by Alejandro Benes, Cigar Aficionado
If you want to be close to "Hollywood," it seems the thing to do is open your office in Glendale, California. That's what the Dominican Republic did over the weekend in announcing the relocation of its consulate from San Francisco to Los Angeles County.
"We are creating a direct link between Hollywood and the film industry in the Dominican Republic," explained Rafael Alburquerque, the vice president of the Dominican Republic. (If you're not familiar with Los Angeles geography, "Hollywood," as it refers to the movie studios, has moved largely to Burbank, which is right next door to Glendale.)
He spoke to a crowd of movie industry executives and what might have been every Dominican in southern California at a party in the plaza of the office building housing the new consulate. The Dominican officials in attendance expressed that the new consulate would be a "one-stop shop" for anyone wanting information about doing business in the Dominican Republic.
The party in honor of the inauguration of the consulate featured Dominican food, rum and, of course, cigars. An outdoor smoking lounge was set up on the ample sidewalk. Arturo Fuente and La Aurora cigars were available for sampling.
Dominican officials explained that a new law in the Caribbean nation, law 108, provides financial incentives to increase movie production on the island that has already had at least parts of notable films like The Godfather II, Miami Vice, and Andy Garcia's The Lost City (featuring scenes at Chateau Fuente), among other movies, shot there. The films benefited from the tropical climate and scenery, as well as an architectural infrastructure that resembles, for example, Cuba.
Now producers can also benefit from incentives amounting to a 25 percent tax credit on all production expenses incurred in the Dominican Republic after spending $500,000.
The Dominican Republic has invested in creating a film industry infrastructure that now boasts two sound stages and the only water tank, good for "rain-on-demand," in the region, explained Ellis Perez, the new Dominican film commissioner.
Privately, some of the film executives at the event said they would look at the Dominican Republic if it made sense for their movies. Some of them also said it would be good to have an alternative to shooting in Mexico, which they perceived as being "riskier" these days because of security questions.