In 2016 Fiji experienced a record year for production, with 56 projects electing to shoot on the Pacific island, eight of which took advantage of the unrivalled 47% tax rebate available to film, TV and commercials producers.
These included CBS’s Survivor series, which returned to Fiji to film its 33rd and 34th seasons, having previously shot there in 2007. Production was temporarily suspended when a tropical cyclone struck the base camp.
Further TV productions included MTV’s Stranded With A Million Dollars and Fox Television’s Kicking And Screaming, a new physical-challenge format programme from Wipeout creator/producer Matt Kunitz.
Features shooting on Fiji include the Indian romantic drama Jaani, about the friendship between a taxi driver and his passenger. Their road trip showcases a variety of locations across the north and south-west Fiji mainland.
Fiji offers a 47% tax rebate on qualifying TV, commercials and feature films. It is capped at $13.5m (fj$28.2m). The scheme came into effect in 2011 and is administered by Film Fiji. The incentives also extend to productions that shoot only part of their script in Fiji, provided they meet minimum qualifying expenditure of $119,000 (fj$250,000).
In addition to the rebate, Fiji offers a refund of value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services purchased in the country, waiver of customs duty and bond for filming gear and waivers or discounts of taxes payable by foreign crews.
Full details on financial incentives in Fiji: Film Fiji
Infrastructure and crews
There is a growing pool of local talent fluent in English and Hindi. Senior crew and heads of department can be sourced from nearby Australia and New Zealand. There are no soundstages or post-production facilities in Fiji, and heavy camera and lighting rigs need to be shipped from New Zealand (Auckland is a three-hour flight away) or Australia (Brisbane and Sydney are three and four hours away).
Fiji is an archipelago of more than 330 islands but the majority of the productions shoot on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. With infrastructure close by and good roads with reliable ground, water and air transportation, crews can travel between locations in a relatively short time. International flights depart daily. European travellers connect to Nadi International Airport via Hong Kong or Seoul, for flight times of 24 hours. Both Qantas and Fiji Airways fly direct to Nadi from Los Angeles (11 hours). Some filmmakers stay at hotel chains including Sheraton, InterContinental, Novotel, Westin and Holiday Inn. Others stay at hotels that are closest to their shooting locations. These sometimes include island resorts.
Jeff Probst, producer, Survivor, says:
“With the falling US dollar and the cost of going to foreign countries, it’s getting harder and harder for us to find spots, so when we find a place like Fiji, we immediately say, ‘Can we come back next year? Because we found the most beautiful place in the world.’”
First person to call
Zaheer M Hasaan, manager, marketing and public relations, Film Fiji
Need to know
- DO take advantage of the thriving tourism industry on days off: snorkel over shallow reefs or trek in the tropical rainforests.
- DO remember you are shooting in the tropics. Pack plenty of sunscreen.
- DON’T worry about connectivity on the main islands. The Southern Cross Cable landfalls in Suva so internet is reliable.
- DON’T forget 110 of Fiji’s islands are uninhabited and consist of virgin jungle.