Stimulating investment in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands Film Commission is responsible for facilitating film, television, video and other media projects in the Cayman Islands, providing a one-stop service to both local and offshore producers, financiers, studios and production teams.
It was launched under the auspices of the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau on 30 January, 2009. This launch featured a spectacular red carpet event at Camana Bay on Grand Cayman with celebrities, local stakeholders and elected officials, visiting dignitaries and other special guests including entertainment industry executives, producers and film financiers.
A satellite launch was also held in Los Angeles, California on 19 April, which attracted a number of studio executives, producers, directors and entertainment media representatives.
Supporting the CIFC and assisting to drive interest to Cayman is an advisory board which is comprised of government appointed entertainment industry insiders and local Caymanian stakeholders. The advisory board includes: producer/director Tony Scott (Man on Fire, Top Gun, Enemy of the State); Graham Taylor, head of Independent Film at Endeavor; screenwriter/producer James V. Hart (Hook, Contact), writer/director Frank E. Flowers (Swallow, Haven); Jason Felts, producer J2 Pictures/J2TV; and photographer Patrick Broderick. Other members include: Bruce Deichl, co-founder of Tax Credits LLC; Heidi de Vries, a partner with Walkers (Cayman Islands); and Thomas D. Selz, a founding partner at Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, which focuses on entertainment law.
In order to promote the Cayman Islands as a filming location, three ‘assets’ are necessary. These are 1) diverse scenery that can be utilised in a variety of films; 2) a crew base and support services; and 3) competitive incentives that will attract productions.
As a filming location, the Cayman Islands is relatively unknown to the entertainment community. Despite past productions such as The Firm (1993), Haven (2004), Cayman Went (2008), plus numerous documentaries, television specials, photo shoots and music videos, the diversity of the Islands’ many locales have untapped potential. In order to attract productions, the CIFC works with local photographers to build an online database of location photos that will showcase the diverse landscapes, architecture and facilities that the Cayman Islands can offer to producers.
To ensure that the local economy derives the maximum benefit from a production, the CIFC has also instituted quarterly industry educational programmes in order to develop local crew and talent and keep them apprised and trained on the latest production equipment. This growing production infrastructure of trained talent and crew maximises local hires and lessens the need and the cost of bringing crews in from other locations. The CIFC is also developing a Production Service Directory that lists local support services and highlights those that offer special rates for film productions.
An important component of the Cayman ‘location package’ is a competitive incentive to attract foreign producers. In this regard, the CIFC offers a 30 per cent rebate on film, video, commercial, and television productions that film in the Cayman Islands. Special rates on temporary work permits and reductions on import duties for film equipment are also offered. Combined, these incentives reduce production costs and places the Cayman Islands on competitive footing with respect to other Caribbean countries and even the US where production rebates average 15 per cent and are as high as 30 per cent.
Given that approximately 50 per cent (and growing) of all film production occur outside of the US, the CIFC’s long-term strategy of building a local film industry has a good chance of success. Already, interest levels and feedback from the entertainment community suggest that the goal of at least one feature film in Cayman per year is realisable.
This naturally presents a number of opportunities for local businesses and financial institutions. From a business perspective, a thriving film industry will demand a wide range of services. Skills such as carpentry, hair and makeup, electrical work, music composition, acting, etc. will increase in demand. Production support in terms of transportation, accommodation, catering, dry cleaning, security etc. will also be needed. From a financial perspective, opportunities will arise to invest both in the actual productions as well as in film-related entrepreneurial endeavours.
Taken as a whole, the economic benefit to the Cayman Islands of a growing film industry is apparent. This industry will affect a wide cross section of businesses, both large and small. Further, with the CIFC acting as a liaison, the Cayman Islands stand a much better chance of attracting quality productions and ensuring that such productions present a good representation of the Cayman Islands.