THE DARK SIDE OF PRODUCTION IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

As one of the largest and most visited islands in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic offers a wide variety of around 1,000 diverse shooting locations for film, TV and commercials, including tropical forests and stunning beaches. Filming backdrops range from mountainous areas such as Pico Duarte to the island’s largest lake, Lake Enriquillo.

The Dominican Republic provides a range of locations, including the bustling capital Santo Domingo – official title Santo Domingo de Guzman – located on the coast. The city has an old town, known as the Zona Colonial, which has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1990. This area is full of grand 16th century buildings and churches.

There are countless sandy beaches, and plenty of salt lakes and coastal lagoons. Travel and communications are efficient, with a robust administrative network.

It is the leading economy in the Caribbean.

Some of the best known films, although not so recent, to have used the Dominican Republic include The Good Shepherd (2006), directed and produced by Robert De Niro and starring Matt Damon. The island has stood in for Cuba several times in feature films, notably Andy Garcia’s The Lost City in 2005, and Sydney Pollack’s Havana (1990).

But if the Dominican Republic has one major disadvantage, it's a lingering reputation for corruption and instability, and you always have this feeling of people wanting to take advantage of you.

Here's some cases………

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE "HAVANA MOVIE?

Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack were in the Dominican Republic filming "Havana," a romantic thriller set in Cuba in the late '50s. The movie, which also starred Alan Arkin, had a monster $50 million budget, which was 1/12th of the Dominican Republic's gross national product.

Filmmakers cut a deal to shoot on the island with one government official, then when production wrapped, they were presented another less favorable deal by another official.

Also, there was a lot of gear stolen. lenses, light equipment, wardrobe, etc.

For many years, the country was a blacklisted location in Hollywood becuse of this incident.

Dominican Republic former film commissioner, Ellis Perez acknowledges the "Havana" incident, but insists there are now safeguards in place to prevent similar problems.

"I know we are now on test," Perez says. "People are watching us to see whether we are able apply the law correctly and deliver. (But) I expect that we will have an explosion of filmmaking in the Dominican Republic next year."

PARADISE HOTEL REALITY SHOW

Very recently just in 2012, The filming of Paradise Hotel was prematurely terminated in May that year. a Czech-Slovak crew described that they were gun pointed by the local producer, and they had to move the contestants to another location for safety reasons.

The czech's producers did made a huge mistake: they never look, find out or took care on the background of the person they hired in Dominican Republic, and when they finally did…."too late", they got disturbing background information that put the whole case in quite a different light.

Not only was that person NOT REGISTERED at the film commision. That person commited customs and tax fraud against the production. The crew had all the gear and equipment taken at customs wich created a huge problem for them.

WE KEEP SAYING THIS…PLEASE TAKE ADVICE!!!

If you don’t have the proper documents, all your gear and equipment is gonna be detained and taken away from you at customs. After that, you will have to pay a huge fine and of course, expending more than 5 days to take the equipment out.

There have been many cases involving major production companies getting all their gear and equipment retained at customs for not having the corresponding permits and documents. Also, for not having a local producer registered at the Film Commision.

A lot of cases can be found on the internet regarding frauds made by UNREGISTERED LOCAL PRODUCERS OR INDIVIDUALS CLAIMING TO BE FILM COMMISION AGENTS.

Any person that claims to be an “AMERICAN OR EUROPEAN COMPANY IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC” and because of that they don’t need permits either from CUSTOMS OR THE FILM COMMISION is SCAMMING YOU.

So, REMEMBER: Keep yourself in a legal and safe enviroment while working in Dominican Republic.

You can find more about this and other cases on google.

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

Sydney Pollack hoped to film in Havana. However, U.S. law would not allow the producers to spend any U.S. dollars in Cuba, U.S. citizens could not legally enter Cuba, and relations between the U.S. and Cuba in 1989 were not conducive to filming an American motion picture in Havana.

It was decided to make the entire film in the Dominican Republic. The vegetation was the same, and Santo Domingo offered certain architectural similarities, though not a wide boulevard like Havana's famous Prado (Paseo de Marti). The end scene was filmed in Key West, Florida.

The film's main set, called "The Big Set", was a quarter-mile long street surrounded by facades representing casinos, restaurants and hotels.

Interior scenes were shot in replicated casino floors, room suites and cafes. The Prado was replicated by the producers at a former air base in the Dominican Republic. To replicate the Prado, a team of about 300 tradesmen was used over 80 neon signs which needed to be made in the U.S. and shipped to the Dominican Republic. It took 20 weeks to construct "The Big Set".

Costume designer Bernie Pollock had to outfit 2,000 extras with costumes, and needed 8000–10,000 costumes for frequent changes during different scenes of the film. Besides 1950s period clothing, there were large numbers of hats, accessories, jewelry, gloves, along with 1950s Cuban military uniforms.

The wardrobe items were brought in from both Los Angeles and England.