Movies: Making it Happen in Puerto Rico > Magazine > Information > Puerto Rico
Lord of the Flies Location, Navio Beach, Vieques
Lord of the Flies Location, Navio Beach, Vieques
Movies: Making it Happen in Puerto Rico > Information > Puerto Rico
The photography in Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film “Amistad” is fascinating – the historic Spanish fortresses, the centuries-old colonial architecture, the blue waters. The massive, star-reaching radio telescope that appeared in the Warner Brothers 1997 movie “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster, is just as impressive. The remote, pristine beaches shown in the 1963 version of the “Lord of the Flies” provided just the right mood for that famous film. And the conclusion of “Assassins” (1995) would not have been the same without the ambiance of the narrow streets and classic architecture.

Of course, all of these films were shot in Puerto Rico. For decades, noted U.S. producers and directors such as Robert Zemekis (Contact), Michael Bay (Bad Boys 2) and Richard Donner (Assassins), among many others, have taken advantage of Puerto Rico’s modern infrastructure and diverse topography as well as its ideal climate. In the last two years alone, Puerto Rico has served as the backdrop for nearly a dozen international movie projects. These include “Bad Boys 2,” “Last Flight Out,” “I Witness,” “Expirtion Date,” “Wuthering Heights” and “Havana Nights.”

One of the primary shooting locations is Old San Juan, a historic walled city modeled after old-style European cities such as Barcelona or Florence. San Juan’s countless picturesque and narrow streets, outdoor cafés and small shops are reminiscent of the beauty and charm of the Old Continent. By contrast, San Juan’s bustling metro area with its modern highways, elevated train and skyscrapers provides the look and feel of any major contemporary city. As you go out from the metro area, locations include beaches, mountains, valleys, plains, rivers, caves, waterfalls, deserts, remote islands, cays and nature reserves (just to name a few).

The Island also provides the infrastructure movie production companies need. First, the communication and shipping systems are first-rate: high-speed Internet, major cell phone providers, FEDEX, UPS and the USPO are all readily available. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (the main air transportation hub of the Caribbean) provides outstanding travel flexibility. Second, there is a large community of studios, professionals and freelancers providing equipment, editing services, and anything else required. Third, and probably most importantly, the Government of Puerto Rico, through the Puerto Rico Film Commission, actively supports film projects in Puerto Rico.

Laura Velez, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Film Commission, acknowledged the Island’s natural beauty and modern infrastructure are key in luring international filmmakers to the Island. “We are blessed with natural wonders. We have the enchantment of the Caribbean. And we have all the commodities of the United States …so you have all the goodies of a developed country plus the allure and romanticism of a tropical island,” she said.

Velez added that a 1999 law aimed at promoting the local film industry has been crucial in propelling the art into an internationally competitive level by providing major tax incentives. “I think one of the reasons we have attracted so many projects in recent years is because of Law 362. This measure has really helped boost the Island’s entire filmmaking industry.”

Puerto Rico Film Commission assists the filmmaker in location scouting and provides location photos of the Island. It also secures the required permits and clearances from government agencies, provides all the pertinent information for filming on the Island and maintains a list of contact numbers for local talent involved in the industry.

With the right talent, the right incentives, the ideal infrastructure, strong government support, breathtaking vistas and the perfect weather, it’s no wonder filmmakers are “Making it happen in Puerto Rico.”
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