The purpose of this paper is to consider the promotion of the audio-visual industries as a means of development in Jamaica. It does so by exploring the country’s history of state support for film production from 1948, when the first film location policy was issued on the island, until the present. Since the 1940s Jamaica has aimed to evolve into an industrial society and, more recently, into a post-industrial society, based on services. Besides the tourism industry, the film industry has always been part and parcel of this aim. Particularly since the 2000s the importance of the creative industries, to which the film industry belongs, as a development strategy by which Jamaica, like many other small island developing states (SIDS) in the Global South, can revive its economy, has been emphasized in the nation’s policies, politics and the public sphere. However, so far little attention has been given to the making of film location policy in the Global South in general and in SIDS in particular. To fill at least part of this gap, this paper traces the history of policymaking for the audio-visual industries in Jamaica through policy document and newspaper analysis. It is suggested that the island’s audio-visual industries have long served a specific discourse to foster economic growth and diversification, projecting them as a (potential) development strategy to boost the Jamaican tourism industry as well as to reduce the island’s dependency on tourism. This discourse largely dismisses the erratic movements of the international film industry, the structural inequalities of the creative industries, and the specific vulnerabilities of SIDS. Over the past seventy years of film production in Jamaica, government reports and newspaper accounts have persistently promoted and legitimized new policies and practices in the island’s film tourism industry under the guise of national development and progress.
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