A total of 21 young persons from the Caribbean will benefit from the expertise of well renowned film writers, producers and directors as they participate in The Caribbean Pitch Tank – a project by NGO Forward Ever Foundation (FEF) to equip a cadre of youth from the region between the ages of 13 to 29 with employable skill sets via film, music and animation sector training and mentorship, to build marketable, competitive and export-oriented brands while working with key cross-sector partners.
Each participant in the animation and film streams will pitch to industry professionals and receive cash prizes as well as career guidance from LA based creative consultant, Mason Richards.
These 21 young persons were selected for The Caribbean Pitch Tank and participated in virtual sessions. The participants were from Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and Guyana.
One of the judges, Joanne Butcher, Business Coach and Consultant for Filmmakers and Non-Profits said, “I have always believed that for many young people, school may not be the best way to harness their talents. Many of us are more right-brained than left-brained and excel at storytelling, drawing, composing music and so many other skills that are in extremely high demand in the 21st century marketplace.”
She continued, “I also believe that the number 1 skill for a 21st century filmmaker to have is the ability to pitch their projects. Filmmakers and media artists must learn the business side of their craft because they will always need to persuade investors and funders to collaborate on bringing their work to the marketplace. The Caribbean Pitch Tank is an amazing opportunity for young people to learn these skills early on in their careers, so that they will benefit as they apply to colleges, as they find their first jobs, and as they move forward with their careers.”
The other selection of judges many of whom are Hollywood based and have worked on Studio and independent films include: Moira Griffin, a producer and strategist based in Los Angeles for New Bumper and Paint Productions in partnership with writer/director Marshall Tyler, a newly launched production company working to develop diverse auteur creators across all platforms. Her most recent award-winning projects include Slow Pulse (CBS/BET/Procter & Gamble), CAP (HBO), Night Shift (Sundance) Exec Produced by Viola Davis & Julius Tennon (Juvee Productions), and Landline (HULU), which have premiered at major festivals including Sundance Film Festival, ABFF, and Tribeca Film Festival. Previously she was an executive at 21st Century Fox and Sundance Institute working with diverse artists and organizations across the globe.
Writer/Director Mason Richards has an MFA in Film Directing from California Institute of the Arts (CAL ARTS). Mason was also the recipient of the 2012 Sony Pictures Diversity Fellowship. Mason is a professor of film directing and screenwriting faculty at Emerson College-Los Angeles, and a regular ‘Filmmaker in Residence’ at Ithaca College. Mason also works as a Creative Consultant and Facilitator of cross-cultural communication for numerous non-profits, colleges and universities internationally, and produces digital content and mini-docs around diversity.
Producer Ty Leisher has built a career as a producer, writer, and director by developing and selling films that the market craves. His writing has won accolades from the Sundance Film Festival, Final Draft, Stage 32 and Screencraft. Ty spent the early part of his career working in Sales and Acquisitions at a prolific independent film distributor working alongside and being mentored by industry veterans.
Eric Brodeur has over a decade of experience in postproduction for feature films, specifically Picture Editing. He’s worked on films such as The Nun, The Grudge, Ouija, Sinister 2, and Transformers The Last Knight from studios including Warner Brothers, Sony, Blumhouse, Paramount, and Netflix with budgets ranging from $4M through $200M. Early in his career, he worked on independent films including The Sessions (starring Helen Hunt) which became a Sundance Film Festival winner, alongside Filly Brown which launched the career of Gina Rodriguez (“Jane The Virgin”).
Tashara-Lee Johnson is a Jamaican Film Producer that has been credited for her work on international productions such as “Hooked” by Max Emerson, “King of the Dancehall” by Nick Cannon, “I Am Bolt” by Fulwell 73, Beyonce ft. Jay-z On The Run Tour II Visuals by Melina Matsoukas and Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta by VH1. Tashara-Lee has worked with artistes like Chronixx, Popcaan, Junior Gong and Shaggy.
Ted Campbell is a screenwriter and director who wrote and directed the indie thrillers “A Dangerous Defense”, “Killer Profile”, “Student Seduction” and “Secrets on Campus” for MarVista Entertainment. Next, Ted will direct his heist thriller “Underground” for Film Bridge International and “Blue Motel” with Doval Bacall Films producing. Ted was named to ISA’s Top 25 Screenwriters To Watch list.
The Caribbean Pitch Tank is funded by a grant from the Caribbean Development Bank, through its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF).
Malene Joseph, Consulting Project Coordinator, Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund, Caribbean Development Bank explained the objective of the grant, “This grant was awarded under an Improving Competitiveness of MSMEs Open Call for Sub-Sectors. The grants are awarded to projects that provide collaborative, sustainable and innovative solutions to a wide stakeholder base. This project seeks to empower vulnerable youth through storytelling, film, animation and music with a focus on the promotion of circular-economy practices. Sustainability is envisioned through equipping beneficiaries with employable skill sets through training, mentorship, industry pitch opportunities, and through the launch and operationalization of an e-commerce networking website as a marketing and exhibition/distribution innovation.”
She said the proposal from the Forward Ever Foundation for the Caribbean Pitch Tank project was evaluated and found to be a particularly commendable intervention for the Audio-Visual sub-sector, “We shortlisted and selected from within a pool of over twenty applications, received in response to a sub-sector Call for Proposals in 2020. The project’s focus on youth engagement and participation with a clear pathway to opening employment opportunities, made it a project that the CIIF is pleased to support.”
Participants of the programme will be able to position themselves in the entertainment industry and beyond using the skills and training they received in their respective areas of study.
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