Projects pursue exotic island locations
Diverse group of projects
Chameleon territory steps in for locations around the world When George Clooney starrer “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and Steven Soderbergh’s epic “Che” needed, respectively, Iraqi and South American locations, they made a beeline for Puerto Rico. In so doing they joined a long list of high-profile productions that have filmed on the island — ranging from Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” to Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact.” “Our locations can look like any in the world and any time in history,” film commissioner Mariella Perez Serrano notes. “We have been Africa, Vietnam, the Middle East, Spain, even Hawaii and Florida.” As a territory of the U.S., Puerto Rico has American commercial and banking laws, the same currency and no trade barriers with the mainland. It also offers a wide range of locations, from historic old San Juan to beaches and mountains, first-class production infrastructure and talent, and experienced bilingual crews. Soundstages are a priority for the government right now, reports Serrano, and the film commission is working on an aggressive plan to begin building more by 2011. In addition, Puerto Rico offers a 40% transferable tax credit calculated on payments made to Puerto Rico residents or entities, making it a major film destination, especially for series, miniseries, feature films and Latin soap operas. Recent productions using the rebate include “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp, “Stone of Dreams” for the Disney Channel and “Meant to Be,” a Belgium Production for Corsan Entertainment. Currently in pre-production are HBO’s “Eastbound and Down,” ABC’s “Off the Map” pilot and USA’s “Royal Pains.” Universal just scouted locations for the next “Fast and Furious” movie. Accommodations on the island include well known hotels and resorts such as Caribe Hilton, La Concha, the Ritz Carlton, El Convento, El Conquistador, Paradisus, Bah215B>¬ Beach Resort. Restaurants include Budatai, Il Perugino, The Parrot Club, Aquaviva, Dragonfly, Picayo, Chayote and Compostela. FIJI
Beaches, rain forests and tropical paradise lure productions from around the globe Ever since “The Blue Lagoon” — the first version, back in 1949 — was filmed on location in Fiji, Hollywood has been coming back for the beaches, coral reefs, rainforests and South Pacific flora and fauna spread across some 330 islands. “Cast Away,” “Boot Camp,” and “Return to the Blue Lagoon” all shot in Fiji, as well as such TV fare as “Survivor: Fiji” and “The Blue Planet.” Fiji offers a competitive 35% tax rebate, which helped attract 19 productions in 2009, generating several million dollars of new economic activity and providing employment opportunities to many locals. Productions included television commercials, documentaries, short films, and a couple of firsts for Fiji: a Korean feature film, “The Honeymoon,” which was shot in Nadi and Labasa, and a Bollywood film, “Pump Up the Mandali.” Per Florence Swamy, acting chief exec of the Fiji Audio Visual Commission, this year is likely to see an increase in the number of productions, and discussions are underway with producers of 20 Hollywood films, eight Bollywood projects and two local productions. The government-run commish also offers filmmakers a production guide and access to local location managers, and licenses two temporary studio city zones. Fiji boasts a wide selection of hotels and resorts, ranging from the Maravu resort and Coconut Grove Beachfront Cottages in Taveuni, to Smugglers Cove Resort and Club Fiji Resort in Nadi, close to the international airport. Denaura, an island linked to Nadi by a small causeway, is home to several international chains – Sofitel, Sheraton, Radisson, Hilton. The capital, Suva, offers the largest number of hotels, from the Tanoa Plaza to a Holiday Inn, as well as the greatest concentration of restaurants, including The Malt House Brewery & Restaurant and Old Mill Cottage.