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Film company sets up in Bermuda

Bermuda company: Wishing Step film-maker Mike Ramsdell, right, during one of his visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo to film When Elephants Fight

An award-winning international film company has set up shop in Bermuda.

And Wishing Step Pictures is believed to be the first to use the island’s segregated accounts company structure to create a business — and it is hoped other filmmakers will follow suit.

Neil Glass, an island resident and co-founder of the Bermuda International Film Festival, said: “Although SACs are commonly used in Bermuda’s insurance-linked securities and investment funds industries, we believe this is the first time one has been used for a film-production company.”

Mr Glass, an accountant and former head of the Bermuda Business Development Agency’s asset management industry group, formed the documentary-making company with Kim Carter, company president and also a resident, and Zabi Yaqueen, from Toronto. The company will operate from Bermuda and the Ontario capital.

Mr Glass said: “We plan to roll out numerous projects over the next few years 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.”

John Narraway, a consultant with the BDA, said: “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.

“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 company’s first project, When Elephants Fight, a documentary about the exploitation of conflict minerals and its impact on the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was narrated by House of Cards star Robin Wright.

The production won best foreign film at the HUMANdoc festival in Poland and was chosen as the opening night documentary at the Edinburgh Film Festival, one of the largest celebrations of film-making in the world.

The film is now being shown in the US, South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East and can also be bought or rented from retailers like Amazon and iTunes.

Ms Wright is also taking part in the associated “Stand with Congo” campaign, which is running alongside the film and is targeting universities.

Mr Carter said: “When Elephants Fight helped us to get established as a film-production company.

“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.”

The company’s second project, authored by Mr Yaqueen, is film and campaign on modern slavery, being produced under the working title of ABOLISH.

Wishing Step is again working with Ms Wright and verse.com to produce interactive media to support an app which will allow consumers scan bar codes on products to avoid buying goods made by slave labour.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority also welcomed the new business to Bermuda.

Bill Hanbury, CEO of the BTA, said: “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.

“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.”