Music businessman Simon Baptiste and his team at Question Mark Entertainment launched their Dream Big Foundation (DBF) with a cocktail reception fund-raiser and première screening of Will Smith’s new movie “Concussion” at MovieTowne, Port of Spain on the evening of December 28. The Foundation represents an evolution of his ongoing DeciBel Entertainment Conference + Expo‘s Dream Big initiative and formalises an ongoing relationship with primary sponsor Republic Bank Ltd (RBL) to offer funding and inspiration to young persons desirous of making careers in the creative industries: dance, music, theatre, and its ancillary services.
The Foundation, which is the formal non-profit body responsible for the funding allocation and harnessing corporate support for the creative industries will continue to seek out young people for enhancement via funding, connecting with a wider entertainment community, and inspiration. Back in March 2015, the Dream Big initiative supported music producer Kasey Phillips and film maker Oliver Milne by providing opportunities for these two men to engage with the international entertainment industry. Film maker, Christopher Guinness, who was the initial recipient of a grant from Dream Big in 2014 rounded out the group of beneficiaries who all gave praise to DBF and an overview of how their careers changed, via smartly produced film clips. A repeating motif was that the exposure to the larger American entertainment industry based in Hollywood had provided them with a new level of excellence to which they all have to continue to work towards and sustain.
Baptiste thanked his team, which includes Scot Sardinha, the Trinidad-born cultural attaché for megastar Will Smith and his company Overbrook Entertainment, and noted how that connection made a difference for Guinness, Milne and Phillips by placing them in the Hollywood environment to gauge their talent in a broader real world context. Sardinha himself spoke of his work with the Will & Jada Smith Trust that has funded supportive and necessary projects in Costa Rica and Argentina, and now Trinidad.
Lisa McCarthy, Marketing Manager, Product Development, Deposits and Investments, at Republic Bank noted the bank’s continued support for Dream Big, already having been a title sponsor for DeciBel and funder of the three previous grants. The role of both the bank and DBF to focus on young persons was re-iterated to show the synergy of their vision for a better T&T.
The fund-raising aspect of the evening was via the presentation of donation pledge cards to attendees for immediate or future giving. Baptiste noted that donation bins would be set up in Republic Bank branches nationwide and regionally, and cheekily suggested to Massy Group CEO, Gervase Warner that “the bins would also look good in the many branches of Massy Stores.” Warner’s presence, together with the presence of RBL Managing Director David Dulal-Whiteway, showed moral support and cemented the idea that DBF can and will serve as “an avenue through which the public sector and corporate Trinidad may channel their own initiatives, support and contributions.”
“Concussion” writer-director Peter Landesman and Smith sent greetings via film clips, with Landesman giving a piece of sage advice that “the only way to learn how to make a movie is to make a movie.” Both Hollywood professionals said they look forward to working with local talent and place implicit trust in Sardinha to guide the DBF recipients in the right direction to navigate the difficult international entertainment landscape. Prior to “Concussion”, Guinness’ short film “Fade To Black”, which won awards at film festivals here and abroad was shown. This film was financed by the Dream Big grant of $30,000.
- A version of this article appears in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspapers published as, “Dream Big Foundation Launched”
© 2015 Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.