Lights, Camera, Action! – Zoom in to Trinidad and Tobago
It is where the jubilation and colour of Carnival dazzle the world, from where the tantalizing rhythm of sweet Soca music hails, and where the fine sound of steel-pan – the only acoustic musical instrument to be created in the 20th century – had its birth.
This place of endless creativity is Trinidad and Tobago and these are but three hallmarks that attest to the creative spirit infused into this twin island republic that lies to the south of the Caribbean archipelago.
The many achievements of its sons and daughters throughout its young history - from the literary works of world renowned Nobel Prize winner, Sir Vidia Naipaul to the magnificent costume creations of legendary “mas-man” designer Peter Minshall, has enshrined this tiny nation of 1.3 million people as a country with immense creative capital.
It comes as no surprise that in its strategy to diversify its economy away from oil dependence, to one that adds value to its other endemic resources, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago identified this vast resource of creativity as one of the country’s key areas of focus for development and expansion.
It is well known that because of its very nature the creative industries reflect the cultural capital intrinsic to a country and as such vary from country to country.
Though its political independence has been enjoyed for little more than half a century, this tropical jewel boasts a rich cultural heritage that is fashioned not only from its forefathers who hailed from Europe, Africa, India and China but also through its continued inclusion of world cultures of those who are still drawn to its shores and who make it their home.
The result is a uniquely blended bastion from which the creative industries draw their essence. Through fashion, film, performing arts, music and fine arts, this cultural fusion that characterizes Trinidad and Tobago is brought to the international stage.
Key amongst the creative industries for Trinidad and Tobago is Film. It has been touted as one of the fastest growing income generators in Trinidad and Tobago with an estimated US$ 5.6 million for the period 1999 to 2010 and approximately US$1.4 million in revenue generated during the period 2005 to 2006 alone.
The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, established in 2006 to spearhead the development of the industry, recorded that an estimated 85 film crews from major studios around the globe came through the country during the period 2011 to 2012.
For Trinidad and Tobago, one key advantage to tap into the niche market of on-location filming is the ability to provide attractive incentives to producers. The country offers a Production Expenditure Rebate which applies to on-location expenditure incurred in Trinidad & Tobago, including the rental of local equipment, location fees, employment of local cast and crew, accommodation, catering and transportation costs.
Regional and international producers stand to benefit from rebates for on-location costs incurred, that fall within the range of USD $100,000 – USD $8,000,000 on a three tier scale of 12.5%, 15% and 35%. Coupled with a 20% rebate on labour costs if nationals of the islands are hired for the production of the film, producers have the opportunity to benefit from a whopping 55% cash rebate.
Added to the attractiveness of this incentive, the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (Film TT) also has in place an efficient administrative structure that provides assistance with securing travel documents for film crews, as well as permits required by for the importation of equipment.
Opportunities for investment abound in this small country that is determined to make its mark in the world, as it strategically builds its infrastructure and capacity to establish itself as a viable player in the international Film industry.
In 2011 Trinidad and Tobago established its national investment promotion agency, InvesTT Trinidad and Tobago (InvesTT) which is charged with sourcing and managing foreign investment in the country. Through the organisation’s expert resources, assistance is provided to investors from the enquiry stage right through to set-up and aftercare.
InvesTT provides a one stop solution to investors through its vast knowledge base, its networks and direct linkages with other state agencies such as, Film TT and the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company (CreativeTT), as well as the country’s regulatory organisations.
Fifty-seven years after its first on-location film shoot this mesmerizing twin island republic can be placed on the investor landscape as an ideal destination for on-location filming.
It offers all of the quintessential elements for the industry coupled with attractive cash incentives and a versatile landscape, populated with a bevy of qualified and talented human resource. The focus of the international producer’s lens should definitely zoom in on the opportunities that abound in Trinidad and Tobago.
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