Fast & Furious 8, when Hollywood Meets Cuba

Hollywood in Havana. Foto: David Gonzalez/FB

HAVANA TIMES — The new relationship between the US and Cuba opened the door to Hollywood productions filming on the island and the hiring of local support staff.

The current filming of “Fast and Furious 8” in the Cuban capital has been a major event, with advantages and disadvantages depending on each person’s perspective.

The following is a report on the development of the filming, arrangements with locals and inconveniences to the population on the streets used.

Fast and Furious 8

By Ramon Peralta  (Progreso Semanal)

A pedicab driver had enough after three days of being forbidden to cross Reina Street.  He was heard shouting: “see how the Communists sell out to the Americans.” The same state of opinion is heard in different sectors of society, from the most humble trapped in poverty, to better positioned sophisticated intellectuals. What unites them perhaps is a virtual class consciousness, a long-learned anti-imperialism from school and television, but also perhaps because they are not part of the business.

“Havana taken by the English,” says a woman while watching a brutal helicopter flying above the roofs bordering the El Curita park in Centro Habana. Conquered, apparently without barriers, by one of the most innovative, stable and colonizing industries of Western capitalism. Truck Trailers, vans and cars and motorcycle ramps expose the demon exorcised so many times. Universal City Studios seems incredibly at home.

“This is a sprint,” says Fernando, “one feels ready for more than just closing streets, but with the money I will be able to buy a desktop computer to edit videos, I also want to pay an incentive to the boys at Etecsa [the government telecommunications co.] for them to transfer my landline, and then maybe even buy me a bicycle.”

More than 200 production assistants, mostly young people and professionals, -film industry workers, philologists, actors, etcetera, close streets and keep the population away from the dangerous racing circuits. The payment received at the end of these 10 days will mean a considerable boost, but for a very narrow sector of society. This “bitter pill” is equivalent to two years’ average salary. So Gabriel, who has moved to a friend’s house to not use his grandparents little water stored in a pair of tanks, plans to buy a water pump and solve the critical health problem in their apartment in Central Havana.

The expenses are projected and can vary depending on the best incentive and control tool that capitalism has made in Hollywood: the payment of overtime. “As they pass the 12 hours laid down in the contract and overtime begins I get excited,” claims Yosvani, who began to desire a Niko camera with an interchangeable lens. Likewise if the worker does not give it their all -and this is very possible in Cuba, they can be told that they proved too lazy to deserve overtime.

Yosvani’s plans tensed as they ended the lengthy and laborious action scenes with doubles, when the true Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michel Rodriguez) began to appear on location. With the stars, the shooting decreased along with the overtime. However his expectations grew so much with the overtime that he decided not to give up the dream and borrow to get it.

The contracts were signed a month earlier with a Mexican company related to Universal. The Cubans say they did not receive a copy of the document. Every man or woman also signed a neat and clever confidentiality clause depriving them of the right to defend themselves, or even to make some sort of public complaint should they feel they were mistreated or abused.

Millions of dollars will enter the country directly or indirectly from this business, but it is certainly not legally equipped to do so, at least with a clear conscience and a minimum of seriousness.

Other issues failed as well: several young employees confirmed, at the risk of going to jail or paying a huge fine, the rumor that the State company Palco was dismissed for failing to meet the quality requirements in its contract for catering lunches. Instead, production assistants received an expense allowance and ate in neighboring private cafes.

All the small businesses on Reina Street were appeased with incentives to stop working and some were used by the team for their bathrooms. The silent complicity and cooperation they showed, ran contrary -to the sometimes bellicose neighbors, or outraged intellectuals- and was similar to the silence the young production assistants showed when someone whose passage was blocked yelled “sell outs.”

10 thoughts on “Fast & Furious 8, when Hollywood Meets Cuba

  • I agree… I naively watched the first edition when I was in college, purely due to peer pressure as these kinds of films do not interest me one bit, and since then, my mind boggles as to how this franchise has made it this far, and survived. And now to propagate this message of violence and mindless scripting in Cuba? Very sad.

  • Whatever you’re drinking, please order me a case.

    Thank you.

  • fast and the furious films are geared toward the less educated population in the u.s., which is, unfortunately, a large portion of the u.s. population. the themes of their movies revolve around sex and violence . I am sorry to see this type of message being promoted in cuba.

  • “Thus par of society has come to see theft from the state as normal. There has been propagation of illegal construction with relative impunity moreover in inappropriate sites, non-authorized occupation of housing, illicit marketing of goods and services, non-fulfillment of working hours illegal cattle rustling and slaughter, capture of marine species in danger of extinction and utilization of the art of fishing, felling of forestry resources including in Havana’s magnificent Botanical Gardens, the hoarding of products in short supply and of bribes and their resale at higher prices, participation in games outside the law, price violations, preying on tourism and infraction of established regulations related to informatics security.”
    Would you Mr. Haney care to disagree with that analysis of Cubans?
    It is a direct quote of President Raul Castro Ruz speaking on July 7, 2013.
    The accuracy of President Raul Castro’s analysis is illustrated for example by the count of state owned cattle in Villa Clara commencing in November 2013 when it was found that 6,934 animals were missing. In the first 8 months of 2014 a further 1,188 cattle were reported stolen and slaughtered in Villa Clara by the Ministry of Interior. Regarding housing, an application made by a young couple with two children to construct an 850 sq.ft. two bedroom house, accompanied by architectural drawings and with finance available made in December 2014, had not been approved a full year later in December, 2015.
    This just goes to prove Mr. Haney, that you don’t know the reality of Cuba following fifty seven years of imposed communist dictatorship. You don’t understand the conditions under which Cubans have to endeavor to exist and you obviously don’t care about them. For you ‘socialismo’ is the equivalent of the Holy Grail. Pursue it Mr.
    Haney, go and live in Cuba.on a Cubans ‘income’.

  • Your comment is delusional. I make no mention of pre- or post-1959 Cuba. I also have no idea what you are referring to with your comment about the “recapture of Cuba”.

  • Interesting that a Miami based publication can have such detailed knowledge of what is happening in Havana. Cuba hardly seems cut off from the outside world.
    Interesting that someone feels free to shout on the streets, “…see how the Communists sell out to the Americans.”
    In Vancouver, jobs on film shoots would be assigned by a union hiring hall. How did the Mexican company get in touch with potential Cuban employees?
    And the vehicles shown in the picture? Presumably they came to Cuba by ship.
    And if it’s true that “…Palco was dismissed for failing to meet the quality requirements,” what kind of shake up can we anticipate?
    But the main question is how far the money will go in easing the hardships endured by the average Cuban.

  • “… Millions of dollars will enter the country directly or indirectly from
    this business, but it is certainly not legally equipped to do so, at
    least with a clear conscience and a minimum of seriousness…”

    Pure drivel.

  • Absolutely, Moses!! “Everyone” in Cuba since 1959 is a 100% crook while “everyone” in the preceding Batista-Mafia regime were Mother Teresa-type saints. Thanks to Mr. Obama, such anti-Cuban propaganda as you espouse is wasting a lot of space that could possibly be utilized on topics that didn’t concern the recapture of Cuba.

  • So much for the Castros ‘New Man’. From the very top all the way down, everyone has got their price. In Cuba, because of Castro-style socialism, the price is very low.

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