Film Production in Cuba Is on Hold Because of the Trump Administration
While most fans walked away from Universal’s Fate of the Furious impressed by the movie’s use of New York City, it was the film’s use of Cuba that really opened the eyes of American audiences. Back in April, Variety sat down with Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray and discussed what it was like to be one of the first major studio films to be shot on location in Cuba. Gray recalled several logistical challenges — hotel rooms, location shoots, and the like — while also complimenting the people they had met on their trip. By all accounts, Fate of the Furious was to be the film that opened up the Cuban film market to the broader Hollywood community.
Unless, of course, politics gets in the way. While the outgoing Obama administration had made a point of opening up relations with Cuba, the Trump administration has offered far less clarity on their approach to Cuba going forward, and Hollywood has put a hold on their Cuban production plans as a result. In an interview with Deadline this weekend, Cuban producer Lilianne Rodriguez made it clear that her government doesn’t really have a Plan B in place if the embargo is reinforced:
We will have to wait and see what happens with the Trump administration… I don’t know if [the Cuban government has] a contingency plan for the film industry. I hope they have a contingency plan for the country.
As Gary noted in his Variety interview, the country offers filmmakers a unique and exotic setting for film. Gary described the process of shooting in Cuba as throwing “your camera up in the air and it’ll land on a perfect shot,” suggesting that plenty of studios would love to build up the infrastructure needed to make Cuba a big destination for studio and non-studio films alike. Deadline notes that the Trump administration has been pressured by some of its constituents to reinforce the trade embargo, with an official announcement coming later this month. If it is like some of the administration’s other decisions, we’re looking at a true game-time decision for the fate of entire country.