U.S. Virgin Islands

While the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t offer conventional tax incentives, the film office provides support on a case-by-case basis, which often equates to a generous subsidy or incentive package that’s competitive with incentives offered by other destinations.

It’s “much like a producer’s offset,” says Steve Bornn, development manager. There’s no sales tax and productions receive special exemption from excise taxes, duty and bonds on importation of equipment and accessories.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn,” season 27 of MTV’s “The Real World” and Subway commercials have all taken advantage of the islands’ diverse locations. Upcoming productions include ABC’s “The Bachelor” and the “Percy Jackson” sequel.

Other advantages: experienced film crews, services and equipment, plus the convenience of U.S. currency.

“Why leave America to film in the Caribbean,” Bornn says. “We’re the only location in the West Indies where the American flag is flown, the official language is English, no passports are required for U.S. citizens — and we have great weather.”

Contact:Steve Bornn, steve@bornn.net

Puerto Rico

When upcoming crime thriller “Runner, Runner” (starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck), Showtime’s “The Big C,” USA’s “White Collar,” BBC’s “Treasure Island” and “Q’Viva !” (the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony show) needed exotic locations, they headed straight for Puerto Rico.

In their journey to that island they joined a long list of earlier high-profile productions, ranging from like Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” and the more recent “The Rum Diary,” with Johnny Depp.

Shooting in Puerto Rico offers a lot of advantages. As part of the U.S., it has the same commercial and banking laws and currency, and no trade barriers. It also offers a wide range of locations, from historic old San Juan to beaches and mountains, well developed infrastructure, local talent, and experienced bilingual crews.

In terms of incentives, a new bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. When made into law, the legislation will provide a 20% tax credit on payments made to above-the-line nonresidents, including producers, directors, writers and talent. In order to qualify for the incentive, payments are subject to 20% withholding.

There’s no cap on this tax credit. Addressing another concern of producers, Puerto Rico is now also set to provied hurricane insurance for selected projects, indemnifying productions companies agains direct expenses incurred as a result of hurricane conditions.

Notes film commissioner Mariella Perez: “Last year we made history when we passed a renewed incentives program to attract new productions to the island. Now, with these additions to the program, Puerto Rico has become the most competitive filming destination. Top that with a wide variety of locations, experienced and talented crews, Puerto Rico is now the mecca for moviemaking in the region.”

Perez says she’s also “working hard to bring parts of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5’ and ‘Catching Fire’ to Puerto Rico, and Fox has a series hopefully to begin shooting soon.”

Contact: mariella.perez@puertoricofilm.pr.gov

British Virgin Islands

Film commissioner Rhodni Skelton says the British Virgin Islands “have carved out a niche market with smaller productions” such as commercials, docus, shorts and fashion and culinary shoots.

Clients traveling to the islands have included Gillette, Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. Harrods Magazine, Germany’s Blue Planet TV and TLC reality show “Little People, Big World” recently shot there.

“All of these productions gave the BVI great exposure in the European and American markets without too much hoop-la,” says Skelton.

Even though the country offers no official incentives, the government says it works with individual productions to see how it can best satisfy the producers.

“In the BVI, everyone is family,” Skelton says. “We prefer to establish relationship with brands, producers and locations scouts that we can develop for years to come. We have facilitated larger-scale productions and welcome them. However, we are very focused on our target market.”

The islands annually host about 40 productions, with two reality pilots shooting this year, several musicvideos and one underwater documentary.

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Dominican Republic

Long a popular vacation destination, the Dominican Republic is fast becoming a popular production choice as well, thanks to its tropical scenery and competitive tax breaks.

It offers a 25% transferable tax credit on all above- and below-the-line-eligible expenditures for feature films, telepics, musicvideos, miniseries and TV series with a minimum spend of $500,000 — and there is no cap.

Other perks: The country eliminates the 16% value-added tax on eligible production-related expenditures and is temporarily allowing the duty-free imporation of production-related goods and equipment.

Recent productions include: “The Truth” with Andy Garcia, shot in December, and the first film to take advantage of the fiscal incentives; French film “Affaires etrangeres Cuba,” shot in January; season 22 of “Road Rules Challenge” for MTV; season two of “Love in the Wild” for NBC; and episodes of E!’s “Keeping up With the Kardashians,” which shot last March in Casa de Campo.

Upcoming productions include “Cabin Fever 3” and South Korean production “Way Back Home.”

“We have come some way in a year’s time,” says film commissioner Ellis Perez. “For the last 25 years we have been filming an average of two to three films per year. In 2012 we had projected 12 to 15. At present, we are on course to fulfilling that objective with Canadian, American, French, Spanish and Dominican films.”

Plus, the country’s new Indomina/Pinewood Studios complex is building a large water tank, which should be ready in September, and its first soundstage, set to open in January. Predicts Perez: “Next year should be a phenomenal year for filming in the Dominican Republic.”

Contact: e.perez@dgcine.gob.do

Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, the serene, most southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles chain, offer photogenic beaches, a laid-back atmosphere and a highly competitive financial incentive of up to 35% cash back for on-location filming.

Carla Foderingham of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Co. notes that reliably good weather is another attraction as Trinidad and Tobago are outside the hurricane belt. Plus, the country offers a range of diverse locations.

Trinidad and Tobago, the serene, most southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles chain, offer photogenic beaches, a laid-back atmosphere and a highly competitive financial incentive of up to 35% cash back for on-location filming.

Trinidad and Tobago Film Co. also provides full support services alo
ng with a 35% cash rebate; liaison with government ministries, agencies and other organizations; coordination of film permits; networking with the customs and excise department to allow for the temporary/duty-free importation of film and TV equipment; information on hotels, transportation and locations.

The islands have recently hosted a broad range of productions, including the music video for the Nicki Minaj single “Pound the Alarm” for Los Angeles-based London Alley Entertainment, and the TV series “House Hunters International” for Leopard Films, both of which shot in June. Canada’s Hungry Eyes Film and Television shot “Home Again,” a drama starring “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” alum Tatyana Ali, and Pilgrims Films Intl. shot Syfy series “Ghost Hunters International.”

According to Foderingham, upcoming productions include “three major feature films from Los Angeles.”

“The 35% cash rebate allows Trinidad and Tobago to be competitive internationally and signals they’re serious about attracting bigger productions and producers looking to get a bang for their buck,” says producer G. Anthony Joseph, president of L.A.-based Tritan-Northstar Entertainment. “The rebate makes our job easier in demonstrating to investors the viability of shooting there and (validating) the soundness of their investment. Having successfully gone through the rebate process twice, we know that it works.” Tritan-Northstar is in pre-production for its next film, “Trafico.”

Contact: info@trinidadandtobagofilmcompany.com

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