Panama Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Panama? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in Panama
For an introduction to shooting in Panama see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
Panama Film Locations
Panama City offers a beautiful modern skyline, Spanish colonial buildings, new subway system, and a modern container port. Biomuseo, Frank Gehry’s first work in Latin America, adds a splash of color to the city.
Travelling from Panama City you can reach the Panama Canal within a few minutes, rainforests within 30 minutes, rivers and mountains within 45 minutes, beaches within 1 hour, and volcanoes with 2 hours.
The palm-lined, white sand, aqua marine San Blas Islands are 2 hours by boat or 20 minutes by air. Also on the Caribbean side lies Bocas del Toro, an ex-banana plantation turned paradise resort. On the Pacific side you can find pristine Coiba Island, a former penal colony, now nature reserve. Isla Escudo de Veraguas is home to the pygmy sloth.
The Darién Gap is a break in the Pan-American Highway consisting of a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest within Panama’s Darién Province.
Panama’s agricultural looks of interest include banana, pineapple and coffee plantations.
Panama City is the capital and main entry point by air.
Panama has played host to productions such as James Bond: Quantum Of Solace and Hands of Stone.
Panama Film Location Permits
Film friendly government agencies. Most public locations are free but require a permit that usually takes up to 48 hours to process. Permits for filming in national parks can be quite expensive depending on the type of production. Please contact us for more location specific information.
When To Shoot?
Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures in mountain areas and on the Pacific side tend to be lower than on the Caribbean. The dry season runs from December to May. This is the best time to film for weather. The rest of the year is rainy, with the greatest intensity of rain during the months of October and November. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
• Chiriqui Highlands Flower and Coffee Festival in January.
• Panamanian carnival in February.
• Semana Santa in March / April.
• Bocas Del Toro Sea Fair in September.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Panama.
Unique Local Stories
Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.
If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.
If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.
Costs & Tax Incentives
Costs. Panama uses the USD as legal tender. The greatest cost is the need to bring in your specialized equipment and possibly your key crew but that is offset by the relatively low cost of locations, talent, supporting crew, transportation, accommodation and meals. Panama is generally slightly more expensive than other Central American countries, but less expensive than Costa Rica. Our Panamanian service producer / fixer packages will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. Panama offers a 15% cash rebate on local production spend. The full rebate can be escrowed upfront with the bond company to cashflow the production. Requirements include a minimum $3 million spend. The incentive program covers feature films, television pilots, television series (broadcast and cable), television commercials, music videos, industrials, documentaries, video game design and creation, and other forms of content.
Panama also offers tax incentives such as tax-free temporary importation of all film equipment with no deposit required, as well as no payroll tax.
For more information on financial incentives visit the Panama Film Commission.
Film Crew & Talent
Crews. Panama has a very small pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Panama also has a small depth of good, fast working crews most of which speak English. Since it is still a small, developing production centre it may be necessary to bring in key crew depending on the availability of local crews.
Contact us if you are looking for a Panama City 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 for your shoot in Panama.
Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Day rates are very reasonable and negotiated on a personal basis.
Panama offers mainly International-Latin and Amerindian looks. Several ethnic groups exist including the unique, colourful Kuna Indians that live on the picturesque San Blas Islands, or the Embera people who live in Darien Province. With the existence of the Panama Canal there is also a sizable community of US and European citizens. Panama’s close proximity to major US production centres allows easy access to those pools of multicultural talent should you need to look further.
Panama Film Equipment
Equipment. Standard camera, lighting and grip equipment is available locally. Local production companies have their own equipment and share when necessary. The overall stock of equipment is quite small. All specialized equipment and operators are required to be brought in from abroad. Miami is the closest major production centre. Mexico and Colombia also have a range of equipment and are cheaper alternatives than bringing equipment from the US.
Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Art department and set construction is impressive in Panama. Local crews have built sets for Survivor, MTV’s Road Rules Challenge, and James Bond: Quantum of Solace.
Studios. Only basic facilities belonging to local TV stations exist.
Backlots. At present no backlots exist in Panama.
Post Production. Best to post abroad.
Visas & Work Permits
Entry is subject to regulations from country of origin. Western passport holders can enter Panama visa-free for stays of up to 180 days. Visiting productions receive free work permits and reduced costs on multiple entry visas. Contact your local Panamanian embassy or representative for more information.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation. Roads are in an excellent condition. Beaches and mountains have good paved highway access. Rural roads are slower going with some becoming impassable during the rainy season. Several international airlines service Panama on a daily basis.
Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Panama City include:
Please contact us for corporate rates.
For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.
Safety. Panama is one of the safest countries 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 Panama, please see below:
Hire Panama Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Panama, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Panama, 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.