Question Mark Entertainment CEO, Simon Baptiste made a declaration that resonated at the launch of his company’s annual DeciBel Entertainment Conference + Expo: “Patience before product.” With that simple adage, a more real world context was reinforced as he laid out plans for this ongoing music business series within the creative industries. DeciBel serves as an incubator for creative talent among a young demographic of 15 to 25 year old persons via interactive panel discussions and networking opportunities and talent showcasing.
This year’s event will be held at the Queen’s Hall Courtyard from April 30 to May 2, and supplements the conference with a new Gary Turton-designed Exposition area on the final day that will feature “local, regional and international entertainment firms, showcasing their companies’ products and latest innovations.”The focus will be on the film, music, dance, and fashion sectors within the creative industries. According to Baptiste, in addition to being a stand-alone 3-day event, DeciBel functions as a 365-day development programme and forum that engages with thousands of students at up to 50 schools in the islands.
Returning main sponsor, Republic Bank, was represented at the launch by Lisa McCarthy, Marketing Manager, Deposit and Investment who endorsed the vision of DeciBel, which complements the bank’s own social investment programmes that include “development of young people through education, sport and the arts.” In this partnership, the bank is also the sponsor of grants for winners of DeciBel’s Dream Big Initiative that chooses a film maker and a music professional, and places them in the international environment for showcasing, mentoring and networking thus fostering their talent and broadening the Trinidad profile in these sectors. Young film maker Oliver Milne received TT$30,000 to make a short film and music producer Kasey Phillips received TT$20,000, as winners in their respective disciplines
Both winners will have the opportunity to meet with players in the industry in Hollywood. The lynchpin for this opening is Trinidadian Scot Sardinha, a Question Mark director and importantly the cultural attaché for actor Will Smith’s companies, Overbrook Entertainment and Treyball INC. According to Baptiste, Smith and Sardinha were pivotal in assisting the Dream Big Initiative get a footprint in the entertainment capital of the US. Phillips will intern at Smith’s Boom Boom Room Studios in Burbank, CA while Milne will shop his resulting short film to various festivals and meet with celebrities and top executives and visit television and motion picture sets. McCarthy, showing her hands-on approach of corporate partnership, reminisced on her own participation in the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International with that year’s Dream Big winner film maker Christopher Guinness, having to sleep on the pavement for a day with other fans!
Baptiste also revealed a new initiative, Zombie Island, sponsored and presented by Blink | bmobile. It is set up as a theme park horror house experience as part of the final day Expo at Queen’s Hall Courtyard, but effectively serves as ground zero for the many stakeholder talents within the creative and entertainment industries: make-up and hair, wardrobe, art direction, production design, technology and talent including dance theatre and music, among others. A couple actors in character surprised and worried the launch participants by their realism as “zombies,” even suggesting homeless person invasion. Camille Campbell, chief marketing officer at TSTT speaking at the launch linked the company’s awareness of the growth here in T&T of mobile technology acquisition and its synergy with music and video, with the opportunities for content creation development provided by DeciBel.
DeciBel Entertainment Conference + Expo is positioned as a product for creativity that is long term beyond the short Carnival period. Baptiste has noted that this country has pioneers on whose shoulders modern creative industries growth is situated: Timmy Mora in film, Minshall in mas’, Machel Montano in music, and Meiling in fashion. DeciBel’s success in the long term, according to Baptiste, would not be measured strictly by how many persons attend the event, but would come from the persons who are touched. The ultimate goal is to make DeciBel raise the standard of creativity and connection of the sector in order to position Trinidad and Tobago as an entertainment hub for the Caribbean. Time and youth are the keys.
- A version of this article appears in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspapers published as, “Decibel launch brings excitement, zombies”
© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.