Location guide for filming in Greece


Overview

Greece offers a mide film location perspective. A spectacularly beautiful nation, it is home to mountains, beaches, islands, antiquities and more.

Economic unrest has had an adverse impact on the economy in recent years, but Greece still has a strong production base, with talented crews and modern rental equipment as a result of the country’s thriving TV business. For film and commercials, local companies claim to be cheaper than rival markets such as

Spain and Portugal though lack of targeted tax incentives is an issue. There are also costs associated with shooting on Greek islands. In terms of access, capital city Athens is a four-hour flight from London and ten hours from New York. There are also international airports on a number of Greek islands.
 

Recent Productions

Greece has a rich production heritage, having hosted numerous high profile films as far back as the 1950s and 1960s (Boy on a Dolphin, The Guns of Navarone, Zorba the Greek etc). More recently, Mamma Mia! was shot on the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. Other titles to have been shot in the country include The Bourne Identity (2002) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (2003). In 2013, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight used numerous Greek locations in and around the region of Messinia. The film, which starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, did well financially – with Linklater praising Greece as a filming location.

As a popular holiday destination, Greece is always in with a shout of featuring in TV commercials. In 2014, for example, the island of Crete featured in an ad for Thomson Holidays. Shot by Sonny London with production services provided by Green Olive Films, the TVC showed a father transforming from a grumpy ogre into his usual happy self once his holiday was underway. Another Greece-based production services firm Avion includes the likes of Duracell, EDF, Nestle, KFC, Nivea, Orange, P&G, Peugeot, Qantas and Mazda among its TV commercials credits. Avion also worked on a recent campaign for Visa that promoted Greece’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

More evidence of Greece’s appeal as a TVC location was HLA and AMV BBDO’s lovely execution for Total Greek Yoghurt.

Permits

Following the introduction of a new Cinema Law in 2010, it is no longer necessary to obtain a general film permit for shooting in Greece. However, producers still need to contact the relevant local authorities and get authorisation from them. To shoot in archaeological sites, a special permit is required from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism – though this is reportedly easier to arrange than it used to be. Specific permits are also needed for aerial shots or to close off public places.

As explained above, Greece has also cut prices for filming at historic sites in Athens. Permitting has also been simplified. Film Policy is led by the Ministry of Culture via the Greek Film Centre. In turn, the GFC has a sub-division entitled the Hellenic Film Commission that aids foreign producers. 

Tax breaks / incentives

Greece doesn’t have any film tax incentives at present, which means it risks losing work to other countries. There is evidence, however, that talent would work in Greece if the financial situation allowed it. A recent article in an English-language Greek newspaper said the likes of Jeremy Irons, Ethan Hawke and Sarah Jessica Parker are all fans of the country; Parker is also reportedly keen on filming Sex and the City 3 in the country.

The Greek government is believed to be looking at the matter of incentives, assessing whether tax breaks would support Greece’s tourist industry. It has also made moves to try and encourage filming in and around its ancient monuments. Until now, it has always been expensive and bureaucratic to do so. But there have been concerted attempts to make this area more film-friendly.

Whether the government will actually decide on a film tax break is uncertain. Countries on austerity programmes tend to shy away from such tools because of political opposition. It may however be able to offer incentives on a case by case basis.

Studios

Mostly TV studios

Locations

Picturesque whitewashed towns with blue-domed churches, black and white sand beaches and beautiful azure seas make the Greek Islands perhaps Greece’s most sought after film destination. Islands of particular interest include Santorini, Rhodes, Kefallonia, Zakynthos, Crete, Mykonos and Corfu to name a few.

Greece offers a great wealth of architectural beauty including:

• Ancient Greece’s archaeological ruins – The Acropolis, Olympia, Delphi, Delos, Epidaurus, The Temple of Epicurean Apollo and Mycenae.
• Thessalonica Early Christian and Byzantine architecture.
• Meteora Monastery built on rocky pinnacles.
• Medieval cities of Rhodes and Mystras.
• Neoclassical architecture in the cities of Ermoupolis and Nafplion.
• Ottoman-influenced buildings in Grevená and Kozáni.
• Modern architecture – Athens Olympic facilities, Thessaloniki Science Center & Technology Museum and the New Acropolis Museum.

Greece’s natural landscape is just as varied as its architectural heritage. Locations of particular interest to filmmakers and photographers include idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards, lush forests, sand dunes, snowy mountains, caves, gorges, lakes, rivers and national parks.

Athens is the main production centre and all needs to travel from there.

Equipment

Athens is the main production centre and here you will find good crews and equipment rental firms. The city is also home to production services firms like Green Olive and Avion Films, the latter being a member of the Global Production Network. According to Avion, “Equipment rental companies provide state-of-the-art equipment for 35mm, 16mm and High Definition (RED EPIC, ALEXA). Stock can be purchased locally through Kodak or Fuji offices.

For stock processing, there are 3 big labs, including a Kodak lab.” There are also “large Athens-based studios and excellent infrastructure, which was upgraded for the 2004 Olympic Games, accommodating any interior filming needs.” Skilled set builders and post-production houses can also be found in Greece. In terms of casting, you can find Caucasian, Mediterranean, Asian, Indian and African etc.

Other local firms that provide production support include Film Greece, which has positive testimonials from clients in Japan, Italy, the UK, US and India. These clients include National Geographic TV and The History Channel.

Climate

Summers are warm/hot with a distinct three month dry period. The wettest season is winter when it is generally mild although cold spells can occur. Snow in winter in the mountain regions is frequent and not uncommon elsewhere although it is rare on the islands. Spring and autumn are short seasons with changeable weather


With the support of the Eurimages Fund of the Council of Europe






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