Newly-formed film-production company, Wishing Step Pictures (WSP), is making a splash in the documentary business, after setting up operations in Bermuda and Toronto to create social-impact films built around global campaigns for positive change.
‘”Our tagline is ‘Making the world a better place one film and campaign at a time’,” said Wishing Step’s President Kim Carter. “That’s what we’re endeavouring to do through a slate of projects we hope will not only achieve social good, but also change the film business.”
The company’s first project, When Elephants Fight, is a documentary about the exploitation of conflict minerals and the impact on the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Narrated by award-winning actress Robin Wright, of the Netflix House of Cards series, the film won Best Foreign Film at Poland’s HUMANdoc Film Festival and was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice 2016; it also premiered in Europe at the Edinburgh International Film Festival after being selected as the Opening Night Documentary. The film is now being picked up by distributors and screened throughout the US, South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and can also be bought or rented on platforms such as Amazon and iTunes.
Wright is an active participant in the accompanying social campaign, “Stand With Congo,” that runs parallel to the film’s distribution. The campaign went public earlier this year, with university tours as one of its main priorities.
“When Elephants Fight helped us to get established as a film-production company,” said Carter. “We’ve subsequently forged excellent partnerships for our next project. We’ve been able to create some innovative ideas in marketing and distribution as well, which we feel could inspire other companies.”
Also novel is Wishing Step’s choice of headquarters and incorporation strategy. Partners Carter and Neil Glass—both Bermuda residents—and Zabi Yaqeen, of Toronto, chose the island as the company’s main base due to the jurisdiction’s renown as a top-tier international financial centre offering innovative Segregated Accounts Company (SAC) structures for incorporation.
“Although SACs are commonly used in Bermuda’s insurance-linked securities and investment fund industries, we believe this is the first time one has been used for a film production company,” noted Wishing Step’s Glass, a chartered professional accountant who was one the co-founders of the Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF) and previously led the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) asset management industry group.
“We plan to roll out numerous projects over the next few years,” Glass added, “and we feel the SAC route is the most efficient for our investors. We particularly like that Bermuda’s SAC laws allow for one cell to invest in another, so once a particular project is over, investors may choose to invest in another film in a tax-efficient manner.”
BDA consultant John Narraway said the new venture could pave the way for more film companies to set up in Bermuda once the concept of SAC structures was demonstrated to the movie industry.
“We feel this could be a win-win scenario because Bermuda can provide a well-respected, sophisticated corporate platform which companies, including film companies, can leverage to reach a global audience,” Narraway said. “Bermuda offers a blue-chip jurisdiction that allows businesses to keep agile and innovative. We congratulate Wishing Step for breaking new ground, and we hope it attracts more film production companies to follow suit.”
The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) also commended Wishing Step Pictures for its pioneering vision and welcomed the company to Bermuda.
“As the official film commission for Bermuda, the BTA is working with a variety of local partners to make our destination more attractive to film industry producers, directors and financiers,” said Bill Hanbury, BTA CEO. “We’re especially pleased when new allies like Wishing Step Pictures comes along with their deep reservoir of experience and a social consciousness that all of us can be proud of. The BTA welcomes Wishing Step to the neighbourhood, and looks forward to partnering with them to make Bermuda a valued power player in the world of film.”
Wishing Step’s ambitious second project, authored by Yaqeen, is a film and campaign about the global scourge of modern slavery, with a working title of ABOLISH (http://www.wishingstep.com/sio-film-campaign.php). Wishing Step has been working with Wright and verse.com to produce interactive media in support of an app that will run in tandem with ABOLISH. The “Free2Work” app lets consumers scan barcodes of products to avoid buying those made by slave labour.
Campaigns and calls to action of WSP films are administered by The Abolish Foundation (TAF), a Canadian not-for-profit corporation that supports initiatives to combat modern slavery, human rights abuses, gender inequality, and environmental destruction. TAF was formed specifically to develop and implement the campaign components of Wishing Step’s social-impact films.
Kim T. R. Carter
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