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Dominican Republic: Impending studio facil, tax break prove magnets

American Film Market 2012: Global Loctions - South America

Filmmakers are chomping at the bit for the Pinewood Indomina Studios in the Dominican Republic to open. Set on 35 acres, phase one of this massive, state-of-the-art film and TV facility and its 55,000 sq. ft. beachfront water tank are slated to open in a few months.

Meanwhile, some international pics have already been shooting in this tiny Caribbean nation, spurred by the 2011 introduction of a 25% transferable tax credit on all above- and below-the-line eligible expenditure. This applies to both local and foreign film and TV productions spending a minimum of $500,000 on qualified production expenditure such as equipment, services and labor as well as the above-the-line costs. These are also exempted from Value Added Tax and custom duties.

The Dominican Republic established a film commission, led by Ellis Perez, soon after passing the cinema law and its tax incentives.

New vendors have sprung up in anticipation of Pinewood Indomina Studios’ opening. “We’ve been able to take advantage of these new services,” says original “Cabin Fever” producer Evan Astrowsky of Hypotenuse Pictures. Astrowsky is producing two installments for Indomina’s “Cabin Fever” reboot: “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” and “Cabin Fever: Outbreak.”

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Both pics are currently shooting back-to-back in the capital of Santo Domingo and in Samana, located in the northern part of DR.

“The long-term vision (for the DR’s audiovisual industry) is in place so people want to be part of it,” says Astrowsky.

Last year, DR stood in for Ecuador in the first foreign pic to use the new tax credit, “The Truth” with Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.

Local pic production has surged, contributing to a growing pool of talent and crews essential for a vibrant film industry.

According to Perez, some 10 Dominican pics are shooting this year, a dramatic uptick from the past 28 years when the annual average output was three to four pics.

So proud is DR of its world-class studio that its six-year-old global film festival (running Nov. 14-21), founded by former DR prexy Leonel Fernandez’ FUNGLODE foundation, is arranging visits to Pinewood Indomina as part of its program.

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