Sunday 25 October, 2020

T&T episode of The Amazing Race to air October 14

The Amazing Race episode filmed in T&T will air on October 14. Screengrab taken from the Amazing Race Instagram account.

The Amazing Race episode filmed in T&T will air on October 14. Screengrab taken from the Amazing Race Instagram account.

The Trinidad and Tobago episode of The Amazing Race will be aired on October 14.

In making the announcement this morning, Paula Gopee-Scoon, minister of trade and industry, said the Emmy-award winning reality show was filmed in various locations around T&T in 2018. She said close to $2 million was spent during filming and 310 locals were hired.

The Amazing Race is a reality show that sees teams of two competing all over the world for a grand prize of US$1 million. 

Season 32 will see the teams competing in T&T, Brazil, France, Germany and Kazakhstan.

The Amazing Race averages about 10 million viewers per season, said Gopee-Scoon, citing E! Online.

“You can expect to see highlights of several of the cultural aspects of Trinidad and Tobago, steelpan, the  Carnival costumes, goat racing and I understand they used locations such as Exodus Panyard, Nylon Pool, Pigeon Point, the Buccoo Racing Facility,” said Gopee-Scoon.

The minister invited T&T nationals at home and in the diaspora to view the episode.

Speaking on the Tobago experience in The Amazing Race, where most of the show was filmed, Shomari Hector — assistant secretary in the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) — said the island benefited tremendously.

He said 150 people were engaged locally including actors, caterers, performers, taxi drivers and service-oriented organisations.

Lorraine O'Connor of Riddum Productions helped convince The Amazing Race producers to use T&T as a location for Season 32. (Photo: Courtesy Lorraine O'Connor)

“The production crew stayed at Magdalena Grand hotel for a total of 21 days with 42 rooms booked. It means therefore we would have had an opportunity for bed arrangements which would have augured well for our hospitality sector and hotel industry,” he said, noting that three convention rooms at the hotel were also booked for the production crew.

He said 50 Tobagonians were afforded the opportunity to be trained in production during the filming and one was hired as a local rep.

FilmTT is one of the creative entities that fall under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Gopee-Scoon said the entity is engaged in marketing the country as a destination for film productions. She said the Amazing Race was among 35 productions filmed in T&T between 2018 and 2020, which also included a few episodes of the popular Love and Hip Hop Atlanta reality show that aired in May 2019.

She said those films saw close to TT$20 million spent in the country with employment for over 600 locals.

“FilmTT is looking at five major productions, they are in discussion with FilmTT and they have signalled an interest to film in Trinidad and Tobago in 2021. If we get this, the overall estimated projected spend [is] over TT$17 million,” she revealed.

Speaking on incentives for foreign film producers, Gopee-Scoon said the Film Production Expenditure Rebate Programme offers a tiered cash rebate of 12.5 per cent to 35 per cent on a minimum expenditure of TT$630,000 up to a maximum of TT$51,200,000 to foreign production companies filming on location in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Local film producers are eligible for a 35 per cent rebate for expenditure from TT$100,000 up to a maximum of TT$51,200,000. An additional rebate of 20 per cent is granted on the labour cost for hiring local labour for a film production, which takes the rebate up to a maximum of 55 per cent."

She said the government also offers an exemption on customs duties and VAT applicable to the temporary importation of equipment once this equipment leaves the country after filming has concluded. 

Gopee-Scoon said as part of an ongoing effort to do business more efficiently and to streamline the services of FilmTT, the ministry will seek Cabinet’s approval in 2021 to implement a Film Permit System that all productions must adhere to in order to shoot in Trinidad and Tobago.

She said, “This would allow FilmTT to report on a more realistic picture of the numbers and types of productions on the ground at any time and to enhance their service to incoming productions.”

Dionne McNicol-Stephenson, chairman of the Film Company, said since film is not a one-man job, they have established the Film Friendly Network which brings together public and private partners who aid in facilitating film production in T&T.

She said for the Amazing Race, several ministries and other agencies helped to make the production a success, which would help to attract more productions in the future.

Riddums Productions, owned by Lorraine O’Connor, was the main agency that facilitated the Amazing Race production in T&T.

The T&T episode of The Amazing Race will air on Wednesday, October 14 at 9pm on CBS.

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