Time to Market Dominica through a Feature Film?
So… the JAMES BOND film series is once again moving to JAMAICA for production! Any lessons for Dominica? Given our increasingly international recognition as the Nature Isle, and appreciating the publicity the island got more than a decade ago with the partial making of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN here, one wonders if we have taken maximum advantage and opportunity to increase our tourism numbers through the film industry. The quick consensus would be No! We didn't even try to preserve and package the PIRATES film sites so that they could be noteworthy "must-see" sites for both stay-over and cruise-ship visitors. Also, although we once had a "Film Commission" and an appointed Film Commissioner, I gather both no longer exist in practical terms. I must however, acknowledge here the splendid efforts of the DDA in arranging several TV (USA) productions which especially highlight Dominica's key Eco-Tourism and hiking attributes. It certainly helps in marketing Dominica.
But a FEATURE FILM (with Denzel Washington? Halle Berry??) would attract an even wider audience with benefit to all sorts of other goods, services, culture, talent exposure. A "successful" film could even attract investment in "summer" homes and more tourism-related facilities and projects, all leading to more JOBS! Several Caribbean countries offer enticing tax concessions for film projects, notably Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The latter, through their ACTIVE website, offers a 25 percent freely transferable tax credit on all qualifying local spend subject to a minimum of US $500,000; an 18 percent VAT and customs duties exemption of temporary imports on eligible goods, among several other incentives. Clearly, these governments must consider these concessions cost-effective, otherwise why would they be made available?
Should Dominica not consider similar? Our Minister of Tourism and the DDA really should investigate attracting this high spending niche market business, by providing start-up resources, both financial (CBI?) and human (Dominican proponents with business acumen) to ensure that Dominica's efforts would be effective. Interestingly, a personal friend in St. Martin (Marigot, the French side…) during the production of Speed 2 (with Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric) and being frankly amazed at the knock-on effect this had on the entire island economy! Some Dominicans will remember our own positive experience (high wages and salaries and rentals!!!) in the 2005 filming of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, the highly successful series, starring Johnny Depp.
I still harbor dreams of "Bayou of Pigs – the Saga of a small island's coup-plotting Prime Minister" being filmed in Dominica. It could do for our tourism what CROCADILE DUNDEE did for Australia's!! And don't talk about the CASH benefits to many of our traditional CULTURE exponents (Bélé, Quadrille, Jing Ping, Carnival costumes, Calypso, Cadence, Bouyon, street festivals, etc., etc.).