What's in a location?

What's in a location?

The producers discuss why film Bond 25 in Jamaica

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, April 28, 2019

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The image of actress Ursula Andress emerging from the Caribbean Sea in the first James Bond film Dr No, has become a moment in film history. Not only was the Swiss actress stunning in her ivory bikini, but the spectacular setting of Laughing Waters, located just outside Ocho Rios on Jamaica's north coast, also played a critical role in cementing the iconic status of this scene.

Since that initial foray in 1961, the James Bond series keeps coming back to Jamaica. It returned in 1973 for Live And Let Die with Falmouth's Swamp Safari and the Green Grotto Caves in St Ann, among the sets for the film. Forty-six years later, Bond is back in Jamaica for the 25th instalment of the popular series.

Production is scheduled to commence in Portland today, with scenes also set to be shot in the Corporate Area during the month-long stint on the island.

Michael G Wilson and his sister Barbara Broccoli are co-producers of the James Bond films. Both were in Jamaica last week for the launch of Bond 25 at GoldenEye in St Mary, the location where the famous spy was created by British author Ian Flemming.

For the producers, Jamaica is Bond's spiritual home and therefore it was a no-brainer to shoot this instalment here. However, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, both shared the need for the local authorities to follow the lead of other territories in offering incentives to lure the major studios to shoot on our shores.

“We believe that Jamaica is Bond's spiritual home and so the story begins with Bond who has left the service temporarily and is trying to enjoy life and so he comes to the place that is his home, where he wants to be when he's not working. We've built an amazing house for him here and we have his boat here... it's where he comes to remind himself of what is important in the world and find peace in all the chaos,” Broccoli told the Sunday Observer.

They were, however, quick to point out that despite the sentimental connections to Jamaica, any other tropical location could have become the backdrop for this new Bond flick which will see British actor Daniel Craig reprise the role of Agent 007. Both pointed to the level of incentives being offered to film producers in other countries, something that is not available here in Jamaica.

“ In this day and age, various countries and places in the world are offering financial incentives and so it is a key attraction for studios and film producers. I think that it is what you all should be trying to achieve here to get this country to offer some incentives that would make them more attractive compared to some place that is similar,” said Wilson.

“And the amount of money they offer from 20 to 30 per cent does add up. So there's that. There's the infrastructure. Are there enough hotels and catering and all the other elements that you need for the film? Then there is local hires. Are there people with technical skills that you can hire here as opposed to crew that you have to bring in? That would be some of the financial things that someone would bear in mind,” he continued.

“But we felt the emotional connection with Bond was so important that we chose to overlook it this time, but we've had help from the Ministries of Tourism and Culture in terms of helping us with facilities and things like that, which are equally important. They really gave us a lot of wonderful support, but that is definitely a challenge because there are many countries that do offer tax incentives,” Broccoli added.

Broccoli hopes that when all is said and done and the film is released, Jamaica and Jamaicans will be pleased with how the island, her people and culture have been represented on screen.

“Through the years, these films have often showed some pretty spectacular locations that people will come and visit and I'm hoping that one of the things this film will bring is more people to come and visit this amazing country and see it's beauty and meet the wonderful people who are here and the culture and the music and really get to see what we have been lucky enough to see and appreciate, which are the wonderful aspects of this country,” she shared.

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