June 9, 2022
The DR film industry invested US$248 million in 2021 in local productions and contributed 133,000 hotel room nights.
Businessman Felipe Vicini, managing partner of the INICIA Group, considered that the Dominican Republic is consolidating itself as a viable destination in the film industry, by leveraging the pandemic situation.
The owner of Pinewood Indomina, the main film production studio in the country, located in Juan Dolio, indicated that in 2021, US$248 million were invested in film productions that took place in Dominican locations. Also, 133 thousand hotel room nights were booked for the industry’s personnel.
On highlighting this industry’s growth and consolidation, thanks to the Film Law, he praised the improvement of local personnel, which has allowed productions from Hollywood to increasingly require fewer foreign personnel and to use local equipment and labor, with very good results.
The president of Lantica Media RD -majority shareholder of the film production company- said that the country’s positioning, the investment made and the quality of the work have been excellent.
Businessman Felipe Vicini asked investors in the country to create more hotels and more rooms in the Juan Dolio area, without preventing the growth of Bávaro-Punta Cana.
“We need more hotels and rooms in Juan Dolio, with no intention of taking credit away from Punta Cana, but we need more investment, more accommodations, so I hope that investors will be encouraged and build more rooms there,” he said.
He indicated that those who come to film in the country are interested in not having to travel so far, so the approach is to have new models or investments that work by emphasizing that the uncertainty of the pandemic provided the opportunity for the country to be chosen as a destination.
The businessman mentioned that his family’s investments are in sports teams and in traditional media. However, his major assets are in the area of infrastructure.
He said that Pinewood Studios in Juan Dolio was created as a result of the interest of President Leonel Fernández, an ally of the film industry, and that it represents an important investment that marks a new stage in filmmaking in the Dominican Republic.
He pointed out that in 1970, in Havana, Cuba, the shooting of the movie The Godfather II encouraged filming in our country, but the local industry was very informal, with empirical personnel, there was no legal framework, but over the last decade, local production has been encouraged by the film law, thus attracting large production companies to shoot in the Dominican Republic.
In Vicini’s opinion, as a result of the international expansion phases, important firms have decided to invest, “but the most important thing is that due to our distinguishing characteristics, the greatest value is our people; we have skilled technicians, excellent beaches, mountains, deserts and jungles, where all kinds of films can be shot.”
He pointed out that the construction of the 75 x 75 Polycin Tank (Infinity Pool), which fits four and a half pools, being the only one of its kind, where it is possible to shoot another part of the Titanic – “that makes us unique”.
Businessman Felipe Vicini indicated that from January 2020 to 2022, due to the post Covid-19 crisis, a production level of barely 40 percent was achieved in the studios; three Neflix productions were cancelled due to what happened on March 17, 2020, when everything was officially shut down.
Since the studios in Hollywood, Atlanta and others were being shut down, the search for destinations began, which favored the Dominican Republic.
He indicated that during the first four months of the pandemic, the audience, having to stay at home, devoted their time to watch TV series including those that were popular when they were children.
He explained that the American unions in August 2020 identified our country as the first destination that opened up to the world for filming during the pandemic, thereby creating a health protocol of three concentric circles.
He also mentioned that tests and payments to laboratories were initiated and three hotels in Bávaro were opened to accommodate the actors.
He also recalled that three million dollars were invested directly in Samaná, which prompted the senator of that province to point out that the film industry saved the area, which would have disappeared.
The businessman emphasized that in spite of the fact that occupancy increased during the 2020-21 period, no actor was infected.
He explained that major productions such as “Lost City”, shot entirely in Samaná and “Weerend”, in Punta Cana, and the significant increase in occupancy, contributed to us having a great year.
He noted that since the beginning of Pinewood, the technical personnel and crew have been specializing and for the upcoming productions, they themselves indicate that they do not need to bring in crew or equipment, due to the progress we have made here.
“Each time a production company comes to the country, the number of crew members that they bring is less and less. They come to film a movie from Holywood and they tell us that the people who do underwater filming are just as qualified as we are,” he said.
Vicini stated that we are creating a number of well-paid direct jobs, and that the film law allowed for the registration of many people who did not have taxpayer identification documents. “When we talk about incentives, the collector gets nervous, but it has helped people to become tax compliant,” he stressed.
He emphasized that Article 34 of the law is intended to promote the national industry so that major productions are created. “50% of producers are all foreigners, those covered by Art. 34 are Dominicans who are given good exemptions, which keeps the industry busy in periods when there are no major productions.”
He recalled that prior to the Film Law, only two or three entirely Dominican productions were made each year, but in 2021, 40 were made by Dominican producers, “and the most important thing is that we are developing an industry”.
The influential businessman spoke to LISTIN DIARIO, after participating in a presentation on the subject at the closing of the Fifth Ibero-American Congress of CEAPI, which was held at the Punta Cana Resort and Club, with the attendance of 190 representatives of leading business families from both continents, hosted by businessmen Frank and Frank Elías Rainieri.
+ A San Sebastian
In Vicini’s opinion, work should continue to create the conditions for a film festival in the country, emulating that of San Sebastian, Spain.
He also noted that at Cannes, the DR Film Commission presented 35 films to the attending markets for distribution and viewing, as did the Spanish market.
Projects. The INICIA managing partner said that new films will be shot by October of this year 2022: “We will have more of these investments, with promising results for the film industry”.
He mentioned that the film industry is a cross-cutting industry, since it promotes tourism in the country. He cited as an example the series about the end of slavery in Jamaica, which was filmed in our country and was believed to have been shot there, as well as Hawaii-5-0, in 1967, what Miami Vice was for Miami and the possibility of expanding further.