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‘Geechee’ film crew member mistakenly shot in Dominican Republic drug bust gone wrong

The Pinewood studio lot in the Dominican Republic.
The Pinewood studio lot in the Dominican Republic.
(Lantica Media)

A member of a film crew was shot by undercover police in the Dominican Republic in what appeared to be a drug bust gone wrong, according to the manager and co-owner of Pinewood Group’s Caribbean island studio.

The unnamed crew member, with others from the production of the thriller “Geechee” for the L.A.-based AGC Studios, were on a location scout around 11 p.m. on Sept. 2 when they were stopped by Dominican drug control agents carrying out an undercover operation nearby in what the studio said was a case of mistaken identity.

The incident occurred during a government-imposed curfew as part of its efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak, said Maria Valentina Avellaneda, a spokeswoman for Lantica Media, which operates Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios and is owned by the Dominican Republic-based asset management group Inicia and Pinewood Group in the U.K.

John Nolan, an assistant director who died last week after a battle with COVID-19, worked on a commercial shoot in Texas.

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Fearful, the crew members fled to the studio by car and the agents shot at the car, hitting one of the crew members, Avellaneda said in an interview. The crew member was immediately taken to a nearby medical center for treatment and has since returned home, Avellaneda said. The film’s shoot has been suspended until further notice. Deadline first reported the incident.

The Dominican Republic is one of the first international locations that has reopened for filming since the pandemic put a stop to most major film shoots. Productions like the “Avatar” sequels are underway in New Zealand, and shoots for “The Batman” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” have restarted in the U.K. It has not been smooth sailing in all cases, as Warner Bros.’ “Batman” reboot was shut down after its star, Robert Pattinson, tested positive for COVID-19.

One of Hollywood’s biggest shoots during the pandemic has been shut down after lead actor Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19 on set.

“The authorities have been cooperative and are working to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again in the future,” reads an emailed statement from Lantica Media, which said it had requested a thorough investigation from the national authorities. “The top priority is to guarantee the safety and well-being of its productions, this being the first time that an event of this nature has occurred in any of the 50-plus productions serviced by Lantica since its inception.”

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The Pinewood studio is on a 35-acre site in the beach town of Juan Dolio, about 20 minutes from the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo. Up to 10 feature films are made on the island every year, drawn by attractive tax incentives and a variety of locations in which to shoot. The studio has three soundstages and a 60,500-square-foot water tank used for movies such as “47 Meters Down” and “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.”

“Geechee” features Andrea Riseborough in the supernatural story of a woman who has moved from a big city to live on a quiet island with her son but is haunted by the souls of island residents. It is produced by Stuart Ford, Jamie Foxx and Datari Turner.

AGC Studios, which declined to comment, was formed in 2018 by chairman and chief executive Ford, formerly of IM Global. Headquartered in L.A. and London, it is a production and licensing company developing, producing and financing films and television. It was launched with backing from asset management firm MediaNet Partners, Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Fibonacci Films Chairman Greg Clark, according to its website.


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