News & InfoEP StoreAcademySupportCommunityProducts by Country
Blog Home

A Ticket to Paradise

Island Incentives Bring Productions Ashore
January 26, 2022

Joseph Chianese

EP BLOG_Island_Incentives

When the first COVID-19 lockdowns eased in the summer of 2020, some productions began to turn to previously overlooked shooting locations: islands. 

Even before COVID, islands – in Southeast Asia, South Pacific, the Mediterranean, and Caribbean – were appealing because of their shoot-friendly climates, diversity, infrastructure growth, and generous incentives.

Since the pandemic began, islands’ inherent isolation and often low number of COVID cases have only enhanced their appeal. Productions are either discovering them for the first time or deciding to use them more often, for everything from commercials to reality TV.

Here’s a look at exactly what makes the islands of the world enticing options for all kinds of productions.

Varied Filming Locations

The benefits of their location rank among the top reasons to shoot on production-friendly islands. Numerous islands – including Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, Hawaii, Mauritius, the Philippines, Fiji, Malta, and the Canary Islands - offer vacation-worthy climates that lack season changes. That consistent weather makes them ideal for year-round shooting.

Furthermore, given their frequent proximity to the equator, islands tend towards geographical variety, packed in a conveniently concentrated land mass. It’s not uncommon for such places to have mountains, cities, beaches, jungles, deserts, and more, affording an almost one-stop shop for location types.

Some islands in the world also offer logistical benefits. For example, because places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico are U.S. territories, no visas are required, banking and currency are the same, as are copyright laws, making production coordination an easier task.

Growing Economies and Infrastructure

Because of generous incentives, many islands are experiencing tremendous growth as more productions choose them as alternatives to mainland shooting. Many islands were minimally affected by COVID and it was easier to vaccinate their populations, giving them a “safe haven” status that has only added to their dramatic increase in production in recent years. 

In the Dominican Republic alone, the number of foreign productions in the last 18 months has surpassed the total number in the last five years. Production scope has expanded too. Once the Dominican Republic hosted indie movies with $15 million budgets. Now, they’re seeing films budgeted up to $100 million.

Some islands – like the Philippines – have turned to introducing incentives to further promote themselves and their growth. Such growth doesn’t just benefit these islands, but also further benefit productions. The more productions that come, the more an island’s infrastructure and resources boom to respond to the increased demand. Some islands – like Fiji or Mauritius – haven’t made that turning point yet, but Hawaii and several Caribbean islands have seen film schools, post-production facilities, and state of the art sound stages spring up.

In addition to being island countries, the Dominican Republic and Malta also offer some of the world's most sought after water tanks. Malta Film Studios boasts of one indoor tank and two large exterior water tanks situated along the coast and therefore enjoying a natural horizon. They are amongst the largest in the world. Pinewood Dominican Republic offers unique water filming facilities in the heart of the Caribbean, including the Horizon Water Tank that is situated within an 8-acre water effects facility.  Additionally, as more productions come, the more local crews will grow, gaining hands-on experience that can then be channeled right back into other foreign productions.

Production Incentives

As mentioned, islands throughout the world offer some of the most generous incentives. Here are a few examples: 

The Caribbean: In the Dominican Republic, foreign productions receive a twenty five percent total tax credit applied to eligible spend, which includes payments made for foreign payroll. Withholding tax, meanwhile, can be as small 1.5%.

U.S. Territories:

  • Puerto Rico provides 40% coverage in expenses, plus 20% on non-resident cast & crew (which is subject to withholding tax). And while its $50 million cap was lowered to $38 million during COVID, a current bill proposes to increase it to $100 million per year.
  • Hawaii offers a refundable tax credit of 20% of qualified production costs for projects shot on Oahu, and 25% for those in Maui, Hawaii and Kauai counties. There is an annual $15 million cap on credits for a particular production, and $50 million cap on aggregate credits dispersed to all productions 

Africa: Mauritius, a U.K. commonwealth, offers a cash rebate of 30% for qualifying production expenditures. Some project types can receive up to 40%

Southeast Asia: The Philippines introduced new incentives at the beginning of the pandemic, including one called the Film Location Incentive Program (FLIP) which grants qualifying international projects a 20% cash rebate 

The Mediterranean:

  • Malta raised its cash rebate in January 2019 from 27% to 40%. That’s a 30% base rebate, and for films which portray Malta as Malta and/or have special Maltese cultural content, the rebate can be as high as 35%.  If the Malta Film Studios (aka water tanks) forms part of the expenditure then the rebate can reach 40%.
  • The Canary Islands offer a 45% to 50% rebate for non-Spanish productions that shoot there

The South Pacific: Fiji offers a huge 75% tax rebate, which counts among the highest in the world. Unlike some incentives, Fiji’s rebate also has no minimum percentage requirements regarding how much of a film must be shot there.

Diverse Production Crew

With Hollywood’s push for diversity, equity, and inclusion across the industry, one benefit of island shooting – especially in the Caribbean – can be easily overlooked. “In most islands in the Caribbean, white people are a very small minority. People of color are a majority,” says Albert Martínez Martín, chief operating officer of Lantica Media, a Dominican Republic media company. “Filming in the Caribbean means supporting what the U.S. thinks of minorities and they are majority in countries.”

Filming on islands offers a tremendous, well-rounded shooting opportunity for productions. They offer beautiful locations with compellingly generous incentives and growing infrastructure. But they also afford the chance to honor the industry’s push towards greater progress in diversity, equity and inclusion.

To stay up-to-date with changing legislation and production incentives, visit our production incentives site and utilize the industry's leading team of production incentives experts and tools.

Related Content

International Financing-John Hadity-ft

The Beginner’s Guide to International Film Financing

What to know before you begin an international financing plan
Oklahoma route 66 sign

A New Frontier in Filmmaking

Oklahoma is becoming a production destination, thanks to new incentives and infrastructure programs.
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-Portland Business Journal

How Oregon’s updated film incentive law could boost the local economy

A new Oregon film and media incentive law could draw more movie productions to the state.
Digging Out of a Deficit-featured

Digging Out of a Deficit: What to Expect in the Second Quarter of 2022

Federal and State Unemployment Insurance rates are rising. Learn how these changes will affect 2022 and...
2022 Budgeting-sq

Budgeting for 2022: A Production Accountant's Guide

EP's Payroll Tax, Production Incentives, and Business Development experts explain how inflation,...

Film Financing Explained: Soft Money Financing

Vivian Hua joins our panel of financing and incentive experts to discuss funding film and television...
 John Hadity-Guide to Soft Money Financing-sq

The Beginner’s Guide to Soft Money Financing

How filmmakers can capitalize on incentives, film funds, and more to finance their next project

The UK GDPR and how Productions can Reduce their Exposure - Q&A with Sheridans

Sheridans’ Associate Krishan Neelendra answers key UK GDPR questions from production companies and...
Topic: UK
KJ Lamb and Simon Donovan

Empowering the Next Wave of Production Accountants

The EP Production Portal team was delighted to participate in the biannual Netflix Assistant Production...
cell phone with sticky note stating sign here

Six e-Consent Myths (and Why They’re Not True)

Sheridans Associate, Sarmad Saleh, debunks some common e-consent myths.
Topic: Legal
EP Blog_The Race to Net Zero is On for Big Studios

The Race to Net Zero is On for Big Studios

Film and television studios are embracing the green movement in a big way. Here’s what you can expect to...
EP Blog_SQUARE_meet the cinematographer-dan-laustsen

Meet the Cinematographer

A conversation with Dan Laustsen ('John Wick', 'Nightmare Alley').

Georgia Proposes Capping and Prohibiting Sale of Film Tax Credits

The changes, if signed into law, would cap the amount Georgia hands out in film and TV tax credits at $900...
Master Series Women in Animation-thumbnail

Women in Animation: A 3D View

Marge Dean, Mandy Tankenson, and other women leaders from across animation come together to celebrate...
International Film Financing panel-featured

Film Financing Explained: International Financing

International production experts discuss how producers can utilize financing systems outside of the US,...
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

Why the Cherokee Nation is Offering Rebates to Film in Oklahoma

Joseph Chianese speaks to the LA Times on new incentive

35 Production Accounting Terms You Should Know

Ready to test your production accounting vocabulary knowledge? See how many of these 35 common terms you...
Future-of-production-virtual stages

The Future of Film and Television Production

Virtual stages, remote production offices, and other advances in technology drive the evolution of...

Creating a Winter Wonderland

How ‘Elf’ Production Designer, Rusty Smith, Produces the Perfect Snowy Scenes for Film and Television
Master Series: Budgeting for 2022-1

Budgeting for 2022: What Productions Need to Know

From unemployment taxes and worker's compensation to the price of labor and materials, production costs...

Why Accurate Payroll Tax Withholding Matters to Film Budgets

Wendy Black, EP’s Vice President of Incentive Operations, shares tips for ensuring your production...
john hadity-beginners guide to hybrid film financing

The Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Film Financing

How to successfully navigate working with foundations and investors to finance your next social-impact...
John Hadity-Sandra Schulberg-Hybrid Financing Master Series

Film Financing Explained: Hybrid Financing

Sandra Schulberg joins John Hadity for a spirited discussion on Hybrid Financing and how filmmakers can...
Master Series Thumbnail-Best practices for accurate payroll tax withholding

Best Practices for Accurate Incentive Payroll Tax Withholding

Learn how payroll tax withholding impacts a production incentive or film tax credit, and how productions...

Mission: NOT Impossible

Production incentives give producers options, increase infrastructure development and jobs promoting...

Streamers and the Changing Landscape of Film Distribution

Director/Producer Daniel Farrands on strategies for success in the time of VOD
EP Blog_SQUARE_World Revenues

The Beginner's Guide to World Revenues, Foreign Sales, and Senior Debt

Learn how shopping your project around the world to secure funding commitments for distribution rights can...
EP Blog_SQUARE_Fighting Hollywood Stereotypes-TTEI

Fighting Stereotypes and Rethinking Representation

How TTIE is advancing authentic storytelling in Hollywood by empowering historically excluded writers and...

Contracting in a COVID-19 World  

The pandemic has affected how UK production companies contract crew. Here’s how to reduce the impact of...

Terms to Include in UK Crew Contracts

Common terms which studios and production companies include in their UK crew contracts.
Topic: UK
Master Series Panelists-World Revenues, Foreign Sales, Senior Debt

Film Financing Explained: World Revenues, Foreign Sales, and Senior Debt

Learn how working with agents, international distributors, and gap financiers can all factor into...
recycling conversation

Sustainability in Production: Q&A with Nikki Saunders

Nikki Saunders on sustainable filming practices, COVID-19, and why carbon offsetting isn’t a...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-480-the olympian

More Movies Could Soon be Filmed in WA as Inslee OKs Film Incentives Passed by Legislature

The law will provide tax breaks for filmmakers looking to make movies in Washington
EP Blog_SQUARE-Tips for tax day

Tips for Tax Day 2022

Your ultimate tax filing checklist - the deadline this year is Monday, April 18th!
EP Blog_Marge Dean

Opening Career Doors

How WIA President, Marge Dean, is shaping the future of animation and empowering underrepresented genders
EP Blog-proud to support-square

Proud to Support: Celebrating Client Nominations at the 94th Academy Awards

A look at the evolution of the Oscars and the notable films powered by Entertainment Partners technology.
Bradley Cooper-nightmare alley

Meet the Assistant Director

A conversation with Myron Hoffert ('Nightmare Alley')
EP Blog_SQUARE-Sound Mixer-Lora Hirschberg

Meet the Sound Mixer

A conversation with Oscar-winning re-recording mixer, Lora Hirschberg ('Inception', Skywalker Sound)

Russian Invasion Hits Ukrainian Production Industry Just Starting to Go International

"Ukraine was just starting to open up to the world, now everything has closed up again."
Site Selection Magazine logo-sq

The Stage is Set

Puerto Rico Beckons to Film & TV Production Industry

Meet the Executive Producer

A conversation with Mike Drake ('Just Mercy') on the path to becoming and EP, and the role of social...

Meet the Set Decorator

A Conversation with Claire Kaufman ('Little Women')

Meet the Editor

‘Chucky’ editors Randy Bricker and Shiran Amir on navigating the entertainment industry and how they...
EP BLOG_Payroll_Cleanup_Becky_Harshberger_sq

Everything You Need to Know About End-of-Year Production Payroll Cleanup

Reconciling payroll errors and generating accurate W-2s can be a tedious process. These proactive steps...

Kickstart Your Production Career with the EP Academy

From Production Accounting basics to technology certifications, EP’s online courses offer one-of-a-kind...
Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup-Panelists-sq

Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup

Payroll tax expert Becky Harshberger shares best practices to help production accounting teams prepare for...

The Psychology of Terror

How our deepest personal fears inspire cinematic monster makers Todd Masters and Steve Wang
Identity Security Film Production-sq

Identity Security in Production

5 Strategies to Manage Risk and Resist Cyberattacks in the Entertainment Industry
5 top payroll tax errors-Becky Harshberger

5 Top Payroll Tax Errors and How to Prevent Them

Production payroll can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Payroll Tax expert Becky Harshberger...
Christine Davila, Jairo Alvarado, Sonia Gambaro

Authentic Latinx Storytelling Starts with Inclusion

Christine Dávila, Jairo Alvarado, and Sonia Gambaro work to amplify the talents of underrepresented...

Meet the Paymasters

The hard-working payroll professionals behind Hollywood's paychecks

How to solve a compounding problem?

The perennial shortage of production accountants has been made worse by the competition for resources, but...
Canadian flag

5 Things to Know Before Working in Canada

Prepare for your next job in Canada with this checklist of payroll considerations
Topic: Canada

New Terms Under Return-To-Work Agreement

RTW extension includes new two-part delineation, and the role of the vaccine
Topic: Legal

Designing for Horror

Daniel Farrands and Andrew Murdock share insights on how filmmakers create fear through visual techniques

Digital Production Studio

Production Finance StudioProduction Management StudioEnterprise Management Hub

EP Sites

Central CastingEntertainment PartnersEP StoreSyncOnSetThe Production CommunityWe Got POP
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2022 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.