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Caribbean Caper

Apart from a vastly changing terrain every few kilometers, the Dominican Republic is the ideal choice for film shoots due to whopping financial incentives

Much more than beach resorts, the Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries. It has everything, ranging from stunning mountain scenery to desert scrublands, not to mention evocative colonial architecture and warm and welcoming people.

The Dominican Republic offers an impressive variety of locations. Natural looks of interest include black and white beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, forests, river valleys, tropical waterfalls and sugarcane plantations.

Santo Domingo is the Dominican Republic’s vibrant capital and main production service centre. It is most interesting for Spanish colonial looks such as those found in the old town, Zona Colonial. American productions such as The Lost City have filmed in Santo Domingo to replicate Old Havana. Other locations of interest include the colossal Columbus Lighthouse and the Quisqueya baseball stadium. The Dominican Republic also has many modern waterfront mansions, resorts, golf courses and marinas to choose from.

The country’s hundreds of miles of coastline – some of it picturesque white-sand beaches shaded by rows of palm trees, other parts lined dramatically with rocky cliffs or backed by windswept dunes or serene mangrove lagoons – define the country. Whether it’s fishing villages where the shoreline is used to moor boats, indulgent tourist playgrounds with aquamarine waters, small towns where the social glue is all-night merengue blasting from modest corner stores, or cities like Santo Domingo, the Caribbean’s largest, the sea is the common denominator, symbolising both limits and escapes.

Beyond the capital, much of the Dominican Republic is distinctly rural: driving in the vast fertile interior, cows and horses graze alongside the roads, tractors plug large fields and trucks and burros loaded down with produce. Further inland, you’ll encounter vistas reminiscent of the European Alps, rivers carving their way through lush jungle and stunning waterfalls, small towns where life revolves around the Parque Central and villages ruled by the sun’s rhythms. Four of the five highest peaks in the Caribbean rise above the fertile lowlands surrounding Santiago and remote deserts extend through the southwest, giving the Dominican Republic a physical and cultural complexity not found on other islands.

The country’s roller-coaster past, a history of migrations of various peoples, is writ large in the diversity of ethnicities, not to mention the physical design of its towns and cities. Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial exudes romance with white-washed and pastel-colored buildings, flowers blooming through wrought-iron filigree, beautifully restored monasteries and cobblestone streets where conquistadors once roamed. The crumbling gingerbread homes of Puerto Plata and Santiago remain from more prosperous eras, and scars from decades of misrule are marked by monuments.

Climate

The Dominican Republic has a hot, tropical climate. Coastal areas are warmer than the mountainous central regions. The hot, rainy season runs from May to October, although there are still plenty of dry, sunny days during this period. The cool, dry season runs from November to April and is the best time to film for weather.

The annual average temperature is 25°C. At higher elevations, the temperature averages 18°C while near sea level the average temperature is 28°C. Low temperatures of 0°C are possible in the mountains while high temperatures of 40°C are possible in protected valleys. January and February are the coolest months of the year, while August is the hottest month.

Tax Incentive Schemes

The Dominican Republic has taken many steps to turn the country into a destination for filming, taking advantage of the great diversity of its beautiful locations, while promoting the film industry in the country.

Foreign Producers: 25 per cent transferable tax credit on expenses incurred in the Dominican Republic, for production of feature films, mini-series and television movies with a minimum expenditure of US $5,00,000.

Exemption from 16 per cent tax transfer of industrialised goods and services (ITBIS): This applies to goods and services with pre-production, production and post-production of films and audio-visual and temporary importation of equipment and goods. With the Single Filming Permit issued by the Directorate General of Cinema (DGCINE), the goods may be imported into the country temporarily until a period of six months, extendable, equipment and consumables or otherwise, necessary for filming, provided they are exported by the end of the term.

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