Tony Coco-Viloin launches ÉPICES, Guadeloupe’s first film school

Tony Coco-Viloin studied at the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC) in Paris, the International Script School in Miami and at the Lódz School in Poland - Photo: Évelyne Chaville

On December 15, 2020, director Tony Coco-Viloin accompanied trainees from his brand new film school, called ÉPICES (École préparatoire aux Initiatives Cinématographiques), to the Sonis Cultural Centre in Les Abymes. Kariculture met him.

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Eddy Compper (director of Sonis cultural center) and Tony Coco-Viloin (director of film school ÉPICES)

With ÉPICES (École préparatoire aux Initiatives Cinématographiques / Preparatory School for Film Initiatives), Tony Coco-Viloin intends to give new impetus to the world of Guadeloupean cinema. In order to do so, the director did not hesitate to leave his permanent position as project manager at the Regional Council of Guadeloupe in June 2020 to devote himself fully to this new mission he set himself : to provide the archipelago with executives in audiovisual production.

In partnership with Pôle Emploi, a selection of trainee candidates therefore took place at the end of last year. This showed that this professional sector is a great interest among job-seekers since 850 people registered to follow the various training courses offered by the vocational training centre, some of whom do not hesitate to change careers…

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A Passport and a Visa

“At the Pointe-Noire high school, there are people who do technique and practice, what Guadeloupe suffers from is : who is going to lead these people? Because we always have to wait for people from outside to lead us (…)”, said Tony Coco-Viloin. And he added, speaking of these trainees : “they will be able to write the scores at the end of the studies by becoming film critics, screenwriters, scriptwriters, administrators, which will generate productivity”.

Until the end of February, ÉPICES is welcoming 5 groups of 12 trainees who are preparing a “Passport, Discovering the Film and Audiovisual Jobs” in 50 hours of classes. This first level of training aims to prepare the Guadeloupean audiovisual landscape of tomorrow, to contribute to the renewal of the country’s creativity and imagination and to help recruiters (spoken or visual media).

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A team of 72 teachers

Afterwards, these trainees will be able to deepen their knowledge with a “Visa” by following 200 to 800 hours of courses, a second level of training lasting 11 months. 72 teachers were recruited to give classes to the trainees ; “this is the result of 20 years of networking”, said Tony Coco-Viloin who would like Eddy Compper to join his teaching team as well.

The director of the Sonis Cultural Centre, located in the town of Les Abymes and within the perimeter of the Cap Excellence urban community, is not opposed to the idea. In the meantime, these future executives came to discover the Centre’s premises on 15 December last year with their director. They were welcomed in “Le Bwa Fouyé” performance hall, transformed since the Covid crisis into a meeting room and, for almost an hour, Eddy Compper explained to them the missions of the cultural structure and what he calls “the Sonis spirit” to which, he said, the whole team working there adhered.

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Caribbean cooperation and Guadeloupean collaboration

During this presentation, the importance of networking in the Caribbean and Africa was highlighted by Eddy Compper who was in Angola three months ago and by Tony Coco-Viloin. The director announced to his students that his school will soon be in charge of preparing a programme on cinema in French and Creole, in collaboration with Dion Henderson. The son of Dominican singer Gordon Henderson is the current director of the Alliance Française in Dominica and he hosts a programme on the 7th art on a radio station on the neighbouring island. This presentation was followed by a question and answer session.

It should be noted that before settling in the town of Le Moule, ÉPICE was located in the former Rex cinema in Pointe-à-Pitre, where project leaders are now working on projects in jobs also related to cinema. “We were there at the beginning. We were “the first film school in a cinema room”. Now, Rex is more of a technical centre that they want to develop for animation, special effects etc. We all get along well and we will work together”, said Tony Coco-Viloin.

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Sonis cultural center

Important support

Among its financial partners, the training organization includes, for the moment, the Pôle Emploi Guadeloupe and Canal Plus ; in addition to Le Moule, which hosts the centre, other local authorities such as Basse-Terre and Le Lamentin are interested in this training project in the film industry.

ÉPICES also has significant support on its board of directors, such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF), Femis and the Université des Antilles.

Tony Coco-Viloin who studied at the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC) in Paris, the International Script School in Miami, at the Lódz School in Poland, who is an academic from Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence and a teacher at the Fine Arts in Martinique is sure to take on the new challenge of his career.

“We’re going to succeed (…) 20 years ago, I ran a film school in Marseilles. My students who took classes, who already have children, are already testifying to what has been done (…)”, he concluded.

In order to promote itself, ÉPICES is organizing an inaugural seminar from January 9 to 16 under the theme: “Image education: current situation and prospects in Guadeloupe and the Caribbean”. The patron of the first film school in Guadeloupe, Burkinabé filmmaker and director of the Imagine Institute, Gaston Kaboré, was represented on Saturday, January 9 by the director of teachings, Toussaint Zongo.