Belize is a Caribbean country located on the northeastern coast of Central America, south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Once part of the Mayan Civilization, Belize became a British colony in the 1800s and finally regained their independence in 1981. A booming tourism industry centered around it’s natural beauty and rich ancient history, and not to mention, a currency easily interchangeable with USD, has marked Belize as an area of great interest for developers and productions.
Belize is blessed with not only aquatic ecosystems akin to traditional Caribbean locales like Jamaica and Barbados, but also the lush mountainous jungles of Mesoamerican legend. Within a couple of hours, you can find yourself traversing the ruins of ancient civilizations then island hopping on a chartered boat to the 450 cayes found in the region.
Belize is also home to a production infrastructure that can support a wide range of projects. It’s unique locations can be utilized by documentary, narrative, and commercial productions with the help of local producing partners.
Belize is a one stop shop for tropical locations. To the west, there are endless jungles and mountain ranges that would catch the eye of any narrative location scout or documentarian. This area is also home to many Mesoamerican structures, each with their own rich history and accompanying stories to be told. On the eastern shores, the coastline is rife with white sand beaches and an enormous system of small tropical islands known as cayes, or keys, that are scattered throughout the Belize Barrier Reef, an area that was described by Charles Darwin as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.”
Pioneer Media has exclusive access to one of these cayes: Coffee Key. Conveniently located off the coast of the capital, Belize City, this 1.5 acre island is complete with beach areas, mangroves, and a palm tree populated grassy center. A convenient 9km boat trip from the Belize City coast allows for quick transportation of cast, crew, and filming equipment. Its proximity to the coast also allows for a strong mobile phone signal.
Coastal cities like Belize City and the popular tourist site of San Pedro Town offers architecture reminiscent of Hemmingway’s Caribbean. Unlike the sanitizing of other Caribbean locations, Belize offers authenticity. Spanish influenced villas and fishing village styled city structures allow for great period piece opportunities.
FILM PERMITS & PERMISSIONS:
As with many countries, with the appropriate budget and contacts, it is possible to arrange filming permits Belize. A requirement from the Belize Film Commission is that foreign productions need to register with the commission beforehand. This process can be handled by Pioneer Media and our local contacts to insure maximum productivity. With enough lead time, permits are easy to arrange through our local partners.
FILM TALENT, CREWS & EQUIPMENT:
Our local film partners in Belize have access to a large pool of experienced crew members (directors of photography, grips, gaffers, hair/make-up, set design, wardrobe) who are fluent in English. Belize is home to a wide selection of multilingual, non-union talent on which a production can expect significant savings.
Belize also offers top-of-the-line equipment ranging from the latest ARRI, RED Phantom, Sony and Black Magic cameras, professional lenses from Zeiss to Cooke, as well as state of the art grip, electric and rigging gear. With proper lead time, modern trailers for talent, make up and wardrobe trucks, catering vans as well as power generator and lighting vehicles can also be obtained.
FILM COST, TAX INCENTIVES & CO-PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITIES:
There are currently no film tax incentives in Belize. The government of Belize is open to providing incentives on a case by case basis pursuant to the benefits a particular production can bring to the country i.e. investment, local spending, contribution to local filmmaking infrastructure, or promotion of tourism.
ACCOMADATION & TRANSPORTION FOR FILMMAKERS:
For film productions in Belize, large passenger vans, StarWagons, cargo vans and box trucks are also available at affordable rates.
Belize offers various modes of transportation from private cars for hire, rental, taxis and public buses as well as the same services provided for sea travel. Air travel between major cities is also an affordable option. Depending on the location of your shoot, the travel conditions vary from modern highways to less-traveled roads which require additional travel time to navigate.
Lodging is inexpensive, with four star hotels ranging between $60-120/night and lower prices available depending on location and ranking. Most hotels will offer discounts to groups or crews booking an extended stay. Rooms outside of tourist areas tend to be even less expensive. For extended stays, AIRBNB rentals are a cost-effective choice, with inexpensive, high-quality options and friendly hosts.
Individual meals at an expensive restaurant in Belize cost around $22. A three course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around $15. Catering for films can be arranged 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, expect higher prices in the tourist regions.
VISAS & TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR FILMMAKERS:
Work visas are not required for visiting film crews in Belize. Passport holders from a large scope of countries, including the US, EU and Canada, can enter the country without a visa with some extensions required after 30 days. Countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South East Asia can apply for a 30 day visa ahead of their trip. Click here for more information on Belize’s visa policy.
Belize is currently listed as a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” on the US State Department’s 1 to 4 travel advisory ranking (4 being “Do Not Travel). The vast majority of Belize and its capital, Belize City, remain very safe for foreign filmmakers and standard vigilance is enough to deter any problems with petty crime.