5 Latin American Countries Seeking to Lure Hollywood Productions

11:30 PM 5/12/2018

by Agustin Mango

Lush landscapes and even lusher incentives beckon in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and the Dominican Republic: "You'd be crazy not to come here"

Latin America package Cannes 2018 - THR - P 2018
Illustration by Matthew Billington

The scope of Latin America’s appeal to Hollywood productions goes far beyond its wide array of landscapes, whether they are the tropical rainforests Daniel Radcliffe tries to survive in Jungle, the Caribbean sea in which Mandy Moore faces off with killer sharks in 47 Meters Down or the gritty urban setting of Colombian drug trafficking in Tom Cruise’s American Made.

Tax incentives and cash rebates for foreign shoots — through local co-producers — in countries such as Colombia, Chile and the Dominican Republic have sweetened the deal for Hollywood films seeking attractive locations as well as financial advantages. Meanwhile, even countries like Argentina and Brazil without incentives (yet) have their own allure, with some of the most professional and experienced crews and production services in the region. There’s more than enough to choose from as THR parses the latest offerings from key South American countries.

  • Argentina

    While Argentina’s National Film Institute is working to offer tax incentives and cash rebates on a federal scope — a co-production incentive for TV series is expected to be unveiled soon — today the country’s appeal is a mix of talent and versatile locations for recent projects such as Netflix’s biopic The Pope, which shot in the former Spanish colony region of Cordoba. Other recent shoots include the Hayden Christensen thriller The Last Man and Operation Finale, starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley, both of which utilized multiple locations in the greater Buenos Aires area.

    “The difference here is added value and quality,” says K&S producer Matias Mosteirin, who handled Operation Finale and The Pope. “Even if there are no tax incentives, Argentina is very competitive in terms of costs. You come here looking for talent, not savings. Professional and creative experience is essential to a film’s end result, and here in Argentina, films grow thanks to the country’s culture, infrastructure and creative sources, spawning very rich processes.”

    K&S services cover most areas of pre- and postproduction (including digital lab work for editorials), filming and equipment (art and props, sets, vehicles, FX and stunts) as well as legal and tax counsel, copyright clearances, migratory permits and above-the-line logistics and management.

    CONTACT: Matias Mosteirin info@ks-films.com // +54 (11) 4872 1400

  • Brazil

    Attractive costs and a wide range of locations have led international productions — in both TV and advertising — to the largest country in the region. Netflix’s Sense 8 shot sequences during an LGBT Pride parade in Sao Paulo, the same city where Netlfix’s Black Mirror is reportedly now shooting before heading to locations in Rio de Janeiro.

    And though Brazil does not yet offer any specific incentives to foreign production shoots, local film commissions are urgently lobbying the federal government for a cash rebate or tax incentives to encourage foreign location shoots. Insiders believe it’s just a matter of time. But, cautions Steve Solot, head of the Brazilian Film Commission Network, international producers hoping for some cash back will probably need to wait until after the country’s presidential election in October. New incentives, says Solot, are “unlikely in an election year.”

    Since 1991, when O2 Filmes was co-founded by producer-director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, Blindness), Brazil’s biggest production company has offered a range of services — including its own studios and postproduction work through O2 Post — for foreign features, TV and advertising.

    CONTACT: Flavia Zanini flazanini@o2filmes.com // +55 11 3839 9400

  • Chile

    The home of acclaimed filmmakers Pablo Larrain (Jackie) and Sebastian Lelio (the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman), Chile doesn’t boast the kind of steady location shoots of some of its neighbors, but the occasional high-profile project does land here from time to time, such as was the case with The 33, which shot in Copiapo, the actual location of the trapped miners crisis that inspired the 2015 film.

    In an effort to attract foreign shoots on a more regular basis, Chile joined the rather small club of Latin American countries offering significant and direct aid to international productions, implementing a cash rebate of 30 percent (capped at $3 million) to foreign projects with budgets of more than $2 million. “Chile has a unique diversity of geographies, colors and landscapes that adds to the financial incentives and professional crews,” says Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo’s brother and partner at Fabula, which co-produced Simon West’s Chile-set action comedy Gun Shy, starring Antonio Banderas.

    Fabula offers full production services — from pre- and postproduction to location scouting, equipment hiring, crew sourcing and tax accounting — for foreign films and TV series only (no advertising).

    CONTACT: Juan de Dios Larrain contacto@fabula.cl +562 2344 0908

  • Colombia

    Currently the hottest LatAm spot for foreign shoots thanks to its 40-20 incentive: a 40% rebate on production services costs and a 20% rebate on logistics, all through a local co-producer. Colombia has recently attracted a number of Hollywood films, from the Tom Cruise starrer American Made and the Nicolas Cage action movie Running With the Devil to Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, currently shooting on location in Cartagena with production services by Dynamo, which also handled Netflix’s Narcos in Colombia. “We are certainly great hosts,” says Dynamo’s CEO Andres Calderon. “We’ve worked hard to make Colombia an attractive destination for international shoots. Now producers decide to film here because local teams have experience with big-size productions.”

    With offices in Bogota, Mexico City and New York City, Dynamo handles production logistics for film, television, commercials and web content and oversees financial structuring and wealth management through its financial arm, Dynamo Capital.

    CONTACT: Andres Calderon info@dynamo.net (+57 1) 432 57 80

  • Dominican Republic

    Last year’s shark-attack hit 47 Meters Down made good use of what is arguably the Dominican Republic’s most unique feature as an international shooting location: a 65,000-square-foot horizon water tank with blue-screen capabilities (this is in addition to 50,000 square feet of soundstages at Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios).

    The country, which also offers a tax exemption of 18 percent for goods and services related to preproduction, production and postproduction, recently welcomed Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to the Oscar-winning Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, which is now shooting in Santo Domingo. “You have more than a dozen completely different climates, hundreds of exotic locations, a 25 percent transferable tax credit for above-the-line and below-the-line, seven international airports and all for an incredibly competitive cost,” says Rafael Munoz, vp production at Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios. “And we have the most modern horizon water tank in the world — you’d be crazy not to come here,” he adds.

    Lantica offers production services that include a cash advance of up to 80 percent of the tax-credit incentive offered by the Dominican government. Other services include budgeting, scouting, equipment rental, casting, accounting and security.

    CONTACT: Albert Martinez, albert.martinez@pinewoodgroup.com +1 (809) 544 0000

    A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 13 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.