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Entertainment : Bahamas International Film Festival Last Updated: Apr 3, 2018 - 10:23:13 AM

Inspiring Bahamians through Film
By Serena Williams
Apr 3, 2018 - 10:14:49 AM

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Sandyport Beach Resort Executives, L to R: Vernon Moss, General Manager; Lady Sarah, Happiness Coordinator; and fifth and sixth from left, Cheralda Arnett, Assistant General Manager and Bridget Fernander, Executive Housekeeper; with Leslie Vanderpool (third from left) and workshop participants at Sandyport Beach Resort, sponsor of the BIFF Film Workshop. Photo credit: Serena Williams Media and PR

Nassau, Bahamas – Students of all ages shared the art and love of filmmaking as they gathered at Sandyport Beach Resort to participate in a Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) Youth Film Workshop. BIFF’s three weeks of film workshops take participants through the stages of pre-production, production, and post-production as they learn the ins and outs of film development and the industry. BIFF and the scenic Sandyport Beach Resort, a Hospitality and Film Workshop Sponsor, hosted a dozen novice film buffs eager to sharpen their movie career making skills.  

Recently it was reported that the film industry generated $5million in revenue for The Bahamas. “It’s a viable industry,” said Vernon Moss, General Manager at Sandyport Beach Resort, which currently ranks #1 on TripAdvisor for Nassau Hotels.  “We’re proud to partner with BIFF in this program. Me, personally, I’m a big fan of movies, so it’s my personal pleasure for our hotel to be a part of this.”

Leslie Vanderpool, Founder and Executive Director of BIFF, said that for some, this is a life-changing experience.

“They never thought they could have a career in any facet of the film industry – whether as an actor, an assistant director, director of photography, as a script writer, or in the props or catering departments. It really opens their eyes to the very real possibilities of a life and career in film.

“We want to continue introducing this industry to people who may be interested at the primary level and well beyond. With the Youth Film Workshop – I like to call it the Film Workshop because it’s not just the youth we’re teaching – we’re making sure they’re exposed to career opportunities other than your standard doctor or lawyer.”    

BIFF Volunteer Tolga Akcayli (standing) with participants of the film workshop sponsored by the Sandyport Beach Resort. Photo credit: Serena Williams Media and PR

Kadesh Collie is one such young Bahamian who plans on taking a path less followed in The Bahamas.

“I work for a printing company, but I’d like to get into the movie and acting business. I did this course last year as well. I’ve been in a few films and commercials. My next step is moving to New York to pursue it full-time as a job.”                   

Collie’s desire to pursue a full-time career in the film industry is shared by Nacoyas Williams.    

“I work at a bank. They just might lose me to the movie world. I’m still trying to figure it out. I think I’m more interested in directing – definitely in being behind the camera rather than in front of it.”

Vanderpool said, “When you see a film in the cinema, you can become detached from it because you don’t understand the process and what goes into it. Filmmaking is for those who have a story to tell. Once you’re willing to tell that story, you can become a filmmaker, director, writer, or an actor… any number of things. This workshop introduces the idea that you can do it. It’s possible.”

The Film Workshops have been an annual event for BIFF since 2004, and this is the organization’s third year partnering with Sandyport Beach Resort.

“I was exposed to these opportunities when I was young, and I’ll never forget them, so this is a chance to pass it on. Sandyport Beach Resort’s sponsorship makes this possible,” Vanderpool remarked.

University of Georgia film/production teacher-in-training Pete Stone and Leslie Vanderpool are leading the workshops.

Pete Stone said of the BIFF assignment, “It's an honour and joy to participate as a filmmaker and visiting mentor in the Youth Film Workshop because essentially the greatest treasures in the world are the stories each human carries with them.  Likewise, helping in this very meaningful way to empower students with the knowledge and tools of how to visually share their stories through film is beautiful and powerful. 

“Making a film takes collaborative teamwork that combines hands-on learning with innovative conceptual planning.    

“It involves showcasing ancient storytelling techniques with the help of cutting-edge digital technology. Essentially, students can learn more from a few days of participating in the film workshops that Leslie Vanderpool created than perhaps they can in a whole year of merely preparing for a standardized test.”

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