The Caribbean island nation of Antigua has just gotten into the film business. St. Kitts-born producer Rudy Langlais (“The Hurricane,” “Sugar Hill”), and his partners, Caribbean social entrepreneur Valmiki Kempadoo, Toronto-based producer Don Allan and veteran film exec Neil Sacker, have closed an equity financing pact with the government of Antigua that will funnel $125 million to an initial slate of five pics, and kick off Antigua’s long-range commitment to film production.
The deal, announced Sept. 14 in Toronto, comes through the newly created venture, Golden Island Filmworks, an independent feature film finance and production entity run by Langlais.
The arrangement serves as an unprecedented film financing model that taps funds generated by the Antigua Citizenship Investment Program, which allows investors to claim citizenship — and its requisite passport — in exchange for a minimum investment of $400,000 for individuals, including their families. Funds collected from the highly sought after citizenship will be invested into the film slate.
These funds will finance half of the multi-million dollar budgets of each film while the traditional financing levers such as foreign sales, tax credits, co-productions and a domestic deal will cover the rest, according to Langlais. The first five pics, with budgets ranging from $20 million to $85 million, amount to a cumulative budget of $250 million.
First out the gate is “Rebels,” penned by Lizzie Borden (“Born in Flames,” “Working Girls”), about the rise of Jamaican reggae king Bob Marley from a pivotal friendship with three men in his life: JAD Records founder Johnny Nash, mob associate Danny Sims and soccer player Alan Cole. Golden Island Filmworks is targeting a 12-week shoot in Antigua, Jamaica and other locations in the spring of 2016.
The new venture’s next project, budgeted in the low-$50 million range, is “Nick Carter: The Judas Conspiracy,” based on the best-selling “Nick Carter: Killmaster” book series, which will be co-produced by Canada’s Martin Katz of Prospero Pictures, and Unrestricted Content. Bill Borden (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Kung Fu Hustle”) is on board as line producer. Target shooting date schedule is for the fall of winter of next year, given the multiple locations.
Other projects are still under wraps.
“The idea is to give the people of Antigua the opportunity to participate in new industry other than tourism,” said Langlais, who pointed out that plans include the establishment of a training program and internships. “We are in talks with Lantica Media, (which owns the Pinewood Studios in the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico for potential partnerships,” said Langlais.
Industry legal vet Eric Weissmann, Lizbeth Hasse and Erin Harrison of Creative Industry Law Group and producer/financier Karen Longley Gordy, who will serve as a principal in the company, facilitated the agreement. Joseph Cohen of American Entertainment Investors and Larry Becksey of Intellectual Property Group served as Golden Islands’ advisors in the closing.
Said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne: “Welcome to the start of this new day in the history of my nation, the Caribbean and worldwide cinema — the further transformation of Antigua and Barbuda as the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean through the power and art of film.”