When you first meet Carole Beckford, you’re in complete awe of just how animated she is. On the second meeting you realise her personality is 100% genuine; what you see, is what you get. It’s no wonder she’s such an incredible connector in her industry. She knows exactly how to leverage her network for either an ambitious goal or a noteworthy cause. Her latest professional adventure has taken her to the “Jamaica Film Commission”, where there’s no business like show business. I spoke with Carole to learn more about her role as film commissioner, the Jamaican film industry, and the upcoming inaugural film festival.

A Snapshot Profile of Carole Beckford

Carole Beckford is highly considered as a strategist for marketing, communications and public relations campaigns at the development and implementation stages. Carole’s work has stretched across a number of industries to include sport, entertainment and news. She was also the publicist for Track and Field Superstar Usain Bolt for four years.

Organisations founded: The Business of Sport

Books published: Keeping Jamaica’s Sport on Track (2007) and Jamaica is in – Sports and Tourism (upcoming)

Actor Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter (left), Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (center), and Film Director Robert Townsend (right) at Los Angeles launch for the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival in March 2015
Actor Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter (left), Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (center), and Film Director Robert Townsend (right) at Los Angeles launch for the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival in March 2015 | Source: Carole Beckford

The Phresh Interview

Phil Rodriques (PR): What’s your favourite quote/mantra?
Carole Beckford (CB): You get as much as you are prepared to give.

PR: What sparked your interest in Jamaica’s film industry?
CB: Sport has been a favourite of mine, so entertainment/film was easy. Those industries have the same blessings and the same curse and they both involve creative minds. It challenges me to participate and to see how I can add value.

PR: Who inspires you the most in international film industry? Anyone who stands out?
CB: I learnt Television as a producer and as a result inspired by live shows producers. I like living on the edge I guess, what better way.

PR: What’s your favorite part about being a film commissioner?
CB:The idea of helping to make the connections necessary to unite the industry. Jamaica’s efforts are best served united.

Not only were many of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels written in Jamaica, but these two film adaptations were shot on the island as well
Not only were many of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels written in Jamaica, but these two film adaptations were shot on the island as well

PR: What’s your favorite film shot on location in Jamaica?
CB: Can’t have a favourite; that would be telling too much. My job is to get more films, commercials, and photo sessions done here. The [film] industry needs the employment and those who want to grow much further, need the credits.

PR: What drives your work ethic?
CB: I am results-oriented and I like to ensure people meet and connect with the right people. I have had access to some very important decision makers and maintain those relationships. That drives me to ensure others have the same opportunities.

PR: How do you balance creativity with commerce?
CB: Oh that is a hard one, but I measure time so I am always insisting that folks I interact with have the same ethic. Once we honour that commerce becomes easier. Also people like when you deliver.

PR: What are some of the Jamaica Film Commission’s strengths?
CB: Connections to international contacts; ability to create a friendly environment; and history of being in the business for over two decades.

Author/filmmaker/media entrepreneur Paula Madison (left), Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (centre), and Hon. Consul Lorna Johnson (right) at LA launch | Source: Carole Beckford
Author/filmmaker/media entrepreneur Paula Madison (left), Film Commissioner Carole Beckford (centre), and Hon. Consul Lorna Johnson (right) at LA launch | Source: Carole Beckford

PR: Where do you hope to see Jamaica’s film industry in 5 years’ time?
CB: [In five years’ time…]
– TV shows created by Jamaicans shown on local, regional and international television;
– Series on Netflix, etc.;
– One feature a year in cinemas worldwide;
– Lots of filmmakers creating features for other film festivals globally.

PR: What’s the biggest lesson that you have learned since you became film commissioner?
CB: Never underestimate the power of a creative mind. [Carole smiles]

PR: What have been some of the unexpected successes?
CB: Being able to connect international media experts to people in the industry. Horace Madison for example, has made great connections here and is helping people. My association with Jeremy Whittaker, producer/director of [the film] Destiny (2014), which has promoted Jamaica in a really positive light and has been in theatre.

PR: What’s your latest project under the Jamaica Film Commission?
CB: The coordination of the inaugural Jamaica Film Festival; an event which we hope can inspire the local industry to get organised. [July 7 – 11, 2015, Kingston]

Carole, event hosts, and guests at the Kingston leg of the Jamaica Film Festival launch in June 10, 2015 | Source: Carole Beckford
Carole, event hosts, and guests at the Kingston leg of the Jamaica Film Festival launch in June 10, 2015 | Source: Carole Beckford

PR: How has the upcoming festival been received locally and internationally?
CB: [The reception thus far…]
Lots of interest from both markets, we are hoping for a turnaround in a few ways:
– Kingston must be credited as the cultural city of the region;
– Local producers must be inspired to work together.

PR: What aspects of the Jamaica film industry keep you up at night or make you the most paranoid?
CB: You wouldn’t want to know. [Carole smiles]

PR: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers, scriptwriters, and actors?
CB: Be prepared. You never know who you’ll meet on a daily basis. [Bonus tip] “Never leave home without make-up.”

PR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
CB: Film is big business and the time is now to get involved. There are way too many platforms not to produce films for consumption – get involved now!

A montage of films produced, written, directed, and shot on location in Jamaica that represent the industry's past, present and future
A montage of films produced, written, directed, and shot on location in Jamaica that represent the industry’s past, present and future

Fin!

To learn more about the Jamaica Film Festival 2015, visit: http://jamaicafilmfest.com/
Follow Carole Beckford’s blog: https://carolebeckford.wordpress.com/

Phresh Interviews Jamaica’s Film Commissioner Carole Beckford

7 thoughts on “Phresh Interviews Jamaica’s Film Commissioner Carole Beckford

  • June 23, 2015 at 12:12 AM
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    Jamaicans really need to work together, that is the back bone of Hollywood success even though you have 6 Giant movie production studios that is controlled by only 4 top dogs but however they are united through the FBI film law. something we as Jamaica can learn to put our stamp of place in this world.

  • June 23, 2015 at 01:45 AM
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    Agreed. I think with the new focus of the Jamaica Film Commission, we have a way better shot at making a mark on the international film industry. Thanks for reading and commenting, Ryan.

  • June 24, 2015 at 04:47 AM
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    Interesting quote – Never underestimate the power of a creative mind. Looking forward to what’s to come. Exciting times.

  • June 24, 2015 at 12:50 PM
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    Agreed. Exciting times ahead indeed, Stephen! Thanks for passing through.

  • June 28, 2015 at 01:54 PM
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    Thanks for the encouragement. We need to have alternative work for a wider range of folks and Film provides that opportunity

  • June 28, 2015 at 03:07 PM
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    Welcome, madame! I was wondering what took you so long. Fantastic effort by your entire team at Jamaica Film Commission. I really would’ve loved to have been there for the inaugural year, but I’ll be watching for highlights. Next year cannot miss me!

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