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Hollywood in the Caribbean

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 2 March 2021 | 0 Comments

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2 March 2021
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Though it is just 36 square miles, the Island of NEVIS is one of the Caribbean’s most unspoilt pockets of paradise with vivid blue skies, clean air, long empty sand beaches - plus some of the most robust Covid protocols in the region. 

With its striking rugged volcanic terrain, and lush green botanicals, the beautiful is, and of Nevis has long been the dreamland of artists, painters, photographers and writers. In a sun-kissed location near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, about 350 kilometers (220 mi) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 80 kilometers (50 mi) west of Antigua, it boasts the idyllic paradisiacal lure of the flower-filled tropics. It is also entirely Covid-free - and attractive prospect to filmmakers and movie studios all over the world. 

British filmmakers have certainly been quick to seize the opportunity to shoot their productions in safe haven well away from their own Covid-ravaged shores. On arrival, actors and crew are quarantined for two weeks at the Four Seasons on Nevis - no huge chore given that most rooms have a balcony and many have gorgeous sea views. 

NewBritish comedy film One Year Off is just one of the current productions in Nevis and boasts a script which is suitably apt in theme, based on a group of friends who decide to hightail it to a tropical paradise to swap snowy Britain for the warmth of West Indies - where the only ice you find is in a drink.

Although filmmaking is currently allowed in the UK under lockdown rules, it’s a complex process with permissions required and the potential costly risk of being shut down by a positive Covid 19 case on set. During the pandemic, tinsel ten has been plagued with delays and hold-ups that has included the new Mission: Impossible. Mega-budget productions can shoulder money-draining shutdowns, but for independent movie-makers, it’s a different story. Smaller film companies arguably also have a greater duty of care to the safety of cast and crew - and who wouldn’t want to trade the stress of a virus-ridden location for a few months on sun-soaked palm-scattered Caribbean sands? Another attraction is the close links the tiny island of Nevis enjoys with Britain. The twin-island federation of St Kitts and Nevis has Queen Elizabeth II as head of stated is a part of the Commonwealth and English is spoken everywhere. A very strict Covid policy has ensured an extremely low case rate with just 12 cases in a population of just over 10,000 - all of which were imported - with no community spread, no hospitalisations, no deaths. 

Quarantine is guarded by strict security posted outside the Four Seasons on with all arrivals requiring a negative RT-PCR test before they travel to Nevis, and again at the end of the quarantine. Nevis is part of the COVAX Facility - a global vaccine initiative led by the World Health Organization, amongst others, to which the UK has pledged £548 million. Tight controls on transmission govern the protocols on set, with masks and sanitising mandatory. Everyone working in the Nevis bubble - cast, crew and locals - is able to earn an income, which lots of people in the film sector aren’t currently able to do.

Nevis isn’t purely magical due to its mesmerising landscapes as it is also blessed with history, such as sugar mills from the end of the 17th century and the fact that it’s Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace.As a film location it offers enough blissful whimsy for escapism and plenty of light, fun and comedy but also has dark brooding volcanic rocks, dramatic black sands and windswept cliffs for tragedy and drama. Verdant, unspoiled beaches and thesoaring peaks of theisland’s dormant volcano are as much-loved as the rum bars and golden beaches. Nevis’ local resources are motivated to support local filming with businesses, shops and restaurants offering catering, transport, equipment hire and cast extras - a welcome diversification from their traditional income source of tourism. 

https://paradisebeachnevis.com/

 

Flights continue to serve Nevis well with all movie makers receiving the invaluable help of

The Honourable Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for St Kitts and Nevis, in person in regards to smooth customs entry. Although the island has never hosted an international film before, it’s already on the radar of fashion magazines: supermodel Giselle Bundchen graced the cover of Vogue Paris after shooting on Nevis in 2019. And another Caribbean island, Guadeloupe, has benefitted hugely from its showcase in BBC drama Death in Paradise.

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