC by contacting Mr. Skelton directly or clicking on the BVI FC link at www.bvitourism.com.
The BVI Film Commission was established over 25 years ago, to assist with facilitating and keeping track of spontaneous productions that were coming into the VI in the late 70s and early 80s. The government of the day enacted legislations to establish the BVI FC as a regulatory and marketing body.
However, in 1992, as the number of productions continued to increase, the BVI Film Commission was aligned with the BVI Tourist Board for logistical reasons. The various Directors of the BVI Tourist Board functioned as the Film Commissioner until Mr. Skelton, who is an Internationally Certified Film Commissioner with the Association of Film Commissioners International, was hired as the dedicated Film Commissioner in 2004.