By Shermain Bique-Charles
Antigua and Barbuda could benefit from a multi-million-dollar joint venture between UK based filmmaker Philippe Martinez and Apex Capital Partners, an advisory firm specialising in Citizenship by Investment (CIP).
Martinez, who owns MSR Media, anticipates that his company can invest about US$30 million in the Antiguan and Barbudan economy, as he seeks to embark on a project to produce films in the twin-island State.
The Cabinet announced last week that it had met with Martinez and Nuri Katz from Apex who demonstrated how the making of movies in Antigua and Barbuda could benefit residents.
In an interview with Observer media on Sunday, Martinez, who is the largest cash investor in St Kitts and Nevis over the past two years, said he wants to bring that kind of prosperity to Antigua and Barbuda, but must be given the leeway to do so by the CIP Unit here.
MSR Media will work jointly with Nuri Katz of Apex Capital Partners to realise that goal.
“I would say that, at least for the first year, we anticipate to invest over US$30 million before we start selling. This is why we have a joint venture with Apex Capital Partners. They are the ones that will handle the relationship with the CIU. My job really is to produce films,” Martinez said.
Over the past two years, MSR filmed nine productions in St Kitts and Nevis, employing over 200 nationals with much higher rates of pay than they earned in their regular jobs. MSR also bought a hotel in St Kitts and Nevis.
“The good thing about the movie business is that we create jobs right away. It is not like in certain industries…once we decide that we are going ahead, within a couple of months, we create 200 jobs. Our local staff in St Kitts, we pay them minimum US$700 a week, and we train them. When we arrived two years ago, none of them were involved in film before…now seventy-five percent of the film crew is composed of residents of St Kitts and Nevis. The intention is to strengthen the St Kitts and Nevis venture and expand to Antigua and Barbuda because of the demand for movies that need to be shot in the Caribbean he said.
“The thing in the Caribbean is that you have the ability to help projects to get off the ground through the CBI program, but I’ve seen also in other parts of the Caribbean that you don’t seem to attract investors that come and make the investment first. But in our case, it’s different. We finance way before we hope to recoup at a later stage through the citizenship program,” he explained.
Martinez said the government is excited about the proposed venture which he says would be an added boost to the country’s tourism sector.
Martinez has produced several movies including Wake of Death, A Week in Paradise, Father Christmas is Back, Mister Mayfair, and Assailant.