For years, decades, even generations, the film industry has justified its move out to Hollywood by citing the wide range of available landscapes all within a few hours journey. Any tour of a Hollywood back lot finds the guide describing how “snow capped mountains, beaches, cities and the desert are all a stone’s throw away” from the big Hollywood studios’ headquarters. This is not to mention the practically 365 days a year of great, film worthy weather the area enjoys complete with sunshine, mild temperatures and not a whole lot of rain. Today, however, filming in and around Hollywood can be costly, and most of the best locations have already been exposed so many times that it can be a challenge to create an East Coast landscape amongst the Hollywood Hills. In order to capture that wild, otherworldly, fantastical feeling which movies try for these days, production is moving further and further off the beaten path.
Today, locations like Puerto Rico, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa are popping up and dazzling viewers when these seemingly untouched landscapes go scrawling across the screen in high definition. Of course, in a world where international travel is becoming more difficult by the day for the average Joe due to terrorism and illegal immigration concerns, it takes more than just a pretty set of rolling hills or an exotic forest to get production crews in the private company jet. It also takes a hefty set of well placed production incentives, put in place by world governments.
It is no secret that the average show is not filmed where it is said to take place. Take the show “Ugly Betty” for example, although “set” in New York, the actual set has bounced back and forth between Los Angeles and New York. For years now New York has offered special tax incentives to productions filmed and/or set in New York, which shows like Law and Order have long enjoyed. Since New York knows the cost of filming in their fine city can be astronomical, they are willing to even the playing field. Now, international locales are following in these footsteps and offering movie production crews everything from relaxed visa requirements and special custom clearances to tax-free incentives. This can be especially beneficial in locations such as Puerto Rico, where one island can portray most of South America, Miami and Los Angeles, all for a fraction of the cost, and really pops in high definition to boot.
Another concern for film makers, and a great incentive to go overseas, are government restrictions. When it comes to what a person can and cannot attempt in the name of great filmmaking, the US has restrictions far more uptight than many countries. While this may be the safe way to go, Hollywood has some big shoes to fill, especially when it comes to action and adventure. For those who believe HD TV should not automatically discredit live action stunts and old school movie making techniques, sometimes such restrictions necessitate a trip to South America, Eastern Europe, or even Africa.
The local economies are happy to bring the revenue and visibility to their areas, and the film crews are able to do things their way without a fistful of special permits. Whatever the reason, when turning on your satellite TV expect to see more and more films shot in exciting new locations, just don’t expect all these savings from incentives to show up as a discount on your theater entrance ticket!