CayFilm impresses international filmmakers

| 07/07/2016
CNS Local Life

(L-R) CayFilm lifetime achievement award winners Gary Lucchesi and Robert Watts

(CNS): The four-day Cayman International Film Festival ended as it began, with a gala event, attended by a mix of celebrities, international and local filmmakers and actors, movie aficionados and residents. Highlights of the evening included presenting lifetime achievement awards to producers Robert Watts and Gary Lucchesi as well as announcing the winning entries in various categories among the more than 200 films submitted for consideration from 50 countries.

Cayman filmmakers also were recognised on the night. Ephiphany took home the Frank E. Flowers Local Filmmaker Award. The film tells the story of internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer Ellen Cuylaerts as she works to overcome her fear of the water and sharks. Brittany Kelly’s comedic short, Black Sheep: The Skip Sullivan Story, won the 48-Hour Film Project, and Ethan Spencer and Grace Ruby, last week named junior and senior winners, respectively, of the Young Image Makers competition, were called on stage to be acknowledged. See the full list of award winners here.

CNS Local Life

Crew of Epiphany (L-R) Frans De Backer, Ellen Cuylaerts, Michael Maes and Margaux Maes (missing from photo is Max Maes)

Throughout the festival, CayFilm offered question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers, panel discussions, workshops and exclusive premiere screenings.

Watts, a producer who was involved in both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series and whose career in films spans 50 years, headlined a contingent of crew from the sci-fi blockbuster who participated in panels featuring the wizards behind the sound effects, modelling, stunts and special effects of the films.

Lucchesi, the president of Lakeshore Entertainment, lists among his credits work on Million Dollar Baby, The Lincoln Lawyer and The Ugly Truth.

Both men had nothing but praise for CayFilm and its director, Tony Mark. Calling the festival “fantastic” and “beautifully organised”, Watts added, “This is the best festival I’ve ever been to. I’d rather be here than in Cannes.”

Lucchesi echoed that sentiment, pointing out that while the Cannes festival focuses on buying and selling films CayFilm “is more of an educational, artistic festival”.

They also saw Cayman as viable location for shooting films, citing the island’s use of English, which Lucchesi called “the language of entertainment”; the potential ease of building sound stages and sets; and, of course, the scenery.

Watts, who worked on the James Bond film, Thunderball, which shot in the Bahamas, said you “absolutely” could make a 007 movie in Cayman. “It’s a fantastic place. Filmmakers would look for an excuse to come somewhere like the Cayman Islands. I’d like to bring a film here one day. Your waters are spectacular. I’d love to do something with an underwater element in it.”

In addition, he pointed out it would be easy to build sets here. “You haven’t got a lot of topography; it’s flat so it’s a perfect situation to build sets.”

Lucchesi added that it would be easy and inexpensive to build sound stages. “It could be an old converted warehouse; you’d want it to be soundproof but you don’t have big sound issues here anyway. Just don’t put it right next to the airport.”

At the same time, they embraced the idea of establishing a Cayman film institute. “It’s a perfect place to start a film school,” Watts said.

Lucchesi pointed to Cuba, noting the country has a culture of entertainment, but is Spanish-speaking. He said he believed Cayman has a competitive advantage over Cuba but, “I would jump in sooner,” before Cuba takes off. “I think Cayman is probably the most educated islands in the Caribbean and if there is ever going to be an entertainment institute this is the place it should be.”

He also sees the potential to make movies here. “You could make a big film here but you could make a small film, too. You could edit it here, you could distribute it digitally or on the internet. There is so much that can be done now. It’s almost a democratisation of entertainment.”

Though both producers attended CayFilm specifically to be honoured this year, they want to attend the festival again, both pointing to the breadth and amount of films shown as a major attraction.

In addition, Lucchesi said he would like to participate in the festival. “I’ll come back next year and teach a couple of sessions,” he added. “Who doesn’t want to come here?”

Asked about the timing of a return trip, Watts quipped, “The day after tomorrow.” Then he added, “I will come back. I promise you. I love it here.”

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Category: Film

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  1. Steve Heath says:

    What a wonderful festival it was. Congratulations to Jenn and Tony Mark! Thank you. It was emotional and inspiring.