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Costa Rica

Costa Rica Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Costa Rica? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Costa Rica? See below for an introduction to Costa Rica locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Costa Rica Film Locations

Costa Rica is famous for its pristine national parks and abundance of wildlife. The beauty of its forests (tropical, cloud, dry and rain), rivers, waterfalls, lakes, hot springs and volcanoes, has long attracted visiting productions. Located on both the Caribbean and Pacific, Costa Rica offers a variety of coastal looks including palm-lined white and dark sand beaches, as well as world renowned surf breaks and a wealth of underwater photography locations. Costa Rica is a small country where most locations are accessible within 2-4 hours drive from the capital, San Jose.

Locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers can be divided into the following regions:

North Pacific Region. Guanacaste is known for its beautiful secluded beaches such as Playa Carrillo, Playas del Coco, and Playa Negra, its dry savannah, and remote fishing villages. National parks of note in this region include Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Las Baulas National Marine Park, and Palo Verde National Park.

Northern Plains Region is known for cattle ranches and cowboy culture. Río Celeste is a neon blue river with multiple hot springs and an impressive waterfall located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Arenal Volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful wetland area. La Fortuna waterfall and La Paz waterfall are paradise locations. Tabacón Hot Springs is another film location of note in this region.

Central Pacific Region is known for its national parks and beaches. Parks of note include Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Marino Ballena National Park. Parque Francisco Alvarado is a surreal topiary park located in Zarcero. Two unusual airplane locations are located in this part of Costa Rica – 727 Fuselage Home, and El Avion Restaurant and Bar. Far off the Pacific coast (550 km / 340 mi away) you can find Cocos Island.

Central Valley Region. The capital, San Jose is the main entry point by air and main production centre where most crew and equipment are based. National Parks of note in this area include Poás Volcano National Park, Irazú Volcano National Park, Turrialba Volcano National Park, Chirripó National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and Tapantí National Park. Two colonial church locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers include Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes church in Grecia, and Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago.

South Pacific Region is one of the most bio-diverse environments on the planet. Locations of note include Corcovado National Park, Piedras Blancas National Park, and Isla del Caño.

Caribbean Region. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Manzanillo are pretty beach towns. Aviarios del Caribe is a sloth sanctuary in Cahuita. Tortuguero National Park, and Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge are two other nature locations of note.

Costa Rica has a long growing season offering a vast variety of crops including coffee, pineapple, melon, banana, flowers, corn, rice, palm, orange, and mango, to name a few.

Costa Rica Film Location Permits

Permitting in Costa Rica is a very straightforward process. Shutting down a street or filming at the airport can usually be organized within a week. Special permits are required for filming in national parks. Costs and processing periods depend on the scope and nature of the shoot. Each nature reserve needs to be permitted separately. A small production might take a day to permit whereas a large production might take up to a month. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Costa Rica has a tropical climate with a diversity of microclimates. The dry season runs from December to April. The rainy season lasts from May to November, with the heaviest rains falling in September and October. The rainy season is characterized by sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. The Caribbean coast has its dry season in September and October making that the best time to shoot beaches, jungle and island-style locations. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Limón carnival takes place in October.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Costa Rica.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Latin America. That said, it is still a cost efficient option compared to other countries that offer a similarly impressive level of film infrastructure, pristine locations and safe conditions. Our Costa Rican fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign feature films or commercials shooting in Costa Rica.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Costa Rica has a small pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Key crew are of a good standard and speak fluent English and Spanish. If need be, bringing in specialist crews from the US or Mexico is an easy process.

Contact us if you are looking for a San Jose based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Costa Rica.

Talent in Costa Rica is non-union. Day rates and buyouts are very reasonable. Costa Rica offers mainly International Latin talent similar to what you would find in Brazil or Cuba. There are a couple of good casting agencies in Costa Rica. If required, bringing in foreign talent is easy. Miami is only a 3hr flight away.

Costa Rica Film Equipment

All the standard camera, lighting and grip equipment is available locally in Costa Rica. More sophisticated equipment such as Steadicams, Tyler mounts, Panavision cameras, Arri master lenses and underwater housing needs to be brought in from abroad. Bringing in gear is easy, be it a container of equipment, or a suitcase.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department key crew can usually be found locally. For instance, Costa Rica has a very good internationally experienced food stylist, greens man, and a body paint artist. Set construction crews are inexpensive and capable.

Studios do exist but are not Costa Rica’s strong point. Local facilities are sufficient for small shoots.

Post Production. Most post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Crews travelling on Western passports can enter Costa Rica to film without a visa for up to 90 days. For more information contact your local Costa Rican embassy / representative.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Costa Rica has an extensive network of roads. Our Costa Rican fixer / producer organizes safe and reliable 4WD transport for shoots in national parks and more remote areas. Several international airlines service flights to San Jose.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Costa Rica include:

Hotels in San Jose:
San Jose Marriott
Intercontinental Real
The Alta Hotel

Hotels at the beach:
Four Seasons
Los Sueños Marriott

There are many hotel options in Costa Rica. Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. Costa Rica boasts a high standard of living and no standing army. For decades, Costa Rica has stood out as one of the safest production centers in the region. See here for up to date travel advice.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Costa Rica, please see below:

Hire Costa Rica Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Costa Rica, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Costa Rica, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.