Puerto Rico’s IATSE Local 494 has reopened for business, but there might not be much film business on the hurricane-ravaged island for months to come. The first order of business for union officials when the office reopened Wednesday was to reach out to its 300-plus members to offer assistance and make sure they’d survived the storm.
“We have some loses of houses, cars and property, but no lives were lost, fortunately,” Emmanuel Colon, an assistant at the union’s office in San Juan, told Deadline.
The office still has no electricity and is running on a backup generator, but it does have a concrete utility pole that toppled over onto the wall in front of the building. Otherwise, the office survived pretty much intact, Colon said, but fallen trees still block the street in front of the building.
Drinking water is still scarce, and the office staff must rely on bottled water. “We do have water to wash stuff but no drinkable water at the moment,” Colon said.
Telephone service on the island remains spotty since Hurricane Maria made landfall two weeks ago. “There’s a little cell phone service in the metro area.” he said, “but it’s a dead zone everywhere else on the island.”
“We were actually working with a few productions” prior to the storm, he said. The fate of those shows is unknown, however.
With one of the country’s most attractive film tax incentives programs, Puerto Rico has hosted more than 100 feature film since the incentives were adopted in 1999. 22 Jump Street filmed there in 2014, and Cigarette, starring John Travolta, filmed there just before the storm hit.