Since the Cayman Islands Film Commission was set up in 2009, there has been a steady trickle of film projects flowing through the Islands.
The year 2011 began with a film crew visiting Grand Cayman in January to shoot underwater footage of Dolphin Tale.
Although most of this 3D film, starring Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman, was shot in Florida, the film makers spent four days in Cayman shooting plates - background shots for computer-generated images to be added to later in the filmmaking process - for the opening credits.
They shot more than three hours of footage that were eventually edited down to about three minutes.
In an interview with The Weekender, the unit director Bob Munroe said of his filming experience in Cayman: “That was probably about the best four days of shooting in my life.. It was one of the most enjoyable, if not the most enjoyable experience of my professional career.”
The crew shot at dive sites in the west and south of Cayman.
Dolphin Tale, about the friendship between a boy and dolphin that has lost its tail in a crab trap, was released in September.
2011 also saw Cayman hosting the third Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase in February.
The showcase features films from the Caribbean, about the Caribbean and by Caribbean film makers.
Lorna Bush from the Cayman National Cultural Foundation said at the time: “It is important because, while films from outside the region have proven extremely useful and give Caribbean people a sense of the world, they do not address the specifics of Caribbean arts, culture and identity.”
She added: “For Cayman, which with the establishment of the Cayman Islands Film Commission, is beginning to emerge as a player in regional filmmaking, this is a great opportunity for our young filmmakers to see the work and to network with their counterparts.”
Among the film featured in the showcase was local director Frank E. Flowers’ 200 movie Haven, starring Orlando Bloom, which was shot in Cayman.
Young film makers
Cayman’s burgeoning film industry is encouraging young film makers to step up to the camera. In 2010, the Young Image Makers Short Film Competition was launched. It was held for the second time in 2011 and attracted 78 entries, 13 of which made it to the final round of the competition.
All those who make it to the final round take part in a workshop that introduces them to storytelling using moving images and gives them a crash course in the basics of filmmaking. They are then asked to come up with a concept, write a script, shoot it and work with editors to edit the piece.
The work they produce is entered into the Young Image Makers Competition, which is voted on by a panel of judges and the public can weigh in with an online vote.
This year, Connor Hoeksema of Cayman International School and Eric Caraballo of Cayman Brac High School were declared the winners of the competition and both won a student scholarship to the Film Academy’s summer movie camp in New York.
Entries for next year’s Young Image Makers Short Film Competition are now being accepted by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation.
Buzz about a potential international film festival for Cayman began early this year, but by year’s end, it had been put on the back burner till 2013.
The Cayman Islands Film Commission issued an invitation to interested parties in July to submit proposals for a film festival after three separate entities had either approached the Commission or announced plans to launch a festival. The Commission had hoped that, if all the pieces fell into place, Cayman could have its own film festival by the first or second quarter of 2012, but it was not to be.
Lesley-Ann Thompson, head of marketing at the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment, which includes the Cayman Islands Film Commission, said three proposals were received and while each had good elements, no single one of them appeared to deliver what the Commission envisioned.
Ms Thompson said the proposed time frame of early 2012 “was deemed too sudden to launch an International Film Festival with the impact that is necessary to make the right first impression, so the decision was taken to put this on the 2013 calendar of activities instead.”
“We needed a longer lead time,” she added.
The final month of 2012 saw another film crew from the United States descend on Cayman - this time to shoot pirate ship and desert island scenes for a colonial period movie.
The producers of To Have and To Hold filmed footage on board the Valhalla pirate ship, on beaches at Spotts and South Sound and at the Turtle Farm.
The movie is based on a best selling colonial romance novel of 1900.
The bulk of the movie was filmed in Virginia, where the book is mostly set, but scenes involving pirates and a ship wreck were shot in Grand Cayman, with one day of shooting at a blue hole in the Bahamas.
Three of the principal actors – Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1), Aiden Turner (All My Children) and Kelly Greyson (Alone, Yet Not Alone) – were in Grand Cayman for the shoot. The film also stars Rusty Joiner (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Mark Dacascos (Hawaii Five-0) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King).
Cayman has been the location for several movies over the years, including The Firm, starring Tom Cruise; Cayman Went, which was filmed mostly on Cayman Brac; and 2010’s Zombie Driftwood.