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Glendale Welcomes Dominican Republic Consulate

It hopes to supply film companies in the area with everything they need.

Domnican Republic Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, left, greets former Miss USA (2003) Susie Castillo at grand-opening ceremony for the Dominican Republic Consulate in Glendale on Saturday, August 20, 2011. Looking on at center is Dominican Republic's Film Commission General Director. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Domnican Republic Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, left, greets former Miss USA (2003) Susie Castillo at grand-opening ceremony for the Dominican Republic Consulate in Glendale on Saturday, August 20, 2011. Looking on at center is Dominican Republic's Film Commission General Director. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
by Mark Kellam, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Dominican Republic has moved its California consulate to Glendale to be closer to movie studios and maybe get a bigger slice of the film-industry pie. It's also created a film commission and tax incentives to attract production companies.

The consulate had a grand-opening celebration Saturday with executives from Disney, NBC Universal, Legendary Films and Cartoon Network on the guest list, said Ron Lizardo, vice-consul.

Rafael Alburquerque, vice president of the Dominican Republic, also attended. He said film production work will give his country a significant economic boost, which is why congressional leaders in the Dominican Republic recently passed tax incentive legislation.

Producers will receive a 25% tax break on all budget items purchased in the Dominican Republic once they spend $500,000.

“We are linking the studios that are already here in L.A. and the film industry we are building in the Dominican Republic,” Alburquerque said through a translator.

Infrastructure needed for film work has been constructed in the Dominican Republic during the past few years, Lizardo said, including two sound stages and a huge water tank used for filming scenes requiring large amounts of water.

It is the only filming tank in the region, except for Mexico, Lizardo said, adding that film companies have been shying away from Mexico for security reasons.

The Caribbean country has been featured in several films, including “Godfather II,” “Havana,” Miami Vice” and “The Good Shepherd.”

While producers film in the Dominican Republic every year, they work independently, and the country had no way to track them. The new commission, based in the Dominican Republic but with a representative in Glendale, will keep records of all film activity in the future, Lizardo said.

The commission will serve as a “one-stop shop,” Lizardo said, where producers can get information about hotels, catering services, suppliers, contractors and companies that can be production partners.

Officials also hope that the tax incentives will entice film companies that already work in the Dominican Republic to stay longer. To reduce costs, companies sometimes film only exterior scenes in the island country just to capture a tropical setting. With the new tax incentives, Dominican Republic officials hope more companies will shoot entire films there.

The consulate had been in San Francisco for about 30 years, Lizardo said, but when country officials decided to seek out lucrative film production work, they moved the consulate to Los Angeles. It has been in a temporary location in Sun Valley, but the move to 500 N. Brand Blvd. puts the consulate closer to major studios.

“We want to connect with the film industry here,” Lizardo said.

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