The Dominican Republic Needs to Creative Incentives to Attract International Filmmakers, Generate Reserves
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, November 11th, 2006

In a panel titled "The Development of the Film Industry in the Dominican Republic", held this Saturday, November 11 at FUNGLODE as part of the Dominican Global Film Festival, the competition between countries to become sites for filming was clearly discussed.

In order to attract movie producers and develop its own film industry, the Dominican Republic needs to create incentives, a legal framework, undergo a large-scale training program for improved human resources, and inform the Dominican people of the benefits of making the country into a high-used site for filming.

These were the conclusions of the panel "The Development of the Film Industry in the Dominican Republic" hosted this Saturday, November 11 by the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) and its sister in the United States, the Global Foundation Democracy and Development (GFDD), as part of the Dominican Global Film Festival.

NatashaNatasha Despotovic, Director of the Festival and Executive Director of GFDD, moderated the panel. Panel participants included Center for Exports and Investment of the Dominican Republic Director Eddy Martínez, National Cinema Director Arturo Rodríguez, Consultant to the drafting of the Film Law Gonzalo Castellanos, Former South Carolina Movie Commissioner Isabel Hill, Dominican producer in the US Sandra Condito, and Nina Sthraich, Director of the Global Peace Festival in Florida. Before the panel, panelists and various filmmakers had a working lunch with Presidente Leonel Fernández.

MArtinezEddy Martínez was the first to participate in the panel, speaking to the Dominican Republic’s great potential to develop a thriving film industry due to its diverse landscapes including beaches, mountains, and deserts. He also mentioned the efforts being made in terms of training of human resources to work in film and the many official initiatives currently seeking to create incentives and the right legal and economic conditions for filmmaking activities to flourish.

Martínez emphasized that economic importance of this effort represents for the country, highlighting permanent and temporary job creation and the generation of income from the services demanded by visiting filmmakers and their crews, including food, lodging, and transport. The CEI Director pointed out that more than 50% of US movies do part of their filming abroad, implying a significant business opportunity for countries who seek to become regular sites for filming. Martínez emphasized the fierce competition that currently exists to attract producers to film in certain countries or territories. He explained that attractive and diverse packages of incentives are offered, underscoring his point with the example of New Mexico, the US state which has generated more than US$600 million in income from about US$300 thousand in annual incentives.

Martínez mentioned the efforts made to develop the industry via programs such as those already offered by FUNGLODE, which have already trained more than 150 young people in diverse aspects filmmaking. Finally, he mentioned that several businesses related to different stages of film production have established in the Parque Cibernético.

Isabel Hill, who was hired by the Governor of South Carolina to develop the state’s film industry, shared her experiences, notable for the fact that thanks to her work South Carolina has become a frequent site for filming and has generated many millions of dollars for the area, with a massive impact on the state economy.

Hill explained that at the start of her work, she clearly understood the need to generate income in rural areas not benefiting from industrial development while at the same time promoting culture.

She said that Dominicans should have very clear goals in mind before embarking on an effort to develop their film industry by attracting international filmmakers.

Hill explained that one of South Carolina’s first steps had been to create a production manual, a sort of guide in which all the resources of the state were clearly presented so that anyone visiting the area with an interest to film there would already have a document containing all possible relevant information about the state, thus ensuring that the would not have to travel each inch of the state in order to become informed about what could be done there.

With respect to incentives, she emphasized that 30 of the 50 United States have created incentives to attract film producers to their area.

Finally, Hill expressed that the private sector, in partnership with the Government, is the correct agent to promote the film industry, given that private enterprise demands that conflicts of interest be resolved in order for the sector to be profitable.

Nina Sthairch emphasized that it is very important that when a producer visits a country, he or she leave that country speaking very well about it. If not, he or she becomes a source of negative publicity for the country, which is very damaging to an industry such as film.

Sthairch showed that independent producers represent the greatest source of income for the DR given that financial restrictions mean they often choose to rely on local human resources to carry out their projects.

With that in mind, she indicated, attracting independent producers requires the development of local talent at all levels. This will ensure that the services producers need are provided in a manner that fulfills their expectations. The reputation these local workers develop with producers is vital to a country becoming a frequent filming site. Sthairch emphasized that the community must be involved in this process. Awareness must be raised regarding the fact that the inconveniences that may arise from a team filming in a certain place will later translate into economic benefit for the area.

COnditoSandra Condito spoke emotionally about what she had seen during her visit to the DR with respect to the world of film. She mentioned the talent she saw in the students she encountered at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and Pontifica Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra.

She affirmed that, via FUNGLODE, next year she would be bringing Hollywood filmmakers to the DR to share their knowledge with local filmmakers and, at the same time, tour the country as a potential site for filming.

The producer, who works with Mexican director Robert Rodríguez, once again expressed her enthusiasm for the efforts being made in the DR to develop the country’s film industry. Gonzalo Castellanos spoke to the tax proposals being evaluated as part of Film Law he is helping to draft as a consultant. Castellanos explained that the Law seeks to apply revenue from movie ticket sales to the development of the film industry. Similarly, it seeks to increase domestic film viewership by opening more theaters in the country and outline clear incentives to bring investment to activities related to film.

The specialist, who drafted Colombia’s Film Law, brought up existing Latin American examples of legal frameworks that establish incentives for the film industry. For example, providing tax and customs benefits to both foreign and local filmmakers has a positive and immediate result which is multiplied among many producers and can quickly generate economic returns.

Arturo Rodríguez closed the panel by highlighting the importance of the step taken by the government of Leonel Fernández in creating the National Cinema Office. Though he recognized that the institution did not yet have a formal location from which to operate, Rodríguez insisted that the steps towards progress have been taken in the DR, as illustrated by the presence of producers of such transcendental works as El Buen Pastor, Miami Vice, and La Ciudad Perdida in the country.

The film critic expressed his agreement with the importance of the creation of incentives, the training of local human resources, and the creation of the legal framework necessary to promote the sector.

Rodríguez emphasized that in the absence of specific film legislation in the DR, the intervention of President Fernández was vital to assuring the producers of the aforementioned films would be able to accomplish their work in the country. He expressed that the role of the President would continue to be central to getting other producers to film in the DR. He closed by saying that the country will now wait for the Film Law to be "on the books" to begin applying all the well-defined ideas and plans to convert the country into a great filming location.

The Festival, which runs until November 12, was organized by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE) Under the title “Global Issues, Personal Stories”, the Festival seeks to increase global awareness via the retelling of personal stories and circumstances. 

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An initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development ( and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (

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