By CHESTER ROBARDS
The Tribune Business Reporter
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation revealed yesterday that Canon UK has endorsed its '14 filmmaker' challenge, and will publicise the competition and this nation in its 500 stores across the UK.
Deputy director-general of the Ministry, Tommy Thompson, told Tribune Business that with the UK Tourism Office's budget slashed, the 14 filmmaker challenge is a way to turn 14 five-minute short films into 14 Bahamas ads at the cost of one traditional 30-second televison spot.
Canon has seen the challenge as a mutually beneficial tool, and plans to donate the cameras the filmmakers will use to shoot their films.
"This promotion has many legs," said Mr Thompson.
The challenge brings 14 filmmakers to 14 islands across the Bahamas to shoot a movie of their choice in 14 days.
Mr Thompson said all of the films' scripts will be screened to ensure they follow strict guidlines set by the Ministry, including no violence, cursing or sex. According to him, five judges, including renowned UK filmmaker, Bharat Nalluri, who directed the People's Choice Award nominated Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day, will choose the winners of the challenge.
The winning film will then be distributed throughout the UK, while all of the other films will be placed on the Ministry's website for viewing following the competition.
The burgeoning Bahamian film industry objected to the Ministry's idea, arguing that the competiton should have included Bahamian filmmakers or, at the very least, used some of them as liasions or assistant directors. However, Mr Thompson, said the Ministry did not neglect Bahamian filmmakers, but designed a competition specifically for the appeal of the UK market.
He said the annoucement of the challenge sparked immediate media and public interest within the UK, and moved Canon UK to come on as a sponsor of the competition.
Mr Thompson said the film challenge appeals to the UK market because their own citizens are the filmmakers, and thus the marketing becomes focused in that country.
The UK office has also roused the market by recruiting armchair critics via their website, who will also judge the films. Canon will use the exposure from the movies to push its new line of cameras in the UK market, while carrying the Bahamas brand in its in-store marketing.
"This (the 14 filmmaker competition) is a non-traditional form of advertising and is a co-branding opportunity for Canon UK," said Mr Thompson.