Dominican Republic

Zorro, in the form of Gael Garcia Bernal, will swashbuckle across the Dominican Republic (DR) this year in 20th Century Fox’s Z. Written and directed by Jonas Cuaron, the film will shoot at the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios in late 2017, with local production support from Sobini Films and Lantica Pictures. The latter’s parent company Lantica Media is the majority owner of the studios in partnership with the Pinewood Group.

Pinewood opened in the DR in 2013 and offers 53,000 sq ft of sound-stage space and a 60,000 sq ft horizon water tank, unique to the region, as part of its state-of-the-art facilities. The studio and a tax credit initiative launched in 2011 have put the island on the film map: 106 films were shot there between 2011 and 2015, compared with only 101 in the preceding 89 years.

Paramount and Huahua Media’s xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage has shot in the DR, as has Netflix’s True Memoirs Of An International Assassin starring Kevin James and Andy Garcia. Vortex Pictures’ A Dark Truth was the first international feature to take advantage of the tax credit in 2013.

The Lowdown

Financial incentives

Dominican Republic offers a 25% transferable tax credit on all above and below-the-line eligible expenditures for foreign shoots, with a minimum spend locally of $500,000 and no cap. International productions registered with Dominican Republic Film Commission are also temporarily exempted (for the time of production) from customs duties and the country’s 18% value-added tax for bringing in equipment and other production-related expenditures. These include the cost of pre-production development; the construction and operation of scene stages; costume purchases or rental; editing, graphics, visual effects, animation, music and other post-production service costs; and costs for film processing, format transfer and related services.

Full details on financial incentives in Dominican Republic: Dominican Republic Film Commission

Infrastructure and crews

The film commission and Pinewood both offer production services including logistics and budgeting, equipment, casting support, location services and travel services for visiting crews. Lantica Media also co-produces and co-finances content. To date, most international productions have brought in heads of department and some key crew. Pinewood works with bilingual crews and has an English-speaking diving crew. The equipment rental sector is small but well stocked.

Size matters

“We have mountains, jungles, deserts, clearly the coast and water, waterfalls and colonial towns,” notes Fred Medina, COO of Lantica Media. The DR is a two-hour flight to Miami and has eight international airports and daily flights to and from the US and Europe. The DR, which shares a land mass with Haiti, can be crossed from north to south in four hours by car; eight hours from east to west. Pinewood is located about 40 miles outside capital Santo Domingo.

Jack Murray, co-producer, True Memoirs Of An International Assassin, says:

“We had a very good experience. We shot half the film in Atlanta and about half in the Dominican Republic. It was the combination of the tropical look and an incentive that enticed us there.”

Would he come back?

“Sure. I found the Dominican people and filmmaking community to be genuine, embracing and enthusiastic.”

First person to call

Yvette Marichal, Dominican Republic Film Commission
Tel: +1 809 687 2166

Need to know

  • DO make use of an agreement that fosters the quick and legal movement of crew and equipment to and from Puerto>
  • DO plan ahead to co-ordinate shipping of equipment and apply for shooting permits.
  • DO hire a local fixer with connections in this small country and industry.
  • DON’T pack a coat. Temperatures average 77°f (25°c) year-round.
  • DON’T overlook the many experienced Dominicans living in the US, especially Miami.