The Dominican Republic launches first official film commission

The Dominican Republic launches first official film commission

After much anticipation, the Government of the Dominican Republic is pleased to announce the inauguration of its first official Film Commission.

Dominican Republic President, Dr. Leonel Fernández Reyna has appointed Ellis Perez to the post of Director General of Cinematography in the Dominican Republic and established an advisory board and the General Department for Cinematography (DGCINE), which effectively functions as the Film Commission and is designed to encourage the growth of film development on the island -- a potential $375 million dollar industry with the possibility to employ over 24,000 people.

The announcement was made in Hollywood today, at an event celebrating the inauguration of the new Dominican Republic consular offices with the Honorable Mrs. Celeste Jimenez and his Excellency, Rafael Alburqueque, Vice President of the Dominican Republic in attendance.

The new Film Commission is in place to help investors, studios, production companies and independent producers find all the services needed to film their projects in the DR and provide support with location scouting, permits and clearances, and provide consultations on all needs relating to filming in the DR.

The Dominican Republic has been the setting of many feature films, such as ““The God Father II,” “The Good Shepherd,” “Miami Vice,” “Jurassic Park” and “Lost City,” among many others, but just recently it created a film incentives law designed to provide great benefits and perks to producers seeking to film in exotic locations. 

In a significant show of support for the film industry, the National Congress of the Dominican Republic recently passed into law a new bill that provides a tax credit of up to 25% for feature films and TV series shot in the Dominican Republic. With the approval of Law #108-2010 by the Dominican Congress and the corresponding Regulation (Presidential Decree No. 370-2011), a competitive, modern and strong framework for the Cinema and Audiovisual industry has finally been introduced in the Country.

The “Cinema Law” introduces several tax incentives with the aim of promoting the Dominican Republic Cinema and audiovisual industry by attracting more local and foreign investments in industry related activities and infrastructure. A summary of details from this new law can be found at the end of this press release.

As it related to filmed entertainment production, The Dominican Republic offers:

  • A diverse territory with outstanding options from the location shooting standpoint,
  • State-of-the-art infrastructures and telecommunication networks,
  • An unsurpassed transport connection network to the US and Europe, (7 International Airports)
  • A consolidated tourism and lifestyle offering,
  • Talented film technicians and Crew
  • An objective cost effectiveness vs. competing jurisdictions,
  • Partnership opportunities with local investors and entrepreneurs,
  • A solid administrative framework,
  • The strength of the leading regional economy in terms of political and economic stability.

The strength of the Dominican offering, now reinforced with the introduction of such a competitive film – TV incentives framework, will determine a great positioning of the Dominican Republic in the global marketplace a one of the preferred locations for film and TV productions and businesses.

In February 2011, The Indomina Group, the fast-growing U.S. and Dominican Republic based producer and distributor of film, TV and transmedia content, announced a key partnership agreement with the world-renowned Pinewood Studios Group, to operate, manage and market a new state-of-the-art film and television facility in the Dominican Republic.

Located in the beach town of Juan Dolio on the Dominican Republic’s southern coast, about 40 miles east of Santo Domingo, “Pinewood Indomina Studios” will be a full-service, world-class production facility for film, TV, and other related media content, servicing the growing Caribbean, Southern and Central American markets as well as Hollywood and the rest of the world.

The state-of-the-art film and television production facilities will initially comprise 5,000 sq m of sound stage space along with 15,000 sq m of associated production support facilities. The 35 acre site will include an  acre water effects facility including a 75m x 75m exterior water tank with natural ocean horizons, blue screen capabilities and a fully equipped diving and marine department. When completed it will be the only tank of its type and size in the region. Commencement of initial operations is expected by early 2012.

A summary

Law for the development of film activity in the Dominican Republic

1. For producers:
i. 25% freely transferable tax credit (“FTTC”) on all above and below the line eligible expenditures, for both domestic and/or foreign film and TV productions.
ii. VAT and custom duties exemption on eligible production related expenditures.

2. For Dominican investors in film productions:
i. 100% income tax deductibility (“ITD”) for Dominican corporate taxpayers of their investments in eligible Dominican film production companies, with a maximum offset of 25% of the year income tax liability.

3. For investors in industry related infrastructures and providers of technical services
i. 15 years 100% income tax exemption and custom duties exemption on imports that are functional for the infrastructure for investors
ii. 15 years 50-100% income tax exemption for newly built movie theatres.

With regard to the FTTC, the Cinema Law provides to domestic and foreign producers a 25% freely transferable tax credit on all eligible production expenses incurred in the Dominican Republic. This includes above-and below-the-line production expenses. Additionally, the law provides for certain exemptions and immunity from VAT, import and customs duties on equipment, goods and services. 

The DGCINE must first approve the film’s budget and will subsequently serve as the one-stop-shop for producers in administering the FTTC as well any and all relationship with Tax and Custom Authorities. 

Films produced under this incentive are not bound by any cultural requirements.

With regard to the ITD incentive, Dominican corporate taxpayers are offered a generous incentive when they invest in eligible Dominican film production companies. 100% income tax deductibility of such investments with the possibility to offset their income tax liability up to 25%.  This provision alone is expected to generate a significant funding base (estimated in excess of $100 million per year) for Dominican film productions from the private sector. 

Unlike the 25% freely transferable tax credit, the films produced taking advantage of this newly generated pool of funds must adhere to certain cultural requirements (e.g., Spanish language majority, production location in the DR, talent, crew).

Finally, a substantial long-term 100% income tax exemption, for a period of up to 15 years, is granted to investors promoting the development of new industry related infrastructures (studios, movie theatres, etc.), and to distribution and technical service providers that will establish their business in the DR.