I was lucky to have the opportunity to partake in the recent “Taste of the US Virgin Islands” Fam Trip, October 2013. This well-orchestrated tour was led by our energetic hosts, Steve Bornn, Development Manager, Film USVI, and Luana Wheatley, who spreads her talents between Film USVI and Tourism. Our small group of location professionals included LMGA members, Kent Matsuoka and myself, Joni Coyote and Miami-based scout, Alejo Menendez.
The USVI offers a wealth of different looks on four main islands, without leaving the United States. We traveled in small vans, open air taxi, powerboat and seaplane to see colonial streets, villas, palm-lined beaches with turquoise water, outlying islands, roads and ruins.
St. Thomas abounds with beautiful beaches, villas, sugar mill ruins and historic areas. From the textured old walkways downtown, to some of the oldest areas in St. Thomas — one street could even pass for Greece.
Captain David Pearsall took us to St. John, passing many dramatic rocky islands shared with pelicans, flying fish, sea turtles, iguanas and hermit crabs. Arriving in Cruz Bay, we took an open-air taxi service to more villas with stunning views. After seeing an industrial bay in St. Thomas, Water Island’s clear turquoise water beckoned us to swim.
Our transport to reach St. Croix was a commercial seaplane. Starting in Christiansted, we visited the historic fort and walked through the charming downtown, filled with old colorful Danish buildings and arched covered stone walkways. Fredriksted’s boardwalk, an old refinery and a drive through the rain forest were other highlights.
The diversity of locations found on these islands in a very compact area is certainly production worthy. The Film Commission wants to bring filming back to the USVI and will definitely help you to make things happen.
For more information, contact Steve Bornn, Development Manager, Film USVI, Cell 202/841-5878, firstname.lastname@example.org.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS FAM TRIP — by Kent Matsuoka
As someone intimately familiar with tropical locations, I jumped at the chance to tour the Virgin Islands. Steve Bornn, the USVI Film Commissioner, is a consummate host and provided an extensive FAM tour of the four major islands that comprise the territory.
Our first day of scouting we went to the beaches at Magens Bay and Botany Bay, a couple of local estates, the historic Dutch influenced port town of Charlotte Amalie, Dronningens Gage, Synagogue Hill, and Norre Gade. The availability of locations are far more diverse than the typical Caribbean port town and beaches normally associated with the Virgin Islands.
On the second day, we scouted Lovango Cay, Congo Cay, and Carvel Rock by boat, which provide beautiful channels and waterways with lush islands on either side. We then visited several estates on St John, as well as the historic Hassel Island and secluded Water Island, which are only accessible by boat. Though they are within Charlotte Amalie harbor and easily accessible by ferry, this element added an additional security factor for ‘Benjamin Button,’ which filmed on Honeymoon Beach, keeping tourists and paparazzi high and dry. ‘Twilight’s’ experience at Magens Bay was similar as the Authority closed the public beach during filming.
On the third day, we took a 20 minute flight to St Croix, the largest island in the territory and home to the historic forts of Christiansted, the back streets of Gallows Bay, Point Udall, Sandy Point, Frederiksted, Mahogany Road, River Road, and Cane Bay. Also available on the island are fabulous villas including a 50’s modern beach house and a colonial estate.
Steve Bornn and his staff rolled out the red carpet and showed us that the government is able to accommodate any reasonable request to bring filming back to the VI and willing to do what they can to facilitate your next shoot scripted for paradise.