Dominican Republic (DR) occupies part of the second largest island in the Caribbean, sharing the land mass of Hispaniola with Haiti to its west. Boasting sites with tropical flora and fauna, a huge horizon water tank with blue-screen capabilities and location stand‑ins for anywhere in Latin America, DR enjoys a reputation among filmmakers for efficiency, growing crew skillsets and a can-do attitude.
DR is building on a hugely successful 2021 as the bio-diverse country — home to breathtaking beaches, jungles, mountains, deserts, rainforest, savannah, highlands and Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain — hosted record levels of production. “It’s safe and easy to film in paradise,” notes the Dominican Republic Film Commission’s Marianna Vargas Gurilieva.
The country also has a number of historical Spanish landmarks that can be used as locations, such as the gothic cathedral Primada de America, which dates back five centuries and stands tall in the Zona Colonial district of capital city Santo Domingo.
Local producers are responsible for co-ordinating all measures necessary for international entry and departure of foreign members of film and TV crews, in line with the general guidelines of DR’s ministry of public health regarding international travel amid the pandemic.
The country hosted Paramount Pictures’ The Lost City, starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, for its entire shoot (bar two days in Los Angeles), which took place from May to August 2021.
Executive producer Jonathan Hook says shooting such a big Hollywood movie in DR was challenging but he would not hesitate to return. “Even though DR has been hosting international films over the past several years, Lost City was the biggest, most complex it’s dealt with. We did it all, [including] beaches, jungles, waterfalls, helicopters, boat units and large, complex stage builds and rigs. The DR kept up with us and was a critical part of our success.”
Other productions to have filmed recently in the territory include Amazon-backed exploration drama Boundless, about 16th-century adventurers Juan Sebastian Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan and their epic voyage around the world; Lionsgate’s Shotgun Wedding, directed by Jason Moore; and shark survival thriller The Black Demon, directed by Adrian Grünberg. Meanwhile Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Lord Miller Productions shot Los Frikis, a film is based on the true story of punk-rock teenagers in Havana who deliberately inject themselves with HIV to escape the oppression of ‘special period’ Cuba.
Lantica Media provides studio facilities and film production services. It operates Lantica Production Services and Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, a 43-acre site with state-of-the-art soundstages, production support services and access to a host of tropical locations. “We’ve seen a surge in the number of local crew members and incredible growth in companies and small and medium vendors that serve the industry, like catering, transport, health and safety, and equipment companies,” says Lantica Media’s marketing and communications manager Maria Valentina Avellaneda. Lantica also operates Art 3+4, financing and producing original content for Spanish-language audiences on the island.
Of the 101 productions shot in DR in 2021, 49 were overseas and 52 local projects, with foreign production spend rising to more than $200m. “A new record for the country,” notes Avellaneda.
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the Caribbean, the country is home to beautiful beaches as well as jungles, mountains, deserts and other eye-catching locations including rainforest, savannah, highlands and Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. Capital city Santo Domingo has myriad Spanish landmarks including the Gothic cathedral Primada de America, which dates back five centuries in its Zona Colonial district (old town).
The island is home to Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, which houses three sizeable soundstages and a 60,500 square feet horizon water tank with blue-screen capabilities. The studio is a 30-minute drive from Las Americas International Airport, near Santo Domingo. There are plenty of nearby places to stay.
The metro area of capital Santo Domingo is a 15-minute drive from the airport. There are direct flights from the US, while the frequency of flights from Europe continues to recover post-pandemic.
Click here to see selected production service companies in Dominican Republic.
Click here to see the filming guide for Dominican Republic.
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