Cookies ūüć™

This site uses cookies that need your permission.

Back to Blog

Location Inspiration: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The Dominican Republic is one of the best kept secrets of the film industry. Within its 48,000 km2 it contains one of the most diverse ranges of microclimates in the world with favorable tropical weather all year long. The country has a tremendous amount to offer in terms of topographic diversity, landscapes and natural resources. Short distances between lush forests, Caribbean blue waters, powdery white beaches and steep mountain ranges enable you to cover these diverse locations within a radius of just a few hours. Combine that with a fast growing industry, an experienced crew base, equipment availability and quality infrastructure, including the soundstages and world-class water tank at Pinewood Studios, the DR is a great place to film.

As a major tourist destination, the Dominican Republic is well connected to most major cities in Europe, North-, Central- and South America, so that collaborators and clients are always just a plane ride away from any coast on the island.

Your production will also be highly cost-efficient. The currency exchange is exceedingly favorable and Euros and US Dollars go a long way in the country.

Additionally, there is a tax credit for feature films and TV series to further incentivize international productions to come to the Dominican Republic.

This country is rich in nature and we know all the secret sites across the island.  There are all types of natural resources such as extensive golden sand beaches surrounded only by palm trees, cliffside beaches, natural springs, vast mountains with crystalline rivers, sand dunes and more. The list goes on and on.

The capital city, Santo Domingo, was the first city founded by European settlers in the New World in 1502. Now known as ‚ÄėThe Colonial City‚Äô the old town of Santo Domingo features beautiful colonial¬†¬†¬†¬† architecture built with brick and wood and sporting indoor patios and tile floors. Due to its architectural importance reflecting Spanish, French and diverse other cultural influences, the Colonial City was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1990.¬†¬†¬†¬†

A spectacular variety of beachfront villas & hotels are spread around the island, each with unique architecture and, landscaping. In the DR there are mansions, high end bungalows and luxury resorts. Altos de Chavón, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village is a  location that enables you to get Mediterranean looks at a much lower cost than in  Europe.      

The Dominican Republic offers a great variety of world-class beaches and tropical scenery,  as well as beachfront villas, luxury resorts, tropical forests, and colonial architecture. In addition to the obvious Caribbean and Hispanic look and feel, there are also Mediterranean and cosmopolitan city type locations.

Our most sought-after location right now is Samaná Bay.  It is a short 2.5-hour ride from Santo Domingo.The peninsula is home to many treasures including the National Park Los Haitises with a magnificent series of rising rock formations and mangrove forests surrounding the bay.  The peninsula also features colorful Samaná City spectacular beaches, and the Salto el Limón waterfall. Eco lodges here can serve as locations and accommodate crew, cast, agency, and clients.

Each region of the island has its perks depending on what your creative requires. Santo Domingo, being the capital city, has crews, vendors, and beautiful beaches, as well as the Pinewood sound stages. Everything is within a 1 hour drive from each other.    

Samaná Bay, on the other side of the island, has multiple diverse landscapes within a 40-minute radius. 

The northern coast of the country, with Puerto Plata and its Victorian architecture, has even more exclusive, luxurious, and secluded villas with private beaches and less inhabited little towns that hold the most beautiful gems.

The east coast around Punta Cana and Bavaro One is one of the most popular areas for visitors and is known for being the area with the most all-inclusive hotels on the island perfect for summer content production all year round.

Climate

The climate of the country is tropical with year-round warm and sunny conditions and a consistent temperature of 25 to 35 degrees  Celsius. Some of the highest peaks of the central mountain region can reach 2 to 5 degrees Celsius during autumn/ winter.

The dry season is from January to June, which is also the hight of  tourist season.The high precipitation from June to November/December offers 1.5 more daylight hours than during the winter and is the low the tourist season. Accommodations are more affordable during this time.

Filming in the Dominican Republic

There are no work permits required to enter the Dominican Republic. A tourist visa costs 10 USD  for a 90-day maximum stay. After this date, there is an additional fee charged depending on the additional length of stay. This is to be paid at the airport upon leaving the country.

Infrastructure for large productions has grown immensely, since the introduction of the law for film incentives in 2010. Since then the DR has been home to massive studio productions like:

  • Old, by director M. Night Shyamalan for Universal.¬†¬†¬†¬†

  • Shotgun Wedding, directed by Jason Moore with Jennifer Lopez and¬† Josh Duhamel for Lionsgate.

  • NYAD by director Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chistarring Annette Bening and Jodie Foster for Netflix.

  • The Killer by David Fincher with Michael Fassbender for Netflix.

This has allowed technical crews to grow and develop their skills by working hand in hand with top-notch professionals from around the world. As a result, the film sector has expanded into asophisticated industry and continues to grow. There is high-end gear available from different vendors, several studios, diverse casting, and an experienced crew all ready to hire.

DOs and DON’Ts

Embrace the culture, meet Dominican people, and get lost along the way. Try to move around the country, and visit small beach towns. There is always a new paradise next door and each region is completely different. I would recommend hiring a driver or using alternative transportation services like Uber or private taxi companies to get around in Santo Domingo. Traffic can be intense. Pack accordingly for the weather: hot, sunny, and humid with a chance of rain…!

The one tip I would give to anyone coming to the Dominican Republic is to have an experienced production partner on the ground.  This is instrumental in the development and success of a production on the island.  Working with a local production expert will give you key insights into processes, permits, and overall local knowledge that will benefit your production in its entirety, allowing  for a smooth and enjoyable journey...

Come film with us…we’ll streamline your production in paradise!

Advantages

  • Currency:
    1 Dollar = 55-58 Dominican pesos (depending on Banks and exchange rates)

  • Film Incentive - Transferable tax credit:

    Productions in the Dominican Republic or foreign cinematographers and audiovisual works in Dominican territory, may benefit from a tax credit equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) of all expenditures incurred in the Dominican Republic. Such credit may be used against the annual Income Tax returns or transferred in favor of another natural or legal person for the same purposes.

    Minimum investment in DR USD 500,000.

    Productions that can apply are fiction and documentary films, TV series & miniseries, as well as music videos.

    This incentive also allows for other benefits such as tax (ITBIS) exemption from service companies directly related to the process of pre-production, production, and post-production.

    Temporary Equipment entry is available.

  • World Class Technicians:

    Top notch technical crew at cost-efficient rates.

  • Withholding tax of 10% for Canada and Spanish citizens:
    Thanks to the special agreement to avoid double taxation with these countries, citizens from Canada and Spain can benefit from a withholding of 10% instead of the foreign standard withholding of 27%.

    I would recommend it 100%..!

    Typical meals in the DR:
    For breakfast, mang√ļ (mashed plantains) with fried eggs and salami.

    A typical lunch meal consists of white rice, red kidney beans, any stewed meat with tostones (fried plantain), avocado, and salad.

Learn more about shooting in Dominican Republic with Belladonna Productions

Pictures: Courtesy of Claudia Moncada