Let's make movies! St Thomas film lot reels in funding
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
A PARTNER in the United States-based entity that is poised to break ground near Morant Bay, St Thomas, for the construction of a film lot at the site of the old Goodyear factory said the group has already secured a portion of the approximately US$15 million (J$1.65b) it will cost to undertake the venture.
Businessman David Mullings told The Gleaner yesterday that a boutique investment bank in New York is looking to raise a minimum of US$10 million for the venture. He noted that a similar film lot was built by YouTube in Los Angeles, which cost US$27 million (J$2.9b).
"The investors would not give us access to money if they didn't think we would make money," Mullings said, while telling The Gleaner that his company has already received offers from Bollywood to utilise the film lot.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton last Wednesday told Parliament that negotiations are far advanced for the lease of the 24-acre former Goodyear factory and complex as the site for the film lot.
Hylton said a Hollywood studio has agreed to provide oversight for the construction of the film lot, which he said would have multiple stages, outputting at Hollywood standards.
"It will either come off or fail spectacularly, but at some point somebody has to try. We keep depending on the Government to come up with ideas. The private sector is who really has to take the initiative" Mullings said.
"This is my chance. I have been writing about ideas in the paper for three and a half years and we have decided that 2014 needed to be the year when we start doing and stop talking," Mullings said.
The investment group Real Vibez, which includes Mullings, is currently in discussions with a leading music and film production school in the United States to build a campus at the Goodyear property.
Hylton and Mullings have said a deal to produce five films has been signed with Steven Paul, producer of the Hollywood films Ghost Rider and Baby Geniuses.
FUNDS BEING RAISED
Yesterday, Mullings told The Gleaner that Paul is helping to raise money for the films, which he said will open the doors of funding for the construction of the lots.
Mullings said that while there are plans to construct five studio lots as well as a helicopter pad to receive high-end actors, who would stay in Portland, the group, comprising himself, Robert Mullings, Kaiel Eytle, Cezar Cunningham, Derek Fox and Paul, intends to shoot something at the Goodyear location later this year, but it will be in a temporary facility.
"We have actually projected three years of what we plan to get done, which includes at least one soundstage in place," Mulling said.
The facility, Mullings said, will host a large equipment rental resource, a warehouse space which will house grip, lighting and electric gear available for rent to production clients islandwide.
If it comes to fruition, it will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
SEVERAL SOUND STAGES
Mullings said the existing factory structure, where tyres were once manufactured, will be assessed and retrofitted into a handful of 15,000-square foot sound stages that will function independently, divide into smaller sections or connect to make a larger sound stage depending on a production's needs.
Having already inked the deal to produce five films with Paul, Mullings said two of these movies will be produced in Jamaica and, through the distribution channels it will work wonders for the investment.
Mullings also said the entity undertaking the project will not be relying on tax credits from the Jamaican Government, but would be seeking to take advantage of their Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certificate, which would open up additional doors in the United States with companies such as Walt Disney, which he said looks to spend 20 per cent of its monies each year with MBE-certified firms.