Cayman film commission partners team with Virgin

Two American film producers who
were instrumental in launching Cayman’s film commission have signed on to lead
a new film and television production company owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin
Group.

Jason Felts and Justin Berfield,
who are regular visitors to Cayman and who set the groundwork for the
establishment of the Cayman Islands Film Commission early last year, will serve
as chief executive officer and chief creative officer, respectively, in the new
Los Angeles-based Virgin Produced.

Mr. Felts said he had Cayman in his
sights as a possible venue for future productions by Virgin Produced, which
will develop, package and produce film and TV projects.

“The further building of Cayman’s
film infrastructure and the expansion of the country’s production community as
a whole is a priority to both Justin and I. I look forward to continuing my
role on the film commission’s advisory board and to finding just the right
Virgin project to shoot locally,” he said in an email to the Caymanian Compass
on Monday.

Mr. Berfield, familiar to many as
Reese from the hit comedy television show Malcolm in the Middle, spent two
months in Cayman in December 2008 and January 2009, travelling around the three
islands taking hundreds of photographs of potential film locations, many of
which now appear on the Cayman Islands Film Commission’s website for producers
to peruse.

The pair produced a video of what
Cayman had to offer movie, TV and advertisement producers. It was shown at the
launch of the commission and at the Association of Film Commissioners
International trade show in Los Angeles last year. They also helped put
together the guest list at the glitzy launch of the commission in February last
year, inviting people from their former company J2 Pictures’ contact list,
including American Pie actress Jennifer Coolidge and actor John O’Hurley who
appeared in Seinfeld and Dancing with the Stars.

The new production company is a
joint venture between Virgin Group and Relativity Media’s Rogue Pictures.

Pushing the envelope

“For 40 years, Virgin has pushed
the envelope.” Mr. Felts said. “At Virgin Produced, we look to break some old
moulds while providing talent a place where they know their work will be
embraced and supported. With Rogue’s boundary- breaking approach and Virgin’s
entrepreneurial strength, the brands are perfectly suited for each other.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to
provide a collaborative experience and produce amazing results.”

According to a press release, in
addition to developing and producing original films, Virgin is expected to
co-produce two to three motion pictures a year with Relativity/Rogue. The first
film is Peter Farrelly’s Movie 43.

“Entertainment has long been a
focus of the Virgin brand, and I’m excited for the chance to further grow in
this space,” said Virgin Group founder Mr. Branson. “Jason and Justin’s
approach is very entrepreneurial, very Virgin. We share a passion for creating
and nurturing communities of talent and fresh material. The Rogue and Virgin
brands seem an obvious fit for each other.”

“There is real opportunity to
provide a great, collaborative experience for talent to hone and shape their
ideas and to reach a valuable, cutting-edge, media-hungry audience that enjoys
interacting with the Virgin brand,” said Mr. Berfield. “We look forward to
working with the Virgin family to strategically tap into the vast Virgin network
of loyal brand fans, allowing Virgin

Produced projects to be enjoyed by
a broad audience.”

Recent films by Relativity Media
have included Brothers, The Wolfman, It’s Complicated, Zombieland, Couples
Retreat, The Bounty Hunter and, most recently, Salt, Get Him to the Greek,
Robin Hood, Despicable Me, Charlie St. Cloud and Grown Ups. Upcoming films for
Relativity include Nanny McPhee 2, The Social Network, James Cameron’s Sanctum
in 3D and Wes Craven’s My Soul To Take in 3D.

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Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, centre, with Jason Felts, left, and Justin Berfield.
Photo: submitted
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