Government shelled out $20,000 to document Cayman’s COVID-19 response last year as the jurisdiction navigated the unchartered waters of the global pandemic.
However, the finished product, spearheaded by the Cabinet Office, has yet to be shared with the public and it is unclear if it ever will be.
“At this stage no decision has been made on usage of the material including public viewing,” Oneisha Richards, director of communications at the Cabinet Office, told the Cayman Compass Monday in response to queries about the project that was launched last May.
Earlier this year, the Compass filed a Freedom of Information request seeking details about the documentary footage which was gathered by Kerfuffle Content – formerly Whirlybird – under the terms of an agreement between that company and the Cabinet Office.
That office agreed to pay the agency a maximum amount of $20,000 through instalments of 50% of the total due upon signing the contract, 25% of the total due one month after signing the contract and 25% of the total due upon completion of the project, according the agreement disclosed to the Compass through the open records request.
The FOI response stated that the video project was completed “satisfactorily and all assets have been provided to the Department of Communications.”
It added that the assets “are historical content owned by the Cayman Islands Government to decide on use in the future.”
The FOI request sought to determine what was happening with the project, the footage and the cost of the contract.
While government has a dedicated communications unit, Government Information Services, the private contractor was hired to document local COVID-19 efforts.
Richards, in an email response to Compass queries on the project, said, “as the Government navigated the throws of keeping our community safe from COVID-19 in 2020, it became very clear that we needed to document and capture footage of that unique moment in time to ensure we had a commemorative perspective of one of the most challenging periods in our recent history”.
She said in May 2020 the Department of Communications, within the Cabinet Office, commissioned a photography and video project to capture the Cayman Islands COVID-19 response “in order to secure historical content and serve as a living memory bank of the pandemic period in the Cayman Islands”.
Richards said following a formal RFP process, five proposals were received for the video component of the project.
“The proposals were evaluated and Kerfuffle Content, a locally based production company with experience in creative story development and documentary development, was hired,” she said.
The video project was “completed satisfactorily,” Richards said, adding all assets have been provided to the Department of Communications.
“The assets were developed as historical content to commemorate COVID-19 and are owned by the Cayman Islands Government. Usage of the assets will be decided on at a future date,” she further stated.
What the agreement stated
Through an open records request, the Compass was provided with a partially redacted documentary agreement dated 26 May 2020 between Kerfuffle Content and the Cabinet Office, Cayman Islands Government for a Cayman Islands COVID-19 documentary.
Under the agreement, Kerfuffle Content had to develop a documentary “which captures the Cayman Islands and community response to COVID19”.
Richards said “there is a documentary format of the assets produced, as it was a deliverable of the RFP.”
However, it is unclear what will happen next with the documentary.
Under the agreement, the contractor was required to capture the story of the “global response and resilience of the Cayman Islands” during the time of COVID-19, including the support of the Cayman Islands Government Response (National Emergency Operations Centre, Ministry of Health, Cabinet), impacts of COVID-19 on the Cayman Islands (physically, socially etc.) and collect community thoughts and sentiments.
The agreement required the collection of the Cayman Islands Government perspective and behind the scenes stories.
The third leg of the agreement was a final distribution ready documentary.
“Kerfuffle Content will develop creative content for a documentary that can be placed on varying channels best suited to relevant audiences. This should be done demonstrating strong creative story development, previous production management and documentary experience,” the agreement stated.
Kerfuffle Content completed its end of the agreement and submitted the project at the end of February.