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Queensland has some of the most amazing landscapes on the planet, from beaches to jungles, and we took full advantage of that diversity JERRY BRUCKHEIMER - Producer, Pirates of the Carribean â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Dead Men Tell No Tales
Queensland has a strong track record of creating high quality international films and we are already welcoming back productions to our state
Contact Screen Queensland about film incentives and production attraction programs, along with on-the-ground support including location scouting
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SCREEN QUEENSLAND STUDIOS AUSTRALIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEWEST AND MOST AFFORDABLE STAGES
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Filming of "Rifkin's Festival". Woody Allen on La Concha beach. San Sebastian (Spain)
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Land of great productions and auteur films Unique film locations, up to 40% tax deduction, excellence of local professionals, personalised and free Film Commission services… these are some of the advantages of shooting here. Contact San Sebastian-Gipuzkoa Film Commission and we will help you with your next project.
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LocationFinder.ai - Let the Power of AI Help You Source Your Perfect Location LocationFinder.ai is an advanced online platform enabling virtual location searches worldwide. The ability to conduct virtual location searches will continue to be a pressing need as the Film and TV industries grow. With over 1 million images uploaded, and hundreds of top Location Managers registered, there is no better way to safely and effectively source a location for your shoot.
The site's AI powered visual search platform performs as a suggestion engine, finding locations similar to the source image. LocationFinder is quite literally beyond words. By eliminating key word searches that never quite capture the detail images convey, it retrieves hundreds of potential location options from many contributors. Searches can be refined by design features, geographic location and distance from the production office or studio.
LocationFinder.ai allows agencies and production companies to market their locations to a wide variety of local and international audiences. It enables Film Commissions to highlight locations in their respective towns and regions to the global filming industry. To book a demo of the site, please contact us at: Email: email@example.com or Tel: +44 (0) 20 3887 0501
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LOCATION20 21 INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASING THE GLOBAL PRODUCTION INDUSTRY
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ALEXANDRA PALACE THEATRE, LONDON The Alexandra Palace Theatre is inside Alexandra Palace, a historic entertainment and sports venue in north London that first opened in 1875. Closed for 80 years, the restored Grade II listed theatre re-opened to the public in December 2018. Preserved in this beautiful state of arrested decay, the space combines its original features with modern facilities including retractable seating for flexible capacity, allowing productions to explore a wide range of possibilities. The rich history of Alexandra Palace provides a multi-location site for productions – with numerous pillar-free flexible indoor areas that can be used as studio spaces, 196 acres of park and woodland areas, Victorian basements, an on-site pub, ice rink and unit base facilities, all set against a panoramic view of London’s skyline. Recent shoots include: Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019); TV productions Our Gay Wedding: The Musical (2014); The Real Full Monty (2018) and It’s Not The Robbie Williams Christmas Show (2019); and music videos God Only Knows (2014) for the BBC and Said It All (2018) by Take That.
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One of the world's leading production hubs. What is it doing right?
A genuine filmmaker's paradise
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A lightning tour of this vast and diverse region
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Way Down brings Madrid city centre to a standstill
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The UK is firmly established as one of the world’s leading production hubs — and the latest figures from the British Film Institute confirm it. In 2019 overall production hit £3.6bn, an increase of 16% and the highest total on record. So what is it doing right, asks ANDY FRY?
VER the last decade, the UK has hosted more
than its fair share of prestigious movies and TV series. Particularly satisfying is that the country is managing to grow its film production revenues — up 7% year on year to £1.96bn — while also picking up large volumes of high-end TV (up 29% to £1.66bn). Feature films that have visited the UK recently include Sam Mendes’ 1917 (1919), Cary Joji Fukunaga’s James Bond movie No Time to Die (2020), Cate Shortland’s Black Widow (2020), Robert Zemeckis’ The Witches (2020), Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020) and Chloé Zhao’s The Eternals (2021). High-end international TV productions that have been fueling the UK boom include Outlander (2014-), The Crown (2016-), His Dark Materials (2019-), Brave New World (2020), and more recently Black Narcissus and The Serpent. It isn’t just Anglo-US content that is boosting the sector. The British Film Institute’s (BFI) inward-investment data reveals that 29 Indian productions were made in the UK during 2019 with a collective spend of £112m. All this comes in addition to the European co-productions that are an increasing feature of the high-end TV market. “Clearly, the UK is a beneficiary of the global content boom that is being driven by the streaming platforms,” says Adrian Wootton, CEO of the British Film Commission (BFC) and Film London. “But I think our ability to take advantage of that is down to our stable fiscal regime. The UK’s attractive 25% incentive gives our international partners the consistency they crave and has encouraged our own industry to keep investing in infrastructure. The studios, the crews, the acting talent and the post-production facilities are all important.” On top of that, Wootton adds, is the UK’s array of natural and built locations: “There’s a distinctiveness about UK locations that producers like, but parts of the country also have the ability to double for places like New York.”
The UK’s offer is not limited to Greater London and its network of world-class studios. Indeed, the biggest beneficiaries of the high-end TV boom are the UK’s nations and regions — Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, North West England, Yorkshire and the fast-growing film hub of Bristol in the South West. “We saw the potential for high-end production around the UK when HBO’s Game of Thrones moved into Belfast’s Titanic Studios 10 years ago,” Wootton says. “But I don't think any of us imagined we’d get to the point where growth in the film and TV business helped keep the UK out of recession last year.” Game of Thrones (2011-19) has added some £250m to Northern Ireland’s economy over the last decade. HBO has now given up its lease at Titanic Studios, but the reality is that Northern Ireland has seized the opportunity to build an infrastructure that is not dependent on a single
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NOBODY DOES IT BETTER Locations chosen for Bond movie No Time to Die include England and Scotland – and of course the 007 sound stage at Pinewood Studios
“I DON'T THINK ANY OF US IMAGINED WE’D GET TO THE POINT WHERE GROWTH IN THE FILM AND TV BUSINESS HELPED KEEP THE UK OUT OF RECESSION LAST YEAR” ADRIAN WOOTTON
show. At the start of 2020, for example, Belfast Harbour Studios, home to productions including Syfy’s Krypton (2018-19), unveiled plans for a £45m expansion. If approved, this would add an extra six stages, making it the largest studio complex outside of South East England. Richard Williams, chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, says the announcement comes at a perfect time for the local screen industry: “With Disney and Apple joining Netflix and Amazon in the launch of on-demand streaming services, there’s no end in sight to the demand for high-end, high-cost content. That has led to unprecedented demand for studio space globally.” Proof of Northern Ireland’s post-Game of Thrones appeal can be seen in the range of series that located there in 2019, including Line of Duty, Derry Girls, The Deceived, Dublin Murders and Marcella. Coming
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Tax Reliefs Production Support Studios Post-Production Locations Visual Effects Cast Crew Directors Producers Writers The UK.
The British Film Commission provides free, tailored production support, from development through to delivery.
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We produced the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production guidance. Speak to our teams for support to help your production stay COVID-secure.
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With offices in the UK and the US, we are available 24 hours a day. Talk to us about basing your production in the UK. www.britishfilmcommission.org.uk
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The Windermere Children, based on a true story about the child survivors of concentration camps
into 2020, filming started on Bloodlands, a new crime drama for BBC One starring James Nesbitt and produced with funding from Northern Ireland Screen. While cityscapes, studio space and set-construction capabilities have all been a massive draw for international producers, so has Northern Ireland’s rugged landscape, utilised so effectively in Game of Thrones. In 2019, Northern Ireland doubled as England’s Lake District for the filming of The Windermere Children (2020), a BBC/ZDF co-production based on a true story about the child survivors of concentration camps. One key location used by producer Wall To Wall was Glenarm Castle, a stately home in County Antrim. “We filmed in woods, and on and underwater in the lakes,” says director Michael Samuels. “And we had big set pieces, such as a football match. There were also challenges specific to this film. Most of the young actors were restricted in the number of hours they could work each day. Also, we often had literally hundreds of extras to contend with. The wardrobe and make-up departments were heroic.” Wales is another hub that has benefited hugely from the expansion of the global production business. Like Northern Ireland, it boasts a mix of spectacular coastlines, lush greenery, historical and modern architecture, state-of-the-art studios and great crews — not to mention financial support from Welsh agencies. Productions lured by this offer include Universal Content Productions/Amblin Television’s adaptation of Brave New World, backed by a grant from Screen Wales. Based in Dragon Studios, the series is set to be “the largest production ever filmed here”, according to the Welsh Government’s deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas. He adds: “The importance of our investment in this production to the development of our film and TV industry cannot be overstated.” Brave New World follows where BBC fantasy series His Dark Materials (2919-) has already led. Based on the books by Philip Pullman, the new series was primarily shot by indie producer Bad Wolf at its own studio complex, Wolf Studios, near Cardiff. Many spectacular sequences were filmed at the studios, underlining the quality of Wales’ set construction and VFX capabilities. Speaking about his role as Lord Asriel, actor James McAvoy says: “I have a lot of scenes in the frozen wastes of the north. You always go: ‘Are we going to go somewhere really freezing?’
They go: ‘No, we've got a bunch of kids running about and we can't take them all to Finnish Lapland so we’ll do it in studio.’ You go: ‘All right, it’s going to be rubbish.’ Then you walk on the set and it's stunning.” The film and TV industry in Scotland also continues to do brisk business. Among the numerous films to have visited in 2019 are Fast and Furious 9, No Time to Die and the Oscar-winning 1917. TV series that have gone north include Channel 4’s Deadwater Fell (2020), BBC One’s Call the Midwife (2012) and Starz’s Outlander. The latter, which has shot several seasons in Scotland, is based at Wardpark Film and Television Studios in Cumbernauld, which has 200,000 sq ft of studio space. Scotland’s exquisite lochs and mountains are, of course, a big draw and have played host to No Time to Die, Falling for Figaro and Perfect Strangers in the past 18 months. But just as important is the twin
VIRTUAL SCOUTING A NEW online service, UK-based LocationFinder.ai, launched in the first quarter of 2020 – perfectly timed for the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic which put many aspects of the filmmaking process on hold. LocationFinder.ai is designed to enable the virtual search of locations both in the UK and around the world. The service aggregates location libraries onto a single platform, “making it a one-stop-shop for global location searches”, according to LocationFinder.ai director Karen Everett. “In our work managing film services for London local authorities, we often get sent photos by location scouts asking ‘Do you know anywhere that looks like this?’ People no longer use words to describe what they are looking for. We thought it would be interesting to build a location search engine that puts all the separate agency content under one roof and uses machine-learning-driven visual search to go beyond words.” Next for LocationFinder.ai is an app to which location scouts can upload images as part of their research. “You can be standing in New York, take a photo of a building and LocationFinder.ai will show you similar buildings in London,” Everett says. UK-based location manager Jojo Warne (Spider-Man: Far From Home, 2019; Emma, 2020) says the service has revealed some “great places” that he has subsequently followed up. “It also has actually been a useful tool in reminding us of other locations that we had forgotten about,” Warne adds.
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attraction of Glasgow and Edinburgh. “The two cities are both close to beautiful countryside,” says Glasgow Film Office film commissioner Jennifer Reynolds. “And they have complementary looks. We have a lot of historical Victorian architecture, while Edinburgh offers Georgian. And it’s only about an hour by motorway between the two, so it’s easy for crews to travel between them.” Glasgow’s recent high-profile clients include Sam Mendes with 1917, who shot a spectacular bridge-crossing scene at the city’s historic Govan Graving Docks. “The crew was here setting up and shooting for around two months across the spring and summer,” Reynolds says. Reynolds is limited as to what she can share because of confidentiality agreements, but local media has also been keeping a close eye on the new Batman film, starring Robert Pattinson, which has shot at various locations around Glasgow. In one scene, Batman is seen riding a motorbike around the Necropolis cemetery near the city’s cathedral. According to Reynolds, Glasgow also has some great contemporary looks in its financial district and has been used very effectively to double for other locations. “We can be London or New York,” she says. “In Sky Atlantic’s Patrick Melrose , our Barras market was transformed into Manhattan’s Meatpacking District in the 1980s. One of the things production people always tell us is that Glasgow’s grid system helps when trying to create the illusion that we’re in America.”
“WE CAN BE LONDON OR NEW YORK. ONE OF THE THINGS PRODUCTION PEOPLE TELL US IS THAT GLASGOW’S GRID SYSTEM HELPS WHEN TRYING TO CREATE THE ILLUSION THAT WE’RE IN AMERICA” JENNIFER REYNOLDS
Within England, the production boom has created opportunities for location work across the country. The dynamic north-western city of Liverpool, for example, is just coming off the back of a record-breaking 18 months during which it serviced 324 different film and TV projects. With 1,750 production days in total, the Liverpool Film Office reported “an increasing trend in the number of high-end TV dramas coming to the city”. Productions including Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star (2017-), Netflix’s The Crown and the BBC’s World on Fire (2919-) helped bring £17.6m into the local economy.
A scene from Sam Mendes’ 1917 shot at Glasgow’s historic Govan Graving Docks
Tin Star sees the central characters relocate from Canada to the UK to face their troubled past. “Liverpool City Region provided us with a wealth of cinematic locations, and the support we received from Liverpool Film Office and the people of this city has been instrumental in creating our third series,” says executive producer Alison Jackson. Other productions filmed in the region in 2019 included Amazon Prime’s The Feed, Sky One’s Cobra and Netflix’s The Irregulars. The last, produced by Drama Republic, is set in Victorian London and follows a gang of delinquent teens who are manipulated into solving crimes for a sinister figure named Doctor Watson. In 2019, Liverpool also doubled as New York in Das Boot(2018-), Madrid in Years and Years (2019) and Wales in The Snow Spider (2020-). Liverpool Film Office manager Lynn Saunders says: “We are attracting an increasing number of highend dramas, which spend more time filming here. This is not only an invaluable economic boost, but also benefits us reputationally.” In terms of building sustainability into its offer, Liverpool has launched its own regional production fund and is soon to have its own film studio. The Littlewoods Film Studio will offer two 20,000 sq ft sound stages and is scheduled to launch in 2021. The fund, which is open to qualifying local, national and international companies, will typically invest up to 20% of a production’s budget, with a cap of £500,000 per project. It can also be combined with UK tax reliefs. The English county of Yorkshire seized the opportunity presented by the global production boom when it launched the Yorkshire Content Fund in 2012. Since then, it has invested in more than 40 projects,
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including Peaky Blinders (2013-), Dad’s Army (2016), Ackley Bridge (2017), Official Secrets (2019) and Gentleman Jack (2019-). The county went a stage further in November 2018 when it launched a film office — a move that has further boosted Yorkshire’s production prospects. Across 2019, Yorkshire hosted 27 high-end TV productions and 14 feature films — the equivalent of 1,500 days of work. Feature films supported by Screen Yorkshire’s Film Office included Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019), Downton Abbey (2019) and Military Wives (2019). Among the most substantial TV shoots in 2019 was The English Game (2020-), a Netflix series written by Julian Fellowes that explores the emergence of professional football in the 1870s. Locations included the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire and Keighley’s historical railway station. Also featured in the production was Bradford City Hall and the city’s Little Germany merchant district. ITV’s Victoria (2016-) is another production that has been embedded in Yorkshire for several seasons, utilising both historical locations and Church Fenton Yorkshire Studios, where Buckingham Palace scenes have been meticulously recreated. Also of note is All Creatures Great and Small, a recent adaptation of James Herriot’s famous novels, produced by Playground for Channel 5, PBS Masterpiece and All3Media International. Commenting on the input from Screen Yorkshire, Noëlette Buckley, Playground’s head of production, says: “Local knowledge and experience was vital when we were making decisions about where to base ourselves and who we might consider for the team.” Caroline Cooper Charles, head of strategic programmes at Screen Yorkshire, says All Creatures Great and Small shot towards the end of 2019 in the Yorkshire Dales. “It perfectly showcases the countryside that Yorkshire is so famous for,” she says. “But it’s only one of many looks the region offers. We also have rural, industrial, sleek modern architecture, spectacular coastline...” Chris Hordley, a former location manager who is now part of Screen Yorkshire’s production liaison and development team, adds: “A big attraction for producers is the sheer number of stately homes here, which are great for period dramas. And the city of Hull is perfect as a double for London — most recently in The Personal History of David Copperfield .” Among the big stories coming out of Yorkshire right now are the planned relocation of broadcaster Channel 4 from London to Leeds and the imminent launch of Leeds Studio. Backed by All Studios, Prime Studios and Leeds City Council, the new complex will provide five world-class production stages for TV, feature-film and commercials clients. Ben Hepworth, managing director of Prime Studios, says the new facility will offer more than 130,000 sq ft of production space, including 68,000 sq ft of premium sound stages. “It’s exactly the kind of facility we need to be able to host all aspects of high-end scripted productions in the region,” he adds. “Instead of being based in London and coming up to Yorkshire for its locations, the new studio will provide the likes of Netflix and Amazon with everything they need. We’ve already seen a significant number of enquiries from producers who recognise that it will act as a gateway to Yorkshire’s locations.’’ While Leeds Studios looks set to be a game-changer, one factor that can often stall a region’s expansion plans is access to crew. But
“LEEDS STUDIO IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF FACILITY WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO HOST HIGH-END PRODUCTIONS. IT WILL PROVIDE THE LIKES OF NETFLIX AND AMAZON WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED”
Screen Yorkshire’s Cooper Charles and Hordley say their county is also addressing this point through the development of a regional crew and facilities service. “We’ve launched a survey so we can establish the scale of the existing crew base in Yorkshire and Humber,” Hordley says. “This will enable us to create a comprehensive crew and facilities database. That way, we’ll be able to show incoming productions exactly what Yorkshire can offer in terms of experienced crew members.” Liverpool and Yorkshire have been key players in the development of a compelling production offer from the north of England. Not to be overlooked in this context is Manchester, which has a superb tradition of production, mainly in TV. “Manchester has always had a lot of great crews, studios and locations,” says Bobby Cochrane, development manager at Screen Manchester. “Two years ago we launched a dedicated film office to try to promote a unified front to filmmakers. That has really paid off, with a significant rise in the level of film and high-end TV we are now servicing.” 2019’s figures underline Cochrane’s point: “The film office processed 454 production enquiries, with over 300 productions shot over a total of 684 filming days. This has generated an on-location spend of more than £7m. Clients that have been filming in and around the city include Netflix, Amazon, Sky, Sony Pictures and the BBC.” A recent project that showcased Manchester’s credentials was Netflix’s The Crown, which used the city’s Northern Quarter to double for 1980s New York. “We worked with The Crown production team for a number of months to secure the necessary permissions and permits to film in the city centre,” Cochrane says. Spider-Man spin-off Morbius (2021) also used the Northern
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Quarter to cheat contemporary New York, complete with yellow taxis, blue US Mail postboxes and a Ford Mustang. And Sky’s Das Boot also picked the same section of Manchester to recreate 1940s New York. “It all goes to show the city’s growing appeal to producers seeking to double,” Cochrane adds. “And we also have locations that can double for London, such as Manchester Town Hall, which played the Houses Of Parliament in BBC One’s A Very English Scandal .” Other productions that landed during 2019 included the BBC’s Peaky Blinders and Netflix’s The Stranger (2020), based on the novel by Harlan Coben. “The Stranger was made by Red Productions, which is based in Manchester,” Cochrane adds. “It was a good advert for the varied looks across the city and the film-friendly nature of the community. It used locations including Ancoats, St Peter’s Square and Whalley Range, but it wasn’t intended to be Manchester. The producers wanted a neutral, contemporary look that could be almost anywhere.” Like its northern neighbours, Manchester is keen to extend its appeal to producers by offering studio space to support its location story. This ambition is aided by Space Studios, which opened in 2017. “Space
is part of the city’s long-term strategy in this sector,” Cochrane says. “It’s a purpose-built film and television facility with six stages. Projects it has hosted recently include political drama Cobra [2020-21] for Sky One.” Another UK hotspot that has combined studio, location and crew strengths to build its profile is Bristol. In 2019, the city, which is home to the Bottle Yard Studios, hosted several prestige productions, including The Pale Horse (2020/Mammoth Screen for BBC One), The Spanish Princess (1919/Starz) and The Trial of Christine Keeler (2019-20/Ecosse Films for BBC One). For The Pale Horse, a Chelsea-apartment set was built at the Bottle Yard, while the six-week shoot also used locations to double for London’s Soho and East End in the 1960s. The Keeler project, meanwhile, filmed for 17 weeks at the Bottle Yard, with sets including interiors of London’s Wimpole Mews and Marylebone Police Station. Cast members filmed at more than 10 locations around Bristol to recreate 1960s London, including offices above St Nicholas Market, which were used to double for the War Office and MI5. Executive producer Douglas Rae says what Bristol has created
“THE STRANGER WAS A GOOD ADVERT FOR MANCHESTER. BUT IT WASN’T INTENDED TO BE MANCHESTER. THE PRODUCERS WANTED A NEUTRAL, CONTEMPORARY LOOK THAT COULD BE ALMOST ANYWHERE” BOBBY COCHRANE
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“is very special”. He adds: “To be able to produce a major drama with over 80 speaking parts and up to 500 people working on it, and to find everything in one city that you can get around so easily, is remarkable.” Bristol’s popularity as a production hub has also helped put the nearby city of Bath on the location map. For The Trial of Christine Keeler, filming took place for eight days at The Guildhall in Bath, which doubled for London’s Old Bailey. Rachel Bowers, manager of the Bath Film Office, says: "There aren’t many period court rooms left available for filming, so we were delighted to offer Bath’s Guildhall. Abbey Green was also used for a scene set in Notting Hill.” Bath’s sumptuous settings also featured prominently in ITV’s new series McDonald & Dodds (2020-), which was based at Bristol’s Bottle Yard for the 10-week shoot. Starring Jason Watkins (The Crown) and Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet), the Mammoth Screen production is a love letter to Bath, with locations including Lansdown Crescent, Parade Gardens, Abbey Churchyard, the Guildhall and The Bell Inn. Mammoth Screen managing director Damien Timmer says Bath takes centre stage in McDonald & Dodds: “It provided us with a wealth of varied sites, from impressive Grade II-listed buildings, cathedrals and gardens to hospitals, libraries and gyms, which were chosen to reflect the classic and historical city of Bath in a contemporary setting.” Last year was also “incredibly busy for London”, BFC/Film London’s Wootton says. “The capital hosted a wide range of film and television productions, both out on location and at the various studios in and around the city.” He cites Amazon Studios’ The Aeronauts (2019), which shot all over London, notably in Greenwich. The film, set in the 1860s, stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as, respectively, a scientist and a pilot attempting to break the world-altitude record in a hot-air balloon. Also in London’s orbit last year were Oscar-winning movie Judy (2019), animation Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2020), Steven Knight’s A Christmas Carol (2019) and The Crown. “And 2020 began strongly with the arrival of The Batman  and Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible 7 ,” Wootton adds. According to Wootton, producers don’t just flock to London for its iconic tourist sites: “What I like about so many of the productions we saw in 2019 is the way they went looking for a new side to the city. A real strength of the capital is the endless diversity it has in terms of both historical and contemporary looks. The lexicon of London really lends itself to this new era of screen storytelling.” A case in point is Guy Ritchie’s gangster drama The Gentlemen (2019), which filmed all over London, from Mayfair and football team Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium to Bethnal Green and Billingsgate fish market. The Personal History of David Copperfield, meanwhile, filmed around Temple, Clapham and Wapping. Another strength is the support available to producers from London’s various agencies. “Possibly, we couldn't have said that a decade ago,” Wootton says. “But local authorities, transport bodies and the police all work really well with us to ensure that London continues to benefit economically from the production going on around the city, without it causing too much disruption to business and residents. Meanwhile, studios Pinewood (No Time to Die), Shepperton (1917), Elstree (The Crown) and Leavesden (Fast & Furious 9) continued to be busy throughout 2019. The big news at Pinewood was that it has signed a long-term deal with Walt Disney, with the latter set to occupy almost the whole complex for the foreseeable future. Sister studio Shepperton has a similar arrangement with Netflix. This is, of course, a welcome move for the UK workforce, but it does raise questions about where other productions might go. “We can’t ever be complacent about this issue,” Wootton says. “But more studio space is being built around London and in other parts of the UK. We have expansion at Elstree, Sky plans to build a huge new studio and Blackhall Studio plans to create another £150m studio complex in the Reading area. We also keep up a regular dialogue with property developers about spaces that can be temporary studios.”
Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet on the set of period drama Ammonite
THE BEST OF THE REST… CORNWALL: A steady stream of productions, including Poldark, Doc Martin, Delicious, Fisherman’s Friends and various Rosamunde Pilcher adaptations for German TV, have encouraged this spectacular, rugged county to launch its own film agency: Screen Cornwall. Its priority will be to increase filming days by positioning Cornwall as film-friendly for national and international productions. 2019 productions to have been shot in Cornwall include Mark Jenkin’s bizarre and brilliant Bait. COTSWOLDS: This picturesque region in the heart of England is blessed with numerous beautiful towns and villages, not to mention rolling hills and bucolic farmland. In 2019, the pretty village of Bisley near Stroud was transformed into the fictional Much Deeping for BBC One’s The Pale Horse. Three days of filming took place in the village, with The Bear Inn providing the setting for The Pale Horse, the pub where a trio of ‘witches’ seemingly plotted several deaths. DORSET: Home to Hardy Country and another gorgeous stretch of English coastline, Dorset has a tendency to pop up in period dramas. 2019 was no exception, with Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet’s Ammonite filming around Lyme Regis for two weeks. Set in the early 1800s, Winslet plays famous fossil hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning in a biopic of her life. Dorset also featured in Sweetheart, a low-budget film supported by Film London’s Microwave project. KENT: Situated south of London, ‘the Garden of England’ continues to grow in stature as a filming location, thanks to its diversity of looks and experienced film office. Recent productions include ITV’s new period drama Belgravia, based on a book by Julian Fellowes. The story of London high society in the 19th century, the series filmed at Chatham Historic Dockyard, which was also used in World on Fire. Also based in Kent last year were film The Fight, which shot around Folkestone, and season two of Liar, which was seen filming on Deal seafront. With Game of Thrones now finished, actress Maisie Williams was also spotted filming Two Weeks to Live (working title) around Thanet. SUSSEX: This South Coast county enjoyed a star turn on UK TV this year thanks to ITV mini-series Flesh and Blood. Actor Stephen Rea told Eastbourne Herald: "We filmed in Eastbourne. The two houses that feature in the story front on to the beach. You can walk straight out of the sea to the front door. Absolutely unbelievable. A tremendous location.” Flesh and Blood also filmed at Normans Bay, Pevensey Bay and the breathtaking Beachy Head. Film buffs will recall Beachy Head from Quadrophenia and Brighton Rock.”
ISLAND STORIES THE UK is surrounding by numerous evocative islands. One of the biggest is the Island of Lewis and Harris, located north of Scotland. In 2019, it hosted a Call the Midwife special. Other large islands to have welcomed film and TV specials over the years include Scotland’s Mull (Shepherd), England’s Isle of Wight (No Time to Die), Wales’s Anglesey (Doctor Dolittle), Scotland’s Skye (Game of Thrones prequel) and England’s Isles of Scilly (Archipelago). Not to be forgotten is England’s Isle of Man, which has supported several major productions in the last decade.
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FIFTY SHADES OF BLUE AND GREEN Few places combine untamed wildness and man-made sophistication quite like Florida. And there’s more, writes GARY SMITH — in addition to dramatic land-, sea- and skyscapes, the Sunshine State is also home to some of the best crews and infrastructure in the US
Filming a shoal of bait fish under Florida’s waters
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Cocoa Village on Florida’s Space Coast
LORIDA is huge, covering an area roughly two and a
half times the size of France. It includes more than 4,000 islands and, at 1,350 miles (2,170 km), has the longest coastline of any US state after Alaska. Asked what is unique about this huge state, location manager Leah Sokolowsky says: “There’s something truly wild and untamed about this place.” She also points to Florida’s combination of heat and topography: “Southeast Florida is very special. The sky is an amazing shade of blue but, in fact, it’s the clouds that DoPs and directors often comment on. They form over the Everglades and hang very low in the sky, especially in those parts of the Everglades close to the sea. And then there’s the sea itself, which is a crystal-clear patchwork of multiple shades of blue and green — and it’s warm.” Then there’s the fact that nature is present in even the most urbanised areas: “The term concrete jungle was invented for parts of South Florida, but all that lives alongside rare birds, alligators, manatees and armadillos,” Sokolowsky adds. “Then, around Miami Beach, there are historic buildings, including entire streets of Art Deco and some blocks of mid-century modern and Victorian, so you can easily create a variety of looks, from period urban to rural. And even though it’s not easy to get permits to film in the Everglades, there are Everglades-like areas in some public parks and on private property where permits are much easier to obtain.” According to Michael Savitz, executive producer at Shoot Collective and regional director of AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers) Florida, it’s the combination of beautiful year-round weather, diverse locations, skilled crews, state-of-the-art equipment, a multicultural talent pool and a supportive, film-friendly government that makes the state unique. “Plus you have our amazing and experienced team — and we’re great fun,” he adds. “We often service jobs for production clients in Germany and France, and lately we’ve produced several projects for production partners in the UK and Ireland.” Among the Shoot Collective’s recent projects was a short film for Mercedes, produced by Anorak Film. “It covered multiple locations throughout Miami and the result was a beautiful story and film highlighting both the Mercedes and many of the area’s great locations,” Savitz says.
Crandon Park in Miami is one of Savitz’s favourite locations: “It’s a beautiful, pristine beach with soft sand and calm waters,” he says. Also “amazing and unique” is Stiltsville, a cluster of homes built on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. “That makes for a great location when doing nearby boat shooting,” he adds. Executive director at Film Florida, John Lux, points out that the state is also rich in history: “Florida has tremendous historic and cultural locations. First and foremost, St Augustine is the oldest permanent European city in the US. The cultural feel of South Florida is vastly different to Northwest Florida. At the same time, Florida’s Space Coast has a different cultural feel than the Ybor City area in Tampa. Those are just a few examples of the variety of culture a production can tap into throughout the state.” But for Lux, what sets Florida apart is its diversity of locations: “East Central Florida [Orlando and Cocoa Beach] looks completely
PLAYING CATCH-UP WITH INCENTIVES FLORIDA has a state-wide sales-tax exemption programme, which enables projects to save up to 7.5% on a range of qualifying expenses. In addition, seven counties – Duval, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough – and three cities have launched local programmes. “We hope more will follow once they see the positive impact the film, television and digital-media industry can have on a community,” says Film Florida’s executive director, John Lux. “We’re thrilled that some counties are showing leadership and stepping up.” Beyond that, Film Florida continues to advocate for a state-wide incentive programme. “We know for Florida to compete for feature films and television series, a state-wide programme is helpful,” Lux adds. “The current proposal is to create a targeted rebate programme for the film, television and digital-media industries. The proposal has received rave reviews from many legislators and support for it is growing in the Florida Legislature. The proposal encourages projects to spend a majority of their filming days in Florida and hire significant numbers of cast and crew that are Florida residents, ensuring maximum financial ROI for the state.”
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different to west Central Florida [Tampa, St Pete, Clearwater and Sarasota]. Northeast Florida (Jacksonville and St Augustine) looks completely different to Southwest Florida (Naples and Fort Myers). And Northwest Florida (Tallahassee, Panama City, Destin and Pensacola) looks completely different to Southeast Florida (Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Keys).” With warm weather all year round and a wide choice of neighbourhoods and landscapes, Florida has long been considered the perfect location for ‘Anywhere USA’. “While some states boast of 20, 30 or 100 miles of beaches, Florida is home to 600-plus miles,” Lux says. “That makes beaches our calling card, but they are far from our only location for filming.” Florida, he adds, is much more adaptable than outsiders might imagine: “Our biggest asset — warm weather — means creating snow is a challenge, but if you want beach, countryside, desert, a specific or generic neighbourhood, rainforest, swampland or anything in between, Florida can double for just about any state in America or country in the world. Florida has locations, experienced crew, in-depth infrastructure, and a desire to do excellent work, as well as a willingness to work with budgets. All of those elements make it the perfect location for film and television.” “The independent film and commercial parts of the industry are doing very well in Florida,” Lux adds. “High-profile independent films like Moonlight , The Florida Project  and Life and Nothing More  show the quality of work that Florida produces.” Palm Beach is, of course, one of the best-known shoot locations in Florida. Michelle Hillery, deputy film commissioner and director of finance at the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission (FTC), outlines just how popular her region is: “We regularly host major brand commercials, fashion photoshoots, popular reality TV series, large-scale live sporting events and independent films. But one of the more challenging genres regularly drawn to our area is nature documentaries. Some of the most fascinating nature events in the world occur here, due to Palm Beach County being on the Gulf Stream.” Recent examples include the BBC’s Blue Planet Live (2019) and Seven Worlds, One Planet (2019-); National Geographic’s Hostile Planet (2019-) and Cannibal Sharks (2019); and PBS’ Jack Hannah’s Into The Wild (2007) and Battleground Everglades (2018). Given how unpredictable nature can be, this embarrassment of natural riches brings with it challenges: “As the largest county in the state of Florida, with over 2,000 sq miles of diverse locations and 47 miles of coastline, there is an abundance of land, air and sea to cover in the Palm Beaches,” Hillery says. “This vast area, coupled with the unpredictability of some of our celebrated annual natural events — the Goliath grouper spawning, the mullet run, the blacktip shark migration, the sea-turtle nesting season — means that production teams need to plan ahead in order to seize the opportunity to film these unique natural wonders in the only place they occur.” The FTC facilitates this by offering free one-stop permitting for more than 50 municipalities, taxing districts, county departments and other community entities. “This makes it far simpler for visiting productions to obtain the approvals needed for this type of coverage,” Hillery adds. While shooting in an area with special environmental considerations — including the sea turtle nesting season and airspace restrictions — might seem like obstacles, the state’s various agencies
Miami’s South Beach: “Unique and difficult to duplicate anywhere else in the world”
LOCATION MANAGER LEAH SOKOLOWSKY SHARES HER TOP-THREE FLORIDA LOCATIONS: STILTSVILLE — a group of seven homes built on wooden stilts — is located about a mile south of Key Biscayne, just off the coast of Miami, and is only accessible by boat. “That makes it a bit more difficult to use as a location for certain projects. I love the feeling of being situated in an isolated and remote setting, but with the largest city in the south-eastern United States merely a stone’s throw away.” THE MIAMI BEACH DECO DISTRICT is a designated US historic district that contains more than 950 Art Deco buildings. “Miami Beach’s take on Art Deco includes pastel hues, porthole windows, glass blocks, chrome accents and terrazzo. This neighbourhood brings an air of fun and whimsy to Miami Beach. It’s personality and vibrancy is unique and difficult to duplicate anywhere else in the world.” THE EVERGLADES is not only the largest natural region of tropical wetlands in the US, but unique to Florida. “There’s nowhere else like it on earth. There’s a magical quality to the light, and sunrises and sunsets can be spectacular. It’s accessible — it’s located minutes away from our cities and beaches — yet somehow feels remote and untouched.”
work together to make filming as easy as possible for productions. The ERM (Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management), the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) co-operate closely to ensure that production teams can capture extraordinary, rare footage. Hillery cites the BBC’s Seven Worlds, One Planet, which was issued with 10 permits for the annual mullet run: “The permits spanned 40 days and required co-ordination from each coastal municipality for land coverage, the FAA for helicopter and drone coverage, the Coast Guard for filming from a boat and the FWC [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] for special activity licenses to ensure marine-life protection. The FTC’s streamlined permitting process, expertise on regional regulations and strong relationships with filmfriendly municipal partners enabled this.”
“OUR BIGGEST ASSET — WARM WEATHER — MEANS CREATING SNOW IS A CHALLENGE, BUT IF YOU WANT BEACH, COUNTRYSIDE, DESERT, A NEIGHBOURHOOD, RAINFOREST OR SWAMPLAND, FLORIDA CAN DOUBLE FOR JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD” JOHN LUX
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Spain & Canary Islands
Kaitlin Doubleday as Chloe and Colin Donnell as Charlie, in Love on Iceland
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MAKING A SCENE ICELAND
LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE THE WORD UNIQUE IS OVERUSED, ABUSED AND MISUSED. BUT AS THE PRODUCERS OF HALLMARK’S TV MOVIE LOVE ON ICELAND DISCOVERED, UNIQUE IS THE ONLY WORD TO DESCRIBE ICELAND’S OTHERWORLDLY SCENERY, NATURAL PHENOMENA AND LEGENDARY CREWS. CLIVE BULL REPORTS
LOCATION CALIFORNIA 2020
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MAKING A SCENE ICELAND
OR MORE than a decade, some of the biggest names in cinema have been drawn to Iceland to take advantage of its extraordinary terrain. The country’s otherworldly quality has inevitably led to Iceland becoming a science-fiction favourite. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Oblivion (2013), Interstellar (2014) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) are just some of the futuristic blockbusters that have been shot in Iceland, while dystopian TV drama Black Mirror (2011-) also found the unspoiled nature of the country’s scenery to be the perfect backdrop. But in recent times a new trend has been emerging: a desire to put Iceland itself centre stage. “Instead of using it as an extra-terrestrial planet, filmmakers are starting to use Iceland for its real scenery,” says Bui Baldvinsson, producer and owner of Hero Productions. “We have features, short films and TV series coming to Iceland and making their stories about Iceland itself, and happening in Iceland, which is a very big change from the last 10 or 15 years.” This trend is encapsulated by Hallmark’s Love on Iceland (2020), in which the location is a pivotal part of the story. The story starts with American podcaster Chloe (Kaitlin Doubleday), who is looking for new ideas. At the suggestion of her friend Isabella (Patti Murin) she reunites her college travel group for a trip to Iceland. But things get complicated when Chloe’s ex, Charlie (Colin Donnell), turns up as a late arrival to the party. As the trip unfolds, the group discover romance and inspiration, with the natural beauty of Iceland being the catalyst. Patti Murin and Colin Donnell are married in real life, although love does not blossom between their characters in the movie.
“TWO YEARS AGO, I SPENT 10 DAYS IN ICELAND WITH MY NOW FIANCÉE. THAT LED TO THE NOTION OF SHOOTING A MOVIE THAT’S ALSO A ROAD TRIP AROUND ICELAND” ANDREW GERNHARD
The idea of shooting in Iceland came from executive producer Andrew Gernhard of Synthetic Cinema International. “Two years ago, I did a road trip with my now fiancée ,” he says. “Neither of us had been to Iceland and it was one of her goals to see the Northern Lights. We spent about 10
Iceland crews are “extremely used to the Icelandic conditions, working with the weather, the landscapes and the snow”
days there and we saw the Northern Lights. We followed our own path all around the country. That led to the notion of shooting a movie that’s also a road trip around Iceland.” Gernhard contacted Samantha DiPippo, senior vice-president, development, Crown Media Family Networks, who loved the idea. “We’ve shot in a lot of really gorgeous and beautiful destinations around the world, and what we try to do is showcase an area at its best,” DiPippo says. “That was our goal with Love on Iceland. It shows the beautiful activities and excursions that you would do in the winter, from the ice caves to the glaciers to the waterfalls. It makes you want to go there.” With the exception of a few cityscape stock shots, the entire movie was filmed on location in Iceland, which even doubled for Chicago in the opening scenes. The five central cast members flew in to Iceland from the US, along with the director Clare Niederpruem, but otherwise the crew and other actors were Icelandic. To make this possible. Hallmark brought in Hero Productions to provide essential local knowledge and experience. “Iceland has very strong crews because, since the boom when the Hollywood films came in, everybody knows each other, helps each other out and lends a hand,” Baldvinsson says. “We are extremely used to the Icelandic conditions, working with the weather, the landscapes and the snow. Whatever you throw at our crews, they know how to cope. We shoot in every single type
of weather — it doesn’t matter.” The first day of shooting for Love on Iceland brought the first challenge: reaching an ice cave in a stunning yet inaccessible glacier. In the end, two helicopters were used to transport the cast and crew to the location. Baldvinsson says that helicopters and modified jeeps are generally required to reach the glaciers. And shooting in ice caves requires extra planning because they alter over time. “One of the things I didn’t know about Iceland is that the ice caves are different every year,” DiPippo says. “You have to wait until they form, figure out where they’re going to be and then work out how you’re going to deal with that from a production point of view.” She adds that, when shooting in ice caves, handheld cameras are used due to lack of space: “We typically try not to shoot that way — we prefer a more theatrical look — but, with Love on Iceland, we managed to make it look as steady as possible. The crew in Iceland was nothing short of phenomenal.” When filming inside ice caves, the LED lights are powered by large, portable car batteries rather than petrol generators, both in the interests of the environment and to protect the quality of the audio. Next stop on the fictional friends’ sightseeing trip was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in the south-east of Iceland, one of the country’s natural wonders and famous for its sense of tranquillity as ancient icebergs slowly melt into the lake. The lagoon has been featured in scenes from Batman Begins(2005), Lara Croft:Tomb Raider
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Shooting Love on Iceland at Bubble Hotel — known as the Five-Million Star Hotel because you can watch the stars from your room
(2001) and two James Bond movies. Besides the lagoon is the breathtaking Diamond Beach, so called because of the sparkling cubes of ice strewn across the beach, contrasting with the volcanic black sand. The reunited friends start to see things differently as they continue their tour with a visit to the Secret Lagoon, a geothermal pool near to Reykjavik, and take in the magical Grófarlækjarfoss waterfall. As their road trip nears its end, the friends spend a night in the Bubble Hotel, hoping for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Located in a forest on a farm, the Bubble Hotel’s guests sleep inside one-bed see-through igloos. “So you can be lying in bed watching the stars and see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky,” Baldvinsson says. “They call it the Five Million-Star Hotel because you can see all the stars above. It’s a very beautiful place.” Shooting all such scenes are, of course, dependent on the weather, which Baldvinsson says can change extremely quickly. “I think we are the authors of the saying, ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’,” he adds. “With Love on Iceland, we were unbelievably lucky with the weather. When we showed up on the set of the Bubble Hotel, it was pouring with rain. While we were driving towards the set, the director said we weren’t going to be able to shoot. I looked at her and said: ‘When you arrive on set, something beautiful is going to happen and it will stop raining.’ She said: ‘I know you’re good, but
you’re not going to be that good...’” But Iceland’s fast-changing climate came to the rescue: “We showed up at the set and it was pouring with rain. We put on our rain gear and walked into the woods of the Bubble Hotel and, within five minutes, it had stopped raining and a triple rainbow just appeared over the set.” Another challenge for outdoor shoots in Iceland is the light. In the winter, the days are short and detailed planning is needed to make the most of the available daylight. “In the beginning, we knew there was only going to be about six or seven hours of daylight and, towards the end, there was only going to be about four,” Gernhard says.
“LOVE ON ICELAND SHOWS THE BEAUTIFUL ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS THAT YOU WOULD DO IN THE WINTER, FROM THE ICE CAVES TO THE GLACIERS TO THE WATERFALLS. IT MAKES YOU WANT TO GO THERE” SAMANTHA DIPIPPO
“So we did the interiors after dark, where it didn’t matter whether it was day or night, or we could fake it.” And good planning during an Icelandic winter also means starting and finishing your day in the dark. “You arrive in complete darkness, you set up and you shoot for the hours of daylight — and then you wrap,” Baldvinsson says. “So you try to utilise as much of the daylight as you can, because the specific blue light that Iceland has to offer is something different to other countries. Everything that’s shot in Iceland has this special blue-ish feel to it.” By the third week of filming, the production had a daily ration of just four and a half hours of daylight. “Maybe because of that, they were like the fastest crew we have ever worked with,” DiPippo says, praising both the Icelandic crew’s professionalism and understanding of the time pressures. “And one of the things I’m really pleased about with Love on Iceland is that it doesn’t feel like a dark movie. A lot of it was shot in darkness but, surprisingly, it doesn’t feel like that. It’s very open and bright and airy.” Obtaining permission to film in some of Iceland’s natural wonders was the job of Hero Productions. “We secured all the permits, which can sometimes be tricky,” Baldvinsson says. “Most of the land is privately owned by farmers and other residents, but we have connections with most of those people, so we know who to ask.” With national parks and government-owned property, there are other procedures to go through, but Baldvinsson says these can generally be concluded quickly, because the authorities know Hero and trust its professionalism: “They know us for our diligence and for taking good care of the land. Usually, when we show up at a place, we leave the land and property in a better state than when we arrived. For example, we get our people to remove all the trash left behind by tourists.” Love on Iceland ends with the friends musing on the possibility of a return visit to the bizarre and beautiful country that may just have changed their lives. “I would absolutely love to do it again,” Gernhard says. “I would love to show the audience Iceland in the summer, because it’s a whole different landscape of rolling hills. It’s gorgeous.” Hallmark’s DiPippo agrees: “One fantastic thing about Iceland is that, although people think of it as being a cold place, there are a lot of different looks throughout the year. In summer, it’s a very different country. Finding the right story is obviously the first important step, but we had such a great time there that we’d love to go back.” So the love affair with Iceland may yet be rekindled.
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SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Europe has it all. From the snowy tundra of the far north to the deserts and volcanoes of the Canary Islands, the European continent offers every imaginable kind of landscape, light and architecture â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as well as skilled crews, generous incentives and effective infrastructure. GARY SMITH looks at some of the contrasting production hubs across the vast continent
Netflix series Money Heist filming in Plaza de Callao, Madrid
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A scene from the feature film Caminantes shot in Bilbao Bizkaia
PANISH archipelago The Canary Islands forms
the southernmost point of Europe, lying off the northwest coast of Africa, roughly opposite Morocco’s southern border with Western Sahara. Being so far south means abundant natural light and warm winters, with an average temperature of 19ºC. “You can shoot outdoors almost 365 days of the year, thanks to an annual 4,800 hours of natural light, an unbeatable quality of light, and an average 23ºC in summer and 19ºC in winter,” says Natacha Mora, co-ordinator of Canary Islands Film. “Plus the Canary Islands are the only place you can find such a broad variety of locations within 30-to-60 minutes by car. We have desert, rainforest, modern architecture, colonial urban, cliffs, sand dunes, black-sand beaches, white-sand beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes and tourist resorts. And all of this is in Europe, with all that it means in terms of law, and safety and working standards.” Recent shoots on the islands include Netflix’s The Witcher (2019), shot in Gran Canaria and La Palma, the feature film The Eternals (2021) for Marvel, shot in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and TV series Peacemaker (1997), shot in Gran Canaria. “The Witcher shot for 25 days in the Canaries and Peacemaker for an amazing 105 days,” Mora says. “In terms of popular locations, one of the most requested recently is the Santa Lucia gorge in Gran Canaria, because it’s perfect for recreating the Middle East.” However, it is El Hierro, the smallest island of the archipelago, that is now the Canary Islands’ top filming spot thanks to the
Movistar+ TV series Hierro (2019-). “They started shooting season two in March, after the first series won several prizes,” Mora says. She adds that El Hierro was named the EUFCN’s (European Film Commissions Network) best European film location of 2019. The Canary Islands hosted more than 1,700 shooting days in 2019 — the third consecutive year of impressive growth. “We are hosting more and more Nordic projects,” Mora says. “But generally, it’s also down to our unbeatable tax incentives and the fact that many companies have opened a branch in the archipelago as a Canary Islands Special Zone company. Our reduced general VAT at 7% instead of 21% in mainland Spain is also very attractive.” On mainland Spain, Sara Sevilla of the Navarra Film Commission says it is the diversity of locations in her region that makes it special: “We offer locations ranging from snowy mountains to green plateaus, from dense forests to vast desert badlands, from small towns to urban landscapes, from historical sites to modern infrastructure — and all of it in a very compact area, with no location more than about an hour away from Pamplona. We also have great administrative facilities and a 35% tax deduction — higher than the rest of Spain.” The filming of Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy (2019) required recreating the world-famous San Fermín bull-run in the centre of Pamplona. “We needed to stop traffic, since strict safety measures must be taken when working with bulls,” Sevilla says. “The bulls had to run down the street, while the filming of certain action sequences was happening around that. This required the installation of a double security fence, the presence of ambulances, the diversion
“WE HAVE DESERT, RAINFOREST, MODERN ARCHITECTURE, COLONIAL URBAN, CLIFFS, SAND DUNES, BLACK-SAND BEACHES, WHITE-SAND BEACHES, VOLCANIC LANDSCAPES AND TOURIST RESORTS” NATACHA MORA
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of pedestrians and vehicles, the closure of bars and shops, plus a large crowd of extras and many specialists for the stunts and animals. We also had to find another less crowded location to shoot the most extreme action scenes, where a car drives into the path of the bulls. Those scenes were made in the neighbouring town of Tafalla. The production required a large crew and cast of 350 people.” The most requested locations in Navarra include the gorgeous and diverse Urbasa-Andia Natural Park and the city of Pamplona. “Pamplona is full of historical sites and streets, which is where most of the films, series and TV shows that go there are shot,” Sevilla says. “However, more and more productions are choosing locations in the north of Navarra, including the Irati forest, the Roncal valley and towns such as Zugarramurdi. And then, not far from all that but with a completely different look are the towns in the centre of Navarra, such as Gallipienzo Antiguo, Ujué and Olite, which are also great locations.” In 2019, Madrid’s city council processed 11,760 filming permits for locations on public roads and municipal parks. The city hosted 66 TV series — 20 more than in 2018 — and 35 films. “This demonstrates the consolidation of Madrid as an important international production hub,” says Rafael Cabrera, co-ordinator at Film Madrid. “These numbers are even higher when we take into account the permits that have been granted for the 178 municipalities in the Madrid region.” Madrid has served as the setting for Netflix’s Money Heist (2017), Elite (2018-) and Cable Girls (2017-2020); HBO's Por H o Por B (2019) and 30 Coins (2020-); and Amazon Prime’s Little Coincidences (2018) and La Templanza (2020-). Other international productions to be hosted by Madrid include Sky One’s Intergalactic (2019-), AMC’s For Life (2020-), Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico (2018-) and The House of Flowers (2018-), Telemundo’s You Cannot Hide (2019-), Televisa’s Rubí (2004-) and Globosat’s Férias Em Família (2019-). But according to Víctor Aertsen of the City of Madrid Film Office, the most challenging project shot in Madrid in the last year was Way Down (2020), an English-speaking heist movie directed by Spanish filmmaker Jaume Balagueró and starring Freddie Highmore as an engineer who plans to break into the Bank of Spain during the 2010 soccer World Cup final. Madrid’s surroundings are also packed with amazing locations. “The Madrid region has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares and Aranjuez,” Cabrera says. “These and other municipalities offer medieval buildings, castles and churches, such as the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, a place of impressive dimensions where The Pride and the Passion (1957) was shot. We also have spaces that can emulate fantasy
YOUR FIRST CONTACT FOR FILMING IN VIENNA WWW.VIENNAFILMCOMMISSION.AT
worlds, with forests, mountains and open spaces, including Nuevo Baztán and La Sierra de Guadarrama, where Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) was shot.” Bilbao Bizkaia has established itself in recent years as a truly unique place, with locations like no other. “The last two years have been very significant for Bilbao Bizkaia's positioning as a destination for the film industry,” says Xabier Ochandiano, councillor of economic development, employment and trade at Bilbao City Council. “Four of the productions made in 2018 in the city and the territory have been recognised and awarded in prestigious international competitions.” He cites El Hoyo (The Platform/2019), directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, which took honours at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sitges Film Festival. “But for us, the real value of El Hoyo is that the production, the technical and artistic teams and the locations bear the stamp of Bilbao Bizkaia,” Ochandiano adds. Other award-winning productions to have been partially or wholly filmed in Bilbao Bizkaia in 2019 include Mientras Dure la Guerra (While at War/2019), Presunto Culpable (Presumed Guilty/2008) and La Víctima Númer 8 (Victim Number 8/2018). “Bilbao Bizkaia also hosted major productions last year, including La Línea Invisible [The Invisible Line/2020] — a Movistar+ series about the origins of ETA — and Caminantes [Hikers/2019], the first series for Orange in Spain,”
“THE CRISIS CAUSED BY THE CORONAVIRUS HAS HIGHLIGHTED THE LEADING ROLE OF CULTURE AS A PRIORITY ASSET TO BE PRESERVED.” XABIER OCHANDIANO
Ochandiano reports. “There is a real need for new stories to share, and the crisis caused by the coronavirus has highlighted the leading role of culture as a priority asset to be preserved.” As can be seen in several high-profile series, Bilbao Bizkaia has numerous stunning locations, including San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, aka Dragonrock in Game of Thrones (2011-19); Otzarreta, a unique beech forest located in the Gorbeia Natural Park; the Bizkaia Bridge, the world's first all-metal transporter bridge; and, of course, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, an icon of modernism. “Each production seeks completely different locations — airports, ports, hospitals, schools, abandoned or working
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Brussels' canal district provides multiple locations in close proximity
factories, rural areas, forests, urban areas, palaces, castles, swamps...,” Ochandiano adds. “Our challenge is to meet all these requirements in a personalised way and offer an a-la-carte service. So far, we have succeeded.” While Bilbao Bizkaia seeks to continuously improve the key aspects of its offer in terms of taxation, legal and support services, and permit issuing, Ochandiano believes that the region offers producers two unique and defining assets: “Firstly, talent and the ability to tell stories created here that have a universal appeal. Examples include El Hoyo (2019) and Loreak (2014). The latter was filmed entirely in Basque and was a Spanish candidate for the Oscars in 2015. And secondly, what we call ‘good hospitality for a good outcome’. Our film commissions act as intermediaries for film crews, often as mediators with institutions, and public and private stakeholders, opening doors and fostering the development of productions. Although it isn't always easy, positive-minded and stable collaboration is hugely important for any and every production from the outset.” Lying on the western edge of Spain — and of mainland Europe — Portugal is a relatively small country with a huge variety of easy-to-access locations. “Of course we have a concentration of audiovisual companies and locations around the two main cities of Lisbon and Porto, but it’s really easy to travel by car to a multitude of other locations,” says Portugal Film Commission’s Manuel Claro. “While places like Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and the Algarve, are always in demand by international productions, we also offer so many other different types of sites. For example there are new buildings such as the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Belem, and numerous historical sites are also accessible for productions. The majority of our monuments are the responsibility of the Portuguese General Directorate for Cultural Heritage or the City Councils, who generally allow filming providing a fee is paid, but they also have to take into account the relevance of each project, and its potential for a positive impact on the marketing and promotion of the monuments and museums being used.”
The view from the Luiz 1 Bridge during the filming of War
Claro cites three examples of big and challenging shoots that chose Portugal; War (2019), directed by Siddharth Anand, Frankie (2019) by Ira Sachs and Colour Out of Space (2019) by Richard Stanley. “War is a production from India that took over $67m at the box office. The film’s trailer has attracted more than 118 million views on YouTube and a video of outtakes focusing on the production of action scenes has close to six million views on the same platform,” Claro says. “As is the case with all action movies, War was a major challenge for us, especially the scene shot in Oporto, on the Luiz 1 bridge. And Frankie and Colour Out of Space were both shot in Sintra, a very beautiful village near Lisbon that’s popular with tourists. But due to the number of visitors, it’s also challenging to shoot there.” Alongside the 300 sunny days per year, low rainfall and an average temperature across the year of 19C (64F), Portugal has created a highly competitive incentive system in the form of a cash rebate funded by the Tourism Board. It applies to film and TV productions with a minimum of €500,000.00 ($600,000.00)
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Piódão Village, in the Arganil Municipality of Portugal. A perfect location waiting to be filmed
qualified Portuguese production expenses (QPPE) for fiction and animation, and €250,000.00 for documentaries and post-production. The rebate is 25% or 30% of QPPE, with the rate determined by a Cultural Test that looks at each project’s characteristics. The maximum rebate is capped at €4m per project. Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, its history as a destination for film production going back over 90 years. Gladiator (2000), Munich (2005), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Murder on the Orient Express (2017) have all visited the Maltese Islands for various scenic location shoots. A recent visit was by the production team for the 2018 Indian Hindi-language action-adventure film Thugs of Hindostan, written and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharaya, and produced by Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films – at a budget of $31m, one of the most expensive Bollywood movies ever made. This and all visiting films have access to assistance, expertise and incentives from the Malta Film Commission, set up in 2000 to support the local filmmaking community and develop the country’s production services sector. Over the past 20 years, the Commission’s efforts to support the industry has included a financing incentive programme launched in 2005, the Malta Film Fund in 2008, and a co-production fund in 2014 — together leading to hundreds of millions of euros in foreign direct investment being injected into Malta’s economy. Companies or individuals investing in audiovisual infrastructure in Malta can qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of their investment on the islands, while producers filming in Malta can obtain cash grants of up to 27% of their eligible expenditure in the country. Along with excellent weather conditions and skilled crews, a big attraction to the islands is the Malta Film Studios complex, known for its special-effects water facilities which include an indoor tank and two large exterior water tanks situated along the coast and so offering a natural horizon. British actor Colin Firth experienced this facility during the shooting of James Marsh’s 2018 movie The Mercy, in which he starred with Rachel Weisz. ”They have this
extraordinary tank, and the word ‘tank’ doesn’t really tell a story as to what it is,” Firth says. “It’s a big infinity pool with the sea at the end of it. If you’re shooting on boats, I don’t think you could be in a better environment really.” In 2019, Malta hosted more than 20 productions, mainly from Europe and the US. “Our crew was working back-to-back, moving from one production to another, and this continued until March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced productions to postpone their shoots until later in the year,” marketing consultant at the Malta Film Commission, Aidan Cassar says. “One of the biggest productions in 2019 was an original Italian Netflix film, L’Incredibile Storia Dell’Isola Delle Rose, directed by Sidney Sibilia, for which part of the set was built in one of our massive infinity horizon water facilities at Malta Film Studios. The set was built in stages in order to simulate a villa constructed in the middle of the ocean, and included storm sequences hitting the island that had been constructed in the water tank. The project also filmed on Mellieha Bay, Malta’s largest beach, parts of which were closed for the shoot. L’Incredibile Storia Dell’Isola Delle Rose also had the support of the island’s Armed Forces and their assets, including boats and helicopters.” Moving north, Belgian capital Brussels recently played host to several challenging projects, including Unit 42 (2017-), The Shift (2020) and Blackout (2020). But the most challenging shoot so far is still ongoing. “The Belgian TV series Hoodie (2020-) started broadcasting on March 1,” says Emilie Thiry, film commission advisor at screen.brussels. “The production is midway through filming three seasons consecutively over an 18-month period, and it’s almost exclusively filmed in the Brussels region. The hero uses parkour while fighting small crimes, so there are chases and
”THEY HAVE THIS EXTRAORDINARY TANK, AND THE WORD ‘TANK’ DOESN’T REALLY TELL A STORY AS TO WHAT IT IS” COLIN FIRTH
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The industrial district of Wallonia, the French-speaking region of southern Belgium
“BRUSSELS IS HOME TO MANY ENGLISH-SPEAKING CAST AND CREW TALENTS. AS A COSMOPOLITAN CITY, IT’S ALSO EXTREMELY EASY TO FIND EXTRAS FROM ANY BACKGROUND OR ETHNICITY” EMILIE THIRY
stunts in public spaces.” The co-operation of various authorities is needed to ensure that Hoodie’s challenging shoots run smoothly. “The cast and crew of 25 people in total is small for such an ambitious project,” Thiry says. “But the series promises to shed an interesting light on Brussels — and it’s aimed at a younger audience.” Brussels most popular locations reflect Hoodie’s varied looks, Thiry adds: “The historic centre, with its cobbled streets and old buildings in the Béguinage neighbourhood and around the Grand Place, remains popular. On the other hand, urban neighbourhoods such as Molenbeek, Anderlecht and the north of Brussels are becoming increasingly popular for films needing a contemporary setting. The canal zone, with its vintage Citroen car dealership turned museum, has also become a hot spot. And there’s more — Brussels offers buildings from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, including Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.” Alongside buildings reflecting international styles, the Belgian capital also has some unique elements. “The Grand Place is regarded by many as the most beautiful city square in the world,” Thiry says. “And monuments such as the Atomium and, of course, the European
Community institutions cannot be faked.” She adds that Brussels cityscape and architecture can also double for Paris or London: “Brussels is home to a great many English-speaking cast and crew talents. As a cosmopolitan city, it’s also extremely easy to find extras from any background or ethnicity.” The Shift, co-produced by Notorius Pictures and Tarantula, requested the support of Wallimage Tournages to scout locations in Liege and obtain the necessary permits. Wallimages Tournages director Jean-François Tefnin says: “The Shift begins with a terrorist attack on a school, which required the co-ordination of several municipal and emergency services, including the police, firefighters, ambulances and a helicopter. Wallimage Tournages introduced the project to the authorities and closely monitored the filming, which took place in the summer of 2019 across several different locations in Liege. A few scenes required complicated shots, for example filming in a moving ambulance, as well as accidents, a police roadblock and stunts. OK, this wasn’t James Bond or Mission Impossible (1996) but The Shift was a real challenge for us — and for Liege.” The most-requested locations in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of southern Belgium, include the train station in Liege,
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The Spanish island of El Hierro played “the perfect setting for the thriller TV series Hierro”. Photo: Lorena Martin
A WINNING LOCATION THE SPANISH island of El Hierro was awarded the 2019 EUFCN Location Award for “playing the perfect setting for the thriller TV series Hierro", created by Pepe Coira and directed by Jorge Coira. It was selected from a shortlist of 10 locations around Europe. The EUFCN Location Award is the annual prize for European film locations, organised by the EUFCN (European Film Commission Network) in collaboration with Cineuropa — the European portal dedicated to cinema and audiovisual in four languages. The award was established in 2017 to highlight the importance of locations and the work done by EUFCN members. According to producer, head of Film Commission Norway and EUFCN president Truls Kontny, “Locations represent the soul of each Film Commission”. He adds: “This Award can increase the visibility of European locations all over the world.” El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, stood out as “a land of incredible contrasts, from its seabed, to its craggy coastline or its extremely dramatic sheer cliffs”, according to the Award’s jury. The landscapes of El Hierro, a paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, are
strongly connected to the plot of the southern Spanish noir series Hierro — in which young man is found dead in the sea on the day of his wedding. Candela, a temperamental judge, and Diaz, a shady local businessman, investigate the murder case. “The island itself is a true protagonist of the story,” the jury concludes. Hierro is produced by Movistar +, ARTE France, Portocabo and Atlantique Productions. For the fourth edition of the award an external jury of five professionals is selecting from a shortlist of five locations. Members of the general public then vote for the winner through the Cineuropa website. The winning location “must stand out for its ability to set the tone, enrich a story, often becoming a true character of it, or to recreate a world from a different time, or even a different space”, according to EUFCN guidelines. Other important criteria include “a significant international distribution and success of the film, TV series, or documentary”. The 2020 EUFCN Location Award is in association with Cineuropa and Location International.
which has featured in The Fifth Estate (2013), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Gemini Man (2019) and numerous commercials. “Our forests and natural areas, including the High Fens — a UNESCO World Heritage site — are often requested for shoots,” Tefnin says. Other potentially interesting locations include Namur’s new cultural centre, The Delta. Tefnin adds: “Wallonia is compact, has great technicians, offers a tax shelter alongside Walloon funds, has a great selection of authentic locations, including castles, unspoilt nature, and very old and very contemporary buildings, French and English speakers — and a welcome from the authorities and citizens like nowhere else.” Heading northeast, Poland is the largest country among the CEE members of the EU, and the regional leader in economic growth. In terms of access it is located at the very centre of Europe and can be reached by air from every major European city in two to three hours. In terms of getting around the country’s vast and highly diverse locations, it has excellent infrastructure including the fourth largest road network in Europe. “Poland also has a long and rich cinematic tradition which is widely recognised and respected around the world,” says Justyna Strzelecka, content and communication manager at the Polish Film Institute. “And thanks to the country’s cinematic history, we can offer a wide range of talented artists, music composers. art directors and animators, all of whom have worked on world-class productions.” Poland is also home to a dynamic and rapidly developing audiovisual sector driven by unique talents, with modern facilities and infrastructure and hugely experienced Polish crews. “Poland offers a wide variety of landscapes, from sandy beaches in the north to the rocky mountains in the south, from bustling cities to wild and primeval nature," Strzelecka says. "And added to all that, as from 2019, projects produced in Poland are eligible for a 30% cash rebate on qualifying Polish costs. The rebate is available for feature films, animation, documentaries and series — fiction, animated and documentaries — for Polish and international co-productions, as well as for services provided for foreign productions such as line production.” A cultural qualification test and minimum spending thresholds apply, as well as limits per project and applicant. “To apply for support, a Polish partner or company registered in Poland is required,” she adds. “There are no deadlines and applications are processed in order of submission until the funds for a given year are used up. Financial support is paid after the presentation and positive verification of the final report on a production, or for the period of work covered by the fund.” There are also new working rules and guidelines covering the COVID-19 pandemic recently introduced by the Governmental Crisis Management Team. “On film sets it is recommended, among other things, that all team members work in masks, as long as this does not prevent them from effectively performing their tasks and duties. Exceptions include actors, for whom it is recommended that they maintain distance from other members of the film crew. Also recommended is a limit to the number of people involved in the filming action and arranging the crew in such a way as not to create large clusters by creating zones within the film set.” Continuing north, Lapland film commissioner Anna Niemelä of The House of Lapland recounts an epic shoot for Yash Raj Films last winter: “Yash Raj chose Lapland to film a car chase across the ice for their Bollywood action film War, starring Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff. The production was the biggest ever in Lapland and, given that conditions can be quite challenging in winter, the team was well equipped and prepared. The biggest challenge was to quickly get the ice track in the right condition, because fast car chases require a long-lasting and even surface. Another challenge was to get the cars back into shape after they were damaged doing stunts.” But Lapland is, as Niemelä points out, much more than snow
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Surreal Lapland: The Municipality of Kittila
“IN NORTHERN LAPLAND, WE HAVE 75 DAYS OF SUNLIGHT — THE SUN DOESN’T EVEN PRETEND TO SET. SOUTHERN LAPLAND HAS THE MIDNIGHT SUN, WHICH COATS THE UNENDING LANDSCAPES WITH HONEY” ANNA NIEMELÄ
and reindeer: “Lapland is covered with snow for more than half the year, but summers in northern Finland offer just as many, if not more, variations and possibilities. Summer offers 24/7 daylight and an intense burst of green Arctic nature. Summer usually starts in late May and lasts to the end of August. Because Lapland sits mostly above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t so much set as roll around the horizon in the small hours of the morning.” For the filmmaker, this means “the day never ends”, Niemelä says. “On sunny days in Lapland, you have 24 hours of daylight, seven days a week. No matter the weather, it’s daytime all day and night. In northern parts of Lapland, this means 75 straight days of sunlight — the sun doesn’t even pretend to set. Southern Lapland areas have the Midnight Sun, which coats the unending landscapes with honey. The magic hour becomes hours until there’s nothing left of the nighttime. It’s a unique light condition that words struggle to convey.” And all that nature is enhanced by modern convenience. “As the most connected wilderness in the Arctic, Lapland has high-quality services and a well-maintained transport network, resulting in the most accessible Arctic filming locations on the planet,” Niemelä says. “This is more than just marketing hype — it’s the result of decades of industry and tourism that have kept even the most remote locations in Lapland open and accessible all year round. There are five airports and a 25% national film incentive, alongside skilled, knowledgeable local production companies.” Heading back down south, the Balkans have had a rich, varied
and often violent past that has left an astonishing legacy of locations steeped in history. Ivana Mikovic, managing director of Serbia’s Firefly Productions, names just a few: “There’s Kalemegdan, the magnificent Ottoman fortress in Belgrade city centre; the copper mines of Bor; the palace of Beli Dvor in Belgrade; and the fortress of Smederevo, which is a medieval fortified city.” The region is equally blessed in terms of natural locations. Mikovic cites Deliblato Sands, a large desert area covering around 300 sq km, the crystal-clear waters of Uvac Lake and Devil’s Town (Djavolja Varos), a natural formation of rock towers. “And in terms of doubling, there are historical parts of Belgrade that resemble some of the great European metropolises,” she adds. Mikovic and Firefly like a challenge: “Recently, we shut down a big cattle farm in Vrbovsko for 10 hours to allow filming. But our most extreme job was working on three drama series simultaneously, which meant the authorities had to close the whole central area of Belgrade for a day because all three had scenes that needed the city’s colourful central backdrop.” In terms of the region’s ancient sites, only certain sacred locations are off limits, Mikovic says: “Apart from that, archaeological sites including old Roman palaces, medieval fortresses, Oriental fortifications and Central European-style mansions are accessible to filmmakers. Serbia offers a huge variety of landscapes and architectural styles and easy access to permits, plus great tax-rebate terms and excellent production crews.”
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MAKING A SCENE WAY DOWN
MADRID’S CALLING CARD THE MOVIE WAY DOWN INCLUDED THE MOST COMPLEX AND COSTLY SCENE EVER SHOT IN THE SPANISH CAPITAL, MADRID. JULIAN NEWBY SPEAKS TO SOME OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION
IRECTOR Jaume Balagueró’s heist thriller Way Down (2020) follows gifted engineering graduate student Thom, played by Freddie Highmore, who masterminds a plan to break into the Bank of Spain, one of the most impenetrable banks in the world, during the 2010 soccer World Cup final. The target: a long-lost treasure that will be held inside the bank for only 10 days. Led by art expert Walter (Liam Cunningham), Thom and his team have only 10 days to prepare the heist and pull off a nearimpossible escape plan. That is, 10 days to plan, but only 90 minutes to carry out that plan — the 90 minutes of the World Cup final that will draw hundreds of thousands of fans to the door of the Bank of Spain. An imposing building in the centre of Madrid, nobody has ever managed to break into the bank; it has no blueprints, and its security system includes an underground river that floods the safe room if anyone succeeds in breaching it. The production was a first for the city,
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involving the complete shutdown of its busy centre. Such was the complexity of that particular logistical nightmare that when she finally saw the empty streets of the city ready and prepared for a monster of a scene, executive producer Sandra Hermida says she burst into tears. Yet she’s no stranger to complex, largescale location shoots. She was producer on Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible (2012), involving a tsunami in Thailand; and on Alejandro Iñarritu’s Biutiful (2010), that required the shutdown of the centre of Barcelona for four days. “But I am from Madrid. The sight of downtown closed to traffic and pedestrians, to see the main historical streets empty and ready for us to film our script, was very emotional,” Hermida says. “I still get emotional when I think about it. It was one the biggest challenges of my career.” Balagueró also cites Way Down as an experience of a lifetime: “Undoubtedly I faced the most technically-complex production of my whole career,” he says.
LOCATION CALIFORNIA 2020
Filming on Way Down took place between April and June 2019, principally in Madrid and its surroundings. “Due to its economic impact on the city [an estimated investment of €7,150,000], the hiring of local professionals [250 direct contracts and 2,500 indirect jobs], and the expected international image enhancement of the city through a film where the city itself is part of the plot, Way Down was the first-ever production to receive a Declaration of Municipal Interest from the city council, which facilitated the filming of its most ambitious scenes,” according to Rafael Cabrera, co-ordinator at Film Madrid. The most challenging scene was shot in Plaza de Cibeles, an important transit hub in the heart of Madrid, and the location of the city hall, the Bank of Spain and the headquarters of the Spanish army. The script was
written for that particular location and the production required complete control of the area in order to simulate the celebration of Spain’s World Cup victory. Filming the scene required 14 hours of total access, which meant diverting pedestrians and traffic — including 47 public-bus routes – and the closure of a subway station. “During the day, four different units were shooting at the same time, working with 320 crew members, 1,000 extras, 80 police officers, 80 blockers, five cameras, two techno-cranes, two car-mounted cameras, 80 soldiers, and 10 military and police vehicles,” according to Víctor Aertsen of the City of Madrid Film Office. “It’s a film that interested me from the start because it combines everything I like,” Balagueró says. “And it grows, becoming a film that goes beyond a typical robbery. It’s a story of heists, banks, infiltrations… pure genre which offers much more: a film with pirates,
adventures, lost treasures… with actors and technicians whom I’d never dreamed of.” The first meeting between Way Down’s production team and the Film Office took place in December 2019, four months before filming started. “Sandra explained to us the characteristics of the project, the role of some emblematic locations of the city of Madrid in the film, and the crucial importance of shooting one of the main sequences at Plaza de Cibeles with a largescale production,” director of the City of Madrid tourism department, Miguel Sanz, says. “The aim was to recreate the follow-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final that took place at this same iconic square. It was a memorable event, memories of that massive celebration of Spain's victory at Cibeles came to my mind. Recreating that moment in a fiction film seemed to me a difficult but exciting challenge and, at the same time, a great opportunity to project the image of the city of Madrid internationally.”
Filming celebrations for Spain’s World Cup final win of 2010, in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square and Calle Alcala, at the Banco de España underground station
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MAKING A SCENE WAY DOWN
“We worked very hard with the film commission and the City Hall to make it possible,” Hermida says. “Our way to present it was that all the European capitals have ‘their film’ – Bond films for London, Mission Impossible for Paris – and we didn’t have our own film showing it was possible to shoot such big and complex scenes in our city. Now we have Way Down. Having such a scene shot here, it will be an incredible calling card for the international film industry.” The Declaration of Municipal Interest, which was included in the government’s new Mobility Ordinance of 2018, was applied for the first time to Way Down and contributed considerably to the city authorities giving the go-ahead for the film. “This declaration facilitates the development of productions that require high occupancy on public roads and the co-ordination of multiple municipal bodies for its development,” Sanz says. “It can be granted by the government to projects that meet a series of requirements and have a special positive return for the city, such as economic and cultural impact, the hiring of professionals and local service companies, visibility of its locations and international projection of the image of the city.” Hermida says that the most stressful aspect of the city-centre shoot was that the production team had just 14 hours to
get everything they needed. “It was a very expensive day of shooting,” Hermida says. “A lot of people, money, governments, official corps – police, army and so on – and crew were involved. It had to be worthy. We had to honour the incredible effort made by everyone. And I am very proud to say that we did.”
“WE HAD TO HONOUR THE INCREDIBLE EFFORT MADE BY EVERYONE. AND I AM VERY PROUD TO SAY THAT WE DID” SANDRA HERMIDA
The schedule began with the Cibeles scene – Way Down’s most challenging sequence. “Normally in the shooting plan of a movie, the most complex sequences are done later. But in this case they had to accommodate the filming to a date when it caused the fewest problems, according to the City Council,” Sanz says. “The date was April 14, which was also Palm Sunday and the anniversary of the proclamation of the 1931 Republic. So during that morning, the filming preparations coincided
with an Easter procession and a republican demonstration. “It was spectacular to see the intervention of the Spanish Army,” he adds. “According to protocol, in the event of an attempted robbery of the Bank of Spain, the first security force to intervene is the Army, whose headquarters are located directly opposite the bank. They gladly offered to advise and participate in the project, allowing filming at the entrance of their headquarters and contributing 80 soldiers and eight military vehicles to the filming. It was exciting to see them so involved in the action, crossing Calle Alcalá in a hurry to protect the bank, repeating different shots until it was perfect.” And Hermida has special praise for the crew: “I was lucky to have the best team possible. It was like the Avengers — all the superheroes together. I called all my best crew members to work together and make it possible. And I would like to talk especially of the logistics brain who designed, planned and executed it: Margarita Huguet. She was the unit production manager – she also was behind the shooting of Biutifiul and The Impossible. If you want to make something amazing and impossible, call her. She is the one.” • Way Down is a production by Telecinco Cinema, Ciudadano Ciskul, Think Studio and El Tesoro de Drake AIE, with the participation of Mediaset España, Movistar+ and Mediterráneo Mediaset Group. Star Freddie Highmore also produces.
Filming Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Freddie Highmore and Sam Riley as they move in for the heist on El Banco de España
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YOUR IDEAS IN ACTION
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Greece has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, upwards of 6,000 islands, 250 days a year of sunshine, soft winters and arguably the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best archaeological sites, most of which are available for shoots. No wonder the country is a genuine filmmakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paradise. GARY SMITH reports
Michael Winterbottom shooting Greed on Mykonos
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T IS no surprise that Athens, with its globally famous
archaeological sites, is a hugely popular filming location. The same is true of the islands of Corfu, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini, while lesser-known Nisyros — a small island in the Dodecanese, with a film-friendly volcano — is starting to be regularly requested for filming. “All archaeological sites around the country are available for shoots,” says Venia Vergou, director of the Hellenic Film Commission at the Greek Film Centre. “They are under the jurisdiction of the ministry of culture, but as long as the scenes requested are not offensive to the monuments and their authenticity, they are not off limits.” In terms of modern locations, Vergou points to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, which includes the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, and the 210,000 sq m (2,260,421 sq ft) Stavros Niarchos Park. “The Center was designed by architect Renzo Piano and is a state-of-the-art location,” she says. “It is, however, more than just a new building — it has important symbolic connotations for Greece as it was built during the [financial] crisis and has become a landmark location in the everyday lives of Athenians. I believe it has a lot of potential in terms of hosting amazing productions.” Another new landmark is the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens, which opened to the public at the end of February 2020. “It’s the former Fix brewery on Syngrou Avenue,” Vergou says, adding that the building occupies approximately 18,000 sq m of a 3,000-plus sq m area. But shooting in Greece is about much more than getting great shots: “Greece offers a unique combination of stunning locations, qualified English-speaking crews, an amazing climate, film-friendly light, world-famous cuisine and our infamous, lively hospitality. In terms of production, the 35% cash-rebate programme is very competitive because of the extremely low minimum eligible Greek expenditure of €100,000 for feature films and documentaries, €60,000 for digital games and €30,000 per episode for TV series.” Michael Winterbottom shot his recent feature Greed (2019) — starring Steve Coogan — on the islands of Mykonos and Delos, among the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece. Winterbottom came back to shoot The Trip to Greece (2020), the last in Sky One’s acclimated The Trip TV series, which takes Homer’s Odyssey and Odysseus’ journey back home to Ithaca as its inspiration. The project shot at numerous archaeological sites, including the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Agora in Athens, the Great Theatre of Epidaurus, the island of Hydra, the Caves of Diros, the Palace of Nestor, the fortress of Niokastro and Ancient Stagira, as well as in restaurants and hotels in Athens, Hydra, Lesbos, Chalkidiki, Pelion, Kavala and the Peloponnese. One of the biggest productions filmed in Greece in 2019 was the feature film Born to Be Murdered, directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino and starring John David Washington and Alicia Vikander. “It’s a conspiracy thriller shot in central locations in Athens,” Vergou says. “It included a demanding riot scene and an election speech to a large crowd, both of which were shot in Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament. Further scenes were shot at the
highly photogenic sites of Meteora and Zagorochoria, a complex of picturesque traditional villages in Epirus.” Corfu, meanwhile, won the EUFCN (European Film Commissions Network) Best Location Award 2018 for TV drama Agries Melisses (2019). “It’s a daily series that currently gets the highest ratings on Greek television,” says Vasiliki Diagouma, head of communication and international relations at EKOME (National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communications). “It’s about three rural sisters living in a small fictional village in the Thessalian flatland in the late 1950s. The production crew built an entirely new set, representing a typical village on the Greek mainland in the 1950s in order to meet the story’s needs.” Another popular TV drama to have filmed on Corfu is The Durrells (2016-19), directed by Roger Goldby and Steve Baron. The ITV series is based on the late naturalist Gerald Durrell's three
A shoot for Agries Melisses, Greece's most popular daily drama
autobiographical books about his family's four years on Corfu in the run-up to the Second World War. “The locations in Corfu, including the main house where Gerald Durrell spent his childhood, had to be transformed into a 1930s look for the 26 episodes that were shot between 2016 and 2019,” Diagouma says. And then there’s the eight-episode TV series Tehran (2020-), directed by Daniel Syrkin and starring Shervin Alenabi and Navid Negahban. The show, which follows the story of a Mossad agent who works as computer hacker in his home city of Tehran, has
“WE REGARD GREECE AS A NATURAL STUDIO AND WE ARE BUILDING AN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE AUDIOVISUAL SECTOR CAPABLE OF WELCOMING ANY KIND OF PRODUCTION” VASILIKI DIAGOUMA
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The eight-episode TV series Tehran was shot in and around Athens and follows the story of a Mossad agent who works as computer hacker in the Iranian capital
an Israeli, American and Greek cast. “The crew had to work hard to convert parts of Athens, including Eleftherios Venizelos, also known as Athens International Airport, into the city of Tehran,” Diagouma adds. EKOME offers visiting productions all the infrastructure and assistance they need. “What that means in practice is that, once a production comes to Greece, we take care of all aspects of the servicing of the production,” Diagouma says. She adds that EKOME is currently setting up a network of film offices across Greece, starting with 15 offices in 13 regions, and two in the major cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. “These offices will act as a one-stop-shop for international and local productions, facilitating the work of professionals with everything from permits to absolutely any kind of help they require,” Diagouma says. “We regard Greece as a natural studio. At EKOME, we are an building infrastructure for the audiovisual sector capable of welcoming any kind of production. This is why our motto is ‘Greece, your idea in action’.” Greece can imitate many places in the world, according to Elena Priovolou of Argonauts Productions. “In Athens, you can double pretty much any Middle Eastern country — and Athens also has areas that can imitate an upscale neighbourhood in Italy or France,” she adds. “On top of that, the nature here is so diverse that it can double for pretty much any country. We even have desert on the island of Lemnos…” Greece also has an average of 250 sunny days per year, along with very long days during the summer season, which makes it ideal for shooting exteriors. Another plus point, Priovolou adds, is that distances are short: “Within a few miles or hours, you can go from urban to seaside to the mountains.” While it is relatively easy to film in most locations in Greece, obtaining permission to shoot in public spaces and archaeological locations can take time. That said, the new government is planning
to introduce a procedure that will make this process easier and faster. And Greece’s crews are not only multi-lingual, but also hard working and adaptable. “Our local crews are as experienced as any crew around the globe, but they also bring with them an ingenuity and improvisational spirit that you don’t find elsewhere,” Priovolou says. “That’s partly because we don't have some of the luxuries our international colleagues have, so we are very creative and very invested in our work. You’ll never hear a Greek person say, ‘That’s not my job…’, because they regard every aspect of a production as their responsibility. And that, in turn, is because they love this job and put their hearts into it.” Given the popularity of Greece’s diverse and unique locations, careful management is essential: “We are a small country and we could become overcrowded if too many productions were shooting at the same time,” she says. “But our ability to handle that is growing and will improve further in the next few years. Things are changing for the better and servicing shoots is very much an emerging industry. One thing to remember, though, is that anything that concerns filming in public places takes time to organise.”
DOUBLING UP THE INCENTIVES GREECE’S new tax-credit programme is applicable to any physical or legal entity that invests in a film or TV series in the country. Qualifying projects are eligible for a tax return of 30% of their net taxable income. The eligibility criteria are the same as those that apply to the existing cash-rebate programme, which amounts to 35% of the eligible expenses incurred in Greece for all beneficiaries. The two incentives work together, with one supporting production and the other supporting investments from private investors. These both take the form of automatic funding and may be combined to make up to 50% of the total production budget of a project.
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Location in pictures (PHOTO, COURTESY WOODY SATO)
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KAPPABASHI STREET, TOKYO, JAPAN This area is said to have been used by a sole peddler 100 years ago, slowly developing into a street famous for kitchenware shops. Today it is Tokyo's largest shopping district for the food and beverage industry. It is located on a route that connects Ueno, Tokyo's terminal station, and Asakusa, home to Tokyo's oldest temple, with the Tokyo Sky Tree in the background, a real mixture of old and new. Films shot in the district include: The Wolverine (2013), Shoplifters( 2018) and Sarazanmai (2019).
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WETLANDS SLOUGH, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA
WILLOW VALLEY, ALBERTA, CANADA
The Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area is the largest and most biologically diverse natural area managed by Palm Beach County. It contains the historic headwaters of the Loxahatchee wild and scenic river and includes nine native Florida ecosystems: mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, mesic hammock, hydric hammock, wet prairie, depression marsh, slough marsh, strand swamp and dome swamp.Â As well as featuring lotus blossoms in summer and regular stunning sunsets, the wetlands attract alligators and turtles among the varied wildlife, including more than 140 species of birds.
This timeless location sits on the edge of the Rocky Mountains where the cattle ranges and rolling hills meet the high ground. Looking south the valley opens to a wider plain and the Clark mountain range that divides the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. A road connects small and medium-sized cattle operations on the valley floor. Movies that shot here include: The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013) and The Right Kind of Wrong (2013).
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(PHOTO, COURTESY JASON NOLAN, LMGI)
(PHOTO, COURTESY KIM SENG)
(PHOTO, COURTESY BILBAO BIZKAIA FILM COMMISSION)
BUTRON CASTLE, BILBAO, SPAIN Butrón is a castle located in Gatika, in the northern Spain province of Biscay. It dates back to Middle Ages, although it was almost completely rebuilt by Francisco de Cubas in 1878. Taking its inspiration from Bavarian architecture, the castle has a fairytale look. The building is only 20 minutes from Bilbao by car and is surrounded by a park planted with palms and exotic plants. The horror movie Malenka, the Vampire's Niece (1969) was shot in the castle.
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(PHOTO, COURTESY OF BRISBANE POWERHOUSE) (PHOTO, COURTESY LORI BALTON, LMGI)
BRISBANE POWERHOUSE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
LONG BIEN BRIDGE ACROSS HANOI’S RED RIVER, VIETNAM
Brisbane Powerhouse precinct is a vibrant urban performing arts centre with intimate theatres, restaurants, event spaces and a forecourt. Built in 1928, it operated as a power station until it was decommissioned in 1971. Over the next 29 years the site became derelict — its worn red brick walls covered in graffiti. These gritty, industrial features were preserved during restoration in 2000 to become a Brisbane icon, situated on the Brisbane River and surrounded by parkland, including the heritage listed New Farm Park. Brisbane Powerhouse is situated 15.2km from Screen Queensland Studios and 20 minutes from Brisbane International Airport.
Long Biên Bridge is a historic cantilever bridge across the Red River that connects the two districts of Hoan Kiem and Long Bien in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Built by Gustav Eiffel in 1899, it was heavily bombarded during the Vietnam war. Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections damaged by the war have been rebuilt in a different style. The French government is supporting plans to restore the bridge to its original appearance. Films shot in Vietnam include: Indochine (1992), Pan (2015) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
The complex has hosted many feature films, television commercials and fashion shoots.
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(PHOTO, COURTESY JACOB W. FRANK)
LAKE MACDONALD VALLEY, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA, USA Lake McDonald Valley is on the west side of Glacier National Park. Once occupied by massive glaciers that carved out the area thousands of years ago, the valley is now filled with spectacular vistas, hiking trails, diverse species of plants and animals, historic chalets and the grand Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park at nearly 10 miles long. The powerful glaciers that shaped the valley also carved smaller hanging valleys with striking waterfalls that are accessible by numerous hiking trails. Many productions have filmed here including: What Dreams May Come (1998), The Shining (1980), Heaven's Gate (1980), Forrest Gump (1994) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).
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PUERTO NUEVO BEACH, PUERTO RICO The Puerto Nuevo Beach is a very popular coastal location in the Vega Baja municipality of Puerto Rico. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an hour from the international airport in San Juan. The country is attractive to filmmakers for its wide variety of looks and long history of servicing films. Notable shoots include: Golden Eye (1995), Contact (1997), The Rum Diary (2011), The Do-Over (2016) and Force of Nature (2020). 68 - LOCATION 20/21
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(PHOTO, COURTESY PETER GLUCK, LMGI)
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ONE CONTINENT, MANY WORLDS If you were asked to give an elevator pitch on the benefits of filming in Asia, you’d need to be heading up Kuala Lumpur’s 88-storey Petronas Towers to do justice to the region’s richness of locations, cultures and archaeological wonders. Even then, writes ANDY FRY you’d barely scratch the surface
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Bae Doona stars as Sun Bak in Netflix series Sense8. Photo: Murray Close/Netflix
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Jon M Chu directs Michelle Yeoh, Constance Wu and Selena Tan in Crazy Rich Asians
HE ASIA-Pacific region has numerous dynamic
production hubs that have proved their ability to service the most exacting film, TV and commercial projects — although it remains true that a lack of technical, transport and accommodation infrastructure means that some spectacular areas are off-limits to all but the most intrepid documentary-makers. One booming production hub is South-East Asia’s Malaysia/ Singapore axis, where awe-inspiring urban and rural locations are only one part of the story. Malaysia, for example, has lured producers in with a 30% cashback rebate that was introduced in 2013. This, according to Rashid Karim, CEO of Kuala Lumpur-based Iskandar Malaysia Studios (IMS), is “the most competitive incentive in the region”. He adds that more than $100m in rebates have been paid out since its introduction, translating to over $400m in direct production expenditure. The impact of the incentive has been a rapid development in Malaysia’s ability to support high-end productions. IMS, for example, has a total of 100,000 sq ft (9,290 sq m) of sound-stage space, spread across five units. This is supported by production offices, workshops, water tanks and an additional 12,000 sq ft of TV studios. Currently in development is a permanent outdoor period set based on Chinese and British colonial Penang/Singapore. “Independent and studio features between $30-$50m are totally achievable, though high-end TV is a sweet spot,” Karim says. Among the productions to have been based at IMS are UK TV series Strike Back (2010-20), Chinese feature film Skyfire (2019) and Netflix series The Ghost Bride (2020-). “As for future projects, we have commitments from China, the UK and the US,” he adds. IMS also offers an on-site ecosystem of tenants to support its core studio proposition: “We have production services, post-production and special-effects companies. In addition, there is an art department and construction teams.” There has been a significant improvement in Malaysia’s crew base since the country started targeting production. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of world-class grips, camera assistants and art-department practitioners,” Karim says. “As an
illustration, Netflix’s Marco Polo in 2014 had a 70% international and 30% local crew composition. In 2018-19, Skyfire employed the reverse percentage.” All this means it is now easier for producers to access Malaysia’s astonishing array of locations. “The studios themselves have doubled for Vietnam, Hawaii and Mongolia, among other locations, but there is also the option to use Malaysia’s locations," Karim says. "These range from tropical white-sand beaches to dense jungle offerings. We have everything from jagged limestone cliffs and cascading waterfalls to river villages and colonial streetscapes.” Unlike Malaysia, neighbouring Singapore does not have an incentive, but it is still a film-friendly location that manages to pull in a decent volume of production. Recent projects to have filmed here include movie blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians (2018) and the third season of Westworld (2016). Crazy Rich Asians, which generated more than $200m at global box office, was the perfect advertisement for Singapore’s awe-inspiring skyline and diverse architecture. Key locations showcasing both contemporary and colonial looks included the Gardens by the Bay, Raffles Hotel and the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark. Also used as backdrops to the action were Singapore Changi Airport, former Catholic convent CHIJMES Hall and Sentosa Island. Singapore is also a great jumping off point for Malaysian locations. In Crazy Rich Asians, for example, director Jon Chu took a small crew to the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi for a lavish bachelorette party scene. The production also used the stunning Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, located on the evocative island of Penang. Singapore’s film office is a valuable first port of call for producers seeking advice on locations and permitting. It also administers a film co-production fund created in 2018 as a way of stimulating cross-border projects within South-East Asia. To qualify, a project needs a Singapore producer and a director from another South-East Asian country. On offer are grants worth $250,000 per film, capped at 50% of production budget.
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Also emerging as a hub for international filmmakers is the section of South-East Asia centred around Thailand and Cambodia. Both countries are blessed with superb locations and, in the case of Thailand, there is also an attractive film-and-TV incentive. Sirinart Theenanondh, chief of the film business promotion section at the Thailand Film Office, says: “The beauty and charm of Thailand in terms of locations, people, cultures and food are widely recognised, which is why we welcome 30 million tourists each year. In addition, filmmakers who have shot here say they have been impressed by the professionalism of Thai crews, which are world-class but low-cost. Then there’s our incentive scheme, which offers a 15%-20% cash rebate.” The rebate is open to foreign film-and-TV productions that spend more than $1.5m, but not commercials. It starts at a basic 15% but rises by 2% for films that promote Thai tourism and another 3% if they also hire key Thai personnel on set. Theenanondh says it has been a hit, with producers coming to Thailand from across the world, notably the US, India, Japan, China and Europe. “Since we announced the incentive scheme three years ago, productions that have received the cash rebate include Attrition , Race 3 , Changeland , Triple Threat , Junglee  and Sergio ,” she adds. “We also hosted Netflix series The Stranded [2019-], which used a Thai team to produce it.” In terms of the number of productions that visit Thailand, last year’s total of 740 was not that different to previous years. However, the value of those productions to the country suggests that the incentive is having its desired impact. After two years of generating just below $100m, 2019 saw foreign-production revenues jump to $152m. One high-profile production to visit the country in summer 2019 was Fast & Furious 9. Although the stars were not present, the film spent around a month shooting various stunt scenes in the southern provinces of Krabi, Phang Nga, Phuket and Surat Thani. In terms of logistics, Theenanondh says that Thailand is well set up to manage productions: “We have local co-ordinators registered with the department of tourism to handle every need of international filmmakers. All locations are accessible. We are currently promoting second-tier provinces as filming locations, as well as local operators who can facilitate filming. Vehicles such as motor homes, helicopters and marine crafts are for rent at a reasonable rate.” Over the border in Cambodia, the lack of an incentive has not stopped this dynamic nation of 16 million winning work from international producers. Sovichea Cheap, director of the Cambodia Film Commission, says: “The number of foreign productions has increased by 400% since 2010. Cambodia doesn’t yet have tax incentives, but it’s one of the most film-friendly countries in South-East Asia. Producers can bring all their shooting equipment into the country without tax for temporary import and produce movies on a low budget. I would say crew, cast and location costs are one of the main incentives for producers. The local crew is constantly expanding and gaining experience and there is a deep pool of non-key crew with feature experience.” As for locations, Cheap says Cambodia offers forests, rivers, rice fields, beaches, islands, waterscapes, colonial buildings and capital city Phnom Penh: “The single most attractive location in Cambodia for foreign producers and directors is the Angkor Wat archaeological park. The best time for shooting is October to March. This is the end of the rainy season, so there’s a lot of green. The rice fields have a golden colour as they are about to be harvested, while the rivers, streams, canals and waterfalls are all full of water.”
In terms of recent projects coming to Cambodia, Cheap references Same Same But Different (2009), 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (2019), Le Bureau des Légendes (2015-), Buoyancy (2019) and First They Killed My Father (2017). The latter, for Netflix, was directed by Angelina Jolie and is based on Loung Ung’s harrowing Khmer Rouge-era memoir. “I’d say around 45% of our production comes from Europe,” Cheap says. “Then, it’s around 25% US, 20% Australia and 10% Asia.” While filmmakers have repeatedly been drawn to Cambodia to tell stories related to its troubled past, the country has also proved useful as a double for other parts of South-East Asia. 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, directed by Arthur Harari, is a Second World War-themed production set in the Philippines. “Cambodia’s atmosphere and landscape are often used to represent other countries in Asia,” Cheap says. “There have been a lot of movies set in Vietnam, for example, but made in Cambodia.” He also references White Soldier (2014), a TV series set in Malaysia. While mainland Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia tend to attract most of South-East Asia’s international productions, there are further options if you have the right fixer. Eric Madeja, founder of AsiaFixer.TV, says his company provides full production support in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, along with selected services, such as research and location scouting, for the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. “An increasing number of our productions are in Borneo, the planet’s third-largest island, where we are based,” he adds. In the past, Madeja says, only documentary filmmakers “lost their way” to places outside cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Manila or Jakarta. “But these days, with better infrastructure and cheap regional flights, we have lots of infotainment programmes, reality TV and even feature films looking for the more remote, unique and scenic locations.” A prime example is the 2018 Swiss film Paradise War: The Story of Bruno Manser, which was filmed in a remote area of Borneo. “No-one had attempted to shoot a feature in this region before, but the producers wanted authentic people, language and locations,” Madeja says. “The film premiered at end of 2019 and received rave reviews for its location shoot.” Over and above the stunning geographic locations on offer, Madeja says one of Asia’s big attractions is its diverse architectural and cultural profile: “History brought Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and other explorers to South-East Asia. Each of them left behind their own unique influence on architecture and culture, which today can be seen in many towns and cities all over South-East Asia.” In terms of the challenges, Madeja says the most common one is red tape. But, he adds, with a reliable and experienced local partner, most difficulties can be overcome: “A local partner can also help producers negotiate cultural differences. If you work with people who know how to manage these differences in a positive way, they can even contribute to production value.” In Madeja’s view, these challenges are nothing in comparison to the opportunities on offer across the Asia-Pacific region. “And thanks to a booming TVC industry, lack of skilled manpower and quality equipment rental has become a problem of the past,” he adds. “The local film industry is also increasing its output, developing further talent for foreign productions to utilise.” Many of the points raised are also relevant to the potent economies of North Asia — namely China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. While the climate here is more temperate, all of the above countries boast the same diverse mix of geographical,
“FILMMAKERS WHO HAVE SHOT IN THAILAND SAY THEY HAVE BEEN IMPRESSED BY THE PROFESSIONALISM OF OUR CREWS, WHICH ARE WORLD-CLASS BUT LOW-COST” SIRINART THEENANONDH
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Top: Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in Strike Back, which is based at Kuala Lumpur-based Iskandar Malaysia Studios. Above: Paradise War: The Story of Bruno Manser, which shot in a remote area of Borneo
historical and contemporary architecture. If there is a difference, however, it is that each of these economies has historically been relatively self-sufficient in terms of film and TV production. It is only in recent years that they have started to open up to location shooting and international co-production. From a producer’s perspective, this is great news, because it offers a remarkable opportunity to uncover new stories, characters and backdrops. For example, Taiwan capital Taipei is one of the North Asian jewels that is keen to do business with the world. Taiwan, a beautiful island located off the coast of China in the Pacific Ocean, has given world cinema some of its finest auteur directors, including Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee and Tsai Mingliang. The city of Taipei — and by extension the island — is now looking to become the next film hub in Asia, according to Jennifer Jao, vicechairman and director of Taipei Film Commission. Summarising its appeal, Jao says that both the city and the island perform well on the Civicus global report, which measures societies by the level of freedom they allow their citizens. “Taiwanese people enjoy better gender equality, democracy and, most important of all, more freedom of expression than most countries in Asia-Pacific. We reached a major milestone last year by legalising same-sex marriage.” In terms of industry specifics, Jao says: “There are two main kinds of incentives that producers can apply for when shooting in Taipei. The first is the Taipei Film Fund, which we administer. Any international co-production produced with a Taiwanese company and that has at least 25% of scenes shot in the city, or has post-production done in Taipei, is eligible. We have an annual budget of $1m and have invested in 10 films and TV series since 2018, including projects produced by HBO.” The second incentive is a cash rebate from Taiwanese central government, which goes up to 30% of expenditure. “To be eligible, a motion picture produced by a foreign production company must co-operate with a Taiwanese partner and have expenditures of at least $1m during its production operations in Taiwan,” Jao says. “And for a TV series, it would be $2m. As for the amount of funding, it is up to 30%
of the total expenditure in Taiwan, with a cap of $1m for films. For a TV series, the cap is approximately $670,000.” As for the talent pool and infrastructure, Jao says that most of Taiwan’s post-production companies, studios and talent reside in Taipei. “In addition to traditional studios, we also have a volumetric studio in Taipei,” she adds. “That means we have put everything a producer might need in one place. The Taipei Film Commission also offers an online database of production companies, talent and distributors.” Taipei offers great richness and diversity of locations, from the city’s North Gate, which dates from Qing Dynasty, to picturesque Dihua Street and its hundreds of temples. “Producers can easily find a location to shoot historical scenes,” Jao says. “If they’re looking for skyscrapers or a futuristic metropolis, Taipei 101 stands at the centre of the bustling Xin Yi district. This is where Lucy  was shot.” Not far outside the city is the Yangmingshan National Park, with its lush green landscapes and volcanic sites. “And cutting through the city are rivers that wind to the north and end in a beautiful blue harbour,” Jao adds. “All of these locations are within an easy one- to two-hour drive.” Jao says the Taipei Film Commission has assisted in 869 international co-productions, including Life of Pi (2012), Lucy and Silence (2016). “The top three countries we do business with are China — including Hong Kong and Macau — Japan and the US. But we would like to tell other parts of the world that, no matter what kind of films they are looking to shoot or what kind of locations or assistance they’re searching for, it is worth coming to Taipei and working with our talent.” The Taipei Film Commission can play a key role in making sure this process is smooth: “The commission was established to ensure that every filmmaker who wants to shoot in Taipei can find the resources and locations they need. From location services and international co-production investments to the Taipei Film Academy and promoting Taipei at international film markets, we pour our every effort into making Taipei an environment most suitable for filmmaking. Having assisted productions of the scale of Silence and Lucy, both of which hired hundreds of local crews and thousands of local extras, we have proved there are no barriers to filming here.” Easy to reach from most parts of the world, Taipei is also a gateway to different parts of Taiwan. “While Taipei is packed with amazing shooting locations, the diverse geographical traits of Taiwan is a gift waiting for every filmmaker to explore,” Jao adds. South Korean capital Seoul is one of Asia’s most technologically advanced cities. It is also the engine room of one of the world’s most successful TV-and-film production businesses, with Korean content exported around the globe. Against this backdrop, it is no surprise that the team at Seoul Film Commission believe their city is well positioned to win business. “Korea has a reputation for being a significant influence across the Asian entertainment industry,” says the Seoul Film Commission. “So filming in Seoul can be appealing to many Asian audiences. Seoul as the capital of Korea vividly shows the charm of the Korean cultural wave.” Given the strength of Korea’s domestic production business, the Seoul Film Commission says the country is blessed with professional crews and technicians, and a strong infrastructure. Seoul Metropolitan Region, which consists of the cities of Seoul and Incheon and the province of Gyeonggi, is home to 95% of Korea’s film- and TV-related companies and facilities. More than 40% of all local movies and TVs are shot here each year. In terms of the kind of locations on offer, a major part of Seoul’s appeal is that it is “a fast-moving modern metropolis with high-rise apartment buildings”. That said, it is also a 600-year-old city, “so you can find the combination of old palaces and glass-wall high-rise buildings”. Also of interest to location managers, according to the Seoul Film Commission, is that the city is bisected by the Hangang river and surrounded by mountains. French feature, #iamhere (2019), directed by Eric Lartigau,
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filmed scenes in Seoul against a backdrop of cherry blossoms in full bloom, while the third instalment of To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018) shot in several of Seoul’s top filming locations. The Seoul Film Commission team adds: “One thing worth noting is that Korea has four distinct seasons and each season has its own charm. Every spring, a cherry-blossom festival takes place in Yeouido, which is described as Seoul’s Manhattan. Fall is a great time of the year in Korea. The sky is blue, the weather is pleasantly cool and refreshing, and leaves turn into red and yellow. Seoul is the perfect place to stroll around, especially the royal palaces where there are ginkgo and maple trees. The best time to shoot would be the spring months of April and May, and the fall months of September and October. But summer and winter also have considerable charm. In winter, heavy snow sometimes falls on the city and the Hangang river occasionally freezes.” Seoul is also a film-friendly city with good connections to the rest of the country. Seoul is linked to most major cities by the KTX, Korea’s high-speed bullet train. It takes less than three hours by KTX from Seoul to Busan, where Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) filmed key sequences. Beautiful Jeju island, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, is less than an hour from Seoul by plane. The Seoul Film Commission runs three incentive programmes as a part of its strategy to promote the Korean capital internationally and boost the local film industry. The first incentive, Production Cost Support, is supported by the Seoul metropolitan government and provides cash reimbursements of up to 30% of production costs for foreign projects shot in Seoul. The cap for each project is approximately $265,000. The second, Location Scouting Support, covers the cost of three days of scouting for two staff for international projects planning to shoot in Seoul. Finally, Seoul Screenplay Development Support offers two round-trip flights to foreign directors, producers or screenwriters, plus the use of a work space in Seoul for a maximum of 30 days. Four to six projects, which must be set in Seoul, are selected every year. Many of Seoul’s incoming projects are from South-East Asia, Japan and China. However, the city’s film-friendly approach is also starting to attract productions from other parts of the world. Recent projects have included Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Netflix’s science fiction drama series Sense8 (2015-18), sci-fi comedy film Colossal (2016) — starring Anne Hathaway — and Universal’s Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018). “With the growth of original series by OTT services, projects from US companies including Netflix and YouTube have increased,” the Seoul Film Commission reports. “Also, following the Avengers team's successful filming in Seoul, Hollywood production inquiries have increased. We have also had some projects from France. Our next target will be other European countries. Thanks to Parasite’s  success at the Oscars, we hope this will lead European projects to visit and shoot in Seoul.” Japanese capital Tokyo is one of the world’s most iconic destinations. But for producers who have yet to have the opportunity to work there, the tendency is to think of the city solely as a futuristic kaleidoscope of anime, karaoke, gaming cafes, robots, neon lights, exotic cuisine and cool shopping. “Modern architecture, diverse lifestyle and advanced technology are all important hallmarks of Tokyo’s global image, which is why the city has featured in movies such as Lost in Translation  and Kill Bill Volume I ,” says Mayu Sugaya, responsible for international projects at the Tokyo Film Commission (aka Tokyo Location Box). “But this is only one dimension of what the city can offer. What is less well known is that Tokyo and its metropolitan region are also home to wonderful historic sites and areas of natural beauty.” If Shibuya Crossing represents modern Toyko in all its glory, then the beautiful temple complex of Senso-ji captures the historical side of the city. Adding to the appeal of Senso-ji is that it is located right next to the bright and bustling market stalls of Nakamise-dori. “In addition to the many temples and shrines you can find around the city, one of Tokyo’s biggest secrets is the number of beautiful traditional gardens it has,” Sugaya says. “These gardens are well known to residents as
peaceful retreats, and they are popular for wedding photo shoots. Sometimes, it’s possible to get very dramatic shots that combine tranquil gardens with modern cityscapes.” “While mid-summer in Tokyo can be hot and humid, Sugaya says the city also benefits from four clearly defined seasons, with spring’s cherry blossoms famous around the world. Away from central Tokyo, Sugaya points to the spectacular Eleven Islands, which stretch out into the Pacific Ocean. Although known as Eleven Islands, this actually only refers to the inhabited islands in the archipelago — there are in fact close to 300. “One of the most beautiful places in Japan for ocean and beach scenery is Okinawa island, at the southern tip of the country,” Sugaya adds. “But there are parts of Eleven Islands that have similar dramatic landscapes and looks. The islands mean it’s possible for filmmakers to find varied coastlines, beaches, vegetation and mountains close to Tokyo, as well as more historic and cultural sites. Some islands also have hot springs and volcanic activity.” Japan is currently making a concerted effort to open itself up to the world through events including the Rugby World Cup, the Japan Expo and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, now rescheduled to 2021. Sugaya says her film office is also ramping up its efforts to attract international filmmakers. Aside from the city’s varied locations, Tokyo also has a world-class production infrastructure, she says. “The city is home to all of the country’s major broadcasters and has a
“TOKYO’S BIGGEST SECRET IS ITS BEAUTIFUL TRADITIONAL GARDENS. SOMETIMES, IT’S POSSIBLE TO GET VERY DRAMATIC SHOTS THAT COMBINE TRANQUIL GARDENS WITH MODERN CITYSCAPES” MAYU SUGAYA
strong filmmaking community, so we have access to excellent crews, technicians and equipment. Tokyo also has a wide range of hotels and excellent transport links. It’s the main hub for people flying into Japan and also has good transport connections to other parts of the country.” In terms of productions that have visited Tokyo recently, Sugaya picks out three that showcase the city’s ability to manage high-end projects: “We hosted a new Netflix scripted production called Earthquake Bird , and also a Chinese film called Detective Chinatown (2020). The Chinese film was the third in a popular franchise that has already shot in China and the US. Recently, we also welcomed the hit CBS television series S.W.A.T. [2017-].” The S.W.A.T. production team spent three days in Tokyo. In addition to a dramatic restaurant rooftop shootout, the Tokyo locations included in the shoot included Akihabara, Shinjuku District, Zojo-ji and Tokyo Tower — Tokyo's second tallest structure and modelled after Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Also featured was Robot Restaurant, a restaurant/bar featuring female pro-wrestling. In terms of the practicalities of production, Tokyo has the usual challenges associated with big-city filming. That is why the Tokyo Film Commission is keen to play a more prominent role in facilitating producers. “Some international producers come to Tokyo and film without contacting us,” Sugaya says. “That’s also fine, but we’re in a really pivotal position to help them out with permits, liaising with organisations like the police and finding local fixers. Also, not every production-services firm in Japan can speak English, so we can help international producers connect with firms that we know.” At press time, there was a pilot national filming incentive in Japan, while those involved continue to debate the necessity or otherwise.
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WE DIDN’T HURT ANYTHING MICHAEL BAY BELIEVES IN MAKING AN IMPACT — AND THAT’S AS TRUE OF THE LOCATIONS HE CHOOSES FOR HIS ACTION SPECTACULARS AS IT IS OF THEIR HIGH-OCTANE PLOTS. CLIVE BULL LOOKS AT THE UAE BACKDROPS THAT ADD DRAMA TO BAY’S BLOCKBUSTER, NETFLIX’S 6 UNDERGROUND, WHICH FOLLOWS A TEAM OF SHADOWY MERCENARIES ON A WORLDWIDE MISSION TO TOPPLE A TYRANT
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Ben Hardy as Four in 6 Underground
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Rich Diversity of Locations Abu Dhabi is a first world capital city with robust infrastructure and global connectivity offering many locations. From unique futuristic architecture to miles of coastline and multiple islands, to mangroves and open desert landscapes, Abu Dhabi is the ideal backdrop for your next production. Join the lineup of some of the world’s most renowned Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Bharat, Sahoo, Mission Impossible: Fall Out, and 6 Underground. • • • • •
30% cashback rebate on Abu Dhabi qualifying production spend* 300,000 sq. m backlot ( ≈ 3,200,000 sq. ft ) Diverse locations for any creative scene and year-round sunshine Top-tier productions facilities International film crews
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This visual is a collage of the various locations available in Abu Dhabi.
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ICHAEL Bay’s recent blockbuster is the most ‘Michael Bay’ movie he’s ever made. The elaborate death-defying stunts, the intensity of the action and the globe-trotting locations make it a crazily breathtaking experience. And no wonder. With a reported budget of $150m, 6 Underground is one of Netflix’s most ambitious ventures to date — and that budget shows on screen. The titular six are under-the-radar operatives whose past lives have been buried. Each has a unique skill to bring to the party as they attempt to change the world for the better. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (as Numbers One, Two and Three respectively) the production features cars flying through the air in the historic streets of Florence, a £70m superyacht loaned from Shahid Khan — the owner of Fulham Football Club — and a small army, courtesy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) military. It feels like the very definition of ‘no expense spared’. Shooting took place in several Italian cities, as well as Los Angeles, Budapest and the UAE, in particular Abu Dhabi, which stands in for a diverse range of worldwide locations. The movie opens with an adrenalinpumping car chase that continues for a full 20 minutes as the six, crammed in to a limegreen Alfa Romeo, speed through the ancient streets of Florence. Bay obtained the permits after a bit of persuasion and admitted later, that "there’s a lot of priceless stuff in this movie, like where we have cars flying between an obelisk. Why they allowed me to have flying cars by an obelisk that’s 800 years old, I don’t know. But we didn’t hurt anything.” It was also a first for the ancient city to have helicopters swooping through the rooftops and members of the Storror parkour team scaling down the medieval Duomo cathedral dome, their actions captured by a drone. If anything, the action then intensifies as the six continue their mission with a plan to topple the evil dictator of fictional Turgistan. As the untraceable agents span the globe, the glamorous locations come thick and fast, although not everywhere is as it seems, with Abu Dhabi doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Indeed, the UAE capital stands in for Las Vegas, Afghanistan, California, Hong Kong, Nigeria and ‘Turgistan’. Abu Dhabi is well placed for doubling thanks to the sheer variety of looks it offers. Its pristine beaches, clear blue waters and consistent sunshine are often used to evoke settings like the Maldives, the Bahamas and the Mediterranean. “Abu Dhabi’s stunning architecture, which encompasses a unique mix of tradition and modernity, can be adapted to settings in Asia, the US and any modern city,” says Hans Fraikin, head of Abu
Dhabi Film Commission. “All these locations have the advantage of being in close proximity, making the production process smooth and cutting down long journey times.” Abu Dhabi also features state-of-the art facilities for building custom sets. Media hub twofour54’s backlot, which spans more than 300,000 sq m, was used in 6 Underground to recreate parts of Turgistan. Previous Hollywood and Bollywood productions have used the backlot to double as a variety of MENA region countries. Notably, the backlot was home to Bollywood’s huge box-office hit Tiger Zinda Hai, for which Yash Raj Films and twofour54 worked together to construct a 20,000 sq m set, built over a three-month period. Twenty-four different locations in the UAE served as backdrops for multiple settings in 6 Underground. The mountains of Ras Al Khaimah did double duty, standing in for both Afghanistan and Nigeria; the business settings of Reem Island and Abu Dhabi Global Market became Hong Kong’s cityscape;
“WHY THEY ALLOWED ME TO HAVE FLYING CARS BY AN OBELISK THAT’S 800 YEARS OLD, I DON’T KNOW” MICHAEL BAY
Etihad Towers transformed into a Las Vegas building; and numerous locations, including the Emirates Palace and the Liwa desert, became parts of the fictional Turgistan. “The fact Abu Dhabi can stand in for such drastically different settings is testament to its versatility and unique architecture,” says Sameer Al Jaberi, locations manager for twofour54, who worked on 6 Underground. “For me, the most striking scenes were set in locations featuring key landmarks and architecture that were immediately recognisable as Abu Dhabi, such as the scenes set in the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi and the iconic Aldar headquarters. I’m impressed at how Michael Bay shot the film and was able to truly maximise the stunning locations Abu Dhabi has to offer.” It was the wide range of settings in close proximity that attracted Bay to the UAE. “I’ve shot around the world and I'm always looking for new and different,” he says. “What I liked about Abu Dhabi is there’s a modernity to it — there’s a beautiful aesthetic to the desert; there’s a beautiful aesthetic to the city. It’s clean, it’s safe. We shot in Al Hamra, which is like an ancient ghost city and played for Afghanistan. And literally right around the corner, we played another part for Nigeria.
Very versatile to have a place where, five minutes away, it's like a different country.” The production needed a location hub that could service numerous international looks and locations, some of which had already been filmed in other parts of the world and needed to be doubled in one country or region. “After much scouting, Abu Dhabi was selected, given its ability to provide these locations, coupled with its growing international crew base and attractive rebate package,” says Ian Bryce, producer of 6 Underground. “Local Abu Dhabi government and agencies were very proactive in their co-operation and assistance with the production team and helped co-ordinate a large-scale military assistance package. All this made Abu Dhabi a very competitive location for us.” Abu Dhabi was also a hit with the cast. As 6 Underground star Ryan Reynolds put it: “Abu Dhabi is wild to shoot in because in our movie it’s California, it’s the Middle East, it plays as Hong Kong. In terms of infrastructure logistics, for shooting a film it’s second to none.” Shooting in 24 locations in 27 days was always going to be a challenge. “It meant that we had to plan impeccably and ensure that all parties were aware of the schedule,” says Salwa Alhadhrami, production manager at twofour54. “We also had to be flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable changes in timetables and locations.” Alhadhrami adds that the experience of working with Bay on 6 Underground is one he will never forget: “He’s renowned for shooting daring action sequences, but this took it to the next level, with highly complex stunts and dazzling special effects, all taking place in locations across the UAE. To witness him orchestrate it all seamlessly was an incredible experience. Overall, I was proud to be part of this production and work closely with the incredibly experienced crew.” In another example of Bay’s ability to film where no one has filmed before, 6 Underground became the first Hollywood movie to shoot inside the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The spectacular museum, which gives the appearance of a floating dome structure, was opened in 2017 and has a formal association with the Louvre in Paris. Bryce says the museum was chosen as a location because of its unique appeal and beauty: “As an international destination, it was written specifically into a scene featuring its acclaimed architectural design as well as some of its artworks.” In Abu Dhabi’s westernmost region of Al Dhafra is Liwa desert or Rub al-Khali (also known as the Empty Quarter). A key location for 6 Underground, the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass has hosted many Hollywood and Bollywood feature films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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“The intensity of the action and the globetrotting locations make 6 Underground a crazily breathtaking experience”
(2015), Furious 7 (2015), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and Race 3 (2018). “Productions are often drawn to Liwa because of the striking nature of its undulating golden dunes, which feature some of the highest dunes in the world and which look stunning on screen,” Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s Fraikin says. “Off screen, however, Liwa has multiple benefits — it’s well connected to modern roads and infrastructure, which makes transporting cast and crew quick and efficient. Twofour54 has had extensive experience filming there. The media zone is home to production professionals who can provide a seamless production-support process.” But it’s not just exotic and varied locations that the UAE brings to the table. “The thing you get when you work in Abu Dhabi is incredible support from the military,” says pro-
“I’VE SHOT A LOT OF MILITARY STUFF WITH MICHAEL, BUT I’VE NEVER HAD ACCESS TO SIX APACHES, 10 BLACK HAWKS AND SOLDIERS” JEFFREY BEECROFT
duction designer Jeffrey Beecroft. “I’ve shot a lot of military stuff with Michael, but I’ve never had access to six Apaches, 10 Black Hawks and soldiers. We were able to do something pretty extraordinary with that kind of support.” Military hardware and equipment is a real bonus for filmmakers in Abu Dhabi. The UAE was the only region in the world to be able to offer Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) a C17 plane plus pilot and crew for Tom Cruise’s iconic HALO jump scene. “This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the UAE Armed Forces and government officials,” Fraikin adds. “6 Underground, Race 3 and Tiger Zinda Hai have all used military hardware while filming in Abu Dhabi, including Chinooks, Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters.” When it comes to organising access and facilities, Fraikin says it helps that Abu Dhabi is a relatively new player on the film-and-TV scene. Large-scale productions have only been coming to the emirate since around 2013 and there is great enthusiasm to build the industry. “From the very beginning, the government has been hugely supportive of twofour54 and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s drive to grow the UAE’s film and production industry,” he says, adding that high-profile films have received help from various government bodies, including the interior ministry and the culture and tour-
ism department, to secure permits for road closures, access striking locations and use military hardware for stunts. Abu Dhabi Film Commission offers a 30% rebate on below-the-line production and post-production spend in the emirate. The rebate covers travel, accommodation, local or international crew and location, set-build and post-production costs. “This is one of the most comprehensive rebates in the world, which has been an important factor in securing large-scale productions,” Fraikin says. “But while we understand producers look to incentives when budgeting, the improvement in our infrastructure has surprised many and is a major factor in why studios such as Paramount, Netflix and MBC keep coming back.” So what do the people of Abu Dhabi think about Hollywood and Bollywood increasingly heading to the UAE? “The cinema experience is very popular here — it’s a real social event and a chance for friends and family to bond,” says Hameeda Al Rahbi, production manager at twofour54, who worked on 6 Underground. “For Furious 7 and multiple Bollywood films, I’ve witnessed the audience cheer and applaud every time Abu Dhabi is featured on the big screen. Cinema brings people together through stories about the human experience. Plus it’s always fun to see your home town on the big screen.”
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With outstanding locations, generous incentives, world-class talent both in front of and behind the camera, Canada’s film-friendliness is hard to beat. DEBBIE LINCOLN looks at the vast and varied country’s roll call of recent projects
THE CALL OF THE NORTH C
ANADA has long recognised the film industry as a
valuable contributor to its GDP and as an important employer — even a boost to tourism. To this end, the country has backed the film and TV industry with generous incentives, nationally and locally, a number of government-backed bodies dedicated to invigorating the industry and a dynamic policy of education initiatives in the creative arts that has resulted in broad and deep pool of filmmaking talent. For Canadian producers this includes the Bell Fund, Canada Media Fund, Hot Docs funds, Quebecor Fund, Rogers Documentary Fund and Cable Network Fund, Telus Fund and Telefilm Canada. Producers considering Canada for projects can access a network of film commissions, which work locally and collaboratively territory- and province-wide and are dedicated to helping filmmakers make their choices. Canada is film-friendly and adept at creating and supporting co-productions, which has helped to nurture a robust international film industry. The proof can be seen in the number of companies and the amount of creative talent that come back to Canada time after time for their projects, knowing they will be welcomed and helped. Many film projects have had to halt production for a period of time in 2020, but there is no better country than Canada to get things up and running again quickly and enthusiastically. A good example of a drama that has used all the advantages and support that Canada can offer is 2019’s Red Snow – nine years in the making and created by Canadian Métis artist Marie Clements.
The project began in 2012, when Clements won the Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) Feature Film Award, which came with a prize of in-kind services. Red Snow started as a feature film but evolved into a transmedia project to represent the film’s central message of respect for land, language and survival. The three-part project now includes a feature film, an interactive digital media component called Book of Snow and an outreach programme to bring communities together through virtual and real-time experiences. The film tells the story of Dylan, a Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic who is caught in an ambush in Kandahar, Afghanistan, while serving in the military. His interrogation by a Taliban commander unearths memories of his Inuit cousin Asana and these reminicences help him to survive his imprisonment. Dylan is also brought closer to a Pashtun family while they make an escape across forbidding landscapes and through a blizzard. The ambitious story is told in four languages: Gwich’in, Inuvialuktun, Pashto and English. The location filming, which took place over a fairly quick 20 days, moved between the Northwest Territories (NWT) and the desert interior region of British Columbia, which includes the Ashcroft First Nation Lands and Kamloops. Because the story moves from the Canadian Arctic to Afghanistan, the location list was specific and varied, Clements says: “The range was extreme… tundra, desert, flatlands and rolling hills that turned into high mountain ranges. Arctic trees and flowing rivers, rock formations, dry dirt roads and ice roads. Open sky. Open land. Also, everything from a small Dene community house to
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Red Snow, whose story moves from the Canadian Arctic to Afghanistan
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The deep canyons and hoodoos of Calgary were recently used as a backdrop for scenes in the Netflix series Lost in Space
“TUNDRA, DESERT, FLATLANDS AND ROLLING HILLS THAT TURNED INTO HIGH MOUNTAIN RANGES. ARCTIC TREES AND FLOWING RIVERS, ROCK FORMATIONS, DRY DIRT ROADS AND ICE ROADS. OPEN SKY. OPEN LAND” MARIE CLEMENTS
a small Afghan house within a compound, abandoned war-torn Afghani buildings and a northern Dene/Inuvialuit community.” For filmmakers — and independent filmmakers especially — finding the most economic and authentic locations may require help. Clements acknowledges the assistance she and her team received from local filmmaking bodies in both NWT, including Yellowknife and the small community of Dettah, and the interior of British Columbia, including Kamloops, Cache Creek and Ashcroft. “We worked with the NWT Film Commission and the Thompson-Nicola Film Commission and the Provincial Film Commission at Creative BC, who were crucial in helping us access locations in their regions, as well as garnering support from the Yellowknives First Nation and the Ashcroft First Nation to shoot on their lands,” she says. “We were also supported by local film companies and individuals who were committed to sourcing and rising to the demand of what we needed.” Despite a few weather obstacles, the shoot ran smoothly. “We had some reality checks when it came to the land and shifting weather. Extremes of -51ºC and +38ºC, floods, snow white-outs, thawing ice roads, changing snow drifts and mass fire warnings can challenge the best-laid plans but we overcame it together,” adds Clements, who is currently working on action-adventure mini-series Bones of Crows and feature drama Tombs. Red Snow was written and directed by Clements, and produced by Clements, Lael McCall and Michelle Morris, with co-producer Jonathan Tammuz and executive producers Carol Whiteman and Giuliana Bertuzzi. Cinematographers were Robert Aschmann in the desert and Roger Vernon in the Arctic, with production design by Michael Diner and art direction by James Boatman. Support for Red Snow included CBC’s Breaking Barriers Feature Film Fund, Telefilm Canada, WIDC’s Feature Film Award, the Canada Media Fund, APTN, the Harold Greenberg Fund, Creative BC, Film Incentive BC, CAVCO (Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office) and the
Northwest Territories Film Rebate Program. British Columbia and Ontario have long been film and TV hubs. However, it was the east-coast province of Nova Scotia that carried the torch for Canada at the 2020 Oscars with a nomination for The Lighthouse cinematographer Jarin Baschke. Director Robert Eggers filmed his successful 2015 film The Witch in a small town in northeastern Ontario. He returned to Canada for The Lighthouse, an extraordinarily tense, psychological drama starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The Lighthouse shot for 32 days in March and April 2018, around the southern tip of Nova Scotia, filming on an outdoor set on Cape Forchu and an indoor set near Halifax. The story is set in 19th-century Maine, which was well represented by Nova Scotia’s cold, windy Atlantic coast. The inclement environment was both a challenge to cast and crew, and crucial to the intense atmosphere of the film which, in Dafoe’s words, “opens us to mystery”. “It was a difficult location — the weather was extreme and we were freezing cold,” Eggers says. “As our maritime co-ordinator, Captain William Flower, ominously said one day during pre-production, slamming his hands on the table, ‘People have died on Cape Forchu!’” Difficult as it was, the production benefitted from authentic storm conditions, including biting wind and rain. “It was tough for the actors,” Eggers adds. “Robert’s role was more physically challenging, while Willem’s was verbally demanding. But they each had their share of physical misery. We all did.” RT Features producer Rodrigo Teixeira, who worked on The Lighthouse, adds: “We found the ideal location. It provided the perfect ominous, jagged backdrop to the story that Robert Eggers wanted to tell. When we needed to do our stage work, we were able to easily move into a soundstage located in the province's capital city [Halifax]. The crews were remarkably comfortable working on location and could roll
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© March 2020, Destination Ontario
PROUD TO PL AY A SUPPORTING ROLE Ontario Creates offers access to an incredible range of locations, competitive financial incentives and customized scouting services. Contact us for assistance. Clockwise from upper middle: Ottawa Rideau Canal, Kingston, Toronto, Fairmont Royal York - Toronto, Elgin County and Wabakini Provincial Park.
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with anything thrown at them.” Another facility used by The Lighthouse crew was local firm Survival Systems’ pool, which can simulate extreme environmental effects. Used for the marine and underwater scenes, the facility can recreate waves of up to six foot, wind and rain effects, fog conditions, thunder and lightning, and a variety of sound and lighting effects. It is perhaps no surprise that Nova Scotia is able to provide coastalfilming expertise, being almost completely surrounded by ocean. But according to Screen Nova Scotia’s operations and communications manager Tara McClair, the province can offer more: “Whether your production requires downtown urban sophistication, small-town ambiance, rolling hills, expansive forests or miles of unspoiled coastline, we have it all — [along] with soundstage space and talented design teams who are able to transform empty warehouses and arenas into state-ofthe-art film sets. Our experienced locations manager is able to create free digital-image packages with Nova Scotia locations that perfectly match any script. We also offer financial support for incoming location scouts.” The Lighthouse production designer Craig Lathrop and his team were responsible for all the on-screen structures, including a full-scale 70 ft (6.5 metre) lighthouse on a volcanic rock outcrop. “We made every possible effort to give all our buildings an iconic New Englandness — the style of our lighthouse is an accurate depiction of a Maine lighthouse station near the turn of the century,” Eggers says. “Yet, like The Witch, I wanted this movie to take place ‘once upon a time’ — someplace isolated and desolate and, also, almost out of a picture book.” The lighthouse complex was actually several sets, with the exteriors all filmed in the fishing community of Cape Forchu. Some of the interiors were filmed there as well, but the majority were built inside sound stages and warehouses outside of Halifax. It was clear to Eggers and Lathrop that it would be too cramped for the camera inside a lighthouse tower. “We began filming in March,” Lathrop adds. “We wanted to shoot in the season right after winter but before spring, when everything was still dormant and hadn’t come to life yet — which means we were building in the heart of winter.” At one point, the structure was encased in sea-spray ice and three Nor’easters blew across Cape Forchu during filming, yet the lighthouse stood firm. The Lighthouse is a good example of the depth of Canadian talent available. The crew included American Lathrop, who lives in Toronto, costume designer Linda Muir, also Toronto-based, and Canadian composer Mark Korven, as well as numerous production crew members. Upcoming 2020 Nova Scotia productions include the 10-episode Epix drama Jerusalem’s Lot, based on a short story by Stephen King and starring Oscar-winner Adrien Brody; Amblin Partners’ The Good House, starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver, a drama set in New England; Hulu’s Books Of Blood, an original film based on Clive Barker’s horror anthology, from writer/director Brannon Braga; and two Lifetime MOWs. Another province in the east of Canada that has seen healthy filming activity is Quebec, the heart of French-speaking Canada. Both the province and city have a reputation for locations with an international flavour, offering backdrops that can double for most of Europe, as well as modern cityscapes and North America. Added to that, the region boasts four distinct seasons, a wide range of stage and post-production facilities and plenty of experienced crew and creatives. “We are therefore seeing
stability and growth,” says Chanelle Routhier, film and television commissioner for the Province of Quebec. A good example of Quebec’s strength at masquerading is My Salinger Year, which opened the 2020 Berlinale international film festival in Germany. The Canadian/Irish co-production from micro_scope and Parallel Film is based on a novel by Joanna Smith Rakoff and was filmed entirely in Quebec. Written and directed by Philippe Falardeau and starring Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver and Douglas Booth, My Salinger Year is set in 1990s New York. The story follows the young Joanna who, after leaving graduate school to follow her dream of becoming a writer, finds a job at an old-fashioned literary agency that looks after the interests of the notoriously reclusive writer J D Salinger. Tasked with taking care of Salinger’s fan mail, Joanna decides not to send out the agency’s impersonal standard letter and begins to personalise the responses. Other recent productions to have visited Quebec include Fatherhood (2021), from Sony Pictures, a family drama based on a true story starring Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard and Melody Hurd; Amazon Studios thriller The Voyeurs (2020), written and directed by Michael Mohan and starring Sydney Sweeney, Justice Smith, Ben Hardy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo; The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, producer/director Lee Daniels’ biopic of the legendary jazz singer starring Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Trevante Rhodes; and Warner Bros. Pictures’ touching drama Clouds (2020), directed by Justin Baldoni and based on the book Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech. Clouds stars Fin Argus, Sabrina Carpenter and Madison Iseman. Quebec has also been busy with TV production. Among the projects to have visited the province are Fox 21 Television Studios’ Barkskins (2020) for National Geographic; the fourth season of The Bold Type (2017-) for Universal Television; the second season of CBS Television’s Blood & Treasure (2019-); and the third season of Future Man (2017-20) for Sony Pictures Television and Hulu. The mid-western province of Manitoba supported more than 70 projects through various incentives in 2019, including eight feature films, 34 series, 15 one-off documentaries, 10 television movies and two pilots. “In January 2019, the Manitoba Film & Video Production Tax Credit was made permanent,” says Brian Clasper, senior analyst, film, television and tax credits, at Manitoba Film & Music. “This was key to the record-breaking year Manitoba enjoyed.” Demand remains high and Clasper is poised for another strong year of production. A notable recent project is Amazon’s Tales from the Loop (2020-), produced by Fox 21 Television Studios. The sci-fi drama series, which used multiple locations across Manitoba, is inspired by the work of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, who blends futuristic culture with images of rural life. The stories about the side effects of the development of a huge particle accelerator feature abandoned robots, strange vehicles and machinery, and weird creatures. The series is a coup for Manitoba and has already resulted in a boost for local skilled employment. Meanwhile, CBC drama series Burden of Truth (2018-) returned to Manitoba for a third season, courtesy of producers Entertainment One (eOne) and local production company Eagle Vision. Three feature films have also chosen the province for locations. Flag Day, directed by and starring Sean Penn, is based on a memoir by Jennifer Vogel and tells the story of a daughter trying to overcome a childhood overshadowed by a criminal father. The film also stars Penn’s daughter Dylan, his son Hopper, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller. Universal Pictures’ Nobody,
“IN JANUARY 2019, THE MANITOBA FILM & VIDEO PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT WAS MADE PERMANENT, WHICH WAS KEY TO A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR”
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starring Connie Nielsen, Bob Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd, is directed by Ilya Naishuller. The vigilante thriller tells the story of a man who unwittingly becomes the target of a vengeful drug lord after he tries to help a woman being harassed by a group of men. Also in production in Manitoba is The Ice Road (2021), an action feature directed by Jonathon Hensleigh and starring Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne. The action centres on a specialist ice driver, who is forced to take on a danger-filled rescue mission to save lives in a collapsed diamond mine in the frozen north. Clasper says that, while Manitoba attracts international productions, the province also has a thriving local industry, which “allows producers and directors to stay and develop their own projects”. Examples include the 2019 musical film Stand, 2020’s Diaspora and — in post at press time — Cinema of Sleep and Hunter Hunter. Further west in Alberta, Lissa Craig, manager of creative industries at Calgary Economic Development, reports that her region had a record year in 2019. “The sector generated almost CA$200m of screenbased industry production spend in the Calgary region, and well over CA$300m in Alberta,” she adds. Contributing to the boom was the shoot for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), which filmed in and around Calgary, with some street scenes shot in Fort MacLeod. The next chapter in the Ghostbusters universe stars Paul Rudd alongside returners to the franchise Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Dan Ackroyd. Directed by Jason Reitman, the story follows a single mother and her two kids, who arrive in a small town and begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and their grandfather’s secret legacy.
Family drama Let Him Go (2020) from Focus Features was shot entirely in Alberta. The film, directed by Thomas Bezucha, stars Kevin Kostner and Diane Lane as grieving parents who set out to find their only grandson. Alberta also hosted scenes for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s 2019 boxoffice hit Jumanji: The Next Level. Disney+ feature Togo (2019) filmed in the town of Cochrane to the west of Calgary. The Walt Disney Company feature follows a dog in the 1925 sleddog relay, Serum Run, which was thought too small and weak to compete. The heart-warming film stars Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson and Christopher Heyerdahl and is directed by Ericson Core. Alberta has also benefitted hugely over the years from returning TV series. Recent examples include the fourth season of Wynonna Earp (2016) from SYFY and Seven24 Films; the 13th season of Heartland (2007-), also from Seven24 Films; and the second season of Netflix zombie drama Black Summer (2019-). Alberta is best known for the awe-inspiring scenery evoked by the real or imagined untamed west. But Craig is keen to showcase the fact that, in addition to the Rocky Mountains and vast prairie landscapes, there are also badlands within close proximity to Calgary. This otherworldly landscape boasts deep canyons and hoodoos — bizarre towers created by the erosion of softer rock capped with harder rock — and was recently used as the backdrop for scenes in the Netflix series Lost in Space (2018-). Up in the Northwest Territories, the NWT Film Commission office is working hard to “create more awareness of the area, get more interest and get more productions up here”, according to film commissioner Camilla MacEachern. “We’ve been a hub for notable reality series, including the inaugural series of Ice Road Truckers , Ice Pilots [2009-14], Ice Lake Rebels 
STEALING THE SHOW
ALBERTA HAS BEEN INSPIRING CREATIVITY IN SCREEN PRODUCTIONS FOR OVER A CENTURY. People love shooting movies in Calgary. With the Rockies, Badlands and Prairies all in a 3-hour radius, we’re not sure if it’s our vast landscapes or our vast landscapes. Be a part of our excellence in film, TV and digital media at calgaryfilmcentre.com
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On location for the 2019 feature-length documentary Nahanni River Of Forgiveness, filmed in the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories
and, recently, Alone Across the Arctic , which filmed in NWT and neighbouring Yukon, and True North Calling [2017-],” she says. “We are noticing more diversity in the types of productions that we are attracting.” Recent projects range from commercials for Toyota and Volkswagen to the award-winning Canadian feature films The Sun at Midnight (2016) and Red Snow. These reality series may project a narrow vision of what NWT can offer in terms of locations, but MacEachern is keen to present other possibilities. As well as spectacular waterfalls, rivers, freshwater lakes, mountains and arctic coastlines, MacEachern says: “Yellowknife is quite urban. We’ve got tall buildings. You can film a scene downtown and you can be on a lake or in a bush in the middle of nowhere within five minutes. We have the earliest winter and the latest spring.” And, of course, NWT can do snow. A lot of filming requests are for snow locations, MacEachern adds, which are still plentiful in June. She also points to another advantage: “our extended ‘magic hour’. In the summer, for two months, we have basically 24-hour daylight, so you can film to your heart’s content.”
“ANOTHER ADVANTAGE IS OUR EXTENDED ‘MAGIC HOUR’. IN THE SUMMER, FOR TWO MONTHS, WE HAVE BASICALLY 24-HOUR DAYLIGHT, SO YOU CAN FILM TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT”
The 2019 feature-length documentary Nahanni River of Forgiveness from writer/director Geoff Bowie was filmed entirely in the Nahanni National Park Reserve in NWT. The film follows Grand Chief Herb Norwegian and a team of moose-skin boat builders from the Mountain Dene First Nation as they work to build a traditional boat. The mixed group of young and old, men and women then set off on a 500 km journey home in a craft that has not been used on the river for 100 years. As well as a testament to community spirit, Nahanni River of Forgiveness is also an amazing showcase for the landscape of NWT. A giant chunk of the filming in Canada, both TV and movies, runs through the province of Ontario, especially Toronto. Ontario Creates, an agency of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, is a catalyst for the province’s media activities. A division of Ontario Creates,
the Ontario Film Commission, provides location scouting and facilitation services as well as marketing the local industry. The commission reports that 2019 was a record-breaking year, 15% up on 2018, with 343 productions bringing in CA$2.16bn in production spending and supporting 44,540 full-time equivalent direct and spinoff jobs. These figures cover national and international filming and animation. Ontario offers a huge variety of urban and natural locations, as well as numerous historical locations. The film commission has access to more than 225,000 images of the locations available. Ontario Creates also works closely with Infrastructure Ontario, the Ontario Heritage Trust and various other government agencies to identify locations and make them easily available to film crews. Another advantage of filming in Ontario is access to studio space. In 2018, it was announced that studio space would be expanded by 1.8 million sq ft (167,225 sq m) over 2019 and 2020. Some 711,000 sq ft is
already open for business. When Guillermo del Toro was working on 2017’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water in Ontario, he praised the attractions of a city and region to which he has returned many times during his career. And he is back again, basing the production of his upcoming mystery film Nightmare Alley in Toronto. With a stellar cast including Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Mary Steenburgen and Willem Dafoe, the noir-tinted film is a remake of the 1947 original starring Tyrone Power. Del Toro is once again making use of Toronto’s mix of available local talent and wealth of architecture to create a period palette, as well as its world-class VFX studios. Ontario boasts an enviable roster of television series, both new and returning, that call the province home. Recent notable tips to this production iceberg include Umbrella Academy (2019-), Grand Army (2020), Run (2020-) and Jupiter’s Legacy (2020-); in Cambridge, south-west of Toronto, Self Made (2020) and The Queen’s Gambit (2020-); in the Durham region in the north-west of Ontario, the second season of Coroner (2019-), Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (2020), Spinning Out (2020) and Falling (2020); while in Hamilton, located on the lake south of Toronto, Umbrella Academy, Mrs. America (2020-), Jupiter’s Legacy (2020) and Locke & Key (2020-); in Kingston, on the north-eastern shore of Lake Ontario, Titans (2018-) and Star Trek: Discovery; in Mississauga, just south of Toronto, Self Made, In the Dark (2019-) and The Boys (2019-); and in Ottawa, on the eastern edge of Ontario, animation series including Curious George, The Last Kids on Earth and Hilda. The westernmost province of Canada, British Columbia, has obvious location possibilities given that its terrain encompasses an astonishing coastline and numerous islands, rivers, lakes, forests and mountains. It also offers a host of picturesque towns and cities, not least Vancouver. In addition, British Columbia’s ability to double for other areas in the world adds to its appeal as a production hub. Television series have been a steady part of British Columbia’s filmmaking industry, with new and returning series using its state-of-the-art facilities and depth of local talent. When Netflix started production on landmark sci-fi series Altered Carbon (2018-) it invested in its own facility, Skydance Studios, in Surrey. And Netflix has backed up its commitment to Vancouver, returning to the studios for Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina (2018-). Other TV regulars to British Columbia include recent musicaldrama hit Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (2020-) and long-running series Criminal Minds (2005-20), Batwoman (2019-) and Riverdale (2017-).
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INCENTIVES, FROM ALBERTA TO YUKON CANADA has a range of incentives available, with some jurisdictions and local regions offering their own incentives or bonuses to supplement territory- or province-wide provisions. Incentives are not usually applicable to commercials, but sometimes help is offered locally. In addition, most film offices are happy to help with location scouting and accessing local production services, talent and crew. For full details, check the individual film commission websites.
A number of changes in Alberta’s policy will see the Screen-based Production Grant transition into a new refundable Film and Television Tax Credit programme.
BC has two programmes, one for domestic productions (Film Incentive BC Tax Credit or FIBC) and one for foreign productions (Production Services Tax Credit or PSTC). The credits are for domestic productions with qualifying levels of Canadian content. The film and television taxcredit programme consists of five distinct credits: basic; regional; distant location; digital animation, visual effects and post-production (DAVE); and — for FIBC only — film training and scriptwriting.
The Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit offers a choice between the Cost-of-Production Tax Credit of 30% on all eligible Manitoba expenditures where the eligible Manitoba expenditures include labour and supply costs paid to Manitoba residents or companies; and the Cost-of-Salaries Tax Credit of up to 65% on eligible Manitoba labour, comprising a base rate of 45%. With the latter, several bonuses are also available: a frequent filming bonus (10% on the third film shot within a two-year period), a producer bonus (5% by co-producing with a Manitoba producer) and a rural bonus (5% by shooting at least 50% of the production at least 35 km from the centre of Winnipeg).
The Newfoundland and Labrador Film Tax Credit is based on a calculation of eligible labour limited to the lesser of 25% of the total eligible budget, or 40% of the total eligible labour expenditure. The credit may also be considered as part of a producer's equity in a given production. At least 25% of the total salaries and wages must be paid in Newfoundland and Labrador to eligible employees.
The Northwest Territories Film Rebate Program is a cash rebate of 25%, with potential regional incentives. Travelling outside of Yellowknife can add another 15%.
The Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund gives producers up to 32% back on eligible Nova Scotia expenditures (including labour, goods and services). Administered by Nova Scotia Business, the average pay-out timeline is 30 business days. The fund can also be combined with Canada’s federal tax incentive (16% for service productions and 25% for domestic on Canadian labour costs).
The territory of Nunavut offers help to film, TV and commercials producers when they are partnered with a Nunavut producer or production company. A rebate may be possible on the total eligible costs for production goods and services purchased and consumed in Nunavut.
The Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit (OFTTC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible Ontario-based Canadian corporations of 35% of qualified Ontario labour expenditures. The Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC) is a refundable tax credit to eligible Ontario-based Canadian and foreign-controlled corporations of 21.5% of qualified Ontario production expenditures. The Ontario Computer Animation & Special Effects (OCASE) Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit to Ontario-based Canadian and foreign-controlled corporations of 18% of qualifying Ontario labour expenditures for digital animation and digital visual effects created in Ontario for film and television productions.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The PEI Film Media Fund, administered by Innovation PEI, provides support to local filmmakers via a rebate of up to 25% of eligible Prince Edward Island expenditures, to eligible producers of a qualifying production, in some cases co-production.
Quebec offers a range of incentives, including 20% cash-back on all expenses with no prescribed limit, paid to Quebec residents or companies, with 16% added for labour-based digital special effects, animation and green screen. The producer is not required to release the film in Quebec. At the federal level, an additional tax incentive of 16%, net of any assistance, of eligible labour expenditures within Canada is also available.
Creative Saskatchewan offers incentives for eligible local productions valued at 25% to 30% of Saskatchewan-based spend.
ReelYukon offers a rebate of up to 25% of Yukon spend provided criteria are met (not including commercials). These include up to 25% of wages paid to individuals providing on-set training (techniques and equipment) to eligible Yukon labour. The Travel Rebate is available to productions not accessing the Yukon Spend Rebate. Under this, a production may be eligible for a rebate of travel costs from Edmonton, Calgary or Vancouver to Whitehorse to a maximum of $15,000. Commercials are eligible to apply for the Travel Rebate.
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ALL WILL BE WELL… AUTHOR SIMON MAYO’S BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE FEATURING THE SCIENCE-CRAZY ITCH ARE SET IN CORNWALL IN THE UK. BUT HE WAS QUITE HAPPY WHEN AN AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTION TEAM DECIDED TO SET THE ADVENTURES OVER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. JULIAN NEWBY FINDS OUT WHY
Starring: Charles Russell as Tim, Samuel Ireland as Itch, Melanie Wozniak as Jack and Kylah Day as Lucy
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CTION-adventure TV series Itch is a 10-part adaptation of UK broadcaster Simon Mayo’s best-selling teen novel of the same name — his debut and the first in a series of three. The book is a young-adult mystery about a science-obsessed boy's passion to collect all the elements of the periodic table. In the process he discovers a new chemical element – N°126 – which has extraordinary powers. Itchingham ‘Itch’ Lofte is forced to go on the run with his sister and cousin to protect his discovery from members of a sinister organisation who want his rock; the new element is radioactive and so could be used as a source of cheap energy, or as a weapon. The series was developed for television by Melanie Halsall, head of development at Australian film and TV production company Komixx, and writer Dan Berlinka. Komixx acquired the rights to Itch back in 2013 and production began in 2019 for a 2020 delivery to children’s channel ABC ME, part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s directed by Renee Webster (The Heights) and Nicholas Verso (Nowhere Boys). Komixx Entertainment produced the series in association with Feisty Dame Productions, with the assistance of Screen Australia, Screenwest, Lotterywest, the Western Australian Regional Film Fund and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Komixx CEO Ed Glauser first spotted the book. “He optioned it and then passed it onto me,” Halsall says. “It's a great actionadventure story that really races along and has universal themes and characters that resonate with all young people. The story is about growing up, courage, teamwork, friendship and being proud of who you are. It is also, of course, about the environment, real science and being clever, which were themes that we really wanted to champion for this audience. We thought it would make a brilliant TV series so started to develop it for eight- to 14-year-olds, which was when I brought Dan in.” And author Mayo was happy to be pretty much hands-off during the process. “He let us get on with it, more or less. We had a couple of meetings at the very beginning where Simon, Dan and I discussed the books as well as the initial series overview and script we had written and where Simon talked about his audience and what their favourite scenes and characters were. He also made a request to include a scene where Itch uses the periodic table to give himself some strength and to calm himself down, which we included. We kept Simon informed at the different stages, but in terms of creative he was happy to let us do our work.”
Neither was he precious about the prospect of Komixx moving the story from Cornwall in the south west of England, to Western Australia. “Authors? Precious? Surely not! I was intrigued I think,” Mayo says. “Cornwall was the only place in the UK to set Itch. It has a wonderful mining history dating back many centuries. Copper, tin, gold and arsenic all came out of the ground there. It has a fascinating geology — it still has so many mysteries. Itch is a mining story and a mystery story so if you’re looking where to set a story about a mysterious rock — where else could I set it?
right thing is to do. It’s a story of a misfit boy with a passion for science that can take place anywhere. But when you add the mines of Albany and Western Australia, it’s perfect.” He adds: “It’s epic in Cornwall and it’s epic in Western Australia.” “The book is set in Cornwall in a mining town and so to move to the mining communities of Western Australia was perfect,” Halsall says. “The story is character-driven and so is recognisable, relatable and appealing to a universal audience. So we didn’t really have any problems transporting the characters and situations across
Itch author Simon Mayo on location, “happy and grateful to see it performed”
“IT’S EPIC IN CORNWALL AND IT’S EPIC IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA” SIMON MAYO
But after learning about the mining history of Western Australia, he was “fine” with the switch. “A TV adaptation always changes the story a bit. Albany is warmer for certain. But the nuts and bolts of the story are the same: strange new radioactive rock; nasty head of science; brave school students wrestling with what the
the world.” “We genuinely felt that the Great Southern landscape of regional Western Australia was quite similar to the rugged coastline of Cornwall in the UK,” Komixx head of global production, Amanda Morrison, adds. “Both locations share stunning natural vistas and provide dramatic, pic-
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turesque backdrops. So, given those similarities and the universality of Itch’s themes, moving the TV series to Western Australia was not such a giant leap." The story required a busy town with rugged backdrops and all parties were quick to agree that the city of Albany fitted that description perfectly. Sitting at the southern tip of Western Australia, the state capital is a tourist spot known for the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and its secluded Little Beach; and the Historic Whaling Station, a former whale processing plant that is now a museum. “We needed a town big enough to have a school and a hospital, but small enough to be the type of town where people in the community know each other. So with its windswept rugged coastlines, barren countryside and archetypal Australian bush, Albany provided the diversity of land-
scapes and architecture required to bring our story to life,” Morrison says. “The last two weeks of our shoot was in and around Perth — which, like the whole of Western Australia, is extremely film-friendly, unique on screen, and offers long shooting days and clear weather. It was ideal.” “Albany is a beautiful town and the Great Southern coast is spectacular. We are very lucky that Albany had lots of great locations for us to shoot in,” Morrison says. “There were a couple of tricky moments, where we had to be creative to find a solution. For example, there was a sequence that in the book is set on a passenger train, but there are limited trains in the Great Southern where we filmed, so we had to change it to a coach or bus, which took some ironing out as it originally involved a chase sequence through the train, which
wouldn’t have worked in the more confined space of a bus. But in general the story itself worked really well and the locations in and around Albany were fantastic.” Western Australia’s screen funding and development organisation, Screenwest, played a key role in finding the right locations for Itch. “The production initially received $10,000 in support to scout the Great Southern and Albany region and to determine how to bring the project to life,” Screenwest CEO Willie Rowe says. “As the project progressed, Screenwest provided production funding through our Western Australian Regional Film Fund (WARFF) and Scripted Production Fund.” London- and LA-headquartered Komixx opened an office in Perth back in 2017, giving the company the opportunity to pitch the series as an Australian pro-
IT’S A STORY OF A MISFIT BOY WITH A PASSION FOR SCIENCE THAT CAN TAKE PLACE ANYWHERE. BUT WHEN YOU ADD THE MINES OF ALBANY AND WESTERN AUSTRALIA, IT’S PERFECT” SIMON MAYO
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Camera operator Jim Frater and director Renée Webster on location in Albany for Itch
duction and so benefit from a number of available incentives. “We were very fortunate to be commissioned by ABC ME with support from The Western Australian Regional Film Fund, Screenwest and Screen Australia along with the Australian Producer Offset, which allows 20% of our qualifying Australia production expenditure to qualify as a refundable tax rebate,” Morrison says. “The Western Australian Regional Film Fund offers funding in two stages: Firstly for scouting Western Australian regional locations and connecting with the local community, and secondly to provide a proportion of production funding.” She adds: “The level of production funding investment is determined by the economic and cultural value that the project is considered likely to deliver to the Western Australia region and investment is available in addition to any other public funding received, including from Screenwest’s pro-
duction funding programmes.” Western Australian offers red-rock deserts, golden outback, white-sand beaches and green countryside; The Western Australian Regional Film Fund is a A$16m incentive designed to enable productions to shoot in these unique locations. “In the 2018-19 financial year, Screenwest production funding generated an estimated A$40m of spending in Western Australia from the production industry,” Rowe says. “Our support not only attracts productions and invests in our state’s economy by growing the screen industry, it also enables the sharing of Western Australia stories and perspectives, showcasing our locations and culture on screen.” Back to the shoot — and while remaining “hands-off” overall, like a lot of authors whose books make the transition to the screen, Mayo took a cameo role in one episode. “I’m just in one of the cafe scenes, typing furiously. The next book probably!
And I loved it. To meet the cast – my cast – was wonderful and very strange. And now the story is up and running and they have a life of their own. And I hope they fly. It’s a bit like being a parent really.” The Itch stories have now extended to three volumes, all written before TV ever came into the picture. “When I wrote the Itch books I was really just writing for my 10-year-old science-mad son,” Mayo says. “If I was starting again, then maybe I would think more about how it could be filmed.” But for now he’s “happy to have written the original and to let Australian writers write for Australian actors. And I’m happy and grateful to see it performed. I’m constantly comparing and constantly hoping, but Itch, Jack, Chloe and Flowerdew all look great. They live! I hope they have loads of great adventures. The key is that the science is taken seriously. The periodic table rules Itch’s life. If it rules the TV version also, all will be well.”
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SPRINKLED WITH MAGIC Filming the fairground scene for season three of Stranger Things, which shot almost entirely in and around Atlanta, Georgia
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Over the last decade, Georgiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generous incentives and world-class studios have made it the darling of film and TV producers from around the globe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; so much so that the Peach State is outpacing even California in terms of feature-film production. ANDY FRY reports
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a “major boost” for Atlanta
HE EMERGENCE of Georgia as a world-class production hub is one of the film and TV industry’s most remarkable success stories. Since 2007, direct spending on production in the southern US state has grown by 4,000%, hitting a record $2.9bn in 2019, up from $2.7bn in 2018. That is reckoned to equate to around $10bn in total economic impact. From feature film Avengers: Endgame (2019) to iconic TV series Stranger Things (2016-), the Peach State has proved it can host pretty much any kind of production. Not only that, it can handle multiple projects at once, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office. “At any given time, there are around 40 productions active here,” she says. “In fiscal 2019, we serviced 391 productions — a figure that includes studio and independent films, TV series, commercials and music videos.” The bedrock of Georgia’s success story is the 20%-30% tax credit that the state introduced in 2008 — an incentive that has remained constant while many others around the world have come and gone. Georgia is currently handing out between $800m-$900m a year in tax credits. “This commitment has allowed us to develop a sustainable production industry in Georgia,” Thomas says. “Before 2010, we had just one studio stage, but right now we have around 1.1 million sq ft (102,913 sq m) of purpose-built studio space and a further 2.1 million sq ft of retro-fitted space.” That translates into 100 camera-ready sound stages available across the state. Among the many high-profile productions that have taken advantage of these facilities in recent times are Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) and Doctor Sleep (2019), both based at Blackhall Studios; and the Marvel franchise, which bases a lot of production out of Pinewood Atlanta. In the case of Doctor Sleep, the sequel to 1980's The Shining, Blackhall hosted a 50-day shoot by Warner Bros. During that time, the Warner Bros. craftspeople lovingly recreated the iconic Overlook Hotel where Jack Nicholson ran amok in the original Stanley Kubrick production. Key features included a rebuild of the horrific and haunting Room 237.
Thomas stresses, however, that the Georgia story is about more than studio space: “It’s also about our locations. One of the things location managers have realised in recent years is the diversity of what Georgia has to offer, both in terms of its built locations and its geography. We have everything from contemporary urban cityscapes to small towns, as well as mountains, rivers, lakes, farmland and coast. Our temperate climate means it’s possible to shoot across most of the year.” Go back to pre-incentive Georgia and the majority of productions that came to the state did so for a specific Southern tone or inflection — notably feature films including Deliverance (1972), Driving Miss Daisy (1989) and Forrest Gump (1994). But these days the appeal is much broader, Thomas says. “There are a lot of very distinctive locations in Georgia, but we also have the capacity to double for other locations. We’ve played for Florida, New York, Los Angeles — even Paris and Amsterdam.”
“AT ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE ARE AROUND 40 PRODUCTIONS ACTIVE IN GEORGIA” LEE THOMAS
One series that has made Georgia its home in the last few years is Ozark (2017-). Set in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, the critically acclaimed Netflix show managed to find a spectacular set of waterside locations around Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, both about an hour north of Atlanta. “Georgia is a place I’ve worked a bunch in the last 10 years,” says Jason Bateman, star and director of the show. “You can get a lot done here and not run out of people who know what they’re doing. For our show, being one that takes place a lot on water, Lakes Lanier and Allatoona are fantastic, because one lake is a bit more residential and the other has some commercials looks, so we combined the two.” Adding to the appeal is that Georgia is so film-friendly, Thomas adds. Famously, the city of Atlanta shut down 140 roads during the production of Edgar Wright’s mesmeric car-chase movie Baby Driver (2017).
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More recently, AMC’s series The Walking Dead (2010-) secured permission to transform Atlanta’s Georgia State Capitol building into a dystopian museum. Co-executive producer Deborah Huth says it was “super cool” to have access to the Capitol: “It’s an amazing building, with incredible architecture and artwork. It gives us a look that we haven’t had on the show in such a long time.” The city of Atlanta, with its excellent transport links and hospitality infrastructure, is the hub of the Georgian production industry. Blessed with great crews and a can-do attitude, it typically hosts around 75%-80% of all the productions that come through Georgia. In 2019, the city experienced a major boost thanks to the launch of streaming service Disney+, with Marvel-themed series such as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2020), WandaVision (2020)and Loki (2021-) all anchored in the city and its surrounding area. Netflix, Apple TV, Starz, AMC and HBO were all major clients in 2019, with HBO coming to Atlanta to shoot both The Watchman (2019-) and The Outsider (2020). The latter — another powerful Stephen King adaptation, again involving Jason Bateman — used Atlanta and other locations to double for Oklahoma, underlining the city’s ability to also play ‘Anytown America’. Another important part of the Atlanta ecosystem is Tyler Perry Studios (TPS), a 330-acre site that opened on the grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base in 2015. Perry has used his state-of-the-art production hub to service numerous high-profile productions, including First Man (2018), The Walking Dead and Black Panther (2018). In addition, he has a regular through-put of his own series, created for Viacom-owned BET and its streaming service BET+. Following his success with the Madea series, and 2019 series The Oval and Sistas, among others, Perry recently announced that TPS would be managing two new productions for BET+ — Bruh and Ruthless. One of the most impressive aspects of Perry’s complex is its backlot, Maxineville, which includes numerous historical properties from the location’s previous life as a military base. In addition, Perry has constructed life-size houses in a variety of architectural styles, including a 100-year-old farmhouse. One ingenious feature on the lot is a four-sided mansion, which has a different look on every façade. From Georgian to contemporary, each side has played a part in Perry’s TV productions. Even more impressive, however, was the decision to create an 80% scale replica of The White House for The Oval. Communities adjacent to Atlanta have also seized the opportunities presented by the decade-long production boom. Georgia’s ability to deliver period interpretations of Anytown America, for example, has been evident in Netflix’s Stranger Things. Set in Indiana in the 1980s, much of the show has actually been filmed on location around Jackson in Butts County and Douglasville in Douglas County. A police station, library, theatre, general stores and much more have been meticulously recreated using the raw materials available in Georgia. One community that has been especially proactive in luring production to the state is the diverse and affluent DeKalb County. Shelbia Jackson, director of the DeKalb Entertainment Commission, says: “We have a lot of unique locations, great crews and good transport links, so our proximity to Atlanta makes us popular with location managers and producers. We’re also home to three studios — Blackhall, Eagle Rock and Third Rail — which offer a combined 740,000 sq ft of production space.” DeKalb backs right up against a geographical marvel called Stone Mountain, which has become a popular backdrop for producers. Another location strength is the county’s varied architecture. “Cities like Decatur
Clint eastwood in The Mule, utilised a series of locations around the city of Augusta
and Dunwoody have everything, from 18th and 19th century architecture through to modern commercial architecture,” Jackson says. “There are 13 cities across the county offering colleges, courthouses, historic street settings, forests, water features, office buildings, churches and more. They all recognise the economic value of the production industry to them, so are film-friendly.” Projects to have landed in DeKalb over the last couple of years include Black Panther, Bad Boys 3 (2020), Suicide Squad 2 (2021), Coming To America 2 (2020), Black Lightning (2018-) and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. “Altogether, we welcomed 189 projects in 2019, up from 148 the year before,” Jackson adds. “We’ve certainly benefited from the growth of the streamer business, but not to be overlooked is the number of commercials we also get here — everything from General Insurance to Maxwell House.” One of the most notable points about Georgia’s film boom is that the entire state seems to be benefiting, not just Greater Atlanta. It’s not uncommon, for example, for a film like Gemini Man (2019) to touch numerous areas of the state during the course of production. One particular attraction for filmmakers is the beautiful and distinctive port city of Savannah, situated on Georgia’s East Coast. Savannah has long been known as the backdrop for films such as Forrest Gump and 1997's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. But in the last few years, it has seen production ramp up significantly. “Savannah’s primary appeal to studios and producers is the local 10% cash-rebate incentive we offer in addition to the Georgia tax credit,” says Beth Nelson, executive director at the Savannah Regional Film Commission. “But an added appeal is the diversity of locations, both in looks and time periods, which provide the ideal setting for an array of stories. We have the largest historic district in the nation, picturesque beaches and waterways, and rural farmland. Our look is timeless, which makes us perfect for either a period or a contemporary film.” The city is also a remarkably easy place to shoot, Nelson adds: “Savannah is a film-friendly community with many local businesses that have learned to service the film industry. And a lot of great crew have settled here, because the quality of life is second to none. From a
“SAVANNAH HAS A TEMPERATE CLIMATE AND IS EVERGREEN. WE CAN LOOK LIKE SPRING AND SUMMER IN THE WINTER, WHICH IS APPEALING TO CATALOGUE, COMMERCIAL AND PHOTOSHOOTS” BETH NELSON
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Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), while a section of downtown doubled for 1930s New York in HBO’s Watchmen (2019). Scenes from Marvel’s Black Widow (2020) were also filmed at Macon’s Terminal Station. Augusta, half way between Atlanta and Savannah, is another Georgia city that is starting to capture the attention of location managers. Known globally for its iconic golf tournament, The Masters, the city’s film liaison is Jennifer Bowen, who says: “A lot of the South was destroyed during the Civil War, but Augusta came out pretty well. So we have some beautiful architecture that dates back as the 1790s.” Long before the Masters arrived, Augusta was a winter resort for the rich. “From the 19th century onwards, people started building grand homes in the Summerville district of the city,” Bowen says. “The legacy of that is an amazing array of styles, ranging from New England and Gothic to Mediterranean and Victorian. Any location manager looking for a distinctive property would do very well to start here.” This, of course, assumes buy-in from Augusta’s residents, but Bowen says there is a very positive attitude to filming in the city: “We had a request recently for an Italian look with gardens. We found a house that fitted the bill and the owner was very willing to share images with the production.” Like Savannah, Augusta can offer riverside locations and also has the highly distinctive Augusta Canal. In terms of the kind of productions it attracts, Bowen points to Clint Eastwood’s The Mule (2018), which used a series of locations around the city. Confidentiality agreements prevent her from commenting on recent projects, J August Richards, Clive Standen and Michael O’Neill in Council of Dads, shot in and around Savannah and based on Savannah native Bruce Feiler’s best-selling memoir but the local media was buzzing with excitement in late 2019 about the fact that Suicide Squad 2 was also shooting in the vicinity. Georgia’s ability to double for Florida was evident in Florida Girls While location managers have uncovered a lot of great shooting (2019-), which filmed around Savannah in 2018/19. “It may sound spots across the state, Lee Thomas of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital strange, but one of the things that isn't well known is that Georgia can Entertainment Office reckons there is a long way to go before Georgia’s offer coastline,” Nelson says. “We have some unique beach looks, because potential is exhausted: “It’s a large state, with 159 counties. We have an there’s been a lot of effort down the years to control construction.” initiative called Camera Ready, which is all about building a network Also impressive was Savannah’s ability to double for 1920s New of scouts right across the state. They are our eyes and ears, supplying Orleans in Disney+’s live-action adaptation of The Lady and the Tramp photos for our database. They can also provide producers with further (2019). The production’s executive producer, Diane Sabatini, says information about their local area.” Savannah was selected “because of its historic architecture and beautiful If there is one issue that often becomes a roadblock for filming hubs squares and trees — and because it looks like it was sprinkled with magic”. that have grown rapidly off the back of incentives, it is a lack of qualified Numerous other recent productions reinforce Nelson’s pitch on behalf crew to service multiple productions. But this is an area where Georgia has of Savannah. These include The Glorias (2020), starring Julianne Moore, worked hard to stay ahead of industry demand. “Already, there are more Alicia Vikander and Bette Midler; The Act (2019-), a true-crime TV show than 90,000-100,000 people working across our production industry,” starring Patricia Arquette; and Council of Dads (2020), a one-hour family Thomas adds. “And now we have the Georgia Film Academy training new drama based on Savannah native Bruce Feiler’s best-selling memoir. “This recruits to futureproof the business.” NBC show is our first network series,” Nelson says. “It’s set in Savannah, Launched in 2015, the Georgia Film Academy trains new entrants into which will give us national exposure and bring attention to the incredible the production industry via colleges and universities across the state. Its filming locations the city offers, and also draw tourists to our region.” enrolment numbers are directly linked to the needs of the industry, with One of the most ambitious productions to visit the city in 2019 was around 7,000 local people currently being prepped to perform various The Underground Railroad, an Amazon series based on the Pulitzer Prizevital roles. winning book by Colson Whitehead. “The show based in Savannah for Georgia Film Academy executive director Jeffrey Stepakoff says: pre-production and then filmed in our region for several months, before “Never in the history of filmed entertainment has there been a story completing the series in the Atlanta area,” Nelson adds. like Georgia’s. What has happened here, and the pace at which it has Other parts of Georgia coming on to the production radar include happened, is unprecedented. From Savannah to Dalton to Athens, from the city of Macon in the centre of the state. Having been pretty much Gainesville to Griffin to Gwinnett County, we are proud to be building a overlooked through 2017/18, 2019 saw five projects take advantage of business that belongs to all of Georgia.” Macon’s distinctive architecture. A former chicken plant was used for logistics perspective, we lack the traffic congestion of larger markets, which means quick travel times between locations. Savannah also has a temperate climate and is evergreen. We can look like spring and summer in the winter, which is appealing to catalogue, commercial and photoshoots creating content in an off-season.” For productions that want to mix urban and rural backdrops, Nelson says: “Savannah is surrounded by rural farmland and small towns. We also have many creeks, rivers, swamps, beaches and miles of picturesque marshland.” Echoing the wider Georgia story, Savannah has also doubled for many locations: “We’ve played Florida, Ohio, Missouri, New Orleans, New York City, LA, Washington DC, Galveston and Texas, as well as London, Buenos Aries and Southeast Asia.”
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MAKING A SCENE
FOUR HOURS AWAY FROM VIENNA, PRAGUE PROVED THE PERFECT SETTING FOR FREUD, A MURDER MINI-SERIES SET IN THE AUSTRIAN CAPITAL STARRING ROBERT FINSTER AS THE YOUNG PSYCHOANALYST. JULIAN NEWBY LEARNS HOW A PRAGUE MILITARY HOSPITAL BECAME A VIENNESE SANATORIUM FOR THE MENTALLY ILL
REUD is a German-language TV series, co-produced by Satel Film and Bavaria Fiction for Austrian state broadcaster ORF and Netflix. Directed and co-written by Vienna-based filmmaker Marvin Kren, the eight-part mystery series tells the story of the young psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in Vienna in 1886 — then aged 30 — just as his theories are being met with strong opposition from fellow professionals and wider Austrian society. He meets war veteran and policeman Alfred Kiss (Georg Friedrich) and notorious medium Fleur Salomé (Ella Rumpf) and unwittingly becomes part of an investigation into a murderous conspiracy. Much of the series is set in Vienna's Allgemeines Krankenhaus Wien, also known as the AKH. Established in 1784, it is Europe's fifth-largest hospital and the first in the world to treat mental illness. Still a working hospital, the AKH was unavailable to Kren and his crew and as shooting was planned for Prague in the Czech Republic — a four-hour drive from Vienna — the challenge was to find a version of the AKH in, or close to, the Republic’s capital. “On my first visit to Prague the people at Satel took me to Invalidovna,” production designer Verena Wagner says. “They had been producing a German TV series called Charité, about the first big hospital in Berlin, and they used it for that, so they knew the Invalidovna very well.” Invalidovna is in Karlín, a gentrified, former industrial district of Prague. Built between 1728-1737 as a dormitory for those injured in war, it was modeled on Les
Invalides, a building for survivors of military conflict inaugurated in Paris in 1679. Invalidovna had been neglected for several decades. Designed to house up to 12,000 people, it was founded in 1728 by Emperor Charles VI. Under the administration of the Czech Republic’s National Heritage Institute it has long been a favourite filming location — scenes from the 1992/3 TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the 2004 movie Hellboy were shot there — and it was reopened as a tourist attraction in 2018 after restoration. Perhaps its best-known starring role
“ON MY FIRST VISIT I WAS OVERWHELMED BECAUSE THE BUILDING IS BEAUTIFUL” VERENA WAGNER
before Freud was in Miloš Forman’s 1984 movie Amadeus. Forman used the building for a number of indoor and outdoor scenes — notably the film’s opening, in which Salieri is led through the building’s courtyard in the snow. As with Freud, for Amadeus Invalidovna was transformed into a sanatorium for the mentally ill. “On my first visit I was overwhelmed because the building is beautiful, with very pretty patina and amazing architecture. But initially it did not really fit with what we were looking for,” Wagner says. “So I started looking around myself and I found some-
thing at the university in Prague that was very similar to the AKH.” What she found was a university building right next to Prague’s famous Charles Bridge — a baroque building that houses the Czech National Library. “The structure of the building is very similar to that of the AKH, but it wasn’t easy to adapt to the exciting plans we had for Freud,” she says. “There were other places in the Czech Republic that were presented to us — other former hospitals — but unfortunately they were in such bad condition that we would not have had the budget to restore them.” So it was back to Invalidovna — and its long, eerie high corridors and football stadium-sized courtyard — armed with a vast amount of research that Wagner had gathered from her native Vienna. “I found a lot of people who were very helpful and enthusiastic to do research on the AKH hospital where Freud worked. I had a floor plan and I had recent and period photographs,” she says. “Because it’s a protected building you are not allowed to touch the historic construction and it is very important to preserve this beautiful old structure. They do allow you some painting, but you have to put it back in to how it was before.” Wagner and crew found another significant building in the story of Sigmund Freud in the Czech Republic. The psychoanalyst lived for a time in the Sühnhaus, built on Vienna’s Ringstrasse on the site of a theatre that famously burned down in 1881 killing around 1,000 people. The building was donated by Emperor Franz Joseph, who planned to give all the rent from the building to the city’s poor — Sühnen means to atone for a person’s sins.
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Sigmund Freud walks the corridors of Invalidovna, doubling here for Vienna’s AKH. ©Jakub Hrab/Satel Film/Bavaria Fiction
But many were reluctant to inhabit the Sühnhaus as stories circulated about it being haunted by the dead from the fire. Freud had no fear, of course, and was one of the first to take rooms there. The building was destroyed during World War II and so unavailable for the film. But a double was once again found in the Czech Republic — the Town Hall in Liberec, about 90 minutes drive northwest of Prague. “The building was the most similar to the Sühnhaus that we could find,” Wagner says. “Some CGI was used as well but even without that it was quite a good match.” The Czech Republic — and Prague spe-
cifically — was chosen above Austria and Vienna, for a number of reasons. “They have some fantastic locations and a lot of the buildings aren’t restored to the standard of so many in Austria. You still have really beautiful, old patina and you don’t have that in Austria. And we were fortunate that there were quite a lot of buildings there that looked like Vienna — that’s partly because of the strong historical and geographical connections between the two countries.” “Vienna, however, was my main visual influence. I grew up in the city and I’m proud to say it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” director Kren says. “It has a cer-
tain appeal that in daylight the architecture is beautiful, but at night it has a certain feeling of uncanniness. It is sinister and dark, and I am influenced by that.” Also, unlike Prague, Vienna has no sound stage. A number of exteriors for the series were shot in Vienna but most of the production happened in and around Prague — which, significantly, meant that the production qualified for the Republic’s 20% rebate on qualifying spend made by visiting productions. The series also had the support of Vienna’s Filmfonds Wien and the European Media programme.
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California has spent the last 100-plus years on the frontline of filmmaking, bringing talent, energy and vision to its abundant natural riches. Tax incentives together with new players coming onto the production scene are ensuring that the Golden State retains its status as one of the most important and prolific production hubs in the world. ANDY FRY and JULIAN NEWBY report
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T IS more than a century since California’s first movie studios starting sprouting up in locations like Hollywood and Edendale. By 1915, legendary filmmakers including Cecil B De Mille and Samuel Goldwyn had firmly established the Golden State as the bustling new home of the US movie business — attracted by the weather, space and comparatively cheap labour. Over the next three decades, California went on to establish itself as the global capital of the film industry, artfully surviving the transition from silent films to talkies. Post-World War II, it retained its status as the world’s leading production hub, despite growing competition around the world. Alongside blockbusters and independent movies, the state now hosts hundreds of TV series and commercials every year — and is playing a key role in the SVOD/streaming production boom. At one level, says California Film Commission (CFC) executive director Colleen Bell, the state offers today’s content creators exactly the same things that attracted the early pioneers, namely a great climate and diverse locations. But these days they also get the benefit of “unmatched production resources”. She adds: “From infrastructure, crews, and talent to locations that can double for anywhere in the world — and even other worlds — we have everything you need to create topquality entertainment.” Bell goes on to cite the state’s incredible geographic diversity, attractive tax-credit programme, film-friendly authorities and regional film network: “California boasts a network of more than 60 regional film offices that work independently and in concert with the CFC to help filmmakers find locations and facilitate production. No other state or nation offers our breadth of film commission services.”
“FROM INFRASTRUCTURE, CREWS, AND TALENT TO LOCATIONS THAT CAN DOUBLE FOR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD — AND EVEN OTHER WORLDS — WE HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO CREATE TOP-QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT” COLLEEN BELL
Building on its Hollywood foundation, the majority of California’s production still takes place within Los Angeles’ thirty-mile zone. Paul Audley, president of Greater Los Angeles film office, FilmLA, says his jurisdiction is currently servicing between 8,500-9,500 shoot days per quarter — a figure that does not include productions confined to studios. “Los Angeles has been enjoying high levels of production for a number of years,” he adds. “In particular, we’ve seen a huge increase in TV series, with productions such as American Horror Story: 1984 , Lucifer [2015-], This Is Us [2016-], Westworld [2016-], S.W.A.T. [2017-], Mayans M.C. [2018-], The Rookie [2018-], Why Women Kill [2019-] and Star Trek: Picard [2020-] all filming in LA. Our recent report on the 2018-2019 pilot season shows that 36.7% of all new productions were based in California — appreciably more than major rivals such as New York, Georgia or British Columbia in Canada.” Aside from state-of-the-art studios, well-equipped backlots and varied locations, Audley says the factors that keep filmmakers coming back to LA include the film-friendly nature of the city and the quality of its craft base. “Take a movie like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood , which lovingly recreated a lost era in the city’s history [the 1960s],” he says. “That required a clear commitment from LA’s various agencies and the production expertise for which this city is recognised.” Almost at the same time as Tarantino’s movie was recreating Sixties LA, Netflix-backed movie Dolemite Is My Name (2019), starring Eddie
Murphy, was transporting parts of the city back to the 1970s. On this project, location manager David Lyons and production designer Clay A Griffith — winners at the 2019 California On Location Awards — were tasked with recreating the flamboyant world of Rudy Ray Moore, record-shop worker turned blaxploitation movie star. Lyons and Griffith worked with some 89 LA locations and 118 studio sets to help deliver their critically acclaimed production. Facing a failing showbusiness career, comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) decides to take on a new stage name and persona: a pimp with a cane named Dolemite. Moore convinces screenwriter Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key) to write the character into a film featuring crazy kung-fu scenes, car-chases and lots of women, including Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), a former backing singer who becomes Moore’s comedy partner. Despite clashes with his director D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), and more than a few problems at the makeshift studio they establish at LA’s Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue, south of downtown — Moore’s home for some years and the heart of Central Avenue’s African-American music scene — the resulting film, 1975’s Dolemite, is a box-office hit, with The New York Times labelling it “The Citizen Kane of kung-fu pimpin’ movies”. Jump to 2019 and the Netflix movie Dolemite Is My Name tells the story of the making of the movie: Rudy Ray Moore took on a new persona, the film did get made — self-financed by Moore for less than $100,000 — it was released in 1975 and it became a cult hit. Which is why some big names lined up to take part in this 2019 homage to the original. Many comics, actors and rappers have cited Moore as a pioneer and an influence on their work, and Dolemite Is My Name is a tribute to this unique talent, a man who created his own legend. Another legend, Eddie Murphy, knew Moore and last spoke to him about a possible movie back in 2004, four years before he passed away. “I love the Dolemite pictures. Back when I used to tour, we used to play his records on the tour bus,” Murphy says. These included Eat Out More Often, I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing and The Streaker. “The black comics, we’d sit around listening to them, or watch his movies, and then we’d debate whether or not Rudy was taking himself seriously. For years, debates like that went on: me and Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Paul Mooney and Chris Rock.” The movies were seriously low-budget; Dolemite was made with a crew of just eight, but for Murphy this simply added to the charm: “You see the cameraman come in a shot, and you see the microphones slip into the shots. Or you see a punch being thrown really far. There might be this one dude in the scene, then a cut, and when it cuts back, they have somebody else playing the dude, but with a wig on. It’s insanity with the continuity.” Moore’s act would begin with the words: “Dolemite is my name and f*ckin’ up motherf*ckers is my game”; his style of delivery led to the nickname The Godfather of Rap. “Rudy would do the rhyming toasts and then he would instruct the club drummer, ‘Give me a nice beat against that,’” the movie’s co-writer Scott Alexander says. Location manager David Lyons too was drawn to the production because of his passion for the work of Rudy Ray Moore. Lyons’ time spent as a kid growing up in LA served him well on the movie. “When I first moved to Los Angeles I was excited about everything there was to do, but I couldn't afford to do any of it. So I entertained myself by finding locations from my favourite movies: Double Indemnity , Fletch , Dolemite, you know... the classics. So when I came aboard the movie, I already knew where several of the locations were.” The 1970s look was crucial to the film. “The first point of reference was the original movies,” Lyons says. “Not only Dolemite and The Human Tornado , but also Petey Wheatstraw , The Disco Godfather  and The Monkey Hu$tle  — all Rudy Ray Moore films. He made all of these movies out of the Dunbar Hotel in the span of about four years. Watching those movies shows you his world. From
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there, we had the look book, put together by Clay. This gave the overall tone that we were going for, and was a creative jumping off point for everyone.” And for Lyons, staying in and around Los Angeles was crucial. ”With the entirety of the original movie being shot in Los Angeles, and with the ability to be able to replicate the looks of the scripted non-Los Angeles locations, there was no reason to go elsewhere,” he says. “It was important to me to film in the same places that Rudy shot the original movie. Rudy and his friends were guerrilla filmmakers, and I certainly have experience in that world. If we're going to recreate the world where Rudy worked, it only makes sense to do it where he did it.” Ford v Ferrari (2019) is another period film shot in and around LA. Director James Mangold used a number of California locations to recreate parts of France including the place where the protagonist, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), won motor racing’s toughest challenge, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1959. “Le Mans, the racetrack in France, still exists but not like it did,” Mangold says. “It looks more like Charles de Gaulle Airport than what it once was, which was a homespun, very simple thing. It was a set of country roads connected up in a loop with a series of quaint grandstands. The magic of that, of driving 200mph in the most cutting-edge race-car prototypes on a series of French country roads over and over again through day, night, rain, sleet, dawn, dusk — doing that for 24 straight hours in one vehicle seemed like the most powerful thing we could try to convey.” The largest set constructed for the film was a full-scale historical recreation of the start- and finish-line grandstands for Le Mans, along with three large segments of additional grandstands, VIP boxes, the Ford and Ferrari pits, and the international press box, all of which was built at Agua Dulce Airpark, a private airport in Santa Clarita, California. The design was based on more than 300 archive photos from the era acquired from various sources including the Automobile Club of the West in France, which organises 24 Hours of Le Mans. Production designer François Audouy and his team of set designers and decorators created hundreds of pieces of period advertising, banners, race programmes, stopwatches, drivers’ helmets, spectator flags and pit tools. “When you’re telling a story like this, you’re given the ability to recreate the world exactly as it was, to show the historical events looked at the time,” Audouy says. “We have to be faithful to history in recreating the signage and details at the same scale, in the same colours, not changing anything.” “Agua Dulce Airpark became a must-have for us, and after some initial hurdles it worked out beautifully for the duration of our shoot,” location manager on the film, Robert Foulkes says. “I scouted several potential sites for this with François around Southern California, and Agua Dulce was clearly the winner in terms of the length of track
required, type of surface needed, and the ability to build such a largescale set next to it.” Dolemite Is My Name is a Netflix original production and the big daddy of the streaming-video platforms, Netflix, is contributing considerably to the current California production boom. For the 2019 California On Location Awards, Netflix was nominated — again — for Dolemite Is My Name, as well as teen drama 13 Reasons Why (2017-20), horror-comedy series Santa Clarita Diet (2017-19), and the new MexicanAmerican-themed comedy drama Gentefied (2020-). Later Netflix made-in-California productions include Ryan Murphy’s The Politician (2019-), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest prequel Ratched (2020-), and comedy series Space Force (2020-). Netflix feature film Triple Frontier (2019) starring Ben Affleck and Charlie Hunnan, was a particularly ambitious shoot that required co-ordination with multiple state partners — including Mono County, whose mountains played a key role. “They were cheating the Andes,” Mono County film commissioner Alicia Vennos says. “They needed something that went from tree line to immediately above tree line and it had to be accessible. And sometimes that’s difficult in super-high mountains. They really couldn’t have done it in South America.”
“THEY WERE CHEATING THE ANDES. THEY REALLY COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT IN SOUTH AMERICA” ALICIA VENNOS
Mono County offered a number of choices in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and, ultimately, Obsidian Dome and Ellery Lake at Tioga Pass were selected as the two locations. Tioga Pass — the highest paved mountain path in California — connects the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range with Yosemite National Park. “That was pretty exciting, as we’ve never had a shoot up at the top of Tioga,” Vennos says. The film also shot at Obsidian Dome — another previously unused location — a 300 ft-high (91 metres) lava dome of black, shiny volcanicglass boulders and rocks, about a mile in length. One of the biggest challenges with this remote location was the 12 ft of snow still on the ground in May, when filming was schedule to start. Supervising location manager on the production, Catherine Kagan, says: “We had to find a company that would plough about a two-mile stretch of Inyo National Forest road without disturbing the dirt beneath the snow, in order to access the set at Obsidian Dome. And at that location, they had to build scaffolding for the camera crew to be way up high and shoot down on the action. And that had to be kind of suspended, because they couldn’t disturb any of the rock formations.”
AROUND THE WORLD IN 207 ACRES
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The other streaming giant, Amazon Prime Video, is active in the Golden State too. Los Angeles-based Hello Sunshine is co-producing miniseries Daisy Jones & The Six. Other Amazon Studios-backed shows and movies that have taken advantage of Californian resources include The Last Tycoon, the 2016 drama series based on the F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel; psychological thriller Homecoming (2018-) starring Julia Roberts; crime drama Too Old to Die Young (2019); and Beautiful Boy, the 2018 movie nominated for several awards. Hit TV crime series Bosch (2014-) and Salma Hayek starrer Bliss (2019) were both finalists in the 2019 California On Location Awards. And now it’s not all about the big two: newcomers to the streaming world are also contributing to the California production boom. There is already a legacy of existing HBO shows shot on location in California and it seems likely that streaming service HBO Max will carry on that tradition, given that its first original shows, including comedy series Made For Love, College Girls (working title) and movie Bobbie Sue, are filmed in the state. A subsidiary of WarnerMedia, HBO Max is an offshoot of HBO, Time Warner’s long-established and multiple award-winning pay-TV platform. Just as the original HBO’s hits included several TV series shot in Los Angeles — Westworld, Veep (2012-19), In Treatment (2008-10), Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-) — HBO Max is featuring original shows made in the city and other districts of California, according to Sandra Dewey, HBO Max’s president, business operations and productions. “We have many shows and pilots currently in production or planned for California,” Dewey says. “The state has so much to offer, from the depth of available infrastructure and stages, to the talented crews, unbeatable weather and the gorgeous and varied geography, which
offers variety and authenticity from a creative standpoint.” Dewey reminds us too, that there are still WarnerMedia linear-TV programmes being created in California. She cites scripted comedies I’m Sorry (2017-) and Tacoma FD (2019-), plus drama series Animal Kingdom (2016-), produced by Warner Horizon for the TNT network. “The talent we work with often favours working in California, and specifically Los Angeles, given the proximity to their homes and families,” she adds. Disney has been in California for almost 100 years — and so streamer Disney+ is bound to be packed with original content made in the state. The first season of The Mandalorian (2019-), the sci-fi Western set in the Star Wars universe, includes scenes shot in Southern California and Manhattan Beach. Other productions with California locations include the comedy movie Magic Camp and TV series Diary Of A Female President (2020). Apple TV+ originals filmed in California include The Morning Show (2019-). Sci-fi series For All Mankind (2019-) was shot in Los Angeles, as was legal drama Truth Be Told (2019). Part of Defending Jacob (2020), starring Hollywood star Chris Evans, is also shot on location in the city. For short-form streamer Quibi, 3 Arts Entertainment, the co-producer behind Chrissy Teigen’s comedy series Chrissy’s Court (2020), is located in Beverly Hills; and After Dark, a short-form horror series available to watch only at night time, is produced by Steven Spielberg’s Universal City-based Amblin Television. California is also attracting productions made for the smaller streaming-video platforms, including Hulu, YouTube Premium and Facebook Watch. YouTube Premium originals featuring California include Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Television (2017-), the action-comedy
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Mike Epps as Jimmy in Netflix-backed movie Dolemite Is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy
shot in Los Angeles; and comedy shows Overthinking With Kat & June (2018), Sideswiped (2018-) and Liza On Demand (2018-). Facebook Watch originals include drama Sorry For Your Loss (2018-19), starring Elizabeth Olsen. Its California locations include Altadena, Palm Springs and the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles. Being within LA’s thirty-mile zone brings certain advantages in terms of crewing costs, but the counties immediately outside the studio zone are also enjoying production booms. Kern, for example, welcomed Captain Marvel (2019), while Riverside secured work on A Star Is Born (2018) and San Bernardino hosted Us (2019). Santa Barbara, 55 miles north of Los Angeles, offers vineyards, ranches, farmlands, winding roads, sand dunes, beaches, forests, mountains and Spanish architecture. Backed by its own small local incentive, which can be combined with state incentives, Santa Barbara has played host to several iconic films, including Scarface (1983) and Sideways (2004). Orange and Ventura counties, meanwhile, can both boast a long line of TV series, ranging from Scream Queens (2015-16) and American Horror Story (2011-) to This Is Us (2016-) and Ballers (2015-19). Orange County film commissioner Janice Arrington says her county has benefited from production investment by the streaming platforms, with visiting projects including a new season of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery and Netflix’s Dead To Me (2019-). “We also hosted cable network Bravo’s Dirty John [2018-], a true-crime series based on a podcast,” she adds. “They filmed around Newport Beach, which is where a lot of the real events in the Dirty John story took place.” Blessed by a wide array of architectural and geographic looks, the state has also seen a growth in work around San Diego in the south and also in Northern California, primarily around San Francisco and the Bay Area, but also along the state’s spectacular coast and up into redwood country. San Diego’s revival in fortunes began with TV series including The Last Ship (2014-18), Pitch (2016-17) and Animal Kingdom (2016-), but has now seen the return of big-budget movies. In 2018, the long-awaited Top Gun (1986) sequel Top Gun: Maverick (2020) brought 250 cast and crew
to San Diego for six weeks, helping to boost filming activity by 40% year on year. San Diego has permitted 4,900 filming days on city public property in the past three years, with non-fiction production and advertising campaigns including from Facebook, Nike and Bose adding to the buzz. Continuing the momentum into 2020, the CFC has awarded a tax credit to The Purge 5 (2020), which filmed for 25 days in San Diego County. San Diego film liaison Brandy Shimabukuro says: “With Mayor Faulconer’s support, we have attracted local, national and international filmmakers.” Heading north from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a number of counties have hosted production in the last year or two. San Luis Obispo County’s beaches featured prominently in season four of The Affair (2014-), a Showtime drama that relocated to California from the East Coast. The same county also briefly hosted Ad Astra (2019), which shot on a private ranch in Huasna in the Arroyo Grande Valley. Fresno, meanwhile, secured a chunk of Captain Marvel. The production spent nearly three weeks in the Shaver Lake area during 2018, with more than 250 cast and crew involved. The Disney blockbuster — one of 31 productions that filmed in Fresno during 2018 — generated $427,000 in spending for the county. San Luis Obispo and Fresno’s neighbour Monterey has fared even better, hosting two seasons of HBO’s hit series Big Little Lies (2017-19). Monterey County’s film commissioner Karen Seppa Nordstrand says: “The producers spent around $6.1m here across two seasons. And we’re still seeing a lot of business benefits from Big Little Lies, especially in the shape of visiting tourists.” The good news for Monterey, Seppa Nordstrand adds, is that the county is back in the spotlight thanks to Ryan Murphy’s Ratched, a 1940s series that tells the story of evil Nurse Ratched from the Jack Nicholson movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. “The team was with us for a week in March 2019 and then came back to do a night’s shooting in June,” she reports. “They shot at The Fish Hopper restaurant in Cannery Row, Toro Place Café in Salinas and Lucia Lodge in Big Sur.” Further north, San Francisco is re-asserting its status as a
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Director J C Chandor directs a scene in Netflix feature film Triple Frontier. Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon
popular filming hub, with more than 890 film days in 2019, according to the city’s film commissioner Susannah Robbins. Outlining San Francisco’s attractions, she says: “We have everything a filmmaker could want — all within 49 square miles.” Robbins describes San Francisco as “a city of contrasting neighbourhoods”, with rolling hills surrounded by the Bay on two sides and the Pacific Ocean on a third. She adds: “We have neighbourhoods that feel like many American small towns, such as St Francis Woods and Forest Hill, beaches on the Western part of the city that stretch for miles, and an industrial waterfront along the city's eastern edge, as well as tall modern buildings downtown. And we have many architecturally diverse neighbourhoods, from the Asian vibe of Clement Street and the gilded onion domes of the Russian orthodox community in the Outer Richmond to the Latino community in the Mission.” The Bay Area’s appeal as a filming hub has been boosted by the opening up of Mare Island to production. A former naval base, Mare Island has proved perfect for hosting logistically challenging scenes, such as explosions, vehicle collisions, and helicopter landings. Mark Walter, who manages Mare Island on behalf of rental firm Cinelease, says a partnership with Paramount has resulted in productions including Bumblebee (2018) and 13 Reason Why filming on the island. At time of writing, Cinelease was in discussion with Paramount about a possible renewal. And according to Walter, there are plans to open up another production hub on Treasure Island. “What’s really exciting is that it’s much closer to San Francisco than Mare Island,” he adds. The site has a history of production, including Nash Bridges (19962001), Trauma (2018-), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Bicentennial Man (1999) using the island back in the 1990s and 2000s. Continuing north, the big winners in recent years have been Solano, Napa, Marin, and Sonoma counties, all of which have secured elements of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. Location manager on season three was Nancy Haecker, who says: “Northern California has been a highlight for me.
Being able to shoot in the redwoods without leaving Oakland, the multiple warehouse choices on Mare Island, and a town [Vallejo] with availability for permanent sets in an idyllic downtown setting was pretty special. I’ve been very happy working in the Bay Area and would do it again.” In recent years, Haecker has uncovered locations all across California for series including Sleepy Hollow (1999), Agent Carter (2015-16) and Camping (2018-). The 13 Reasons Why counties are all within relatively easy reach of San Francisco, but continue up the coast and there are yet more options for filmmakers. Mendocino, for example, hosted Sharp Objects (2018) while, to the west, Tom Cruise filmed Top Gun: Maverick in the stunning surroundings of Lake Tahoe. Right at the top end of the state, Humboldt and Del Norte counties offer filmmakers a combination of spectacular coastline, raging rivers, majestic redwoods and quaint Victorian towns, such as Eureka (which featured in the 2018 movie An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn). Cassandra Hesseltine, the film commissioner across the two counties, says: “Our locations have always been a big attraction for filmmakers. We’ve had Jurassic Park: Lost World (1997), After Earth (2013), A Wrinkle in Time (2018) and Woodshock (2017) starring Kirsten Dunst, shooting here. In 2018, we also hosted the popular Netflix movie Bird Box.” Shasta County film and sports commissioner Sabrina Jurisich is another exec beating the drum for Northern California. Her county, which is around two-and-a-half hours from state capital Sacramento, has played host to iconic scenes including the heart-stopping railwaybridge sequence in Stand By Me (1986). In terms of Shasta’s appeal, Jurisich says there is an abundance of natural resources such as mountains, meadows, rivers and lakes, as well as the Sundial Bridge and Shasta Dam. A key location is Shasta Lake, which offers 260 miles of diverse shoreline and a cavern complex. “We’re popular with commercials producers, because we have 500 filmfriendly locations within close proximity to each other,” she adds. “2019 saw Ford shoot a major commercial here.” Shasta’s main hub is the town of Redding, which Jurisich
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Monica Barbaro as Phoenix and Tom Cruise as Pete Mitchell, on the set of Top Gun: Maverick, from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Photo: Scott Garfield. ©2019 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved
says has all the facilities a visiting production might need. “When you combine that with services like free scouting, low- to no-cost permits, and an area known for hospitality, Shasta County is a great backdrop for all kinds of projects,” she adds. And if the COVID-19 pandemic has frustrated producers and cinemagoers alike in terms of unpredictable production schedules and release dates, spare a thought for Top Gun fans, cast and crew. It’s 35 years since Tom Cruise and cast shot the late Tony Scott movie milestone Top Gun — in California, Nevada and other parts of the US. In the 2020 sequel Top Gun: Maverick, California again features as a key location. And like its hero Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, it has shown resilience against a series of delays, the latest caused by the pandemic. At press time, an end-of-2020 release was promised and, despite delays, fans won’t be disappointed. The 1986 Top Gun movie was based on a real flight school called the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, formerly based at the Miramar Naval Air Station, founded in San Diego in 1969. In 1996, the school merged with the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. In the movie, navy pilot Mitchell — code-named Maverick — played by Tom Cruise, is sent to Miramar for advanced training. Here he establishes a rivalry with Tom Kasansky (Val Kilmer) for the coveted Top Gun award, at the same time dating civilian consultant Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis). Shaken up by the death of his close friend, Radar Intercept Officer Lt Nick Bradshaw, aka ‘Goose’, Mitchell loses the Top Gun honour to Kasansky. Fearing he may have lost his nerve, Mitchell is given the chance to become a hero during a tense international crisis involving a crippled US vessel and a squadron of enemy planes. As a reward for his heroism, Maverick is given free rein to pick his
“THE FILM SHOWS US WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO BE A TOP GUN PILOT” JERRY BRUCKHEIMER
next assignment: he chooses to be an instructor at Miramar. In Top Gun: Maverick, almost 35 years have passed and Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing himself to the edge as a test pilot and avoiding the promotion that would confine him to the ground. As with the 1986 original, California plays a key role in the movie, with locations including San Diego, South Lake Tahoe , Los Angeles and the Naval Air Station Lemoore, in Kings County. The movie brought 250 cast and crew to San Diego for six weeks, helping boost filming activity there by 40% year on year. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer describes it as “a competition film, about family and friendship and sacrifice — a love letter to aviation” showing us “what it’s really like to be a Top Gun pilot”. Cruise is known for his insistence on doing as many of his own stunts as possible for the sake of authenticity. And as a producer on the film as well as its lead actor, he worked closely with director Joseph Kempinski to ensure the extraordinary flying scenes were as real as possible. “You just can’t create this kind of experience unless you shoot it live,” Cruise says. “In order for us to accomplish this we have the greatest fighter pilots in the world with us.” And he insists the effects on pilots and crew from this kind of flying cannot be faked. “It is aggressive,” he says. “You can’t act that, the distortion in the face. They’re pulling 7.5/8gs, that’s 1,600 pounds of force. I’m so proud of them and what they’ve done. It is heavy-duty.” Kempinski worked with brand-new technology that allowed him to put six IMAX-quality cameras inside the cockpit with the actors. “Flying one of these fighter jets is an absolute thrill ride,” Kempinski says. “We wanted to make sure that the audience has the same experience.” Miles Teller who plays Rooster adds: “Putting us up in these jets, it’s very serious, that’s why everybody thought it would be impossible. And I think that when Tom hears that something’s impossible or can’t be done, that’s when he gets to work.” “It’s amazing what we see in the cockpit,” Bruckheimer says, adding: “An aviation film like this has never been done and the chances are it will never be done again.”
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(PHOTO, COURTESY JOHN HUTCHINSON, LMGI, HUTCHINSONLOCATIONS .COM)
HORSESHOE BEND, COLORADO RIVER, ARIZONA Horseshoe Bend is around eight kilometres up-river from Lake Powell, and close to the town of Page and the Navajo Reservation, the largest land area retained by an indigenous tribe in the US. A horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River, it is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and about 14km downstream is where the vast Grand Canyon National Park begins. Movies that shot in the area include: The Planet of the Apes (1968), Hands of Steel (1986), Point Break (1991), Maverick (1994), John Carter (2012), and Gravity (2013). 124 - LOCATION 20/21
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Location in pictures WITH THE HELP OF FILM COMMISSIONS, PHOTOGRAPHERS AND LOCATION MANAGERS, LOCATION INTERNATIONAL TAKES ANOTHER TOUR OF THE STRIKING AND DIVERSE LOCATIONS ON OFFER AROUND THE WORLD
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PHOTO, COURTESY RICK SCHULER, LMGI (PHOTO, COURTESY FILM FIJI)
COLON, PANAMA, CARIBBEAN ENTRANCE TO THE PANAMA CANAL Colón is a city and seaport in Panama, facing the Caribbean Sea and lying near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. It’s the capital of Panama's Colón Province and is known as Panama's second city. The Panamanian landscape is diverse and accessible; it’s possible to shoot a sunrise looking east over the Caribbean and a sunset looking west over the Pacific Ocean in the same day. Notable films that shot here include: Quantum of Solace ( 2008) and Suicide Squad 2 (2021)
KORO SUN RESORT, FIJI Koro Sun Resort is located in a small coastal town called Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island. The resort sits on a 160-acre sanctuary, surrounded by tropical forests and warm, clear-blue waters. Savusavu is on the coast and can be accessed by air and sea as it has a well-maintained marina and an airstrip within 10 minutes from the town. The resort has been the home of reality TV series Australian Survivor (2002 -) for the last three seasons.
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(PHOTO, COURTESY ALEX BELL ©SUNDAYSUNSET.IMAGES)
EMMA GORGE, WILDERNESS PARK, WESTERN AUSTRALIA Emma Gorge waterfall in El Questro Wilderness Park, Western Australia is a 65-metre droplet waterfall. Surrounded by cliffs and greenery, the vines and foliage give the impression of a small rainforest; Emma Gorge could be a secret paradise, a remote sanctuary, a jungle lagoon or an otherworldly backdrop. Located 100km from Kununurra, the site has nearby accommodation and a light airstrip. Kununurra is a direct flight from Perth or Melbourne and is experienced in hosting large-scale productions. The feature film adaption of Australian musical Bran Nue Dae (2009) filmed in Emma Gorge and Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008) included scenes shot in El Questro Wilderness Park.
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PHOTO, COURTESY FILM MADRID PHOTO, COURTESY RICK SCHULER, LMGI
EL VILLAR BRIDGE, LOZOYA RIVER, REGION OF MADRID
MONTELIMAR, SOUTHERN FRANCE
El Villar Bridge is in the municipality of Robledillo de la Jara, in the north-east Sierra Norte area of the Madrid region. The Lozoya river has supplied Madrid with water from a number of reservoirs along its route since the mid-19th century. The location is surrounded by a striking landscape and has provided the perfect period location for many commercial and film shoots.
Montélimar is a commune in the Drôme department of southeastern France, the secondlargest town in the department after Valence. Steeped in history, Montélimar is home to some beautiful heritage buildings, including Adhémar Castle. Built on top of a hill, it overlooks the city and offers magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. This internationally under-represented film location provides numerous diverse landscapes. Movies shot here include: Conte D’Automne (1998) and Gout des Merveilles (2015).
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(PHOTO COURTESY, JULIO VALENCIA / PROMPERÚ) (PHOTO, COURTESY MATT PALMER, LMGI)
PALCCOYO MOUTAIN, CUSCO, PERU
KAMLOOPS, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
The Mountain of the Seven Colours of Palccoyo is south of the historic city of Cusco, a short distance from the snowy Ausangate mountain in the Peruvian Andes. Palccoyo’s colourful peaks are formed by a process of mineralisation over millions of years. On clear days views include the snow-capped peak of Ausangate and other glaciated mountains in the distance. A stunning natural attraction, Palccoyo is home to wildlife including llamas, alpacas, vizcachas and condors.
Situated at the junction of the North and South Thompson Rivers in the Thompson Valley, Kamloops is British Columbia’s second largest city. This location is right off a road near the city of Kamloops. It is very accessible and part of the Harper Ranch, a large area owned by First Nations, with many spectacular accessible landscapes.
Most filming here has been for tourism promotion. Projects that have filmed in Cusco and elsewhere in Peru include: Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019); and TV shows Gordon Ramsey Uncharted ( 2018); Lost Cities with Albert Lin (2019) and Top Gear (2020).
Films shot here include Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014). TV series include: The X-Files (1993-2018), Van Helsing (2016-), Lost in Space (2018-) and Project Blue Book (2019-2020).
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URBASA-ANDIA NATURAL PARK, NAVARRE, SPAIN The Urbasa-Andía Natural Park is located between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Navarre region in northern Spain. Extensive meadows and leafy beech forests thrive in an idyllic landscape on this large plateau. Its southern edge drops dramatically over the Valley of the Améscoas, creating the impressive natural viewpoint of the turquoise waters of the Urederra river. Many productions have been filmed in here, including: Patton (1970), Cromwell (1970), Robin and Marian (1976) and, more recently, The Sisters Brothers (2018).
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(PHOTO, COURTESY NAVARRA FILM COMMISSION)
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(PHOTO, COURTESY ©VISIT.BRUSSELS - JEAN-PAUL REMY) (PHOTO, COURTESY TAIPEI CULTURE FOUNDATION-TAIPEI FILM COMMISSION)
NATIONAL CONCERT HALL, TAIPEI CITY, TAIWAN
This picture features the canal that separates the City of Brussels from the neighbouring municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. It is a mostly commercial and residential area with elements from the industrial past, giving it a unique character. It’s the focus of a new cultural, architectural and economic direction for the city and is very welcoming to film shoots. Its versatility makes it an ideal location for both grittier, urban images or leisurely, sunny scenes.
The National Theater and its companion venue the National Concert Hall face each other across a grand plaza which is completed by the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on the eastern side. The National Concert Hall was built in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties and was completed in the late Eighties. This location is a busy cultural and tourist hub and has become one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in Taipei City.
The most famous movie shot in the area is dark comedy The Brand New Testament (2015) and recently, several Belgian TV series filmed here, including Unité 42 (2017) and Hoodie (2020-).
Feature films that have shot here include: GF*BF (2012) and X+Y (2015). TV series Fresh off the Boat (2015-2020) and music video My Love (2011) for Hebe Tien also used the location.
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(PHOTO, COURTESY LORI BALTON, LMGI)
HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL, HONG KONG The 60-metre Hong Kong Observation Wheel is on the Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong, on the Central and Wan Chai reclamation. The amazing view from the 15-minute ride on the Ferris wheel includes Victoria Harbour. Its 42 gondolas includes one VIP version with leather seats and a glass floor. Many movies have filmed in Hong Kong including: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Die Another Day (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Cradle of Life (2003), The Dark Knight (2008), Skyscraper (2018) and Pacific Rim (2013).
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( PHOTO, COURTESY SEOUL FILM COMMISSION ) (PHOTO, COURTESY MARK INDIG, LMGI)
SONGPA I-PARK, SONGPA-GU, SEOUL
Songpa I-Park is a residential and office complex in southeastern Seoul, designed by American architect Jack Bouvrie. Seoul is one of the most densely populated cities in the world with one-fifth of Korea’s total population. These large residential complexes have become common landscapes in Seoul and many of the newly built projects boast interesting and beautiful shapes. Built in 2015, Songpa I-Park is famous for its radical layout and impressive exteriors.
Menton is a town on the French Riviera in southeast France. It’s known for its beaches and gardens, including the Serre de la Madone which is a showcase for rare plants. The hilly, medieval old town is home to Basilique Saint-Michel, notable for its 18th-century bell tower, and the ornate facade of La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs.
This is a location waiting to be introduced on screen and would be perfect for near-future or sci-fi narratives.
Films that have shot here include: Day of the Jackal (1973), Never Say Never Again (1983) and Magic in the Moonlight (2014).
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(PHOTO, COURTESY PETER GLUCK, LMGI)
OULU, FINLAND Located on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia, Finland’s fourth largest city, Oulu, provides urban culture as well as easy access to the unique nature of this region. Finland is known for its thousands of lakes and islands, dense forests, wooden cottages and vast snow-covered regions, as well as the capital, Helsinki, and for decades has been popular with international filmmakers. This is a picture of one of many locations that are waiting to be discovered. Films shot in Finland include: Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Hanna (2011).
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