Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Annie Palmer film alone won't do it, say industry players

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Ghosts of the past and reflections on time's ravages are all called to mind with this picture of the decayed great house at Rose Hall, St James, photographed by Ivanhoe Williams. Where once the beautiful and wicked Annie Palmer ruled over a domain of splendour and scenes of murder, there now broods the silence and coldness of age, as the mansion falls apart, stick by stick and stone by stone. - File
CBS anchor Astrid Martinez poses with Philipp Hofer at a special reception hosted by Rose Hall Developments at the Rose Hall Great House to announce the filming of the Annie Palmer trilogy. - File
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Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

When it was announced that a partnership between Jamaica and Hollywood-based film company Global Renaissance Group would lead to the production of a trilogy based on the legend of Annie Palmer, it sent tongues wagging around the local film industry. Many believe that this could be the break the country's ailing industry has been longing for, and could result in bringing it back to its glory days.

Global Renaissance's Arthur Wylie and Rose Hall Development's Michael Rollins made the announcement at a press conference in Montego Bay earlier this month. The trilogy, based on the story of Annie Palmer, also known as the White Witch of Rose Hall, will be written and produced by Jeffrey Reddick (creator of the popular Final Destination franchise), and is scheduled to be shot in the island come next year. The producers will be working closely with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation and the film could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs while it is being shot on the island. While there may be some benefits of having a film like Annie Palmer come to life on the island, some key industry players are quick to warn that the industry will need more than just this one film to be seen as serious contenders on the international market.

More productions needed

Natalie Thompson, veteran film producer, told The Sunday Gleaner that she is happy Jamaica was chosen as the film location for a project that has the potential to be huge. But while she believes that the initiative is good for Jamaica and the local film industry, she said it would take a lot more than just one film for Jamaica to cement a place on the international scene. "It could help by showing that we can do it despite obvious financial constraints, but this one film alone will not do," she said. "I mean, any kind of huge movie like this will definitely have some benefits for the country, but we have to look at securing long-term benefits by making sure the film-makers have a good experience and want to come back."

CEO of Jollywood Productions, Kanhai Condison, agrees with the latter. "This one movie won't do it because only the producers will benefit long term," he explained. "We won't be able to say the film was 100 per cent Jamaican. The only thing we will be able to brag about is that it was shot in Jamaica and that is not enough." Unlike Thompson, however, Condison doesn't believe the movie will benefit Jamaica at all. "I mean, there will be a hype around it for a couple of months and then it will be on to the next," he said. "We shouldn't look at the hype because the industry cannot be defined by people coming here to shoot and tell our stories for us, but instead, should be about how much we produce for the international market and investing in local talent." He also believes that Jamaica was chosen because of the movie's storyline and not because it was the best choice.

Thompson, however, remained optimistic. She believes that a project such as Annie Palmer could go on to re-establish the country as the region's film destination of choice. "Once we do that, the financial benefits will come," she said. "The country will become attractive in the eyes of the international market again and all the benefits will flow."

The White Witch of Rose Hall will be based on the well-known story about Annie Palmer, an English-Irish woman whose parents died of yellow fever and was adopted by a nanny who taught her to practise witchcraft and voodoo. She moved to Jamaica and married John Palmer, owner of Rose Hall Plantation. The legend goes on to say that Annie Palmer murdered all three of her husbands before being killed by her slave lover. It is also believed that her spirit still haunts the Rose Hall Great House to this day.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com

CAPTION- Ghosts of the past and reflections on time's ravages are all called to mind with this picture of the decayed great house at Rose Hall, St James, photographed by Ivanhoe Williams. Where once the beautiful and wicked Annie Palmer ruled over a domain of splendour and scenes of murder, there now broods the silence and coldness of age, as the mansion falls apart, stick by stick and stone by stone. - File