12 Questions with Dion Boucaud
—Published on 13th Apr, 2022.
Dion Boucaud has a broad range of experience having worked with television stations and production companies in Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts. He has led production teams in North and South America, Europe and many Caribbean destinations. To mark FILMCO‘s 5 year anniversary Dion reflects on his journey with FILMCO, his filmmaking career and the importance of leading with passion and determination.
FILMCO: Can you remember the first Trinidadian film you ever saw? What was it, and tell us about the experience of watching it.
Dion Boucaud: The first local film I remember seeing is “Men of Gray” which was shown as a made for TV movie on TTT. I was about 20 years old at the time. I remember being intrigued with the martial arts sequences and watching people and places I could recognise on the screen. It was one of the influences for me getting into the industry and by the following year I was working for AVM television.
FILMCO: Since entering the film industry, what have you learned and what advice would you give someone venturing into their first project?
DB: In my thirty-plus years doing this I have learnt that there are always new things to learn. The industry morphs and changes constantly and whereas you can always draw on your experience, it is always better to keep a level head and a strong spirit of collaboration. When venturing into your first project, know that there will be mistakes. Own them, learn from them and with any creative endeavour, listen to all the voices. Ideas and inspiration come more readily from discussion and sharing creative spaces.
FILMCO: In 2017, you co-founded FILMCO along with Lesley-Anne Macfarlane, Danielle Dieffenthaller and Mariel Brown. Can you tell us how that idea was born and why?
DB: In trying to solve stagnancy in the industry, my initial idea was to create what I was calling a Film Cooperative, gather content owners together and combine the rights-ownership of existing content into an entity that would seek to monetize that content for its members. I was still trying to make that idea work when a chance meeting with the then CEO of TTT led to a discussion of getting more local content on Television. I formed a local group of filmmakers to meet weekly with TTT to find a way to achieve this and negotiate content blocks and licence fees. Along the way the initial idea morphed with the new purpose and the idea for FILMCO took shape.
FILMCO: You have worked on many different types of projects, can you tell us about your favourite project to work on, to date?
DB: I guess my favourite project to date was my work on documenting the history of Brimstone Hill Fortress in St. Kitts. It was the first production I was totally responsible for completing and getting translated into Spanish, German and French. It was the first time I was required to trust my own voice in terms of story and structure. The confidence I gained from that experience is responsible for how I approach all productions today.
FILMCO: What do you think is needed to strengthen the audio-visual industry here in Trinidad and Tobago? And how do you think FILMCO helps fill in those gaps?
DB: In a word, collaboration. All of the stakeholders, including Government and the private sector, need to come together in order to create the environment for an audio-visual industry to develop and thrive. Too often only one component is doing all the heavy lifting and there is no coordination of effort or cohesive understanding of all the moving parts to make the audio-visual industry not just viable but self-sustaining. Filmco is always working at demystifying the industry through our ongoing training sessions and workshops with our eye towards increasing professional capacity in the region. FILMCO is also working to pioneer a business ecosystem within the region in order to create a profitable and sustainable environment for our members.
FILMCO: What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your creative projects and how did you overcome them?
DB: In every creative process, challenges are par for the course. Always start with passion and determination, with those you can push through most obstacles. However, you also need an element of flexibility, this will allow you to find other ways around the more stubborn challenges. Have someone you trust be the voice of reason, this will prevent you from exhausting yourself or worse yet, burning out completely.
FILMCO: From conception to today, how has your work with FILMCO shaped you as a filmmaker and vice versa?
DB: FILMCO has shown me what is possible and that has allowed me to remove self imposed limits on my imagination. In the inverse, my expanded imagination allows a greater vision for FILMCO and what impediments it can topple next.
FILMCO: What has been your proudest moment since founding FILMCO?
DB: There have been many proud moments, finally signing a historic distribution agreement with TTT, FILMCO taking over the management of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, signing of FILMCO’s first international distribution contract. However, during the height of the pandemic I got a phone call from one of our members who had just received a royalty payment into their account and their absolute joy and appreciation for receiving income for their film for the first time, when it was most needed. That was my proudest moment.
FILMCO: Can you tell us about your experience leading production teams in North and South America as well as Trinidad?
DB: I’ve had a wide and varied career which has afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively to many different destinations. Apart from the varied cultures and people, you get to really appreciate just how beautiful our planet is at times. The one thing I realised however is that people, language differences notwithstanding, are basically the same. A smile is a smile in any language. Once you understand that and treat people with love and respect. You’re welcome wherever you go. Apart from that, red tape is red tape in any language.
FILMCO: What do you hope FILMCO will be doing in 5 years?
DB: There are more ways than space for me to answer this question so I will suffice it to say that I hope we sustain the mandate of finding creative solutions to the problems we face. As long as we continue that then there is no limit to what FILMCO can become.
FILMCO: What would you say has been the most rewarding thing you have experienced so far on your journey as a filmmaker?
DB: Hmmm, this is a difficult question. I love what I do so I achieve many rewarding experiences with every production. I guess if I were to be specific, it is seeing that look on a client’s face when their thoughts and vision is translated from their head to the screen for the first time. There’s no better feeling.
FILMCO: What are you currently working on or what can we hope to see from you in the future?
DB: I am currently engaged with several corporate projects at the same time. I am still hoping to find a creative collaboration for later this year. In the meantime I’m enjoying helping fellow FILMCO founder Danielle Dieffenthaller bring her next TV series to the screen.