Exclusive: Military thriller Once a Pilgrim films in the Dominican Republic

The feature is the latest project to film in the Caribbean country, a well-established international production hub 

By Nia Daniels 27 Aug 2021

Exclusive: Military thriller Once a Pilgrim films in the Dominican Republic

Exclusive: Once A Pilgrim, a film based on the true story of an emergency evacuation in Sierra Leone, is to shoot in the Dominican Republic

The feature is based on the book by former SAS soldier Will Scully, which recounts the real-life events of May 1997 when Scully and his regiment (known as the ‘Pilgrims’) were caught up in a military coup in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The action centred on the Mammy Yoko Hotel, where around 50 Nigerian soldiers were defending more than 1000 foreign nationals who had taken refuge there from hundreds of rebels, following the downfall of the Freetown government.

Scully’s book details his major involvement in the ensuing battle and the subsequent evacuation. Scully went on to receive the Queen’s Gallantry Medal the following year. 

Once A Pilgrim is from LA-based Canyon Creek Films and producer Simon Brooks. Paul Katis directs from a screenplay by Bryan Bagby. 

The Dominican Republic has long been an established international production hub, often doubling for other locales, as with Once A Pilgrim.

It has a state-of-the-art filming hub in the 43-acre Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, which has an eight-acre water facility, and actor Vin Diesel has plans to build another studio in Puerto Plata, in the north of the country. 

There is also a 25% transferable tax credit on offer; other recent/current productions to utilise the Caribbean island include Old, Boundless and The Lost City of D. 


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