Puerto Rico’s film commissioner Mariella Perez Serrano was abruptly ousted this week and replaced with Carlos Amy, deputy secretary of Puerto Rico’s Dept. of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC) since 2009.
The reasons behind her ouster are unclear, but according to DDEC secretary Jose Perez-Riera, the film commission’s board of directors decided to “make a leadership change” after evaluating Perez Serrano’s performance. Reports that Perez Serrano prematurely announced that Disney had chosen to shoot the fifth installment of its “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise in Puerto Rico in November had “entered into the equation,” Perez-Riera admitted. Perez Serrano declined to comment.
Unit production manager Ellen Gordon, who worked on “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” when it shot in Puerto Rico for three days, said “It’s (a local) election year, so people have agendas.”
“(Her ouster) was a surprise for everyone, ” said UPM Rosi Acosta.
A spokesperson for the film franchise’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, said the project is still in script stage so it is too soon to say where it will shoot.
“Carlos Amy has been instrumental in promoting the island’s film incentives and in supporting the creation of the Cluster’s 2022 strategic plan,” said Antonio Sifre, prexy of production advisory services of Puerto Rico and co-chairman of the Puerto Rico Film Industry Cluster. “He now faces the additional challenge of working with the local filmmakers and managing the film fund,” he said.
Puerto Rico’s film law has expanded the existing 40% tax credit on local expenses incurred by film and TV projects to encompass commercials, musicvideos, live performances and nonfiction TV programs. A recent amendment also extended a 20% production tax credit to all non- resident above-the-line spending, including producers, directors, writers and thesps.
The U.S. protectorate has seen an uptick in TV, film and docu shoots since its film law came into effect last year. According to Perez-Riera, the number of shoots on the island jumped from nine in 2010 to 17 in 2011. This year has seen 13 projects so far. The overall budgets of the projects in 2012 are three times higher than those of the previous year, he said.
Previous pics to lense in Puerto Rico include Johnny Depp-toplined “The Rum Diary,” George Clooney starrer “The Men Who Stare at Goats” and “Fast Five.”