“Some of them does talk the thing,
But I come out here to walk it”
So sings Erphaan Alves in his 2020 song Soca Global where he mentions the heights he hopes to take the genre including to Broadway and the Billboard charts.
Well Soca and other aspects of Carnival may get millions of eyes on it as The Business of Carnival series which highlights the legal and business aspects of Caribbean entertainment and Carnivals has been picked up by the Roku Channel.
“As the first and only web series of its kind, which speaks to the legal and business aspects of the carnival industry in the Caribbean, we are proud to have landed this distribution deal which allows the stories and brands of 19 of our Caribbean carnival entrepreneurs and celebrities based in T&T, Barbados and Los Angeles, Hollywood to be showcased to Roku’s audiences of over 56 million households,” Carla Parris stated.
“I’m particularly happy that the deal was finalised now, during this Carnival season when many of our creatives and entrepreneurs are not able to earn in the ways that they have become accustomed as a result of the pandemic abridged version of Carnival. This exposure has the potential to provide cogent business opportunities for the entrepreneurs featured to ply their trades in foreign markets where carnivals and similar type festivals are held,” she said.
Parris said her hope is also that it will give those in foreign markets, further insight into the business and legal aspects of how our multi-million-dollar industry works and will not only invite more visitors but also business investors to the region.
“I am incredibly grateful to my family, friends, brand partners and production crew who stuck with me all these years and kept encouraging me to pursue the series. Producing and hosting this series together with my team for the past four years has been a bag of mixed emotions, full of many moments of extreme highs and really low lows. On the one hand, the decision to independently produce the series has allowed me for at least three months of the year (December, January, February) to fully embrace my creativity and to infuse my love for storytelling and broadcast media with education but, on the other hand, converting this series which started as a passion project into a monetizable product was extremely challenging,” Parris said.
Parris said in our market, it can be really difficult to sell the idea of a non-traditional intangible product.
“We are accustomed to conventional brick-and-mortar businesses where persons sell physical products, so when I approached potential brand partners over the years with the idea of selling product placements and logo placements into a web series which aired on You Tube with associated short form content on Facebook and Instagram it proved to be a foreign concept to many. They were not willing to invest in what was then a novel idea. The irony is that now that we are in a pandemic and businesses are forced to innovate, some of those very businesses now have their own social media-based series as a means of explaining their products and services,” she said.
“Therefore, to have lived to see the day, where a global streaming platform expressed that they not only loved the quality of our production but understood the concept of an educational talk series which positions our Caribbean creatives as businesspersons with investible commodities, plus offering a revenue generating licensing deal, felt like a dream come true. I’ve always dreamed about playing a role in having our Caribbean voices heard globally,” Parris said.
Parris said she is especially proud of the fact that the core crew inclusive of her sister Lynmerie Parris, director, hairdresser, makeup artist and the various videography producers are all Trinidadian.
The theme song was also produced locally.
“It was also really important to me, to be styled by local and Caribbean designers, thus all of the fashion on each season of the show was sourced from local fashion houses and designers. So often, we are conditioned to believe that we have to go abroad in order to succeed and to create quality film productions. My hope is that our success dispels some of these notions,” she said.
“Arising out of all of this experience that I’ve gained, I would love to host other TV shows, to moderate panels on entrepreneurship, brand development and motivational speaking. On the legal side, my ideal role would be working closely with Caribbean tourism agencies to assist in developing strong national brands and with talent management agencies who are developing talent for global market penetration,” she said.
Parris also gave her thought on the abridged version of Carnival expected to be held here.
“While I understand the limitations of the government and the importance of putting the health of the nation first given that we are in a pandemic, we have to balance this with the need to move forward in a way that buttresses the economic growth of all of the various arms of carnival stakeholders,” she said.
“The pandemic has taught us that technological innovations will now form part of our day to day norms. Last year, many of us in the entertainment industry took part in an experimental lab where event producers, costume designers were paired with software developers to create prototypes for 3D carnival events. I would have loved to have seen attempts made to produce hybrid events in which there are live elements for performing artistes but also infusing exciting technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence into the carnival experience,” Parris said.
Parris said in this way, not only would this country be producing events which satisfy our core need for active engagement but also propelling the brand of T&T’s Carnival into one where next-generation virtual worlds are explored widely.
“Therefore, many of our creatives would earn revenue through Intellectual Property via the licensing of Soca music, photography and other creative elements in these online events,” she said.
She said this would also have a downstream effect on our economy as local animators, software developers and graphic artists would also be hired to collaborate on these projects.
“I find it very interesting that St Vincent & The Grenadines has announced that they may be considering a Meta Verse Carnival. A Meta Verse carnival may be one where users can interact, game and experience things as they would in the real-world events. I am paying close attention as to how that develops since there are many Intellectual Property considerations that will need to be addressed,” she said.