American Filmmaker Hugo Perez shares tips on filming in Havana

Posted: 26-Sep-16 11:19

Reporting travel adventures from bloggers all around the world, Pond 5 Blog shares the story of filmmaker Hugo Perez who has been going to Cuba for over 20 years. Perez shares his favourite spots to film in the island and his impressions on its people and places as well as important tips for Americans who visit for journalistic purposes.

American Filmmaker Hugo Perez shares tips on filming in Havana

Getting to know Cuba is today on top of many bucket lists, especially for American citizens who had not been able to set foot in the country due to the hostile Cold War policies that were in store for over half a century. Now that Havana and Washington have re-established diplomatic bonds, the Obama administration loosened travel restrictions, allowing 12 categories of legal travel to the island. Filmmaker Hugo Perez qualifies in the journalistic activities category and has already carried out many projects in Cuba, an experience he shares with Pond 5 Blog.

Perez’s history with the country goes back two decades. He was immediately fascinated by its charm and unique situation and still films many documentaries there:

“I’ve been Cuba 25 or 30 times. At least half the time, I was down there producing in some form or fashion. I started going in 1996, when Cuba was pulling out of what’s called ‘the special period,’ an economic downturn where everything came to a halt. Story scouting and casting for documentaries is a lot of what I’m doing currently. I’m trying to find interesting characters and interesting situations. I’ve been doing stuff in Havana for long enough that I know a lot of the locations that I want to use.”

Favourite spots to film in Cuba

There are many impressive sights to see in this Caribbean island. In the capital, Hugo Perez recommends taking shots of Old Havana and its many wonders: the iconic Malecon seawall where Cubans gather to chat and stare at the sea and the Morro fortress with its lighthouse, are definite musts. A little further within the capital, El Bosque de La Habana (Forest of Havana) is a large tropical forest on the outskirts of town that rides along the city’s Almendares River. For Perez, this beautiful vegetation-filled place is a fairy-tale dream for photographers.

The rest of Cuba’s provinces also provide incredible panoramas and views to leave anyone mesmerized. The amazing mountain chains, the coastline, farms and the exotic flora and fauna are to die for.

Tips for American travellers

Hug Perez assures that Cuba is a safe place for travellers and advises all American citizens who are interested in travel to inform themselves about the currency:

“You have to convert dollars into CUC, which are the convertible pesos, but there’s currently still an embargo on dollars, so that before you even exchange your currency, there’s a ten percent penalty, right away. If you’re going to be spending a lot of money in Cuba, you might consider getting Euros or Canadian dollars from your bank, because there isn’t a ten-percent penalty on those.”

US citizens looking to visit the island for filming and journalistic purposes must keep in mind it is necessary to carry press credentials, a permit they can require at the Cuban Embassy in Washington. Perez advises that if travellers wish to shoot something professionally, there might be location fees to pay. When submitting the proposal, it is necessary to list where you’ll be filming. Largely, anything is possible, but as much preparation and organisation beforehand will definitely work to their advantage. 


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