Production In Cuba Lulls As Hollywood Awaits Signal From Donald Trump
by Alex Ben Block
June 10, 2017 3:22pm
For a couple months after Barack Obama moved toward normalizing
relations with Cuba following decades of economic sanctions, a rush of
movie and TV productions made its way to the island, from Universal
Pictures' The Fast and Furious franchise to reality TV's Keeping Up With
But as Cuba and Hollywood await a definitive stance from President
Donald Trump, production has hit a lull, said participants on the
Produced By conference panel Saturday called "The Whole World Is
Watching: Producing For A Global Audience."
"We will have to wait and see what happens with the Trump
administration," said Lilianne (Lia) Rodriguez, a producer and lawyer
who lives in Cuba and works with international producers.
Executives from Netflix, Amazon, HBO and China's Wanda Studios joined
Rodriguez and Kathy Petty, senior vp, production finance for Universal
Trump reportedly plans to announce his revised Cuba policy during a
speech in Miami later this month, where politicians including Senator
Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have pushed the President to make
good on a campaign promise to shut the door on business in Cuba once again.
There is big money at stake. Petty estimated that Universal spent $3
million to take advantage of Cuban hospitality, a plethora of old
American cars and rarely seen locations when it shot there earlier this
year. She said Universal had to bring literally a boatload of production
equipment, props, costumes, and even facilities and supplies for catering.
Petty said Universal made a first of its kind deal with the Cuban
Central Bank for access to money and financial resources on the island.
"They were very, very accommodating," said Petty, "extremely friendly
Still, Petty added, there was a big "learning curve…because no one has
been there before."
Rodriguez said at present she doesn't know of any preparations by the
Cuban government or the institute that works with filmmakers to prepare
for a return to an American economic boycott.
"I don't know if they have a contingency plan for the film industry,"
said Rodriguez. "I hope they have a contingency plan for the country."
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