Location International 2024

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The setting for Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is a desert in the American southwest, so of course it was shot in Spain


In 2023 Spain’s film industry set new records and everything is in place for that growth to continue


Harry Connick Jr stars in the first major international feature film to be shot entirely on the island of Cyprus


After a tough 2023 the resilient movie industry of California is getting back to normal


Europe is an encyclopedia of exquisite shooting locations


Exploring film-worthy locations from around the world


The UK is generating levels of filmmaking acitivity to which most global production hubs can only aspire


Australia is looking ahead to a new period of growth as international filmmakers are coming back for more



Calculate your savings today. www.ausfilm.com
NSW. Destination NSW * *Announced by the Federal Government in the 23/24 Budget, yet to be legislated
Dunes, Port Stephens,


Why this vast continent is increasingly attracting the international film world


The Sideways team of Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti reunites for The Holdovers


The landscapes of the Middle East have played key roles in some epic films over the years


Big country, small population. Canada continues to punch above its weight


The film-friendly state of Georgia is the perfect home for filmmakers







Writer/director Wes Anderson on the set of Asteroid City, a Focus Features release. Photo: Roger Do Minh/ Pop. 87 Productions/ Focus Features

ASTEROID City is a tiny desert town in the American southwest. The year is 1955. The town’s most famous attraction is a gigantic meteor crater and celestial observatory nearby, and this weekend, the military and astronomers are welcoming five science award-winning children to display their inventions.

Not far away, over the hills, mushroom clouds from atomic tests can be seen.

And then the city receives an unexpected visitor — from outer space. Asteroid City is locked down and a cover story is concocted by the Army. But the gathered child geniuses have a plan to get the news to the outside world.

The cast list might be able to claim the longest roster of A-listers to appear in a movie since 1974's The Towering Inferno. Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Margot Robbie, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton — and many more, all there to tell a quirky story against some striking backdrops.

Asteroid City, with a population of 87, offers residents and visitors a 12-stool luncheonette, a one-pump filling station, a 10-cabin motor-court hotel, a telephone booth, and just outside of town, a massive crater and an observatory. It is here that we first meet Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman), Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) and Stanley Zak (Tom Hanks).

We will shortly meet these characters again, this time as characters in the play Asteroid City, as we watch rehearsals for a play-within-a-play.

It’s a weekend of celebration for Asteroid Day: Augie, a war photographer and recent widower, arrives with his three young daughters and teenage son Woodrow (Jake Ryan), a Junior Stargazer honoree. They are commemorating September 27, 3007 BC, when the Arid


Plains meteorite crashed to earth. Also visiting are movie star Midge Campbell and her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards), a Junior Stargazer; along with three other Space Cadet award winners, who have brought their science inventions and their parents. Hosting the festivities are fivestar general Grif Gibson (Jeffrey Wright) and astronomer Dr. Hickenlooper (Tilda Swinton). The story explores two sides of the American narrative in the 1950s — the theatre and the pioneering West.

“I do always feel that a movie for me is not just one idea,” Anderson says. “It's sort of at least two sorts of separate things that come together and start to become a movie.” The first idea — conceived by Anderson and co-creator and executive producer Roman Coppola — began in a big city, but it soon moved. “I wanted to do a theatre movie. I was thinking of it like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward… and we had an idea of doing a makingof-the-play that they’re working on… we were calling it Automat, and it was going to be set entirely in an Automat. The other thing we were talking about was something kind of Sam Shepard… so we shifted out of Automat and into the desert.”

The context of the story — and the look of the movie — echoes the summer of 1947 when a mysterious craft crashed into the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. It was spotted by rancher Mac Brazel and his son Vernon as they were driving across their land. They reported it to the local Sheriff and, after the Sheriff made it fairly clear he had no idea what to do with their story or the wreckage that the father and son had brought to him, the military got involved. They hushed it up, while the media did the opposite. And a mystery was born. UFO sightings have continued to this day — mainly over deserts and mainly in the US. And a movie genre was born too, possibly reaching its critical peak with Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

Asteroid City is as American as the genre itself — except that it was shot in Spain, on the outskirts of Chinchón, a town and municipality in the community of Madrid. Other locations considered and scouted included Arizona’s Death Valley, but Anderson’s team settled on Chinchón — which provided the perfect double for the southwestern desert landscapes, unobstructed views in all directions, and the natural light required to build a fictitious town.

The town of Asteroid City itself was designed by longtime Anderson

collaborator Adam Stockhausen, an Oscar winner for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Scouting, research, conception and development all took place during the height of the pandemic when remote working was the norm. “This time was so unusual,” Stockhausen says. “We were working virtually, connected to people there, standing in the field. Later, a very small group of us would show up and I’m telling myself, ‘I think it will work. Everything is telling me that it's going to work.’ But you’re depending on a sort of magic thing that happens when your mind believes what you're looking at. It's not mathematical.”

The field Stockhausen refers to, part of a farm, was identified for the location for Asteroid City. It was flattened, and soon started to take shape. The luncheonette, the garage and the motel were all constructed as real buildings in what was fast became a functioning mini town. And surrounding the town, in all directions, the set continued as desert. “We wanted that feeling that you're actually in Asteroid City,” producer Jeremy Dawson says. “With the opening pan, you see in every direction. The car chase went right down the road, almost a kilometre long. You saw the set everywhere. The most transported I have ever felt on a film set, because of the scale.”

The surrounding mountains, boulders and rocks were all constructed, too. Anyone who sees the film would find it hard to believe it isn’t a real landscape,

or that hardly any greenscreen was used: the town, the desert and the horizon are all there on a set the size of a football field. “When you look off in the distance and see the ramp of the highway and the mountains off in the distance, they're pieces of scenery, and well over 1,000 feet away. Some are five, six storeys tall.”

For Anderson and Stockhausen, inspiration for the location and the sets came from 1955’s Bad Day at Black Rock, directed by John Sturges and starring Spencer Tracy. Shot on location in the real southwest, around Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, the film provided real landscapes that Stockhausen worked to duplicate with sculptors and painters. Anderson and Stockhausen took Frank Capra’s 1934 classic It Happened One Night as inspiration for or an outdoor picnic scene.

“In each town near Chinchón, there is a tiny, little theatre,” Stockhausen says. “We took one of those as a location, and all of the backstage shots, the scene introducing the actors, were all set up there. The opening broadcast stage is another of those theatres with everything ripped out; the control booth that the camera pushes through is bolted onto the balcony as a little constructed item.

“To be honest you never quite know that it's going to work,” Stockhausen says of the careful design and construction that goes into each Anderson film. “There's always an element of, 'Well, I hope so.'.”

• Asteroid City was produced in association with Studio Babelsberg, a Focus Features, Indian Paintbrush and American Empirical Pictures production, with the assistance of numerous agencies of the government of Madrid and it benefited from the Spanish production tax rebate. (See the following feature.)

Grace Edwards (left) as Dinah, Scarlett Johansson as Midge Campbell and Damien Bonnaro as bodyguard/ driver in writer and director Wes Anderson's Asteroid City, a Focus Features release. Photo: Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features


Spain’s post-pandemic recovery as a popular and cost-efective shooting location saw the country equal its pre-pandemic number of shooting days during 2022, and in 2023 it set new records. Underpinning all this activity is an unseen army of flm-commission staf who provide a safety net for productions, helping them negotiate local and regional realities. And, as Gary Smith reports, they do occasionally go way beyond their normal remit


A night skate on a street in Bilbao for the flm Una vida no tan simple (Not Such an Easy Life)

CARLOS Rosado has been president of the Spain Film Commission (SFC) since 2012, and previous to that he founded the Andalusia Film Commission, in 1998. “2023 was an excellent year marked by growth not only in terms of the number of shoots, but also in terms of the duration of shoots. And we got of to a very strong start in 2024,” Rosado says. “A good indicator of Spain’s growing global profle in the audiovisual world is that during the 2024 Fitur Screen conference, we awarded the role of Honorary Ambassador of the Spain Film Commission to legendary producer Rishabh Chopra. The role of Ambassador is all about serving as a bridge for the types of strategic synergies that will build on the existing flm and tourism relationships between India and Spain.”

Rishabh heads up production at Yash Raj Films, the longestestablished Indian production and distribution company in Bollywood, whose blockbuster flm Pathaan (2023) was shot in Spain. The flm was a major box-ofce success in India and among the Indian diaspora, while a promo music video for the flm, shot in Cadiz, got more than 820 million views on YouTube. Rosado adds: “It’s a level of success that has contributed to the development of new cultural and economic relations between the two countries and their audiovisual industries.”

Reasons to choose Spain as a location include the excellent light, the variety of looks and landscapes with easy travelling between them, the range of architecture, the hospitality, the value for money and the excellent crews. On top of that, the country’s funding initiatives were revised in 2022 and tax incentives now range from 25-70%, with some autonomous regions setting their own rates. “Spain has a very attractive tax system to attract foreign productions with incentives, and depending on the territory and type of production they can be up to 70%,” Rosado says. “Several autonomous

communities, such as the Basque Country, the Canary Islands and the Navarre, have built on this system. For example, in Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba, incentives can be up to 60 %, then it’s 54% in the Canary Islands, and in Navarre up to 35%. So overall Spain really ofers a lot. That said, we still lack some audiovisual infrastructure such as large studios, but plans for such facilities are in the planning phase in several territories.”

One of the longest-running initiatives of the Spain Film Commission has been the de-centralisation of production as part of its Audiovisual Hub plan. “Spain has the considerable advantage of ofering diverse terrains in a relatively small area, and so for the last 20 years our aim has been to diversify flming locations. As a result, several Spanish regions have developed as important locations. So now, in addition to the traditional centres of Madrid and Barcelona, other areas such as Andalusia, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and Bilbao are widely considered to be leading flming destinations,” Rosado says. “Then, beyond all the initiatives we have under way within the framework of the Audiovisual Hub plan, we want to reinforce the visibility and understanding of the fundamental role of our industry in Spain. Another of our objectives is the development of a manual of best practice for flming in Spain, so that we in the industry can ofer a basic document that clearly shows all the necessary information for anyone who wants to shoot here. We also continue to expand and strengthen our national network to keep the SFC running smoothly, and last year we

Alba Baptista (left) as Ava Silva and Kristina Tonteri-Young as Sister Beatrice on location for episode three of Warrior Nun 2 Photo: Manolo Pavón/Netfix. ©2022

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increased our membership by more than 30%. We are also currently in the process of putting together a major study with Proflm [an association of international audiovisual production companies that shoot in Spain] that will provide data on the local flm industry for the frst time and will help to clearly show the size of the economic contribution that this industry makes to the economy of our country.”

International interest in flming in Spain is well illustrated by Who Is Erin Carter? a seven-part action series that dropped on Netfix in Europe in 2023. The story is set in the suburbs of the Catalan city of Barcelona, and the vast majority of the action was shot there. It’s a British/Spanish production from Left Bank Pictures — the producers of The Crown (2016-23) — in partnership with Spanish production house, Palma Pictures. Executive producers are Jack Lothian, Rob Bullock and Andy Harries, and series producer is Nuala O’Leary. Erin Carter, played by Evin Ahmad, is a British teacher who lives in Barcelona with her husband, Jordi, and young daughter, Harper. Erin has built a good life for herself in Santa Alma, a fctional upmarket community on the edge of the city. Then one day she gets caught up in a violent robbery at the local supermarket. And when one of the robbers claims to recognise her, Erin’s life begins to unravel. She has to fght to clear her name and protect her family... But is she really who she claims to be?

The role involved some stunts and considerable violence and ahead of the audition, Ahmad was fully expecting to be rejected, for the simple reason that she doesn’t look like much of a fghter. “I came into the room and I’m short, skinny and thinking: ‘They’re not going to buy that I can do any fghts.’ I had done an audition for a big Hollywood movie, which I ultimately didn’t get, but I had to learn a swordfght in 20 minutes. So, after my audition for Erin, I sat down with the producers and when they asked, ‘how are you with stunts?’ I showed them the video and hoped they

would be interested in me.”

She got the role with just three weeks to prepare and that included working on her British accent: “You have to work with your tongue in diferent ways and, on top of that, I needed to learn the stunts and understand how things were culturally for Erin living in Barcelona. It was tough work.”

The fghts were “quite complicated and very, very physical, but I wasn’t allowed to do anything where I could potentially get injured”, she says. “My stunt double, Sara Leal, is amazing. She’s the reason why I look cool!”

Understanding “how things were culturally in Barcelona” was made easy by the fact that the series actually shot in the city — cast and crew were there for four months. And showrunner Jack Lothian made full use of Barcelona’s suburban and seaside backdrops as well as some city landmarks — the famous bullring, for example, that was used for a particularly dramatic murder scene. “That’s one of the fantastic things about being an actor,” Sean Teale, who plays Erin’s husband Jordi, says. “You’re so lucky to be able to walk back in time and in history. That bullring isn’t used now because in Catalonia they don’t kill bulls anymore. The place is basically a museum, but it hasn’t been touched since it shut. It’s exactly as it was when it closed. We were doing night shoots and when you walk into the middle of it, all the ghosts are still there. You can feel everything that’s happened there. It really is quite spectacular, especially given the nature of the scene we were shooting. It really added to it.”

“The bullring was exciting to use,” Lothian says. “We weren’t going to use one, but it is such a fantastic location. Logically, if you were going to kill someone, you probably wouldn’t take them to the bullring, but it sort of felt right."

For Lothian, the city was a key element of the drama. “I was thinking of a story about a town where everybody has a secret and those 1950s noir movies of a woman with a hidden

Evin Ahmad as Erin Carter, Sean Teale as her husband Jordi and Pep Ambròs as Jordi’s best friend — and local cop — Emilio, on location in Barcelona for Who Is Erin Carter?

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past and wondering what an updated version of that might look like… and Netfix was saying, rather than setting it in a fctional city, why not just set it in Barcelona where we were flming? That way we can feature more of Barcelona.”

But shooting in the city had its challenges. For a car chase that’s key to the plot, for example, cast and crew had to decamp to Sitges, a neighbouring coastal town, southwest of Barcelona.

“Barcelona is not the easiest place to flm in. Quite rightly they are like, ‘We’re fine. We don’t need your film crew clogging up the street’, which is absolutely fair enough,” Lothian says. “If I was Barcelona, I would feel the same way. So we went to Sitges, which is next door. They were a bit more easy-going about it. We explained what we wanted in terms of the car chase and how the streets needed to be, and they were very accommodating.”

One of Lothian’s favourite locations was the hillside home of Daniel Lang, who is played by actor Douglas Henshall. “That was a tricky one,” Lothian says. “We wanted somewhere that wasn’t too far away from Barcelona in terms of the crew travelling, but as we were moving into summer all the nice places were rented out. We wanted to fnd somewhere that suggested a man with a little too much money. We found this amazing place that was kind of a tasteful Bond-villain apartment.” Executive producer Bullock adds: “That belonged to a European entrepreneur. He had made a lot of money in industry and he had built this extraordinary pad. It’s beautiful and perfect for Daniel.”

Henshall, meanwhile, found the Barcelona heat to be something of a problem. “Coming from shooting in Shetland [islands north of Scotland and west of Norway] to suddenly being in the middle of Barcelona in the summer, working in 42º with the humidity; and you’re indoors without air conditioning because otherwise the sound department would pick it up. I was wearing a suit and given my Scottish complexion, I was afraid that at some point I was going to just melt into a little puddle on the foor. At times, my main focus was just to plead with my sweat glands to behave.”

A mountain scene shot in the heat — a favourite of Lothian’s — presented challenges to cast and crew. “When they [Lena (Denise Gough) and Erin] go for a drive and a little walk


in the mountains. That was one of those scenes that was written quite quickly and didn’t really change that much. Once I saw them rehearse it just felt like it was hitting the right pitch. They had little notes and tweaks and ways they wanted to do things to bring their own favour to it. I think it’s the most enjoyable because it is two people sounding each other out with a huge elephant in the room.”

Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, and the Catalonia Film Commission is part of the Catalan Film Fund and the frst contact point for flmmakers interested in shooting in the region. It provides guidance on accessing funds via the 30% tax rebate available in Spain or through the minority co-production fund available to Catalan companies. It also acts as a link to the local audiovisual infrastructure and to local authorities and ofers a comprehensive database of locations and companies. An average of 80 feature flms and high-end TV productions choose to shoot in Catalonia every year.

In 2023 the capital Madrid hosted more than 930 mediumand large-scale projects, among them 41 feature flms, 55 TV series and more than 410 commercials, and the city is now widely regarded as one of Europe’s main production hubs. “Due to the intense activity of international platforms such as Netfix, HBO Max and Disney+, in 2023 the city was used as a set for series such as the long-awaited spin-of of Money Heist, Berlin (Netfix); Red Queen (Prime Video), based on Juan Gómez-Jurado’s bestselling books; The Purple Network (Atresmedia), an adaptation of the novel by Carmen Mola; and Vestidas de Azul (Atresmedia), the sequel to the series Veneno,” Víctor Aertsen of the Madrid Film Office says. “Madrid has also hosted the flming of several series made by renowned flmmakers including Alex de la Iglesia with 1992

Turning Madrid into Paris for Money Heist spin-of Berlin Photo: Carla Oset

120.125sq ft


3ProductionBuilding divided in

86.112sq ft outdoorwatertank withgreenscreen

1024 sq ft 2indoorwatertanks

37.674 sq ft/eachone

106.885sq ft ofworkshopsand storage

29,2acres ofbacklots


(Netfix), Daniel Calparsoro with Asalto al Banco Central (Netfix), Clara Roquet with The Long Shadows (Disney+), Rodrigo Sorogoyen, with Los Años Nuevos (Movistar Plus+) and Paco Plaza, with Maestro for Disney+. Spanish director Javier Fesser also shot Shared Custody here, produced by the American company The Immigrant.

“One of the main challenges I’ve had recently was making parts of Madrid look like Paris for Berlin. This doubling included a car chase, changing road signs and shutting down a large area because we were reproducing the area of central Paris where Notre Dame is located,” says Fran Castro Terán, location manager at Madrid-based production company Vancouver Media. “These were big requests as the areas we were using are very central, and also right now Madrid is so popular for shoots, so there’s always a danger of clashing with another production over a location. We ended up shooting a lot of footage in a magnifcent, stately Madrid neighbourhood called Chamberi, around Calle Gener, and we were there for fve days, so that’s a lot of trafc control, and a lot of diferent buildings used, some of which the flmcommission people really had to push to get us permission to flm in. The City of Madrid and Film Madrid commissions are brilliant at persuading reluctant property owners.”

Other recent international projects shot in Madrid include the series Máxima (Star+); the third season of the SpanishJapanese series The Head (Mediapro Studio and Hulu Japan); Los Artistas, produced by Isla Audiovisual for US streaming service Vix; and Bellas Artes, created by Argentinians Andrés Duprat, Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat for Movistar Plus+ and Star+.

Among the movies, highlights include Hildegart and Políticamente Incorrectos by the award-winning Spanish directors Paula Ortiz and Arantxa Echevarría; and El Correo by Daniel Calparsoro.

The Spanish Film Academy Residencies Programme, created by the Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain and Madrid City Council, is starting to produce results, with three films developed within the programme shooting in Madrid last year. At least 15 of the 41 feature flms were co-productions with other countries, including Escape by Rodrigo Cortés and Second Prize by Isaki Lacuesta, both with France. Of the 41 flms shot in the city, 16 received funding from Madrid City Council.”

The City of Madrid Film Commission can go to considerable lengths to assit with productions, for example getting an against-the-odds flm permit for Vestidas de Azul, the sequel to the award-winning series Veneno

“We managed to get them a permit to flm in Madrid’s Crystal Palace, an outstanding example of glass and iron architecture from the 19th century located in Retiro Park, Madrid’s most famous historical garden. Another interesting challenge was for Hildegart, a feature flm based on a true story that took place in Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century. After some intense discussions, we got them flm permits

to control and establish historical settings in diferent areas of the city, including one in the very heart of the capital where seven historic buildings were transformed into one dynamic set that included a Four Seasons Hotel and a new luxury commercial centre, the Centro Canillejas," Madrid Film Ofce's Aertsen says, adding: "Incidentally, the latter location was also used for the shoot of the series Berlin to recreate Paris. Asalto al Banco Central, an action-thriller mini-series set in 1981 and directed by Daniel Calparsoro for Netfix required, among other things, the trafc to be stopped and all vehicles removed from several streets in the north of the city during flming days. Also a huge advertisement flmed for El Corte Inglés, Spain’s biggest department store group, featured Elsa Pataky riding a horse in Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid’s most important thoroughfares, very close to Madrid City Hall,” Aertsen adds. The 179 municipalities that make up the Region of Madrid form an area that is now regarded as the epicentre of Spain’s audiovisual sector. The Film Madrid Film Commission is at the centre of this huge and varied region, and recent shoots include Berlín, Colmenar, Aldea del Fresno and Aranjuez, as well as Hildegart, for Prime Video, and Warrior Nun 2 for Netfix, which was shot in various local towns. “It’s really important to emphasise to production companies that we are ready to assist them throughout their shoot, which is

All the Names of God had Madrid's central artery, the Gran Via, shut down for long periods

why our follow-up and contacts are continuous and direct, involving both the production company and location teams,” flm commissioner Xiomara Garcia, says. “In many of these projects, Film Madrid’s role was to ensure that all the shoots could take place in the best and most efcient way possible. For the series Berlin, the main challenge was to recreate Paris at locations in Madrid. We provided assistance and advice, helping them with contacts and identifying the institutions that could provide access to the various locations. In El Berrueco, the plan was to shoot from an ancient watchtower, and we managed to locate the owner, as well as helping with other specifc requests and permits for the area around the tower.”

One of Film Madrid's primary goals is to internationalise awareness of the incredible variety of locations around the city: “We arranged a visit to the Shooting Locations Marketplace held in Valladolid, for various location managers from the UK, Canada and the US, to help them


get to know our region, giving us the possibility, as part of their scouting, of ofering Madrid-based locations,” Garcia adds. “In each promotion event organised by Film Madrid, we work closely with the Madrid Film Ofce, the shooting office of the City Council of Madrid. This teamwork is so important, given that the city of Madrid is where the majority of shoots take place. We also ofer a complete guide called 'How to shoot in the Region of Madrid'. The idea is for professionals to have the maximum amount of information at their disposal on all issues that might be involved in a local shoot.”

“Madrid right now is very busy, and I estimate that there are close to 50 location managers working non-stop in the city,” independent location manager, Valerio Marello, says. “For me the flm-commission people are like having a superassistant, they’re so important. When we were flming All the Names of God last year, they were truly amazing because we needed to shut down the Gran Via for long periods, which normally you just cannot do. But the flm commission made it happen, and we had two full night-to-morning shoots, from midnight to 13.00, thanks to that. And this was a big operation because the Gran Via is massive, so there were 40 police cars and 100 police ofcers helping us. Another thing they did which is remarkable is they persuaded the municipal authorities to allow flming in the big and important council buildings like the City Hall, and for many of them there’s no fee for doing so.”

In 2023, Bilbao Bizkaia hosted more than 150 flm shoots in the city and the Region: “These are historic fgures, coming in response to the strategic eforts of Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia to establish the area as a favourite destination for the audiovisual industry,” says Xabier Ochandiano, councillor for economic development, trade and employment at Bilbao City Council. “Since the first of January last year, Bilbao Bizkaia has offered the most competitive tax incentives in Europe, including deductions ranging between 35% and 60%, depending on the expenditure and investment made in the city and in the region. In the case of productions shot entirely in Euskera, these fgures increase by a further 10%.”

This initiative, which has the support of the European Commission, is part of Bilbao Bizkaia's commitment to the audiovisual sector. “We ofer legal security in the application of the incentives, zero uncertainty, plus proximity and agility in terms of the logistics,” Ochandiano says. “And the incentive applies to Spanish and foreign productions, as well as to new digital formats. Our goal is to attract shoots, but also and above all, to further develop a strong local audiovisual industry, that can respond to all the requirements of the sector, particularly in the area of new technologies.”

In a survey of the producers who flmed in the city and its region in 2023, their representatives gave 4.9 points out of fve for the support they received from the Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission.

“Our challenges in the short- and medium-term are to build up local talent, encourage the training of young professionals, and set up production centres. Punta Zorroza, an Audiovisual Hub just over two kilometres from the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum and only 15 minutes from the city's international airport, is the model for these centres. Moving forward in the area of sustainability during shooting and of equality in terms of the presence of female filmmakers and professionals in the audiovisual sector are also priorities. The inclusion of more diverse points of view is essential for promoting new values and new

set for

perspectives — I'm thinking, for example, of how maternity was addressed in Lullaby (2022), directed by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa, or how to tackle gender identity in childhood, which Estibaliz Urresola successfully brought to the screen in her flm 20,000 Species of Bees [2023]. We sincerely believe that projects of this nature help to create more democratic and freer societies,” Ochandiano says.

The Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission ofers a quality service, with personalised support for each project, with the aim to do everything possible to fnd efcient solutions to the problems that can arise during shooting.

“At the same time,” Ochandiano says, “we strive to create favourable conditions that help us to become a reference of interest for Spanish and foreign productions. And thanks to those eforts, 2023 was a great year. We hosted shoots for 12 full-length feature flms and seven series, with a direct economic impact of €58.5m and a total of 1,026 days of shooting. The most notable titles include The Platform 2 (Netfix); Angela (Atresmedia/Disney+); Querer (Movistar+); The Other Side (Disney+); Cicatriz (Amazon Prime/RTVE); Romi (Mediaset); and Detective Touré (RTVE/EITB). And 2024 is also looking good with new productions and co-productions that confrm the pull of Bilbao Bizkaia as a flm set.”

“Agustín Atxa and his colleagues at the Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission have helped us a lot. For example, dealing with a property owner who was threatening to cancel a very important location for a flm we produced, just three days before the shoot,” Iker Ganuza, producer at Lamia Producciones, says. “They also helped us to organise a night shoot with empty streets in Bilbao's city centre, with girls skating in the middle of the road, for the film Una Vida no Tan Simple [2023]. And, of course, they helped us in dealing with public spaces, such as hospitals and other public buildings. In our last flm, last November, they even allowed us to shoot at the Film Commission’s ofces, which we decorated as a newspaper ofce.

In 2023, the Navarre region hosted the filming of 37

On Movistar+'s Querer, flmed in the Basque region

productions including feature flms and short flms, fction and documentaries, television series, photographic reports, advertising spots and videoclips. “We are also seeing more animated movies, with flms including Robot Dreams and Hanna y los Monstruos, both produced in Navarre, and both have been nominated for the next edition of the Goya Awards,” flm commissioner Sara Sevilla says. “With a long, rich shoot-hosting history, Navarra has been the backdrop for recent titles including Game of Thrones, Verano and Vampire Academy, with producers attracted by the fact that in just 100 kilometres, Navarra ofers everything.”

“Our USP is the variety of landscapes which range from the Bardenas Reales desert, to some of the largest forests in Europe, to thoroughly modern cities and medieval villages, lakes, caves, old castles, ruins, wineries and factories. We also ofer high tax incentives in the form of a deduction of up to 40% for investments in feature films and other audiovisual productions,” Sevilla adds. “The Government of Navarra has launched support mechanisms for the audiovisual industry through tax incentives, but it has also implemented direct fnancial support for the sector, including the Generazinema fund, aimed at developing production, promotion and exhibiting at festivals, and even educational programmes in labs and incubators. All this,





alongside the dedicated, efcient and professional work of the Navarra Film Commission, makes our region a very attractive destination for producers looking for the perfect combination of locations.”

In Mallorca, film commissioner Pedro Barbadillo, was obliged to do some fast talking to ensure that Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman, Zoe Saldana and a huge crew had somewhere to stay. “The Paramount series Special Ops: Lioness, was quite a challenge, as they were shooting with a very big crew in January and February, two months when almost all the hotels in Mallorca are closed, so we had to convince a hotel owner to open up his hotel, and he also had to recruit all the staf in record time,” he says.

Alongside Special Ops, the Balearic island has recently hosted The Mallorca Files for the BBC, Hustle for Netfix, König von Palma for UFA Fiction, La Caza Tramuntana for TVE1, Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake for Filmax, The Crown for Netfix, and Pathaan for Yash Raj Films.

“And for the Bollywood production, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar, we had closed Es Born, the main boulevard in Palma the night before the shooting of a sequence with an intricate and complicated choreography section,” Barbadillo says.

“The shoot was scheduled for very early in the morning, but when the line producer arrived there at 02.00, he found a construction crane parked in the middle of the location. It took us two hours to fnd and wake the driver, and for him

to come and remove the crane, which he did just before the production started.”

Productions filming on Mallorca can benefit from two subsidy lines that cover project development elements including the script, bible and location fnding, which are known as the Audiovisual Promotion and the Minority Co-productions Fund, aimed at attracting international filming and promoting partnerships with Mallorcan producers.

There are also awards for short flms linked to Mallorca, as well as sponsorships for flms and series that promote the island. And then there’s the Spanish tax incentive for international projects in the form of a tax rebate of 30% on the frst million euros spent, and then a further 25% on the following million.

On Spain’s other major island chain, The Canary Islands, the new Jack Ryan series offered the major challenge of fnding a variety of locations to recreate diferent countries.

“In the case of the Canary Islands, and because we are a fragmented territory, we work together under the umbrella brand of Canary Islands Film, which includes all public and private agents directly related to the audiovisual industry in the Canary Islands. This allows us to work as a one-stop window to deal with the diferent issues related to flming. Generally speaking, the role of our flm commissions during filming lies in providing advice, guidance and help in managing permits with public administrations, providing information, data and contacts related to the island and the sector,” flm commissioner Natacha Mora says.

Alongside the Jack Ryan shoot, other recent TV productions filming on the islands include German series The Assessment; Norwegian series La Palma; and German shows STAGs and Fur Immer Sommer. A number of international feature films also shot in the Canaries including Den of Thieves 2 starring Gerard Butler; Guy Ritchie’s ISLA/UGPR (provisional title); Jan-Ole Gerster’s Three Island; Catching Dust, directed by Stuart Gatt; and the German/Italian co-production Eine Billion Dollar for Paramount+. Local productions that visited the islands in the last year or so include Benito Zambrano’s El Salto; Rich Flu for Netfix; American Star, directed by Gonzalo López Gallego; alongside Mamacruz, Padres, La Bandera, Odio el Verano, Disco, Ibiza and Locomia

“Other TV programmes we hosted include the German show Wasserspieler for RTL, which used the local production services of Film! Canary Islands, along with Germany’s Next Top Model, presented by supermodel Heidi Klum and serviced by Seven Islands Film.

"In terms of recent advertising shoots, the island was the setting for the flming of commercials for Yves Saint Laurent, Glasgow, Volkswagen, Tezenis, Merrell and Nivea,” Mora says. “Among the main animation productions we hosted were the feature-flm co-production SuperKlaus with the animation studio 3 Doubles Producciones, to be released later this year; and the fifth season of the French series Miraculous Ladybug , for which Atlantis Animation provided services.

"Atlantis also produced the teaser for the new Leo Messi series Messi and the Giants for Sony, and Tomavision’s Christmas special, Merry Little Batman . In addition, B-Water Studios participated in the American series Ghosts of Ruins. In terms of nationalities behind visiting animation productions, two from Australia stand out, marking the first time that this country has taken advantage of the island’s numerous animation talents.”


The Ciudad de la Luz's water tank measures 100 x 80 metres and includes special-efects water cannons

According to the CEO of the Sociedad Proyectos para la Transformación Digital (SPTD) Fermín Crespo — who heads up a number of eforts to develop a number of media and entertainment enterprises, from studios to theme parks — the Region of Valencia is becoming a benchmark for the flm industry and the audiovisual world thanks to the reactivation of the Ciudad de la Luz studio complex alongside a spectacular variety of locations, good communications, and services, plus quality hotel and hoteliers, among other things. “Ciudad de la Luz studios has started 2024 with a burst of intense activity across many of the facilities,” Crespo says. “We currently have a major Columbia Pictures production that is using a good part of the local audiovisual/ industrial complex, including the outdoor water tank. We can’t ofer many details of this project, but we can say that they began flming during the month of February with a total crew of 1,000 professionals in Ciudad de la Luz. They are also flming in outdoor locations in other parts of the province of Alicante.”

Following that, director Alejandro Amenábar chose to shoot his latest flm El Cautivo in Ciudad de la Luz in 2024. Among other spaces, Amenábar used the indoor aquatic tank in a flm that recounts the period of captivity of the writer Miguel de Cervantes in Algiers. The team has spent six weeks in diferent locations in the province of Alicante and a further three weeks in other towns in the province of Valencia, including Anna, Bocairent and Buñol.

“The last of the shoots that we confrmed for the frst quarter of 2024 is Mala Influencia, a film for Netflix that is using sets at the studio alongside other outdoor locations. Mala Infuencia comes from Valencian producer and president of the Association of Valencian Audiovisual Producers (PAV), Kiko Martínez, and it’s directed by Rober Gual with a script by Antón Goenechea, and a total budget of €5m,” Crespo says. Mala Infuencia is based on the Wattpad webnovela of the same name written by the Valencian author 'teensspirit',

whose real name and identity remains a mystery. With more than 44 million readers on the digital platform Wattpad, the novela was adapted to a physical format in 2021 by Penguin Random House.

“And now Nobody is Perfect, N&L Films and Wattpad Webtoon Studios have combined forces to turn the work into a feature flm under the direction of Chloé Wallace, with a script written by the director herself in collaboration with Anna Pacheco,” Crespo says.

“Last summer, Ciudad de la Luz hosted the flming of some of the aquatic scenes of the French film Under Paris for Netfix. They used the big tank to recreate chases in the water and scenes on the banks of a river, including a large crowd of extras. The flm crew stayed for a month and a half in Alicante — about 150 people — which amounts to nearly 3,000 overnight stays, plus a local spend of around €1.8m for the two-and-a-half weeks of flming," Crespo adds.

Last summer Ciudad de la Luz hosted part of the flming of La Ley del Mar, a mini-series based on real events in Santa Pola near Alicante, when a fshing boat rescued 51 immigrants who were adrift in the Mediterranean in 2006. For the RTVE mini-series À Punt, flming lasted two months with all shoots in natural settings between Madrid, Alicante, Ciudad de la Luz and Santa Pola, and included a complex shoot on the high seas.

Ciudad de la Luz has also recently created a film and audiovisual school to meet the demand for workers in the sector. The new initiative ofers its courses at the Agua Amarga facilities in collaboration with ESCAC, the Higher School of Cinema and Audiovisuals of Catalonia, and one of the most prestigious flm schools in Spain.

“This line of education for future professionals began last October to generate new, highly-qualified professional teams in all areas of flm production to meet the demand created by the increasing number of productions that are arriving at the Ciudad de la Luz,” Crespo says.


An island love story


FIND ME FALLING is the biggest local movie to shoot on the island of Cyprus. Writer, producer and director Stelana Kliris is a native Cypriot and lives on the island, and two of the leading actors, Agni Scott and Tony Dimitriou were also born here.

Kliris is producer of the film under her Cyprus-based Meraki Films banner, along with Jupiter Peak Productions of the US, and with support from the Cyprus Deputy


Ministry of Culture, and the Cyprus Film Commission’s incentives programme.

Also producing are Keith Arnold, Steve Shapiro, and the local production company Green Olive Films. Alongside Connick, Find Me Falling stars Agni Scott, Ali Fumiko Whitney, Tony Demetriou, Aggeliki Filippidou, Lea Maleni, Athina Roditou and Clarence Smith.

Harry Connick Jr came on board after Kliris wrote “a very personal letter to him” explaining her vision and that she wanted him to be a part of it. “He loved the script from the very beginning, and he was keen,” Kliris says. “But he did say that when he first told his agents about this film being made in Cyprus, he might as well have been telling them about making a film on the moon. So it was a

very big hurdle to jump to get everyone to understand what we were doing.”

“I read the script and I liked it, and due to various circumstances it kind of came in and out of my life for a while,” Connick says. “But it was a project I really wanted to do because I loved the story so much. And when I met Stelana, I was really fascinated with her and impressed with her and her vision for the film, and I really hoped that the movie would materialise.”

The film was “put on the back burner” as COVID kicked in — and then, two and a half years after his first discussions with Kliris, it resurfaced. There was “a window of time to shoot and it worked out with their schedule and my schedule”. So work on the movie began.

“I play a guy named John Allman,

who is an ageing rock and roller and his best days are probably behind him as a performer. He had some huge success in the 1990s and then as time has gone on, he sort of faded a little bit, his star has dimmed and he isn’t quite the dynamic personality that he always was,” Connick says of his character. “He is a bit of a womaniser, he’s a drinker, and I think that has caught up with him. He decides that maybe the entertainment business is done with him and he decides to get out of Dodge and go back to a place that he visited many years ago — the beautiful island of Cyprus.”

The film shot mainly at two locations: John Allman’s cliffside house on the southwest coast over White River Beach near Peyia, and the nearby village, which is actually made up of parts of island’s capital.

“We cheated a little bit filming the village, as we used the old town of Nicosia — because there are some really picturesque corners. And it was easy, because Nicosia is our base,” Kliris says. “But it is 100% shot on Cyprus.”

The island is a largely unexploited territory for filmmakers. “We haven’t seen it much on screen, so I think that’s an exciting element, because it has its own identity, and it’s a very pleasant experience — our lovely actors were housed in beautiful villas by the sea,” Kliris says. “And when we were filming the village scenes, we were actually in Nicosia old town, and obviously there is great food and a great atmosphere there.”

London-based, and Cyprus-born, Agni Scott, who plays a doctor with a key role in the developing love story, says the fact that feature-film production is comparatively new to the island meant

Harry Connick Jr and Ali Fumiko Whitney in Find Me Falling


that crew members were “hungry” to be involved. “It’s kind of the beginning of their industry, so they put their heart and soul into it,” Scott says. And there was “a family feeling” on location. “And the fact that it’s a small place means everybody knows each other. When we were filming in Kaimakli in Nicosia, there was a Syrian family living nearby who would come out like extra caterers, with coffee and food — it’s that hospitality that comes from a small island.”

Scott was in Cyprus to surprise her cousin for her 50th birthday at the same time Kliris was in pre-production on the movie. “I wasn’t in the original cast — I was added later. I rang Stelana and said, ‘I’m here’, because we had met before. I auditioned for the part, and then a week later I was going to go back to London

when Stelana called saying, ‘Would you come and meet Harry and the producers?’. So I read the script in a taxi going from Larnaca to Peyia, which was a two-hour ride. I met Harry on one of the film’s sets, and I met the producers and they said, ‘Well would you like to do it?’.

“So I jumped into this. And I think the fact that it is a Cypriot character, there are a lot of elements that came very naturally to me. Speaking in the Cypriot dialect came naturally too.”

“You don’t always get the luxury to know the other actors beforehand — in this case I got to know Agni the day before, just a little bit,” Connick says. “But what I found was a woman who was incredibly experienced, super talented, really enthusiastic about the project, and just a kind person. She’s funny, very collaborative, and takes her job very seriously. And she questions things — I like that. It’s sort of how I like to operate too. If she sees something that’s not particularly truthful to her, she’ll try to figure out through collaboration how we can make this scene better. She’s just been a lot of fun to work with and I’m glad that I’ve had the experience with her.”

The Cyprus experience was a positive

one generally for Connick. “Cyprus has so much to offer in terms of making films. The country itself has been very supportive of our filming here. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking, it’s an incredibly diverse landscape — there’s mountains, there’s ocean, there’s lush green, there’s desert-type topography here too,” he says. “Everyone that I’ve worked with here is so professional, they really, really care, not only about the project but about me and the people that are close to me. I had some family members that visited, I had my team that I travel with, and all of us were treated with such immense respect that all we can talk about is, ‘When can we come back?’. That type of professionalism throughout the entire filmmaking process is actually a little bit rare. I would come back as soon as I could to make a film here.”

And while the story is set in Cyprus and filmed in Cyprus, it is fiction — and the production uses a few on-location tricks. As we know, the village in which much of the story is set is actually made up of small, ancient corners of the capital Nicosia. And John Allman’s house was a complete fabrication.

“We had to create it, there’s no such

The Cypriot village in the film was made up of ancient corners of the capital Nicosia

location,” Kliris says. “I always imagined a tiny rustic house on a cliff.” They settled on a cliff over White River Beach, part of a nature reserve where sea turtles come to lay their eggs in the spring. “We had to go through quite a rigorous procedure to get permits to shoot there. And we had to be out of there before the turtles came. We also weren’t allowed to spend a lot of time building on the cliff, so we had to build a prefabricated house in a factory, which we did in about four weeks. Then we were allowed two weeks to set it up, two weeks

to shoot, and then we had to be out of there as if it never existed.

“It’s supposed to be a house that hadn’t been lived in for a decade or so, because of a certain reputation it had — which our protagonist is not aware of. Our production designer, Lydia Mandridou, she just did the most beautiful job. It’s supposed to be a small one-bedroom house that had been kind of abandoned — then a rock star moves in. There are lots of little details, right down to the books she put in.”

Meanwhile Harry Connick Jr fell in love

with Cyprus and Cyprus fell in love with him. “This was the first time for a local film to have a cast like this, someone like Harry. It just elevated everybody,” Kliris says.

“He wasn’t a famous person here,” Scott adds. “And we had some Cypriot actors on the film that do a lot of Greek TV, so whenever we went to a restaurant everyone said ‘Wow!’ — but to the Cypriot actors that they recognised from TV. Harry didn’t get any of that, and that was lovely for him.”

Cyprus has been used over the years as locations in Afghanistan, Iran and Jordan. “We recently had an Israeli production here. So Cyprus is this great meeting point between Europe and the Middle East. It can offer locations from both worlds,” Kliris says. "And we have 300 days of sunshine each year."

The Cyprus Film Office, which was established just before COVID, has introduced film incentives “which at the time of our film offered a 40% rebate on below-the-line costs and a 25% for abovethe-line — and now it’s been increased to 45% for below-the-line. So that has been a major factor in finally bringing in productions.” She adds: “It’s something we have been lobbying for, as filmmakers, for a long time. We also have a national fund from the Ministry of Culture here in Cyprus, which supports local cinema. Our film was the first one to take advantage of both of those incentives.”

For Harry Connick Jr, it was the place and the people that was the biggest attraction: “I hope that people get to feel the warmth and the love when they get to see this film, in the same way that I got to experience it. I feel that the love I have for the people of Cyprus — and the love I feel that they have for me — will translate in a way that might be immeasurable, but will certainly be felt on an emotional level. There was a lot of special stuff that happened on this set, and I really think that it will translate. And I hope that the people who see Find Me Falling will get the same sense of love that I have.”

The film's theatrical launch date in Cyprus is July, 2024, when it also drops on Netflix.

Harry Connick Jr on set at the pre-fabricated cliff-side house
Harry Connick Jr discusses a scene with Stelana Kliris (left) and Agni Scott Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in worldwide success story



The year 2023 may have been a challenging one for the movie capital of the world, but the Golden State has survived many downturns during its 100-year history and has always bounced back. Andy Fry and Julian Newby look back at a tough year, and beyond

THE 2023 release Barbie defied a number of norms and conventions, not least the understandably pessimistic mood of the US film industry in that year. Released in the US in July 2023, Barbie grossed nearly $1.5bn (€1.4bn) in its frst month and became the highestgrossing film of that year, the highest-grossing global release in Warner Bros.’ history, and the 14th highestgrossing flm of all time.

And yes, it’s true that most of Barbie World was built at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios in the UK, but the flm’s spirit was pure Golden State. And when Barbie and Ken did venture out into the real world, it was real-life LA that they chose.

LA locations in the flm include the Skate Dance Plaza at Venice Beach; Venice Beach's famed basketball courts; the Lucky Venice Store at 1501 Ocean Front Walk; Santa Monica City Hall; and Tongva Park at 1615 Ocean Ave. Director Greta Gerwig filmed the movie capital with the same afection that she gave to the entire movie. “Barbie has so much recognition, so much love, and of course a 60-plusyear history, which was exciting for me. As a writer and a director, I’m always looking for a fun challenge. Barbie is a property we all know, but to me she felt like a character with a story to tell, one that I could fnd a new, unexpected way into, honouring her legacy while making her world feel fresh and alive and modern.”

And that optimism is coming back across the entire

industry. “Now that the talent strikes have been resolved positively, we’re witnessing a return to business as usual across the state,” California Film Commission (CFC) executive director Colleen Bell says. The start of 2024 was slow, she adds, “because an event of that scale, which disrupted so many major productions, is sure to shake things up. It has been quite a jigsaw puzzle working out talent schedules and studio availability and financing. But our community are creative problem-solvers, so we’re observing a signifcant pick up in volumes of production now.”

And as the dust settles, producers are being reminded of all the factors that make California such a magnet for projects. First up is a generous tax incentive. Upcoming big-budget flms that are part of the programme include Under My Skin, an untitled Netfix project, Quentin Tarantino’s 10th and fnal flm, the Michael Jackson biopic, Michael, and a recently announced Star Wars project. It's a similar story in high-end television, with 33 series having relocated production to California since 2015 because of the tax credit.”

Bell says the CFC made the shrewd decision to keep its tax incentive application windows open during the strikes — allowing productions to join the programme then claim ‘force majeure’ as a result of the strikes. “In practice, this stopped the clock ticking on the requirements of the taxincentive programme,” Bell says, “buying producers time until the end of the strikes. When the disputes were over, we alerted all of our projects that is was time to get a schedule from them. So immediately it meant there were 60 projects ready to go.”

While the availability of tax credits is often a crucial component in production hubs securing international


business, Bell says that the enduring appeal of California is down to so much more.

“It starts with the locations,” she says. “With its mountains, coastline, deserts and forests, California is like an entire nation in one state. The richness of built landscape also means we are great at doubling — for other US states, for Anytown, America and for other countries.”

Climate is also a crucial factor, with the state boasting 300 days of sunshine a year, Bell says. “When time is money you need a predictable climate — and that is something we ofer.”

In addition to all of this is a flming infrastructure that is unrivaled anywhere on the planet, with its combination of studios, ranches, crews, service providers and network of local flm commissioners. “The truth is that our customer service is excellent,” Bell says. “Even aside from the tax credit, California ofers great value. We know there is a lot of competition out there, but in this business you really can’t put a price on the expertise, innovation and access to creative talent we ofer.”

The proof, of course, lies in the calibre of productions coming out of the state. And while 2023 was an anomaly, there is evidence that California is still able to service productions at scale. One high-end project which managed to avoid the 2023 strike period was Netfix scifi thriller Atlas. Starring Jennifer Lopez, shooting took place in various Southern California locations including LA, Orange County and Ventura County. Franchise reboot Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F was also based in the state. Breaking the state down by region, the largest proportion of flm and TV work takes place within the LA thirty-mile zone — where productions benefit from advantageous crewing costs, and the fact that so much A-list talent lives in the area.

Downtown LA experienced a reduction in location-based production because of the 2023 strike, with shooting days dropping 32% to 24,873 across the year. Underlining the severity of the situation, FilmLA president Paul Audley says: “History ofers no point of comparison to the present. The pandemic year aside, we have to look very far back to fnd a time when production levels stayed so low, for so long.”

Having said this, 24,873 shooting days is not insignifcant when compared with other international hubs. During the strike, for example, there was a robust performance from reality TV series and independent features, with some able to move forward under interim agreements with the unions. Projects in this category included Adult Best Friends, Don’t Trip, Eyes in the Trees, From Ashes, Isaac, Lake George and Roses on the Vine. The latter tells the story of a single father and a food-delivery gig worker, and his seven-year-old daughter, as they cross LA daily on his scooter in an efort to make a living.

Among upcoming projects that fnished production in LA before the strikes was the much-anticipated Joker sequel Joker: Folie à Deux, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga. Overseen by location manager Jason McCauley, the flm needed to capture the East Coast US vibe that has always underpinned the Batman universe’s gritty, Gotham

One of the big-budget flms that is a part of the California tax-incentive programme: the Michael Jackson biopic, Michael

City aesthetic. To do this, the production used several LA-based stages and shut down a major section of the city’s downtown — a task that required close collaboration with city agencies and businesses.

Netfix series Beef made good use of LA locations, crews and film office FilmLA. Beef follows the story of two strangers who come together in a road-rage incident.

Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) is a contractor whose business is failing, and Amy Lau (Ali Wong) is an entrepreneur with a seemingly perfect life. Antagonism builds between the two as they can’t let it go. There’s comedy and heartache as their confict builds and we learn more about this unlikely pairing.

“The idea was loosely based on a road-rage incident that actually happened to me. Someone went of on me and for some reason, that day I did not use sound judgment and impulsively decided to follow this person,” the series’ creator and showrunner Lee Sung Jin says. “A little while later, when I met with Ravi Nandan, [head of TV at producer A24] he asked me if I was noodling on anything and I told him that story, and he just instinctively got it. Everything came together pretty quickly after that meeting.”




Key to the tension between the two lead characters in the series is Ali’s seemingly perfect life that contrasts with Steven’s. And for production designer Grace Yun, this had to be refected in their respective homes. Yun designed Danny’s apartment to be “a collage of tiny failures” that gave the viewer a sense that the apartment was a refection of the feeling of failure that follows him around. Danny’s


constantly in this transient space of struggling and never getting a win.

Amy’s home — a luxurious mansion — had to refect her success in life, but also give the impression that she is somehow restricted by that success. “We wanted her home to feel very curated and manicured. But I also wanted to sneak in a bit of a prison concept, with the vertical slats and the plaster walls being a stone concrete colour, which has an expensive, upscale efect, but when that texture is applied to the entirety of the interior, it gives a kind of darkness and coldness to the home,” Yun says. “A feeling like she’s trapped in her dream, in a way, or trapped in the life that she made.”

Among the most striking locations in Beef is the building chosen as the home of Jordan Forster (Maria Bello), a billionaire who is keen to take over Amy’s company, Kōyōhaus. The location chosen for her life of opulence was House of the Book, an architecturally signifcant building on the 2,700-acre Brandeis-Bardin campus of the American Jewish University that was visited by Percival and his team. Designed by architect Sidney Eisenshtat in 1973, it's a brutalist-style concrete structure, its unique cylindrical architecture and other dramatic features making it an ideal flming location: it has previously been used for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-96) television series.

The exterior and interior of Jordan Forster’s home are dressed to look like “a place that is reminiscent of Amy’s world, but totally upstages her in every way,” Yun says. “She wants to own and conquer.”

House hunting was also a task for the crew on horror movie

Executive producer/ director Jake Schreier (left), Ali Wong as Amy and creator/ showrunner/ director/ executive producer Lee Sung Jin on location for episode 10 of Beef

Photo: Andrew Cooper/Netfix. ©2023

Night Swim. Based on a 2014 short flm, Night Swim stars

Wyatt Russell as Ray Waller, a former major-league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness. He moves into a new house with his wife Eve and their children, where he hopes the glistening backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him, and the hope that he one day might return to pro ball. But the house has a dark secret that will turn their happy family life into a living hell.

The flm is directed by Bryce McGuire — who also made the 2014 short — from his own screenplay. The flm is a kind of homage to 1980s-era horror movies: think Poltergeist and Pet Sematary.

The best horror movies take the innocent or the mundane and inject evil or fear where there should be none. “The pool represents status, diversion, fun,” McGuire says. “It’s sexy, it’s seductive, and that’s what makes it deadly. The colours are rich and vibrant — the cool glowing turquoise water invites us like a siren call. But in the water, when the lights go out, it feels big.”

Key was to fnd the right house and pool. So Bryce and his team set out on an epic search of Southern California backyards. “We searched for houses with pools in almost every neighbourhood in Los Angeles,” McGuire says. “We needed a big pool with lots of space around it, because I wanted it to feel like you were on an island surrounded by darkness when a character was in the water alone. I also wanted big trees on the property, but not palm trees; I wanted the movie to feel like it could be taking place in Anywhere, America. But we’re shooting in LA, so that’s not easy to come by.”

There were so many options, McGuire says, that at one point they were making unnecessary work for themselves by piecing together the front of one house, the back of another and the pool of yet another. “It became such a scheduling headache,” he says.

The crew eventually found the perfect location in Altadena, a middle-class suburban community about 13 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near to Pasadena. “The house had everything we wanted,” McGuire says. “The yard was wrapped in massive, live oak trees above the deep end that almost feels like a gaping mouth about to swallow you whole. The pool was over nine feet deep and 44 feet long with a diving board and an interesting silhouette. When I saw the pool looking down from the second-storey window, it took my breath away. It was everything I imagined.”

While the city of Los Angeles is so often the location of choice for suburban and city scenes for series and movies shot in California, stunning locations and state-of-the-art

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Big Sur, dramatic coastline

studios and ranches exist right across the state to serve local and international productions.

The city of Santa Clarita is northwest of LA but within the thirty-mile zone, and its studios and ranches are probably the city’s major USPs — and both areas are in expansionist mode. Evan Thomason, economic development associate at the city of Santa Clarita, says the modestly sized city also benefts from a pro-flming culture that permeates from its leadership through to its population. “We’ve always been flm-friendly, because we know what it means to our local economy. Our flm ofce is a one-stop-shop and has great connections with public departments. We’re also here to help with scouting or liaising with property owners.”

Santa Clarita is also a rich source of locations. “The city has a surprisingly varied look,” Thomason says. “Because we have a mix of older and newer neighbourhoods, we can double for just about anywhere. We double a lot for Virginia and the eastern side of the US. We also have some really unique rock formations that have been used in sciencefction franchises like Star Trek and Westworld.”

While the thirty-mile zone takes the lion’s share of film and TV production work, producer and location supervisor Mandi Dillin — whose long list of credits includes Westworld and The Morning Show — says there is a growing willingness among professionals to look further feld. “I have spoken with producers recently, all of whom are scouting locations outside the thirty-mile zone. It’s refreshing to know they are open and looking.”

In her own case, Dillin says she has “fallen in love with Ojai over the past few years. It's a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles. On the way you pass orange groves, felds and ranches which serve as a reminder that Southern California was and is still a large agricultural area. Ojai is my Mendocino when I don't have time for the 12-hour drive to Mendocino. On The Morning Show we flmed in

Santa Paula (65 miles from Downtown LA) which I've never visited prior to scouting and flming.”

Southern California locations growing in appeal include the coastal city of San Diego, which has seen increased interest since the creation of a flm ofce in 2016. In 2023, against the backdrop of the strikes, the city saw a surge in reality TV and commercials, for brands including Cadillac and Nike. The city’s new flm ofce chief, Guy Langman, said filming has increased exponentially over the last 12 months. “We’ve gone from an occasional national commercial to having those monthly now. Commercials really exploded for us this summer because of efforts courting Hollywood, and those productions come down here as an easier alternative to the Los Angeles area.”

The area around Palm Springs is also working hard to increase production and has secured projects like Olivia Wilde’s feature flm Don’t Worry Darling (2022) and the Apple TV+ series High Desert (2023). The latter is an ofeat comedy in which Patricia Arquette plays Peggy, a 50-something addict-cum-detective.

Showrunners Nancy Fichman, Jennifer Hoppe-House and Katie Ford said they initially wanted to set the series in Tucson, Arizona. But Arquette lobbied for area around Palm Springs. Here, they were able to contrast the lush lawns and golf courses of Palm Springs with the harsh, gravely desert at higher elevations.

The northern Californian city of San Francisco is another

A scene from Night Swim, with Izzy Waller (left/ Amélie Hoeferle), Elliot Waller (Gavin Warren), Kay (Nancy Lenehan), Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon). ©2023 Universal Studios

major attraction. Some 380 miles north of LA, the city ofers beautiful, distinctive architecture, a well-established infrastructure and access to the magnifcent Bay Area.

“San Francisco is incredibly cinematic,” Film SF executive director Manijeh Fata says. “The city boasts iconic landmarks, sweeping skyscapes, gorgeous architecture, a balance of nature and technology, a robust and skilled production community and a vibrant arts ecosystem.”

In addition, she says, “our Scene in San Francisco Rebate programme aims to attract storytellers by returning up to $600k in fees paid to City Agencies.”

Like the rest of California, San Francisco saw production activity impacted by the 2023 strikes. For Fata, this period “served as a reminder of the importance of our community and how much we leaned on storytelling during the incredibly challenging time we are emerging from.

Throughout this time, our ofce continued to facilitate a signifcant amount of commercial and corporate content as well as independent flm. We have seen an unprecedented amount of independent flmmakers that are realising their projects because of Scene in San Francisco.”

The north of the state is home to several other vibrant flm-friendly locations — often supported by proactive local flm ofces. Adjacent to San Francisco, for example, are counties including Solano, Marin, Sonoma and San Mateo. All offer distinctive locations and also have the ability to play Anytown, America — as demonstrated by Netfix series Thirteen Reasons Why (2017-20), which shot in Solano and Marin.

The state capital, Sacramento, is just over an hour north of San Francisco and has good transport links to LA. Under Sacramento City flm commissioner Jennifer West, who took up her post in 2019, the city has turbo-charged its eforts to attract production. West, keen to build on the buzz generated by Greta Gerwig’s Ladybird in 2017, has streamlined the permitting process and helped public departments understand how flm works and the timelines involved. She also organised a tour of the area in 2023 for California-based flm professionals.

All of this legwork seems to be paying of, with three highprofle feature flms visiting the city since mid-2023. First came Sacramento, starring Kristen Stewart, Michael Cera and Michael Angarano in the story of a pair of friends’ road trip to Sacramento. West’s ofce helped secure locations and permits, as well as liaising with local neighbourhoods. The end result is that the movie is reckoned to have brought

in $100,000 to the region in hotels, local hires, van rentals and catering. Coming into 2024, local-media outlet ABC10 reported that two major projects were filming almost simultaneously. The frst is a Warner Bros. blockbuster starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Sean Penn, codenamed BC. The second is a movie about homelessness called No Address. Speaking to ABC10, No Address location manager Stan Bautista praised the city infrastructure, saying Sacramento was equipped to provide everything the production needed. “In a crew of 50, we had 31 local hires; that’s 60% local flmmakers making this project.”

While there’s a healthy rivalry for work between California’s counties, this is overridden by a realisation that they all need to work together to keep production in the state. One person who knows this well is Sabrina Jurisich. At a state level, she is chair of FLICS, a network of 42 flm commissions and ofces that are based across the state: “FLICS never feels competitive,” she says. “We all want each other to succeed, because we want productions to stay in California. That way, we all beneft.”

Jurisich has also carried this collaborative ethos through to a regional level, acting as a prime mover in the creation of the Upstate Film Commission, a unified body that represents the counties of Shasta, Tehama, Yuba and Sutter. “Before, I used to solely represent Shasta, which has a rich ofering in its own right. But now we have a much broader proposition that ofers a wide array of rural settings and some hidden architectural gems, ranging from quaint towns and Victorian houses to revitalised downtown areas. All of this is easily accessible from Sacramento, which opens our region up to productions that need to bring cast and crew from across the state.”

Upstate has worked hard to promote its counties, organising a fam tour for location managers. “Last year, we had 10 award-winning location managers,” Jurisich says, “and there was such a lot of positive feedback because they didn’t know what was on ofer and how flm-friendly we are. Often their personal experience has just been seeing us as a step along the highway to get gas. The fam tour was an opportunity to explore.”

Jurisich says the region came through the strike period relatively unscathed, “because we primarily host productions like independent films and commercials which were not directly impacted. But there’s no question we’ve seen enquiries multiply since the strikes ended, which is positive for 2024.”


Themed gardens, architecture, statuary | 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles 626-405-2215 | FilmHuntington.org



From the black sands of Iceland to the azure seas of the Greek Islands, the majesty of Paris to the fairytale castles of the Baltic States, Europe is an encyclopedia of exquisite shooting locations. Andy Fry reports

Netfix's Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery shot in several Greek locations including on the scenic island of Spetses


1 Up to 40% tax rebate for international productions

2 Diversity of locations Spectacular landscapes and unrivalled heritage sites

4 Studios and sound stages with current expansion projects and new developments underway

3 Unique talent Highly skilled crews and outstanding schools

5 State-of-the-art VFX studios Where Creativity meets Innovation

Film France, the one-stop shop for flming in France

Château de Chantilly © Christophe Tanière

HOME to more than 40 countries, Europe can deliver any visual sensibility to flm, commercials and TV producers — from deserts to deep forest. It isn’t just the cornucopia of locations that entices content creators either. Across the continent there is a supporting infrastructure only rivalled by North America. Experienced crews, state-of-the-art studios, talented set builders, the latest equipment and technology, post-production facilities and knowledgeable film offices are available across the entire landmass. And if that’s not all, there is a huge array of generous tax incentives designed to attract productions of every profle and budget range. Also worth noting is that Europe is geographically compact compared to other continents, with good transport links. So it is relatively straightforward for productions to base themselves in one territory, perhaps at a studio hub, and cherry-pick locations across the region. In an era when inflated budgets are encouraging shared financial risk, Europe’s track record in cross-border co-productions is an invaluable asset.


There’s no question that Central & Eastern Europe has become a thriving hub — capable of hosting international flm and TV productions at scale. Hungary, which generated a record-breaking 250bn Forints (€0.54bn) in production revenues in 2022, is one of the biggest production hubs in continental Europe, thanks in part to its robust 25-30% tax incentive, world-

Vilnius welcomed the third season of German costume drama Sisi, which turned the Lithuanian capital into 19th-century Vienna

class studios and excellent craft base. Recent credits have included Ridley Scott’s new Alien movie, Carnival Films’ The Day of the Jackal, and Shardlake, a Tudor murdermystery series for streamer Disney+.

One of Hungary’s prized assets is its high volume of studio space, with Korda Studios, Origo Studios Budapest and NFI Studios all ofering 360-degree production services. Korda, for example, has hosted sumptuous productions including the critically-acclaimed Poor Things. It is home to six fully-equipped sound stages, including one of the biggest in the business. This comes in combination with workshops, warehouses and backlots that can recreate New York and Renaissance or Medieval Europe. Adding to Hungary’s ever-evolving ofer is a new virtual studio, which is being built in Fót. With a cost of around €11m, it will be the largest VP (virtual production) studio in Central and Eastern Europe.

Not to be overlooked is the architectural beauty of capital city Budapest, which has made it perfect for doubling other locations. Zoltan Haulis, founding partner at Progressive Productions, says the city has stood in for Berlin, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, Buenos Aires and New York, as seen in period drama The Alienist. In particular, Haulis says, the city is often called on to replicate Paris. Aside from the general Parisian feel exuded by the city, Budapest has some very specific assets — including a Champs-Élysées stand-in (Andrassy Avenue), and its own Moulin Rouge. “Playing Paris is probably Budapest’s greatest and most popular talent, with its romantic oldschool buildings and nostalgic atmosphere,” he says. Closest to Hungary in scale and expertise is the Czech Republic, which has a rich history of hosting big-budget


productions. In 2022, the country paused its film and TV tax incentive because of the cost of providing aid to Ukraine. But now the incentive is back. At time of writing, international flm and TV productions can qualify for cash rebates of 20% of local spend, plus additional rebates for international cast and crew. Currently there is a cap of CZK150m per project (€6.1m), but a new law, scheduled for 2025, may increase that to CZK350m.

The country’s appeal to productions is partly about its extraordinary locations, and partly about its tried and tested infrastructure. There’s no better example of this than the world-famous Barrandov Studio, which was founded in 1931 and is now one of Europe’s premier studio complexes. With 13 sound stages, extensive backlot and access to skilled set-construction teams, Barrandov has hosted recent projects including Jojo Rabbit, A Boy Called Christmas and high-end TV series Das Boot. Barrandov Studio CEO and chairman Petr Tichý says the Czechs have “been busy shooting flms since flmmaking began. Thanks to the large amount of film work done here the industry has integrated the most up-to-date technologies and standards.”

Tichý says there is a strength in depth that appeals to foreign producers: “Czech locations, facilities and crews offer outstanding production value. International film productions enjoy working with local crews, and often everyone up to and including department heads are Czech nationals. Local crews have fulflled the visions of some of today’s most demanding production designers and have immense resources at their disposal. Superbly crafted sets, costumes, vehicles and weapons for all historical periods ofer limitless options and considerable savings.”

As for Barrandov, Tichý says: “Our biggest advantage is a combination of top-class craft skills, a concentration of most of the services indispensible for movie creation, a position close to Prague airport and easy access to natural and architectural locations. Prague is extremely attractive for flmmakers. It can play Vienna, Moscow, Paris… and it is sufciently compact that you have everything close by.”

In terms of investment, he says: “We are currently fnishing the building of new facilities for the set-construction department and preparing for two new stages. Each stage has foor plan dimensions of 40.8 x 32 metres.”

The year 2023 at Barrandov Studio was marked mainly by big series projects, he says. “The biggest German project, which had been in production at Barrandov since 2022 and was completed in the spring of 2023, was a series produced by Constantin Film for RTL called Hagen. The biggest project overall was the second season of AMC Studios' Interview with the Vampire. Filming, which began in 2022, continued in the stages and on the Barrandov Studio backlot through the year. In December, Barrandov Studio purchased a Paris Street set, which had been built for the series on the backlot. The vampire theme was also the subject of another project last year, Nosferatu, this time directed by Robert Eggers and produced by NBC Universal.”

That wasn’t all, Tichý says, noting that Barrandov’s setconstruction department is utilised widely on international productions. “On series three of The Wheel of Time, the department built a number of sets in the studios, on the backlot, in Třeboradice and other locations, including Točník Castle, Karlova Ves and Toušice.” Looking ahead, he says: “We are expecting quite a bit of work after a quieter

Romola Garai as Doreen Warriner in One Life, shot in the Czech Republic

Long hours of sunlight with clear skies

Diversity of scenery

Accessible locations

Skilled professionals and studio facilities

Excellent accommodation and gastronomy

Stable and safe country

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start to the year. I think the biggest project will be Blade Runner 2099 for Amazon Prime Video.”

Other recent projects to favour the Czech Republic include One Life, a flm which tells the story of how Nicholas Winton helped rescue 669, mainly Jewish, children from Prague on the eve of WW2, with the Nazis set to invade.

Director James Hawes was determined to shoot in capital city Prague, using authentic locations, including the actual station platform on which the children said goodbye to their families and departed for England. Hawes says: “We went out of our way to get into the real places, and recruit from the community, especially the Jewish community. A lot of the child cast members were from local Jewish schools, and while most of them had never acted, it was important we were casting the right heritage.”

Production designer Christina Moore and her team had the complex task of shooting in the city’s busy main railway station while the majority of it operated as usual. The team had to rapidly disguise the modern elements of the station in a way which did not appear anachronistic, while the AD team nimbly manoeuvred takes between tannoy announcements and re-setting a vintage steam train.

The production also flmed on one of the bridges adjacent to Prague’s famous Charles Bridge as well as the city’s oldest synagogue. “Prague as a city had a terrible time under the occupation, but it wasn't bombed, so lots of the architecture remains. We were very lucky to be allowed access to some extraordinary locations,” Moore adds. Hungary and the Czech Republic are not isolated examples of the East European production industry success story. Romania and Bulgaria are well-established film destinations, while Poland, Slovakia, the Balkan countries and the Baltic States are also growing in stature as location choices for producers.

Poland’s journey into international production services began with the launch of a tempting 30% rebate in 2019. Operating with a budget of €21m a year, the Polish Film Institute says the country is currently welcoming just under 30 international movies and series each year. Major productions to land in recent times include In The Lost Lands , Cannes favourite The Zone of Interest and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which shot in Poland during 2022. With a multi-million-euro outlay in Poland, the flm used multiple locations including the Centennial Hall in Wrocław and the Grzędy Lagoon in Czarny Bór commune.

Also on the rise, Slovakia film commissioner Zuzana Bieliková says her country has positioned itself as “a flmfriendly destination, with a growing industry, skilled crews and a straightforward permit process facilitated by the commission. In addition, our 33% cash rebate for eligible flm and TV productions is a signifcant incentive, attracting international productions seeking stunning visuals and substantial cost savings.”

Aside from the incentive, Slovakia’s appeal, says Bieliková, lies in its varied landscapes, ranging from medieval castles and historic cities to stunning natural wonders, including the High Tatras mountains. “This diversity ofers flmmakers a palette of unique settings within a relatively compact geographical area,” she says. Bieliková cites a blend of built and geographic locations: “Košice’s diverse architecture, from medieval streets to contemporary structures, provides a wealth of alternatives. But we have also been mapping interesting locations along rivers, lakes and waterfalls, for flmmakers seeking something of the beaten path.”

As a result of its eforts, Slovakia is getting noticed, Bieliková says. “We have hosted several projects, including:  The Strangers trilogy by Lionsgate; Peacock and Sky Atlantic series The Tattooist of Auschwitz; Norwegian flm Havnaa by Maipo Film; River Wild by Universal Pictures; and The Performance, led by producer Daniel Finkelman.”

Croatia is now a thriving hub. Blessed with a spectacular Adriatic coastline and a robust 25% tax incentive, highprofile recent projects include Game of Thrones , The Witcher and Hotel Portofino . Tanja Ladović Blažević, director of Filming in Croatia, says 14 projects worth €44.7m visited in 2022. More recent arrivals include season two of BBC/MGM+ series SAS Rogue Heroes. While the Croatian coastline and the city of Dubrovnik are notable attractions, the capital city of Zagreb has also started to make its mark as a location. Capable of doubling for a spectrum of cities from London to Moscow, the city has hosted major productions, including 2023’s Canary Black. An action thriller starring Kate Beckinsale, the flm spent around 60 days in the capital.

Neighbouring Serbia has also seen a boom in its international production business thanks to a combination of a 25% cash rebate, great locations and investment in infrastructure. Tanja Mitić, location and members liaison, at the Serbia Film Commission, says: “Serbia has long been distinguished by its wealth of production teams and efective tax breaks, enhanced by good infrastructure.”

Mitić says capital city Belgrade’s cinematic appeal is underscored by the complete flming of the Netfix thriller Fair Play within the city. She says: “Production company Work in Progress upgraded its backlots, transforming them into New York for Fair Play.” Previously it created Victorian England for Miss Scarlet and the Duke (2020).

Additionally, Mitić says: “Misdirection, produced by Red Production, chose Serbia as a location. Another series,

Director of photography Menno Mans and writer/ director Chloe Domont on the set of Fair Play, which shot in Belgrade. Photo: Sergej Radovi/Netfix

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The Scar, produced in collaboration with Telekom Srbija, Amazon Prime Video and TV Espana, filmed in Serbia following initial flming in Spain. Director Miguel Ángel Vivas called the Serbian crew exceptional.”

Unlike Croatia, Serbia has no coastline, but Mitić says flmmakers are starting to discover Eastern Serbia, which she calls “a haven for unique natural wonders and one of the Balkans' premier tourist destinations. In recent times, flm crews have turned their gaze towards flm-friendly municipalities like Negotin, Majdanpek and Zaječar.”

Mitić, who is responsible for mapping the region, says a lot of efort has gone into creating a robust database centred on 32 distinct locations. Notable attractions include Đjerdap National Park, Stara Planina mountain, Rtanj, Krupajsko Vrelo, Srebrno Lake, as well as culturally significant sites including Lepenski Vir, Gamzigrad, Trajan’s Bridge and Trajan’s Plaque. Gems, including Rogljevačke and Rajačke Pimnice near Negotin, have gained popularity, having served as flming locations for domestic flms and series.

Serbia's growing allure as a production hub is reinforced by a signifcant expansion in its flming infrastructure — notably the new Firefy Studios near Pancevo (25 mins from Belgrade). Operated under the WMG umbrella, Firefy is the most modern facility in the region, says managing director Ivana Mikovic, encompassing 50,000 sq ft and featuring three studios: “The studios include state-of-the-art soundproof stages, and have excellent additional facilities such as an indoor water tank for specialised flming.” The decision to build a water tank was a high priority for Mikovic, who says that Europe is short on such facilities. The tank is around 1,600 sq ft and 11 ft deep, and opens the door to a wider range of jobs. In due course, she is hoping to build another larger water tank outside. The studios are now open for business, with the frst projects coming from within Serbia. But Mikovic says: “There are already bookings of foreign productions for summer 2024 and after. We are expecting work will mostly come from

US companies, but we have interest from the UK and other European countries.”

The small nation of Montenegro is also punching above its weight as a location, according to flm commissioner Marko Eraković. He says the country’s big selling point is that it is an "open-air studio” with a great climate and mix of natural and heritage locations. There’s also a fexible 25% cash rebate that doesn’t have any caps. COVID-19, streamer cutbacks and the 2023 Hollywood strikes have reduced the volume of big-budget international productions in Europe, but Eraković says documentary and reality shows are still regular visitors, often descending on the exquisite Boka Bay. For producers seeking an untapped opportunity, Eraković says northern Montenegro is worth a visit, with its impressive mountains, deep canyons, clear lakes and rivers. “A recently built highway connects the central and northern part of the country and has opened up the Durmitor mountain range and the spectacular Piva Lake." Signs of recovery include the arrival of the first US production to flm extensively in Montenegro since COVID, Eraković says. “In December 2023, ACE Entertainment, backed by Montenegro’s Cut-Up Production, flmed large parts of its thriller Family Secrets in multiple locations around Boka Bay. These included Mamula Island, a 19th-century fortifcation used to double for Devil’s Island in French Guyana in the Papillon remake (2017).” Eraković says the thriller is about a destination wedding gone wrong, and stars Eric Dane, Maia Mitchell, Tyriq Withers and Thomas Doherty. Neighbouring Albania is also keen to showcase its locations, says home-grown writer, producer and director Genc Përmeti, whose company SKA-NDAL is based in capital Tirana. He says the compact territory has everything from virgin coastline and high alps to “Toscana landscapes, antiquities from the Greek and Roman era, Ottoman architecture, medieval castles, industrial archaeology from the communist era to luxurious neighbourhoods and cities characterised by ‘brave architecture’. To my mind,

Lorna Ishema as Kaya and Numan Acar as Nowak in Paradise Photo: Andrej Vasilenko/ Netfix

this little country could host high-grossing features.”

Production and living costs are among the most competitive in Europe, but Përmeti says the local industry is also hoping for a tax incentive to help attract large-scale productions. In the meantime, the main arrivals have been movies of €2m budget or less. “Some are German productions, and also some genre movies especially from US company Fangoria, such as the remake of the classic Castle Freak which was shot in the medieval city of Gjirokastra. One of the episodes of the German TV action show Alarm fur Cobra was shot in Tirana with car chases and crashes.”

Përmeti says Gjirokastra is one of the country’s most intriguing highlights, but with a new airport opening in Vlora he adds that “the area of Qeparo near the seaside could be quite a gem. Close by is the stunning Ali Pasha Venetian castle.”

The Baltic States — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — are also enticing international productions with robust tax incentives, rapidly-improving infrastructure and exquisite locations. Jurate Pazikaite, director of the Vilnius Film Ofce, says the Lithuanian capital Vilnius is the country’s audiovisual hub “and home for more than 90% of all flmindustry professionals based in Lithuania. Both local and foreign flmmakers working in Vilnius can beneft from the Lithuanian Film Tax Incentive (FTI), which has been recently extended until the end of 2028.”

The incentive, Pazikaite says, provides an opportunity “to save up to 30% of the Lithuanian production budget, subject to eligibility requirements. According to the data of the Lithuanian Film Centre, use of the FTI is increasing each year. From 2014 to 2022, 371 productions have secured a total of €68.6m in production investment.

Describing Vilnius as a city where “history and innovation blend”, Pazikaite says projects to have landed in recent times include Stranger Things (Netfx), Chernobyl (HBO), Catherine the Great (HBO) and Young Wallander (Netfix).

“2023 was also a strong year, with Vilnius welcoming the third season of German costume drama Sisi, which turned Vilnius into 19th-century Vienna. By contrast, Vilnius played a futuristic city in Netfix movie Paradise. In total, 43 TV series and flms shot here in 2023.”

Pazikaite says one of the most exciting developments is that flmmakers “are not just focusing on the cinematic old town or well-known historical buildings but also newly discovered locations. One is a closed sanatorium which opened its doors to flmmakers. The modernist architecture allows shooting for hospitals, boarding schools, ofces or administrative buildings of that period. Another potential flming location is a 100-year-old water storage unit under the hills at Liepkalnis, which has transformed into a newly opened cultural venue.


For producers seeking more of a Mediterranean vibe, Europe’s options are equally varied — with Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Malta all ofering effective tax incentives to incoming projects. Heading west to east, the southern coast of Spain has played host to productions including Netfix drama Fool Me Once (Andalucia) and blockbuster movie Venom: The Last Dance , which spent summer 2023 in the striking port city of Cartagena in Murcia. With the Los Mateos neighbourhood transformed into a Mexican village, the

production is reckoned to have generated around €500,000 for the community. Cartagena City Council is keen for the project to kickstart the city’s status as a flm hub, and is seeking to establish a flm ofce. But it’s not the only part of Mediterranean Spain to have targeted international production. Another key development is the re-opening of Alicante’s iconic flm studio Cuidad de la Luz, just an hour up the coast. Known for projects including 2012 feature The Impossible, the refurbished studio complex is home to six large stages, workshops, ofces, backlots and a water tank. Owned by local government it is expected to have an economic impact of around €850m over fve years.

Spain’s Balearic islands have also emerged as an in-demand flming location. Better known as a tourist destination, Mallorca ofers specialist crews, some studio space and a range of attractive locations including secluded beaches, mountains, varied vegetation, ancient and contemporary architecture. In recent times, it has hosted big-budget projects including Netfix’s The Crown and Paramount+ thriller series  Lioness. The UK version of  Love Island is also based on the island and there has been a strong slate of commercials passing through. The islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca all have flm commissions to support incoming production.

The journey east along the Mediterranean takes producers into France, where there is a 30-40% tax rebate for international productions that meet the relevant criteria. The cinematic Cote d’Azur has been a magnet for decades and has recently hosted productions including The Nun II and The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

There is no shortage of spectacular vistas and dazzling architecture for location managers to discover, but one spot proving popular is coastal city Nice, which hosted nearly 600 days of flming in 2023, up from 328 in 2022. A combination of domestic and international shoots, this included 11 flms and fve TV series. Key developments include the revitalisation of century-old Victorine Studios. Italy has also made international flm and TV production a priority, ofering a 40% tax credit up to a maximum of €20m per year. Iconic cities like Venice and Rome have benefted from this, but so have less well-travelled parts of the country. Disney+ visited Sardinia for The Little Mermaid, while Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two was partly filmed in the bustling southern region of Apulia.

Antonio Parente, CEO of the Apulia Film Commission, says: “There is everything a film industry needs: funding, spectacular locations, highly-skilled workers and a population that makes hospitality its fagship. The commission follows productions at all steps, providing free facilities, scouting services and support with bureaucracy.” Apulia is known for its spectacular coastline, ancient farmlands, sublime white-washed towns, large plains, hilly landscapes, archaeological sites, forests and parks. Capital Bari is a vibrant port and university town, while Lecce is known as the ‘Florence of the south’ for its exquisite baroque architecture. “We also have four UNESCO sites,” Parente says: “Castel del Monte, the Trulli of Alberobello, the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo and the Foresta Umbra nature reserve.”

In addition to being ideal terrain for fantasy and dystopian flms, Parente says that Apulia is great for doubling. “It has been transformed into the Middle East, Africa and all the Mediterranean countries, but also into distant areas. In recent TV series The Swarm, for example, it became



UP TO 50%

Norway and Scotland [Shetland Islands].”

Significantly, Apulia has its own Film Fund which can be accessed in combination with the national incentive. To date, around €30m has been invested, delivering an economic impact of almost €100m. Hundreds of projects have come to Apulia over the last 15 years including major films Wonder Woman (2017), No Time to Die (2021) and Pinocchio (2022); and high-end TV series including The Wheel of Time (2021) and The Swarm (2023). In the last year, “there have been around 50 projects including Un Prophete, an international co-production. In addition, stars including Harvey Keitel passed through for the flming of Paradox Efect, Sibel Kekilli for Yunan and James Franco for Claudio Giovannesi's next flm.”

Depending which way the wind blows, the next major stopof is either the island of Malta or Greece. Malta, an island to the south of Italy, has wowed producers with its fexible 40% tax incentive, available to flm and TV production projects that spend more than €100,000 in Malta and have a minimum budget of €200,000. Major flm and HETV productions to have filmed in Malta over recent years include: Game of Thrones (2011-19), Murder on the Orient Express (2017), 7 Days in Entebbe (2018), Jurassic World Dominion (2022), and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon (2023). And 2022 was a record year for the island, with 24 productions generating €85m in revenues.

It’s not just the incentive that brings in work. Malta also has varied locations, great crews and the Malta Film Studios, with its three water tanks. Content creators also like the fact it is compact — smaller than Rhodes, Mallorca or Madeira. Director Neil Marshall, who shot Compulsion in Malta during 2023, says: “It’s been quite some time since I’ve had such a positive experience in a new country. The key to any great production is the people you collaborate with, and here I’ve met incredible talents — individuals I’m eager to work with again. Moreover, Malta’s flm infrastructure is robust and dependable, managed by professionals who understand the industry.”

Other 2023 projects include Classifed, a 95-minute feature that is expected to generate over €5.3m into the economy.

Starring Tim Roth and Aaron Eckhart, the flm shot for 20 days in Malta and used 109 crew — mostly locals. Executive producer Gabriel Georgiev says: “It is my frst flm project in Malta and will defnitely not be the last. We are already in talks to bring another production to Malta.”

Greece has also established itself as a major draw for producers, says Stavroula Geronimaki, acting director, Hellenic Film Commission: “Between the world-renowned beaches, the exhilarating light, the picturesque villages and the competitive 40% cash rebate, Greece offers a very appealing package that draws a steady stream of international productions. From recent big-budget action flms like The Expendables 4 and TV series Amazon’s Daisy Jones & The Six to acclaimed How to Have Sex, Greece ofers locations that can cover a multiplicity of needs.”

Other projects further illustrate the diversity of the Greek offering, she adds: “Viewers of Netflix's Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [2022] will recall the impressive Villa 20, a resort in Porto Heli in the Peloponnese. In the same flm, also notable are the exterior locations shot on the scenic island of Spetses, which provides an evocative backdrop.”

Last year, the busy commission collaborated with the team behind The Return, Geronimaki says. “The flm, directed by Uberto Pasolini and starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, is a gritty retelling of Odysseus’s return home

from war. Shooting took place in May 2023 on Corfu and the Peloponnese and included flming in archaeological sites. Corfu’s impressive locations add a layer of authenticity.” Greece’s stunning islands are some of the country’s most eye-catching assets when it comes to attracting flmmakers. Corfu, Crete, Evia, Kefalonia, Santorini and Hydra are just a few of the islands to have hosted productions. Hydra, which doesn’t allow cars, recently welcomed Leonard Cohen biopic series So Long, Marianne.

“Of course, Greece isn’t just about the islands,” Geronimaki says. “Recently Central Macedonia was the location for upcoming Dirty Angels  and the Apple TV series Tehran returned to Athens for its third season. The Bricklayer, starring Aaron Eckhart as an ex-CIA agent lured out of retirement, was shot at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Thessaloniki.”

Geronimaki says productions often choose a combination of a historical village with a city like Athens. “That was the case with Amazon Studios thriller Killer Heat which completed shooting in May 2023 in Athens and on the island of Crete.”

As Greece builds its reputation as a go-to destination for international productions, Geronimaki says more location gems are being discovered: “Chiliadou Beach on the island of Evia won the EUFCN Location Award 2022 and was highlighted in Triangle of Sadness. As for a new discovery, I would single out Chlemoutsi Castle in West Peloponnese, built in 1220 and featuring a view towards the Ionian Sea and to the valley of Ilia. It is an archaeological site that was a flming location for The Return.”

The country is also starting to fex its muscles as a potential double: “Athens can easily double as Middle East cities as in the TV series Tehran (Apple TV) and the French TV series Kabul, shooting in the region of Attica.”

Geronimaki says 2024 will prove another strong year: “We are excited to welcome Malice, starring David Duchovny, Jack Whitehall and Carice van Houten, filming in the Cycladic Islands. The second season of Netflix’s The Girl from Oslo has chosens Greece as has Amazon MGM Studios’ House of David, with Attica and the Peloponnese as backdrops.”


Europe’s Atlantic coast, which stretches as far as north Africa in terms of territorial possessions, is also an increasingly sought-after location for flm and TV producers. The Spanish-owned Canary Islands chain has one of Europe’s most aggressive tax rebate schemes, worth between 45%-50% to productions. In 2022, Jack Ryan and Foundation both shot here — helping generate about €224m in revenues. One major development in the Canaries is that Tenerife, one of seven major islands, is planning the construction of one of the largest studios in Europe. With 19 studios, aquatic stages, virtual spaces and post-production facilities, the goal is to consolidate the island’s appeal as a production hub. Then there is Portugal, rapidly moving up the ranks of in-demand locations. Portugal Film Commission project officer Filipa Magalhães says Portugal offers “every imaginable scenario: beaches, monuments, old and modern buildings, churches, parks, historical villages, walled cities and amazing landscapes. Furthermore, it’s possible to drive north to south in less than fve hours.”


Other key factors that attract productions to Portugal, Magalhães says, “are the long hours of sunlight and clear skies, allowing year-round production. We also have skilled talent and crews that are used to working in international productions.” In the south of the country, MovieBox is planning to start construction on its new studio complex in Loulé in 2024. Already in operation is Nu Boyana’s VFX studio in the northern city of Braga.

In 2019, Magalhães adds, the government created one of the most competitive incentive systems in Europe: a cash rebate (30%), which applies to cinema, TV and VOD. “Since its launch, Portugal has received major international productions including Heart of Stone, Fast X, House of the Dragon and The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, and many Bollywood productions.” Other visitors have included NBC's Vampire Academy (2021), which flmed in the capital Lisbon, and recently Disney+’s Star Wars: The Acolyte, which shot on Madeira.

When it comes to eye-catching locations, Magalhães mentions Madeira and the Azores, “two archipelagos with unique and memorable settings. We are also really proud that Parque do Rio hotel (40 km from Porto airport) was one of the fnalists for the EUFCN Location Award [2024], the annual prize for European locations. Bad Living, by João Canijo, was entirely shot there recently. The hotel was built in the 1960s, with a modernist architecture that stands out.”

Heading north is the popular filming destination the Republic Of Ireland (ROI). In addition to its beautiful



locations, the ROI has several world-class flm studios and a number of post-production houses. There’s also a 32% tax break which has lured scores of international flms, TV series, documentaries and animation productions. Screen Ireland also invests in domestically-produced content. In 2024, it will back a total of 40 productions. CEO Désirée Finnegan says: “Screen Ireland has long championed a dual approach, increasing investment in domestic production while also attracting large-scale international projects.”

Screen Ireland figures show that, in 2023, there was a total screen industry production spend in the Irish economy of €322m. While the 2023 Hollywood strikes disrupted international production, the Irish government continues to support Screen Ireland’s ambition to secure foreign projects. It increased the eligible expenditure cap on the tax incentive to €125m. In theory, it will also create opportunities in the growing area of VFX and post-production.

Screen Ireland is also introducing a new Creative Clusters Programme targeting emerging screen talent and communities across the country, with a pilot scheme proposed for County Cork.

One production which underscores the wisdom of this approach is critically-acclaimed movie The Banshees of Inisherin, which shot on the mesmerising island of Inis Mor.

Of the coast of County Galway, Inis Mór posed complex

logistical challenges for crew, equipment, vehicles and sets — all overcome by the hospitality and co-operation of local residents. The location was selected as a fnalist for the EUFCN Location Award 2023.

Even further north, Iceland has defied all the odds to become one of Europe’s premier flming locations. Blessed by spectacular locations and an industry-leading 35% tax break, the country regularly hosts blockbuster flms, highend TV series, commercials and music videos.

Film commission Film In Iceland cites “a fantastic variety of scenery; endless black-sand beaches, imposing glaciers, snow-capped mountains, rugged lava fields, powerful waterfalls, lakes and lagoons packed with icebergs”. These vistas, combined with active geysers and steaming sulphur mountains, mean Iceland is “capable of representing Earth’s geological birth, a medieval past or a dystopian future. Iceland’s versatility has stood in for the Himalayas, the Pacifc Island of Iwo Jima, Siberia, Westeros (Game of Thrones) and planets in a galaxy far, far away.”

The most popular time to shoot is its summer — June to September — because there is 20 hours of light. But spring and autumn also have their fans, with flmmakers enjoying the option of evocative low-angle twilight. Even the dark winters can work for some productions, because the climate is still relatively mild.

Bui Baldvinsson, founder of Reykjavik-based production services company Hero Productions, says that the range of work coming to Iceland means the country has developed an experienced and knowledgeable crew base that is capable of handling any scale of production. Proof of this claim is the recent arrival of projects including HBO’s True Detective: Night Country, which accessed the 35% incentive. Other productions to land include The Witcher: Blood Origin, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and The Darkness , the first TV series from feted film director Lasse Hallström.

Coming up in 2024 is a lavish eight-part historical drama from CBS Studios called King and Conqueror. The story of King Harold’s epic confrontation with William, Duke of Normandy, will flm in Iceland and has Baltasar Kormákur’s RVK Studios on board as its locally-based partner. For the six-month production the company plans to construct a mediaeval village on a gravel plain at Hjallaflatir in Heiðmörk. Speaking to Icelandic public broadcaster RUV, Kormákur said: “This is one of the most extensive projects undertaken here and is particularly complex because it’s mostly set in medieval Britain.”

Baldvinsson say commercials are also regular visitors to Iceland because of the quality of the crews, and the versatility of the locations. Automotive brands, in particular, like the fact that Iceland ofers stunning open roads away from prying eyes. Hero recently provided production services for a Tesla Cybertruck commercial. Another experienced Icelandic producer is Steinarr Logi Nesheim, who runs Polarama with colleague Kidda Rokk Thorisdottir. Recent projects which show the company’s versatility include co-produced TV series Descendants, released in 2023, and Land Rover’s remarkable Spillway Challenge. The company has also set out its stall as the main production service provider in Greenland, with subsidiary Polarama Greenland led by the flm producers Pipaluk K. Jørgensen and Emile Hertling Péronard.

In terms of supporting the Icelandic industry, Nesheim has spent the last two to three years building an online locationbased platform called Massif Network. “These locations


feature an unparalleled level of detail and information crucial for scouting, including stunning photo and drone footage, climate conditions, accessibility insights, potential risks, permit information, and much more.”

More than just a digital location library, Nesheim says Massif is designed to be a production support tool for creative professionals. “We’ve launched the kind of platform I wish I had had years ago. I’ve dealt with so many pain points like fnding the best locations, understanding the local laws and permits, tax incentives, what crews, facilities, hotels, transportation, equipment rentals, what’s the cost of production and how to choose the reliable production studio or a fxer. Massif is designed to fx all that.”

Ultimately the plan is to take Massif global, Nesheim says: “We are expanding our database to include more locations worldwide and developing automating the quoting and budgeting processes, along with project collaboration tools, set to be launched in 2024.” So, the goal is to use Icelandic innovation to support any international production.


Having skirted around the edges of Europe, it would be remiss not to reference western Europe’s excellent production hubs. France, Italy, Spain, the DACH countries, Belgium and the Netherlands all manage to balance strong domestic production volumes with a willingness to host international productions.

Netherlands Film Commissioner Bas van der Ree has been a familiar face on the production circuit for at least the last decade — heading the country’s ‘Take The Netherlands’ campaign. He says the Netherlands “has both an excellent infrastructure and work ethic. Dutch flm crews are best known for their no-nonsense approach and dedication to work — eight o’clock on wheels is eight o’clock on wheels.”

Being a small trade-oriented country, van der Ree says “the Dutch have always had an open and co-operative attitude towards international co-operation where speaking English is the standard.” In terms of his pitch to productions, van der Ree says: “We don’t sell what we can’t deliver, and our 35% cash rebate has a turnaround on payment of eight-10 weeks.” The rebate is managed by the Netherlands Film Fund, which is overseen by Jonathan Mees. Mees says that “the Fund recently raised the maximum cap to €3m per project for flm and for high-end series”. Projects to have accessed the Fund include All3Media Internationalbacked detective drama Van Der Valk (2020-23).

Away from incentives, van der Ree says the compact northern European country has “a variety of inspiring locations” from the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam to characterful towns like Delft, Leiden and Haarlem. “One of the most staggering locations is the IJsselmeer, a freshwater 12 feet deep non-tidal lake. Dunkirk (2017)shot aerial and water-based scenes here for 19 days, with producer Jake Myers calling it the largest outdoor water studio in Europe. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema eulogised the light at IJsselmeer as ‘the best light you can wish for’.”

Kelly Phellan as Audrey Spitz’ stunt double on the set of Murder Mystery 2 Photo: Scott Yamano/ Netfix. ©2023

In terms of current flming activity, van der Ree says: “The series Safe Harbor with Mark Williams is in production, as is a series about our Queen Maxima. Peter Greenaway’s Lucca Mortis, with Dustin Hofman and Helen Hunt; Australian feature Jimpa; and Midwinter Break will also be shot and/ or post produced in the Netherlands in 2024.”

One of the most remarkable things about western Europe is that it ofers everything from archaeological wonders to medieval castles to unspoilt villages. It also boasts some of the biggest studios in the continent. Aside from Cuidad de la Luz in Alicante, there is Cinecitta Studios in Rome and Babelsberg Film Studio in Potsdam, near Berlin.

The latter, which opened in 1912, has hosted Inglourious Basterds (2009), Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (2023). Most recently it welcomed Tom Tykwer’s new feature Das Licht (The Light) — and there are hopes that proposed changes in Germany’s film-incentive programme may spark a further boost in activity.

Arguably more of a draw than all of the above is the region’s endlessly-evolving cityscapes. Kim Schmid, project manager at the Vienna Film Commission, says productions that visit the Austrian capital can combine a federal incentive of 30% (+ 5% green bonus) with Vienna’s own 30% Film Incentive. What they also get is “a stunning location, perfect for period as well as current stories”.

Schmid says recent visitors include Exterritorial (Netfix), Beasts Like Us (Amazon Prime) and HBO series The Regime, starring Kate Winslet, Mathias Schoenaerts, Andrea Riseborough and Hugh Grant. “ The Regime ,” Schmid says, “flmed in the fanciest palaces Vienna has to ofer: Schönbrunn Palace, Garden Palais Liechtenstein, City Palais Liechtenstein, Palais Palaviccini and so on.”

Belgium capital Brussels also has much more to ofer than its well-known status as EU capital, says Screen Brussels communications manager Julien Schreiber: “Brussels has dozens of unique locations from Art Deco to modern urban, from green forests to medieval areas. Indeed, the main USP for Brussels is that it’s rich and diverse. Alongside the EU buildings, Brussels is full of surprising locations.”

In recent years, Brussels has hosted the shoots of several major international projects including Night in Paradise, The Pod Generation, Soil, Alter Ego, Suspect, Serial Hunter, Before We Die and Theodosia. Schreiber singles out “The Pod Generation, which flmed in a unique location called Ultra Asylum. Also, in the centre of the city, we have Fly

Lounge, allowing productions to shoot inside a plane. We also have a strong track record of working to secure temporary locations, for example empty public buildings.” France is an increasingly attractive proposition for international producers. Pauline Augrain, director of digital at Film France – CNC, says the country “ofers a unique blend of creativity, infrastructure and locations, as well as a fscal incentive.” She adds: “Our Tax Rebate for International Productions (TRIP) ofers a rebate of up to 30% of eligible production spend to a cap of €30m. The rebate rises 10% when VFX expenses surpass €2m spent on local soil. Also, a national investment plan of €350m aims to boost development of flm studios, virtual and physical productions, VFX and animation and education of crews.” French crews already contribute every year to the production of 300 French features, 5,000 hours of French TV and more than 1,230 shooting days for non-French projects. But Augrain is confdent the new investment, called La Grande Fabrique de l'image, will take this side of the business to the next level: “The programme has the ambition to make France a leader in flming, in postproduction — special efects in particular — as well as to double the number of qualifed crew.”

Among recent projects in France, Augrain cites Emily in Paris (2020-), with three seasons shot across the Paris Region, Loire Valley and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur: “Season four is currently flming in the streets of Paris,” she says. In addition, “the fourth opus in the John Wick franchise, which shot in 2021, took Keanu Reeves to some of the French capital’s most emblematic locations: the Louvre, the Eifel Tower, Montmartre and the subway. Two Apple TV series also shot here — The New Look, shot across Paris, Paris Region, Nouvelle Aquitaine and the Studios de Paris, and Franklin shot in Paris and Versailles.”

France enjoys a breathtaking range of locations, with more than 22,000 shooting locations, heritage sites and studios all over the country. Such is its diversity that Augrain says it is difcult to single out any for special mention. However she notes that Paris enjoyed a record level of productions in 2022, with over 170 flms and series. “And many other areas across France are emerging as production hubs, such as the South of France that hosted The Nun II, which shot at Provence Studios, Martigues and various locations in Provence; the Netfix limited series All the Light We Cannot See in Saint-Malo, Brittany and Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Occitanie; and movie Widow Clicquot by Thomas Napper,

©visit.brussels -Jean-Michel Byl

that shot in the Reims region.” Lola Legros, international promotion manager at the Paris Region Film Commission, echoes Augrain when she says: “The reason Paris Region is a great place to flm is because we are the one-stop shop for international productions.”

The iconic architecture of Paris speaks for itself, but Legros also points to other unique locations including landscapes, brutalist architecture and castles. “We also have cuttingedge studios for physical or virtual production and highly qualifed crews. In addition, many companies ofer services that are increasingly respectful of the environment. Choosing Paris Region is opting for a sustainable production.” Already noted is that France has its attractive TRIP incentive. But Legros says it is also possible to access a combination of national-level funding from the CNC and local-level funding from the Paris Region, worth €18m a year. “However, it is important to note you have to choose between the funds, national and regional, and the tax rebate. Both are not possible,” Legros says.

In terms of projects coming to the Paris Region, Legros says: “We have specialised in welcoming big series productions and flms that shoot over a period of several months. Aside from projects like The New Look, Franklin and Emily in Paris, she says. “Last year we also welcomed Murder Mystery 2 (Netflix) with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler which flmed a stunt at the top of the Eifel Tower, the frst ever flmed at such a height, 300 metres above the ground.”

Paris is hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, but Legros says plans are in place to ensure the Olympics has minimal impact on incoming production. She stresses that France and the Paris Region are fully committed to boosting content creation. “France is keen to develop the sector, investing hundreds of millions into studios and training. Production is booming," she says. If there’s a fnal point to make about Europe, it’s the fact that — surprisingly — it is home to so many wild spaces, not just in Iceland and the more remote island archipelagos. From the Swiss Alps to the Romanian forests, Spain’s Tabernas desert to Southern Italy’s volcanos, the continent has a location for every conceivable scenario.


In these budget-conscious times, producers are looking to save every pound, euro, franc or forint, so that they can get more value on screen. One way for producers to do this is to ensure they don’t set of without an ATA Carnet, says Moira Wilson, director of marketing & brand development at Boomerang Carnets. Often overlooked as a tax incentive, Wilson says ATA Carnets can save producers an average of 2.3% of their total budget and 16% of the value of the temporarily imported equipment. In her view, flm commissions would be welladvised to promote their country's status as an ATA Carnet country in addition to any other incentives.

Explaining how Boomerang Carnets fts into the equation, Wilson says: “Through our partner, the Liverpool Chamber, we issue ATA Carnets to the entire UK production industry who have international shoots requiring gear be moved across borders temporarily. The ATA Carnet allows crossborder movement of gear, goods, equipment, merchandise etc. — without payment of import-duty and tax. Because

the duty and tax are based on value of the equipment, the savings are signifcant.”

Wilson adds: “Another reason why the document is so popular is because it also saves time clearing customs. Producers don’t like their crew being stuck in customs because deadlines are crucial, and time is money.” If crews are required to pay on entry, she says, “customs typically want cash in the currency of the country being entered. And that is a major hassle”.

ATA Carnets are valid for up to 12 months, Wilson says, and can be used multiple times into multiple countries during this period. “In the case of the EU, member countries are one-customs territories so, with one entrance, a carnet holder can move about without clearing customs again until exit from the EU. The UK is a one-customs territory as well. So, a production entering from the US with an ATA Carnet, for example, can move around the UK, clearing customs once on entry and once on exit.”

Wilson says the process of getting an ATA Carnet is straightforward, and something that Boomerang is dealing with constantly. “We provide carnets to productions leaving for the continent almost every day and we are contacted 24/7, weekends, holidays and after hours. We are very familiar with the last-minute nature of the industry.”

Emily Collins in Emily in Paris, returning to the French capital for a fourth season
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Valletta is the tiny capital of the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. The walled city was established on a peninsula in the 1500s by the Knights of Saint John, a Roman Catholic order. Malta ofers a diverse range of stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches and historic architecture. The island’s rich history dates back thousands of years, providing numerous ancient ruins and medieval castles. Malta ofers another draw for flmmakers — one of the largest movie water tanks in the world.

Among the many large-scale projects that have flmed in Malta are: Gladiator (2000) and Gladiator 2 (2024); Troy (2004); Captain Phillips (2013); Napoleon (2023); and TV series Game of Thrones, (2011-2019).



Alberta Provincial Highway No. 11, ofcially named the David Thompson Highway, is a highway in central Alberta, Canada. The Cline River, alongside the highway, is a short river which fows from Pinto Lake and joins the North Saskatchewan River at Lake Abraham. This area has a multitude of mountain ranges and a glorious river that runs into one of the most beautiful lakes that looks and feels like the Banf National Park, while being outside of it. The location provides fexibility, working within public lands while being essentially tourist-free.

Films shot in the area include The Revenant (2015) and Togo (2019), and many commercials including for auto brands GMC and Mercedes.



Situated 100 km northwest of Tabuk, Bajdah is considered one of the most dramatic landscapes in northwest Saudi Arabia, ofering a terrain featuring towering rock formations and vast desertscapes with sweeping multi-coloured sand dunes. Nearby is 500 km of unspoiled Red Sea coastline. Alongside the versatile shooting locations, Bajdah ofers convenient accessibility and worldclass facilities.

Recent projects that have shot here include feature flms Within Sand (2022), Hajjan (2023) and Dunki (2023); and TV series Million Dollar Island (2022) and Rise of The Witches (2024).



The Most Gdanski bridge spans the river Vistula which runs through Warsaw. This unique structure is over 400 metres long, with two individual tram tracks, from which you can see a parallel train bridge. The bridge also has a car lane above that can be used for a stunt set-up. The city is willing to close the bridge for flming and the Warsaw tram system owns trams of all periods, which are able to run on these tracks.

Despite being used for a couple of feature flms — Warsaw Dark (2008) and Kick (2014) — it is still a relatively undiscovered location, along with the city of Warsaw.  PHOTO, COURTESY MARKUS BENCH, LMGI



Fes is a northeastern Moroccan city often referred to as the country’s cultural capital. It’s primarily known for its Fes El Bali walled medina, with medieval Marinid architecture, vibrant souks and old-world atmosphere. Founded in the eigth century, it presents a surreal juxtaposition of old-world architecture and contemporary technology with satellite dishes visible. Also, the photogenic narrow streets provide an intense and claustrophobic feeling.

The city has hosted several notable flms, including Black Hawk Down (2001), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Man Who Knew Infnity (2015) and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023).



Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park encompasses stunning mountain scenery and a diverse array of wildlife. Rising more than 7,000 ft above the valley of Jackson Hole, the Teton Range dominates the park's skyline. This picture of the John Moulton barn was taken in the Mormon Row Historic District and captures this iconic structure with the Teton range in the background.

Films that used locations in the area include: Rocky IV (1985), Dances with Wolves (1990), A River Runs Through It (1992), Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Django Unchained (2012).



Located in the heart of the city centre, West Nile Street sits centrally in Glasgow’s grid system, intersecting with Bath Street and West George Street. Known for its Victorian architecture and steep, wide streets, Glasgow is a diverse flming location, often doubling as London, San Francisco, New York and beyond.

West Nile Street and surrounding areas have been used extensively in flms, including: Hobbs & Shaw (2019), The Batman (2022), Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), Dead Shot (2023), The Flash (2023) and Tetris (2023). TV productions flmed here include Outlander (2014-), The Buccaneers (2023), Vigil Season 2 (2023) and Nightsleeper (2024).





This photograph shows the stunning contrast between traditional and modern architecture, something which is typical in Bilbao. The Isozaki Atea twin towers (aka Isozaki Gate), created by Pritzker Architecture Award-winner Arata Isozaki, are the tallest residential buildings in the city, and are juxtaposed with the fn-de-siècle style of the Bar Association headquarters. The variety of landscapes found within Bilbao Biscay has turned the region into a popular location for flms, TV series and commercials.

Numerous productions have taken advantage of these landscapes, including The World Is Not Enough (1999)



The village of Shëngjergj (Albanian for Saint George) is located only 37 km from the capital Tirana and is the perfect contrast to the city. The wonderful landscape of mountainous terrain, alpine pastures, water springs and lakes provides an extraordinary backdrop. The entire territory is traversed by 11 natural streams which merge into the River Erzen, fowing down from Skorana Canyon through the felds of Tirana to the Adriatic Sea. Albania ofers a wonderful mix of natural scenery with modern and preserved Ottoman architecture in both rural and urban settings.

Films shot here include The Albanian (2010) and The Delegation (2018)  PHOTO, COURTESY FABIO SEFERI


Located at Farm Cove on the eastern fringes of the Sydney central business district, the Royal Botanic Garden is a 30-hectare oasis and home to an outstanding collection of rare and exotic plants and Government House, a 19th-century mansion that is as stately as any European castle. Close by in Sydney are all the locations a modern city can ofer, as well as the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Productions that recently shot in and around Sydney include: feature flms Anyone But You (2023), The Fall Guy (2024), Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024); and TV projects Colin From Accounts (2022), Heartbreak High (2022-), NCIS: Sydney (2023) and Ten Pound Poms (2023).



Vogue Theatre is one of the last remaining theatres from Vancouver’s famed Theatre Row. Located on Granville Street, the Vogue is a graceful reminder of old Vancouver, originally built as a movie house and venue for the performing arts. Granville Street is known as the entertainment district with lots of nightclubs and old theatres that are now music venues. At night the location is enhanced by an array of neon lighting.

Many TV shows have shot here, including: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (2016-2022), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018-2020) and Superman & Lois (2021-2024).




The UK’s success in servicing US-backed movies and series has driven the country’s flm and TV industry to extraordinary heights in recent times. And despite the well documented challenges the industry faced in 2023, the UK still generated levels of activity to which most global production hubs can only aspire.

Andy Fry reports

DATA FROM the British Film Institute shows that flm and highend television production spend came in at £4.23bn (€4.94bn) in 2023, 32% down on 2022 but almost level with 2019’s pre-COVID fgure. A high-end TV fgure of £2.9bn (down 33% year on year) was still the third highest annual spend since UK tax relief was introduced in 2013.

The talk of 2023, as far as streaming was concerned, was most definitely season six of The Crown — culturally and creatively — with the British press weighing in with accusations of inaccuracy and worse, while others hailed the high cinematic production values and some striking performances in all six seasons.

It was Netfix’s biggest winner at the Emmys, beating its own Stranger Things and in 2020, Netfix announced that some 73 million households worldwide had watched the series since its 2016 debut. It is estimated to have cost $230m (€215m) in total.

A very British production — with US fnancial backing — the series shows UK talent at its best. The Queen is played by three British A-list actors with global reputations — Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton — all multiple award-winners; and the best of the country’s writers, designers, directors and crew worked behind the scenes, for example art director Martin Childs, whose credits include 1998's Shakespeare in Love

A work of drama written by screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan, the series had no access to royal buildings, and so had to stitch together a number of locations to achieve the remarkable impression that they were inside Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.

In an early episode, the Kennedy’s pay a visit and Queen Elizabeth II takes them on a tour of the Palace — starting with The Throne Room, which is in reality one of the rooms inside London’s Lancaster House, very close to the Palace, once owned by the Duke of Sutherland and now used for foreign-ofce functions by the UK Government.

As the scene progresses, The Queen takes Jackie Kennedy into her private drawing room — which is actually a room inside Wilton House in Salisbury, Wiltshire, around 150

kilometres southwest of London. In 1554 it was granted by Henry VIII to Sir William Herbert, and has stayed in that aristocratic family ever since. It is currently the home of The Earl and Countess of Pembroke.

Childs did a tour of Buckingham Palace before he started working on The Crown, but there are parts of the building that nobody is ever allowed to see — the private apartments, for example. “There are plans of them and I adapted them to suit the drama without ever telling the truth about them,” he says, adding that almost all the private apartments scenes are from his imagination, based on architectural knowledge. The private apartments were built sets that would be cut between shots of real period buildings, so the dressing of those sets had to be more than authentic.

“In the end Buckingham Palace was 16 locations,” Childs says, “including the ones we built. I made a plan of Buckingham Palace and each of those locations was on that plan. So, I know my way around Buckingham Palace through 16 diferent houses. I would give that plan to a director and every single one of them was obedient.”

Of the scores of projects shot in the UK, in 2023, highprofle movies include Barbie, Wonka, The Little Mermaid, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Napoleon. Some 187 highend TV productions started principal photography in 2023, with inward investment accounting for 72% of total spend (£2.07bn). There was also a robust showing from UK productions with titles including Rebus, Trigger Point, Waterloo Road, McDonald & Dodds and After the Flood Encouragingly for the UK, after a well-documented shaky year for the entire industry, the streamers are now stabilising after the 2023 strikes.

British Film Commission CEO Adrian Wootton says the UK industry kept the wheels turning during the strikes by pivoting towards domestic production and independent films financed outside the Hollywood system. “The domestic broadcasters and the streamers were still very active with series that are rooted in the UK but have an international sensibility. Fool Me Once (Netflix), The Burning Girls (Paramount+) and The Rig (Prime Video) are like domestic-plus series.”

The state-of-the-art studios, world-class crews, diverse locations and a robust 25% tax credit remain a draw to productions — the latter recently extended, with signifcant improvements for the animation industry.

“Studio capacity is on course to reach nine million sq ft [840,000 sq m] in 2025, double the fgure in 2019,” Wootton says. “That’s a combination of expansion at existing sites and the launch of new state-of-the-art complexes such as Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham and Shinfeld Studios in Reading.”

Another key factor that sustains the UK’s growth is the wide range of production hubs capable of hosting major projects. Alongside London and the southeast, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol are all frmly established as centres of excellence. Also coming up fast are the northeast of England and Midlands powerhouse Birmingham, home to Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight’s new multi-million-pound studio. When up and running, the new Digbeth Loc. Studio (DLS) is expected to contribute more than £30m to the local economy and create 760 jobs.

Filming a scene in Buckingham Palace's Chinese Ballroom, as seen in series two of The Crown. In the series, Wilton House in Salisbury was one of the buildings used for interior shots set at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Alex Bailey/ Netfix
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Meanwhile Northern Ireland lost Amazon Studios’ Blade Runner 2099 to the US strikes but hosted one of the outstanding TV series of 2023: The Woman in the Wall Commissioned by the BBC and starring Ruth Wilson, the beautifully-designed series examined the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals — the barbaric treatment of young women at The Magdalene Laundries. Filming took place around Portaferry, a colourful coastal town used to double for the Republic of Ireland, where the story is set.

Some 12 independent flms shot in Northern Ireland across 2023, including Four Letters of Love, Old Guy and The Wise Guy. That year also saw the release of The Last Rifeman, starring Pierce Brosnan, which shot in 2022.

Northern Ireland also has a track record of hosting major film productions — with recent credits including eOne movie  Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Netfix action comedy, Lift, starring Kevin Hart. Industry body Northern Ireland Screen’s CEO, Richard Williams, says: “2024 is shaping up well with Universal’s live-action How to Train Your Dragon getting ready to shoot and Lift streaming globally, as well as an exciting slate of new projects.”

The story in Scotland is similarly positive. In its most recent research, released in August 2023, flm commission Screen Scotland said £617.4m was spent on the production of flm, TV and other audiovisual content in the country in 2021, compared with £398.6m in 2019. Within this total, inward investment in flm and high-end television increased by 110%, from £165.3m in 2019 to £347.4m in 2021.

Screen Scotland head of screen commission Cheryl Conway says: “Scotland’s breathtaking locations have long drawn flmmakers. But more and more, it’s not just our landscapes that attract the global industry. Scotland has doubled for New York (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, The Buccaneers), Gotham (The Batman, The Flash), Moscow ( Tetris , Mr Jones ), Philadelphia ( World War Z ), Japan (Tetris, 47 Ronin), Norway (No Time to Die), London (The Buccaneers, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, and many others), the US Carolinas and Massachusetts (Outlander), as well as unidentifed Europe, San Francisco, Paris, Versailles, Sweden, Canada, and more.”

Glasgow City Council reports that 156 productions contributed £58m to the local economy in 2022, up from £42m in 2021, and the report raises the prospect of Glasgow launching its own production fund. It also canvasses the opinions of location managers — for example David O’Reilly, who worked on The Batman and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. He says: “I have always been a fan of the architecture, and more importantly, the people of Glasgow and over the years have ofered it up as location for World War Z, Fast & Furious 6, The Batman and Indiana Jones.” He singles out the Glasgow Film Ofce for praise, saying the team has “always been accommodating and their help on The Batman (2022) was invaluable. It is among the best location support ofces in the UK.”

Scotland’s studio ofering has increased in recent years, “with a core constellation of studios and buildspaces, spanning primarily between Glasgow and Edinburgh”, Conway says.

This point was noted by Safery Champness and Nordicity, the authors of the report referenced above. They say a lot of recent growth can be explained by “development work undertaken since Screen Scotland’s formation in 2018, including the opening of new or expanded studio facilities, particularly FirstStage Studios in Edinburgh, where Amazon Prime’s The Rig and Anansi Boys were flmed, and

Richard Armitage as Joe and Michelle Keegan as Maya in Fool Me Once Photo: Vishal Sharma/Netfix ©2023

the expansion of The Pyramids in West Lothian, home to Amazon Studios’ Good Omens 2.” As the pipeline of work has grown, Conway says, “so has our crew base. Those who once had to leave for work, now stay. This, combined with our training, such as the Outlander Training Programme, has given Scotland a world-class crew base with experience on high-profle high-end TV productions, as well as Bond flms, the Fast & Furious franchise, and repeat visits from the DC and Marvel movie universe.”

A recent big-budget production that encapsulates Scotland’s growing appeal as a one-stop shop flming hub is Apple TV+’s period drama The Buccaneers, flmed in 2022 and launched in winter 2023 — set in New York, London and Cornwall, but all shot in Scotland.

Already in the schedule for 2024 is Blood of My Blood, a prequel to the popular period drama Outlander — which shot in Scotland across several seasons. Once again, the city of Glasgow features prominently as a backdrop to the series. The creation of a 360-degree ofering has also cemented Wales as a key production base for both domestic and international productions. Like Northern Ireland and Scotland, the country can now offer a compelling combination of diverse locations, great crews and superb studios — all underpinned by the UK’s robust tax incentive. South Wales, the engine room of the Welsh film and TV industry, is home to Seren Studios, Dragon Studios and Wolf Studios — a powerful combination that enables the region to host several major productions at once. The latter is home to Sony Pictures Television-owned production company Bad Wolf, which has brought a rich array of high-end TV


productions to Wales in recent years.

A recent example is its adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian novel, The Winter King, for ITVX in the UK and MGM+ in the US. This production used locations including the Morlais Quarry, near Merthyr Tydfil, and the Gower Peninsula, close to Swansea. The show has been designed with a fve-season story arc, so if it performs well, it could provide consistent work for Wales, and the West of England, for years.

Wales offers producers a combination of spectacular coastline, sublime mountains, picturesque towns and major urban centres like Cardif — which has hosted feature flm Eternal Return, BBC sci-f series Doctor Who and Amazon Prime’s Alex Rider series.

The North of Wales is also emerging as a popular flming hub. Season two of HBO’s House of the Dragon, for example, spent fve months in the region, employing 250 people. As part of the production, Creative Wales and CrewHQ investment provided an extensive trainee programme that included both upskilling and entry-level opportunities for 30 people, while outreach schemes included set visits, masterclasses, and the creation of school resources.

Executive producer Kevin de la Noy says: “I had no hesitation in taking House of the Dragon there, as we knew the support from government and the local populous would help us achieve remarkable footage, and we were blessed with the most glorious weather too.”

Creative Wales has also supported the launch of Aria Studios, ofcially opened on Anglesey in January 2023. The Welsh Government says Aria “will boost Wales’ overall portfolio of studio facilities, making Wales a more attractive proposition to international productions.”

Another new development has been the increased collaboration between the north of England’s four primary production hubs: Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East. In 2023, for example, Liverpool Film Ofce (LFO), Screen Manchester, Screen Yorkshire and North East Screen came together to form a BFI Skills Cluster — designed to build a skilled workforce across the whole of the north of England.

Backed by £2.3m from the BFI [British Film Institute], the four agencies are working with local stakeholders to develop clearer pathways to employment, while the four fercelyindependent northern hubs continue to build their own identities in parallel. The LFO, for example, reports that 2023 was the city’s “busiest year to date with a whopping

301 film and TV productions (1,933 film days)”. Taylor

Swift’s pop promo for I Can See You; Sexy Beast; Cobra 3; The Responder 2; Time 2; and The Gathering helped boost the local economy by £43.6m.

Liverpool recently introduced the Liverpool City Region Production Fund, which can offer up to £500,000 to projects. So far, the fund has invested £1.8m in seven TV dramas including The Responder and two series of Jimmy McGovern’s Time. The LFO estimates that the fund has already generated £12m of spending in the city and led to 402 jobs.

Also signifcant has been the launch of The Depot, a flm and TV shooting space that comprises two purpose-built, 20,000 sq ft units (1,860 sq m). Projects based there have included Paramount+’s scripted series Sexy Beast, which shot around Liverpool for 144 days.

Work has also started on transforming the former Littlewoods building into a world-class flm and TV campus, including two new 20,000 sq ft studios capable of hosting big-budget productions. Liam Robinson, leader of Liverpool City Council, calls it “a watershed moment” for Liverpool’s TV and flm industry.

Neighbouring production hub Manchester has proved itself popular in recent years as a double for locations like New York. One of the city’s key strengths is its studio capacity with the Sharp Project ofering 40,000 sq ft of shooting space and Space Studios adding a further 80,000 sq ft. The latter played host to Boiling Point (2021), a BBC TV series spun-of from the successful 2021 movie.

One of Greater Manchester’s less well-known assets is that it actually sits at the centre of several quite distinctive conurbations — offering a mix of historic, industrial, contemporary urban and residential architecture. This is shown to great efect in Netfix’s new thriller Fool Me Once, produced by Quay Street Productions. The four-part thriller features Maya Stern, who is trying to come to terms with the brutal murder of her husband. However, when she installs a nanny-cam to keep an eye on her young daughter, she is shocked to see her very much alive husband in the house.

Alongside TV drama, the resurgent North East has attracted major feature flms including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny; Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves; and 1917. North East Screen’s eforts to further raise the region’s profile saw it launch a multi-million pound Production Fund (NEPF) in 2023.”

Piloted in early 2023, the NEPF ofers grants from £50,000

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to £500,000. So far it has supported three productions including feature flm Jackdaw and TV drama The Red King, from Quay Street Productions for UKTV. The movie was shot on location in Hartlepool and the Tees Valley, and also utilised The Northern Film and TV Studios, the northeast's largest flm and TV production facility.

The northeast will hope to emulate Yorkshire, which has established itself as one of the UK’s top production hubs over the last two decades. Blessed with a rich array of built and natural locations, the county has transformed its prospects since the launch of Screen Yorkshire in 2002 and the Yorkshire Content Fund (YCF) a year later. Able to invest up to £500,000 per project, the YCF has generated £225m of production spend across more than 60 productions. Credits include TV dramas  Peaky Blinders and All Creatures Great and Small, to flms including The Duke and Ofcial Secrets. In the process, the YCF has given investors the confdence to build infrastructure. Situated in proximity to Yorkshire’s aweinspiring outdoor flming locations, for example, is Versa Leeds Studios, a 130,000 sq ft production facility, that has hosted projects including Bodies, Boat Story and Marvel’s Secret Invasion.

Bradford’s historic Little Germany district was transformed into a WW2 set for new Netflix thriller Six Triple Eight, starring Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey and Susan Sarandon. Originally the warehouses of German-Jewish merchants who moved to Bradford in the 19th century, the area previously doubled for 1990s Moscow in The Crown and 1930s Glasgow in All Creatures Great and Small. Elsewhere within the region, Leeds-based Prime Studios has hosted  Bank of Dave and  The Duke, while Church Fenton and Peregrine Studios have the capacity for large set-builds, utilised by period dramas including Gentleman Jack (201922) and Victoria (2016-19).

The West Country city of Bristol has also emerged as a key filming hub. Two hours from London, the city and surrounding area offer superb architectural locations, amazing scenery and an expanding studio operation. With its proximity to South Wales, it’s also common to see productions straddle the two centres of excellence — for example The Winter King and Land of Legend (2022).

In the face of 2023’s challenges, flm and TV production contributed £20.1m to the city for the year 2022/23: 838 flming days took place on location or at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios. Projects flmed in the city included the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary special episodes, Rain Dogs, The Lazarus Project, War of the Worlds, Sex Education and The Sixth Commandment, which also flmed in nearby Bath. Among titles flmed at The Bottle Yard and on location were Jilly Cooper novel adaptation Rivals (Disney+), starring David Tennant.

Proof of Bristol’s growing appeal is a recent expansion at The Bottle Yard. Having opened with eight stages in 2010, 2022 saw the launch of The Bottle Yard 2 (TBY2), a £13.5m studio facility with three additional stages. Recent projects to have been based at The Bottle Yard and on location across Bristol include Paramount+ thriller The Killing Kind. Police station interior scenes were shot at the studios, and Bristol Film Ofce assisted the production with locations that double for London, including College Green, St Andrews Park, Queen Square, Denmark Street and Clifton College.

The second series of Sky Original sci-f thriller The Lazarus Project, starring Paapa Essiedu, also used locations in Easton, the Old City, central Bristol, Fishponds, St Paul’s, Bedminster and Clifton to double for London and Eastern

Europe. A London bus featured on location and at the production unit base at Gardiner Haskins car park.

Series two producer Benjamin Greenacre says Bristol always delivers “incredible visual production value. The Lazarus Project is primarily set in London but Bristol has the scale and variation to be the most likely place to fnd suitable options. The Crescent on Canon’s Way also doubled for Eastern Europe.”

Darren Green, head of production at the show’s production frm Urban Myth Films adds: “Having worked on six shows for Urban Myth, I fnd that a lot of the areas around Bristol give us the large-scale buildings London has, without having to shoot in London.”

Historically, very few productions have ventured further


west than Bristol because of perceived logistical challenges. But the recent boom in UK-based production has started to unlock the beautiful counties of Devon and Cornwall. In 2023, a National Lottery-funded report commissioned by Screen Cornwall and the BFI declared that the screen industry in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly shows increasing potential to become a “screen cluster of national signifcance”.

Entitled ‘Catalysing the Cornish Screen Sector,’ the report pointed to the region’s success in hosting productions including Mark Jenkin’s Bait and Enys Men, ITV drama Doc Martin, Sky comedy Delicious and HBO’s House of the Dragon (2022). Latest fgures from Screen Cornwall show that flm and TV production was worth more than £5m to the Cornish economy in 2022.

Viewed holistically, the existence of so many well-equipped production hubs means there are few parts of the UK nations and regions that are out of reach. Recent productions that underline this accessibility and versatility include The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Napoleon, a Sony/Apple TV+-financed film, depicts the French emperor’s expansion across Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia. But the majority of the flm was shot in the East Midlands, southeast of England and London. The production teams worked with Creative England division, Filming in England, to fnd the perfect locations.

Joely Ellis, Creative UK production liaison manager for the East and South East, says Napoleon “serves as a great example of the outstanding international doubles on ofer across the regions”.

Supervising location manager, Steve Mortimore, says: “On initially reading the script, I assumed that the bulk of it would be flmed in France, together with some studio set builds, so as someone who loves a challenge my interest was heightened when I was informed by the producers that the majority of flming was planned for UK locations with no set builds whatsoever. We were a travelling circus of mammoth scale, transporting hundreds of horses, period costumes, weaponry and props around,” Mortimore says. “It is incredible what you can recreate across the UK.”



THE CHALLENGES posed by 2023 have not diminished London’s appeal to the global flm-making community, according to Adrian Wootton, who serves as both CEO of Film London and the British Film Council. “The city is as much a magnet for production as ever,” he says. “For flmmakers, it continues to be one of the world’s most iconic locations — fnding its way into an incredible range of high-end series and feature flms”

Projects that encapsulate the appeal the city include blockbuster flms Napoleon and Wonka, Adrian Wootton says, both of which flmed extensively across the city. Napoleon used 10 London locations including the Old Royal Naval College, which doubled for 18th/19th-century France. Wonka locations included St Pauls Cathedral, Eltham Palace in Greenwich and the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley. London’s agencies are never afraid to let action flms loose on the city’s most iconic sites. The latest project in this oeuvre is Martin Campbell’s Cleaner, which sees extremists seize Western Europe’s tallest building, The Shard. Another upcoming project that is sure to showcase London’s versatility is Steve McQueen’s Blitz, starring Saoirse Ronan. Details are sketchy at this stage, but Blitz will be an anthology of stories combined into a dramatic flm set in London during the WW2 bombings.

Meahwhile other productions showcase a diferent side to the city. ITV series Trigger Point, for example, flmed in inner-city areas including South Kilburn, Bethnal Green Road, Deptford, Hackney and Canary Wharf. Meanwhile Andrew Haigh's acclaimed flm All of Us Strangers, starring Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott, showcases South Croydon, Vauxhall and the London Underground. Released on Netfix during January, The Kitchen, directed by Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya, is a flm set in the dystopian world of London in 2040. Sequences were flmed at locations including the Barbican Centre and the London Electricity Board Building on Cambridge Heath Road. AppleTV+ series Slow Horses, meanwhile, has shot in 100 London locations including Blackfriars Road, Caledonian Estate in Islington, Moorgate, Soho, Waterloo Road, Walthamstow and Regent's Canal. And the fnal season of The Crown used Canary

Wharf to double as 1990s' Chicago. The city also ofers a world-class array of VFX companies and studios — most of which are located just outside London. Pinewood Group, which operates both Pinewood and Shepperton Studios, has long-term deals with Netfix and Marvel and is just in the process of expanding its available space. Pinewood Group senior communications and social media manager Rosie Moutrie, speaks of “a major expansion at Shepperton Studios. The project means that Shepperton comprises a total of 31 purpose-built stages and associated production space, making it the second biggest studio in the world. Pinewood and Shepperton have a total of 60 stages between them, as well as our underwater tank at Pinewood, the largest of its kind in Europe, and used by all kinds of productions.”

Moutrie says Pinewood is not fazed by the emergence of new studios across the UK. “British flm studios are more in demand than Hollywood. It is great to see studios popping up across the UK to cater for projects of all sizes and current production levels. And she says the UK needs to “continue to provide training and skills initiatives to maintain a pipeline of talent coming through. We also need to keep our existing crews at the cutting edge of technologies and working practices. As a contribution to this, Pinewood Group hosts Pinewood Futures Festival, a free annual careers event. We also support fve scholarships local to Shepperton Studios and run short courses.”

Just outside of London, Warner Bros.owned studio Leavesden has hosted Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning (Part I and Part 2) and Mickey 17, while Sky Studios Elstree has been home to a big-budget adaptation of iconic musical Wicked. Down the road, the long-established Elstree Studios has been acting as HQ for The Crown. Eastbrook Studios (Dagenham) and Shadowbox-owned Shinfeld Studios (Reading) have added considerable new capacity to the South East of England. After two years of construction, Shinfeld will have all 18 of its soundstages fully operational in early 2024. Already, it has welcomed flm and high-end-TV productions from Sony, Disney, and other US streamers. London’s position as one of the world’s leading production hubs has also had a positive impact on the counties just outside the capital — several of which now have their own dedicated flm ofces. A pioneer is the Kent Film Ofce, which opened for business in 2006.

To the north of London, Oxfordshire (and the city of Oxford) have recently hosted productions including Napoleon, Wonka

and Star Wars: Andor, while Screen Sufolk has done a remarkable job bringing work to the East Anglian county. Formed in 2016, it now attracts 1,000 days of flming a year — where previously there were almost none. Film ofcer Jim Horsfeld says: ‘We looked at spend for productions that have visited the county, ranging from a Hollywood blockbuster to a daytime-TV show, and estimated the economic impact for Sufolk is £13,500 per day. Sufolk has benefted by £14.5m since we started.”

Large-scale productions to land since Screen Sufolk formed include The Personal History of David Copperfeld (2019), The Dig (2021), Magpie Murders (2022-) and The Power (2023), an Amazon Studios adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel. This production featured a set that was built in a feld on the coast in Bawdsey, as part of a shoot that lasted six months, with 300 crew working at the height of the project.”

Amazon Studios also used Sufolk for its recent release Boudica: Queen of War, the story of the Celtic warrior who ruled the Iceni tribe with her husband. Screen Sufolk helped secure a unit base in Woodbridge to support woodland flming nearby and one of the key battle scenes used St Lawrence Church on Dial Lane in Ipswich.

Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka, on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures’ Wonka Anya Taylor-Joy in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ action adventure Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures


In spite of a wobbly couple of years felt by the production industry all over the world, Australia is looking ahead to a new period of growth, as international flmmakers are coming back for more — more of the country’s local talent and world-class facilities and, of course, its extraordinarily wide range of locations. Clive Bull reports

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AUSTRALIA recently announced an increase in its competitive incentives for flm and television producers. And if there were doubts about the resilience of the sector as it emerged from a challenging period that included a pandemic and US strike action in 2023, the statistics suggest a diferent story.

Inward investment for flms and drama series reached a record-breaking total of A$1.22bn (€740m) in the 12 months to June 2023, a fgure that is up 35% year-on-year. And with much new activity in the pipeline, there is a good deal of optimism that this unprecedented interest will continue.

In addition, the federal government has announced that the Australian Location Offset is to be increased from 16.5% to 30% — a move met with widespred enthusiasm.

"It is something that the industry has absolutely welcomed and will really streamline the process,” says Ausflm’s Kate Marks, “and critically it provides ongoing certainty to those looking to invest in Australia because it is an ongoing legislated incentive which will be at that 30% mark.”

Marks believes 2024 will be another positive year despite the slowdown caused by industrial action and an apparent process of adjustment among streaming companies.

“There’s a lot of positivity around working in Australia that we're feeling good about,” she says. “Yes, streaming television is somewhat resetting. But we still feel that there's great opportunity for Australia, even with any action globally, just because of the size of our market and our territory — and there's a genuine desire to work here.”

And what drives that continuing desire to choose Australia?

Marks points to a combination of factors. “I think the history and the reputation we have has a lot to do with why people like coming down here,” she says. “It is that winning combination of factors and I always think that, frst and

foremost, it's our people. Our talent is considered some of the best in the world, both on- and of-screen. Filmmakers who come and work here are so quick to talk about just what an incredible experience it was working with their crew, and how they either can't wait to come back, or they have come back.”

US director Ron Howard is a good example. He fnished shooting his survival thriller Eden this year, with Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment — Howard’s second consecutive feature filmed in Queensland, following on from Thirteen Lives (2022). “I have always been impressed with the professionalism and creative spirit of the Australian flm community,” Howard said of his return to the country.

“My experience with our Queensland crew on  Thirteen Lives only confrmed that and more. I’m thrilled with the opportunity to bring Eden to Queensland and continue the collaboration.”

Scr een Queensland CEO Jacqui Feeney added: “Mr Howard’s appreciation for our highly experienced crews and creatives, stunning locations, frst-class facilities and generous production incentives is cemented by his return with this latest production. Our state’s screen sector is

The striking orange desert landscape of Western Australia. Photo: Screenwest

achieving record-breaking levels of production expenditure, as demonstrated by the recent Screen Australia Drama Report, and Screen Queensland is proud to support a robust roster of home-grown flms and series as well as high-profle international projects.”

The production was based at Village Roadshow Studios and was secured by the Queensland Government via Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy and supported by the Federal Government’s Location Incentive.

Based on the Gold Coast, Village Road Studios was the frst purpose-built production facility in Australia and has a longstanding reputation over 35 years that has attracted major projects, including Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (2022), Aquaman (2018) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Recent productions have included Nautilus, an upcoming British 10-episode adventure television series created by James Dormer. It is a re-imagining of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, presenting an origin story for Captain Nemo. And New Line brought Mortal Kombat 2 to stages 1,5,7 and 9. The studios are unique in having three water tanks, alongside its nine sound stages, the spectacular Gold Coast locations near to the studios, world-class crew and great incentives from Screen Queensland and City of Gold Coast. Legendary Pictures has been back three times to flm three Kong features, the most recent being Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024).

“There are varied locations close to the studios, so it enables productions to fnd jungle, rainforest, beaches — unusual landscapes in close proximity without having to travel long distances to fnd what they need,” Lynne Benzie, president, Village Road Studios told Location International.

As well as Gold Coast facilities and Screen Queensland Studios, Brisbane, the state is now welcoming the opening of Screen Queensland Studios, Cairns, a $12.6m development in Far North Queensland — a region renowned for its tropical rainforests, white sandy beaches and remote island oases. This new film and television complex will house sound stages and support facilities and has been developed in response to high demand from both domestic and international productions.

And it’s that wide range of natural landscapes — the unadulterated coastline or the rugged outback — that forms a major part of Australia’s appeal to flmmakers, combined with accessibility from major hubs. This has made the country a popular choice as a double for numerous parts of the world, but more recently there has been a sense that Australia’s culture and landscapes deserve time in the spotlight in their own right, a trend Kate Marks says is now coming through to the screen.

“Traditionally it is a lot about doubling other places or very much about creating new worlds that really don't exist,” she says. “But in recent years, we have had two productions in particular come and shoot here that have been set in Sydney and showcasing Sydney to the world.”

Sony Picture’s romcom Anyone But You (2023) has resonated globally, but also domestically, in Australia. Starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, it flmed in iconic locations all around Sydney.

“From a tourism perspective, of course, that has the additional benefts of really showcasing our vibrant cities and lifestyle and people to the world,” Marks says. Out for 2024 is The Fall Guy, Universal’s remake of the television

Director David Leitch and Ryan Gosling — as Colt Seavers — on location for The Fall Guy Photo: ©Universal Studios

series starring Ryan Gosling — a big action film that is set in Sydney. “So, we have both the international productions working alongside the domestic and really showcasing what Australia has to offer,” she adds.

Also mostly shot on the Gold Coast is Peacock’s mystery drama Apples Never Fall. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Australian author Liane Moriarty and stars Annette Bening, Sam Neill and Alison Brie.

And New South Wales hosted the latest project in the Mad Max series, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024). Directed once again by George Miller, shooting took place in Sydney, Broken Hill, Kurnell and Silvertown, and Disney Studios, Moore Park, Sydney. The postapocalyptic adventure is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth.

In Western Australia the mood is similarly upbeat. “2023 was a record year for Western Australia production and 2024 is expected to be even bigger,” Chris Veerhuis, Screenwest head of production, says. “The first half of 2024 saw streaming and Australian domestic TV productions heading into production as well as feature films at different ends of the budget scale, and the second half of 2024 is shaping up to be equally as busy.”

Western Australia has its own share of spectacular backdrops including some unique locations that are yet to be shared with a global audience. “We have over 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of unspoilt white beaches, old-timey country towns, bright orange deserts, through to dense forests, colourful lakes and a working inner-city

harbour,” Veerhuis says. “The urban city streets of our capital city Perth can match for the US — think San Diego or the LA hills”. In recent times the rugged outback of the Kimberley area provided the perfect remote spot for streamer Stan and Lionsgate’s TV series Population: 11 (2024), starring Ben Feldman. And the quaint country town of York featured as the regional setting for season two of Binge/ Foxtel's crime drama The Twelve starring Sam Neill.

Western Australia has also been home to numerous feature films both domestic and international. Upcoming movie The Surfer, starring Nicolas Cage, was filmed in the south-west of the state. The Lorcan Finnegan-directed thriller follows the story of a man returning to his beachside Australian hometown and facing humiliation in front of his son by a group of local surfers who claim ownership of the secluded beach of his childhood. Veerhuis has also noted the trend towards productions capitalising on Australia’s own stories and culture. “Audiences want to experience authenticity, good storytelling and projects that reflect Australia’s diverse cultural landscape are driving viewership worldwide,” he says. “So, it is only natural that the use of non-traditional filming locations follows. Projects that come to Western Australia benefit from our diverse locations and talented industry professionals — they also use available rebates to offset production costs.”

Meanwhile construction is under way on a brand-new studio complex in the state, which will include four purpose-built sound stages, as well as production offices, art department, wardrobe, workshops and a backlot.

Experience Queensland, Australia’s winning combination of competitive incentives, renowned crews, stunning locations and frst-class facilities.

Situated in tropical Far North Queensland, amid the idyllic landscapes that draw productions from near and far, this brand-new facility ofers a premier 11,517 sq ft (1,070 sq metre) sound stage alongside production ofces, cutting-edge editing suites, sound recording studio and more.

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Take a closer look at the array of breathtaking landscapes and the vibrant cityscapes across the giant continent of Asia and you begin to understand why it is increasingly attracting the international flm world. Clive Bull takes a tour

THE RICH culture and visual splendour of this vast region offers everything from neon-lit urban backdrops to ancient temples. Add to that a growing range of attractive tax incentives across numerous nations and it’s easy to understand why the region is in demand for both global as well as domestic productions.

When it comes to those neon-lit city streets there’s no better place to start than Tokyo. When the makers of US crime drama Tokyo Vice (HBO Max) started planning production they were determined to capture the real thing and shoot in the city itself.

“The series was always planned as a deep dive into Tokyo and explores the city, its cultures and the diferent worlds of the show from an angle that has not really been seen much on Western TV before,” executive producer Alex Boden says. “We are, I believe, the frst US TV series to flm entirely

in Tokyo. There is nothing like flming on location, if you want to deliver a completely authentic-feeling world. It was a big deal to achieve this in Japan, rather than flming in Canada, Taiwan or New Zealand, where other productions set in Japan have ended up over the years.”

The series, now in its second season, is set in 1990s Tokyo and delves into the worlds of the Tokyo police, the press, the nightlife and the criminal gangs. Ansel Elgort stars as the aspiring US journalist, alongside Ken Watanabe, Ayumi Tanida and Yosuke Kubozuka. Achieving the 1990s period look was a specifc challenge in Tokyo. “There are only a few areas of the city that have architecture from the 1990s or older. Everything else has been modernised, with earthquake-proofing a priority in Japan for some time now,” Boden says. “Cars are generally scrapped and replaced after only a few years, and you just don’t have multiple props warehouses with large volumes of dressing like you do in the UK or US. Take a closer look at the Meicho newsroom set and you will see hundreds of individual desks all perfectly dressed with 1990s props, word processors, books, postcards and stationery. The details have to be

Jason Statham as Jonas in Meg 2: The Trench Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

spot-on for our Japanese audience, as well as the rest of the world.”

Tokyo is a famously busy city so not surprisingly, flming in public, on the streets, in parks and on public transport can present difculties. Boden says people still talk about the major challenges encountered for Black Rain (1989) and Lost in Translation (2003). But things are changing as the sector expands with flm commissions and ministers focused on the needs of the industry. Productions are now queueing up to shoot in Japan and demand is increasing for crew and infrastructure, especially since the arrival of US streamers, who have set up ofces in Japan and are busy making local productions.

The Film Commissions (Tokyo and Japan) were closely involved at all times when the show was shooting outside on location, and the production was able to beneft from the Location Incentive research programme — run by VIPO (a non-profit supporting the Japanese content industry) and JFC (Japan Film Commission) — which ran as a fact-fnding programme for the establishment of a full location incentive for productions flming in Japan.

The Tokyo Film Commission currently ofers grants for location scouting and flming for movies and television dramas that are released overseas. As well as providing incentives, Yoshimi Nagase, senior assistant manager, Film Commission, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the commission has a number of roles including “providing local information for filmmakers, liaising

between flmmakers and location owners or managers, and serving as an intermediary and being on-set to help solve any problems”. The commission will also help publicise flms as part of its mission to promote Tokyo. Nagase says the commission will also support productions as part of its mission to encourage tourism, industrial development and regional vitalisation. “Doing whatever we can to support you in making an impactful flm that conveys Tokyo as a fascinating place to viewers at home and abroad, is our mission,” he says.

In the expanded 10-episode season two, new locations have been added that required “very special permission” according to Boden. While carefully avoiding spoilers, he cites a number of spots found by the hard-working locations team: “Filming in actual working hostess and host bars and on the streets in Kabukicho was incredible — it does not get more authentic, I can promise you!”.

“The newsroom set, which is on location, remains a real highlight with the trains and monorails passing outside the windows. Featuring the Sakura Season (Cherry Blossom), the sento (bathhouse) as well as filming in Akabane, along with some of the older Japanese locations with traditional wood-frame design and tatami mats, all really deliver,” he adds. As the number of industry professionals expands in Japan, Boden says the production was able to employ mostly local crew, who had both experience and enthusiasm.

He says there are some departments where crew have not

Ken Watanabe (left) and Ansel Elgort on the streets of Tokyo in Tokyo Vice Photo:James Lisle/Max

yet worked on international productions, “but they are very keen to learn and for the Japanese industry to grow, to catch up with the industries in other countries like South Korea and the US”.

Japan of course has an incredibly strong tradition of great cinema. “The mural of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai at the entrance to Toho Studios is a reminder of one of the greats, and more recently flms including Drive My Car (2021), Monster (2023), Perfect Days (2023) and Godzilla Minus One (2023) are all examples of the depth of experience in Japan today,” Boden says. “We all absolutely love working with our incredible cast and crew in Japan, who really delivered, and I very much look forward to returning to Japan for future productions.”

Another hit drama where the location is one of the stars is The White Lotus. There had been speculation from fans that creator Mike White might have taken the Emmywinning show to Tokyo, but after seasons in Hawaii and Italy, Thailand was selected for season three. The series takes a darkly satirical look at the antics of wealthy tourists staying in high-end resorts. It has long been the case that flm and television productions can act as a magnet for international tourism, but The White Lotus with its luxury-hotel settings has taken that concept further. No wonder then that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has enthusiastically linked up with HBO.

“We are honoured to have amazing Thailand featured as the location for the upcoming season of The White Lotus,” Thapanee Kiatphaibool, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says. “The kingdom’s exotic natural beauty, rich historical sites and diverse landscapes are the perfect settings to share our fascinating culture, fantastic cuisine, top-notch wellness and luxury oferings, and most importantly our people and Thai hospitality.”

Production is under way with shooting reportedly in Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui, and, after delays connected with the SAG-AFTRA and writers’ strikes in the US, the new season is likely to hit screens in 2025.

Meg 2: The Trench, directed by Ben Wheatley, is the sequel to the 2018 blockbuster The Meg. It stars Jason Statham and global action icon Wu Jing as they lead a daring research team on an exploratory dive into the depths of the ocean, encountering a giant 23-metre megalodon shark.

Paradise Beach on Phuket, with its picturesque sands and jungle backdrop, provided the flm’s Fun Island setting.

The design team constructed key elements, including a pier and restaurant to create the luxurious resort destination.

The production also created its own studio backlot in a parking lot, which functioned as a base for costumes and props — and also a shooting location for intricate action sequences with water, added later using VFX.

The sequences flmed on the water required around 40 boats and upwards of 200 crew members. Scenes involving actors in complex underwater work were shot on Stage D at Leavesden Studios in the UK, which has a water tank six metres deep and 20 metres wide.

When it comes to output, it is the Indian flm industry that is the largest in the world. More than 1,500 feature flms in more than 20 languages are released every year. And while the domestic sector is long established, there is much interest in India as a location for visiting international productions. “The cultural diversity of the country and the strength of its English-speaking population make it easier for foreign flm crews to work with the local talent,” says Prithul Kumar, joint secretary (films), ministry of

information and broadcasting and managing director, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). “Due to the fact that a large number of flms are made locally, there is also an abundance of local talent in all trades of filmmaking, who are well trained and abreast with the latest technology,” he says.

India’s strength in the software world is well known and Kumar says this has also rubbed of on the flm industry. “There has been a spurt in the number of post-production and animation services that are undertaken in the country on behalf of major foreign studios,” he says. “The Government at the federal and state levels has recognised the flm industry as a major driver of the economy and culture and is proactively making and implementing policies for enabling ease of flming in India.”

Those policies form part of a strategy to attract flmmakers through facilitation, incentivisation and promotional activities. The Film Facilitation Ofce (FFO) has been set up by the Government of India to provide a single-window permission mechanism for productions. The FFO facilitates flming permissions from the Federal Government and its agencies including for flming at monuments, railways and airports. The FFO also facilitates the issuing of a special category of flm visa for visiting cast and crew.


The Government also launched an incentive scheme for foreign flms produced in India. The scheme, which has been revised recently, ofers a cashback incentive of up to 40% of the qualifying production expense, subject to a cap of Rupees 300m (€3.4m). This includes a fat cashback of 30% of the expenditure plus a bonus of 5% for employing 15% or more Indian cast and crew, and an additional bonus of 5% for signifcant Indian content in live shoots.

And beyond all that, there is of course the incredible appeal of India’s vast and varied landscape, be it the icy peaks and snow-covered slopes of the high Himalayas or the deserts in the west and the countless pristine beaches.

“The cities of India are at the same time both modern and bustling with old-world charm. India’s unique cultural identity also provides a rich bouquet of dance, music and gastronomy that is both varied and individually enriching. All in all, there is a location in India for almost every situation and imagination,” Kumar says.

For Malaysia, 2024 is shaping up to be a particularly busy year with several domestic and international productions under way. This includes Lim Lungyin’s action-adventure movie Malice, a co-production between Taiwan, Czech Republic and Indonesia, starring Taiwanese actors Jieh-Wen King and Hsueh Shih-Ling and Indonesian actor Angga Yunanda. A period series for China and an Australian shark-story movie are also in the works, along with a big-budget historical epic feature and several domestic premium series, as well as reality shows from China and Germany.


Asia in general, and Malaysia specifcally, has seen very strong growth in both domestic production volume and budgets, according to Rashid Karim, CEO of Iskandar Malaysia Studios (IMS). “This has been in part driven by increased global demand for Asian content, as well as aggressive government incentives to attract large-scale international productions,” he says. As a result IMS has invested heavily this year, introducing new oferings and services. This includes a full-scale Virtual Production LED Volume which is housed in one of the 12,000 sq ft sound stages, as well as water-effects equipment, including wave machines and dump tank towers, for water-flming environments.

Improvements to the Film In Malaysia Incentive has added to the appeal, having increased to a maximum of 35% cash rebate which applies to most in-country production expenditures, including non-domestic casts and crew spend.

“The breadth and depth of the Malaysian crew base has increased in recent years, with most productions managing to engage a large percentage of local crew,” Karim says.

“The Malaysian government has also invested heavily over the years in training a new and young crew base as well, with Iskandar Malaysia Studios organising several training programmes and masterclasses in recent years, with several more programmes planned.”

A near neighbour in southeast Asia, the Phillipines has a well-established reputation as a film location that goes back through the decades. Consisting of more than 7,000 islands, the country offers lush forests and secluded beaches as well as bustling urban backdrops. It has often doubled for Vietnam, notably for Apocalypse Now (1979) and Platoon (1986). Today the international sector is thriving, with a number of organisations ready to assist. The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) is the national agency set up to maximise the country’s strength as a location for international movie and television productions. And Quezon City has its

own local-government agency supporting the growth and development of the local flm industry and visiting filmmakers. Quezon City Film Council (QCFC) is establishing a one-stop permit ofce to streamline access to filming permits by implementing a standardised permit process. And this year QCFC has launched the QC Screen Academy, its fagship programme that provides training and education for aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals to develop local talent, discover creative storytellers, and up-skill the local workforce to be globally competitive. The Film Location Incentive Program is a selective cash rebate provided by FDCP, through the FilmPhilippines Ofce. A 20% cash rebate capped at Php25m (€423,000) is granted to qualifying Filipino production companies, acting as line producer or animation/post-production studio, that are servicing an international productions in the Philippines. Taiwan is also reporting a busy year, with most of the activity centred on the capital, Taipei. The Tapei Film Commission says there were 612 diferent productions in the city last year, including 46 feature films. The Commission’s Taipei Film Fund, a selective incentive designed to encourage international co-productions, ofers up to 30% cash rebate on a minimum spend of $1m (€0.94m), and Taiwan’s International Co-funding Program 2.0 (TICP2.0) supports up to 49% of either the production budget or global marketing budget. Recent foreign productions to utilise the fund include My Heavenly City (2023), Be With Me (2023) and Snow In Midsummer (2023). Tapei is surrounded by mountains and rivers and boasts steaming hot springs, a unique natural spectacle in Thermal Valley, a beautiful riverside park and a 19th-century street by the Danshui River. Within the city, Taipei ofers landmarks including the towering 508-metre Taipei 101 building sand vibrant night markets. As well as the funding scheme, the Taipei Film Commission provides location scouting, shooting support, location rentals, trafc control and street closures.

The White Lotus goes to Thailand for season three. Photo: Fabio Lovino/HBO

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THE HOLDOVERS reunites 2004's Sideways’ Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti in a holiday story of a group of lonely people holed up at a New England boarding school over winter break in 1970. Giamatti stars as Paul Hunham, an adjunct professor of ancient history, universally disliked at the school, who gets stuck holding over at Barton Academy with the students who can’t go home for the holidays. It’s his punishment for failing a high-profile student whose father recently endowed the school’s gymnasium. It ends up being just one boy under Hunham’s care: Angus Tully, played by Dominic Sessa in his film debut. Angus is a smart but damaged junior who is struggling to navigate some difficult family dynamics. Also holding over is Mary Lamb, played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the head cook of the school whose only child Curtis, a recent graduate of Barton, was killed in Vietnam. Mary is still grieving, and chooses to stay at

Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham and Dominic Sessa as Angus Tully in The Holdovers Photo: Focus features/Seacia Pavao. ©2023

Barton because it was the last place she was with her son. Left on their own in the empty school, they have some difficult times together, but eventually bond into some kind of temporary family unit.

Some 10 years ago, The Holdovers director Alexander Payne came across a little-known French film, Merlusse (1935), by the respected filmmaker Marcel Pagnol. “I saw that film just once and it never left me,” Payne says.

Not long after seeing Pagnol’s film, a script landed on Payne’s desk that inspired him to make his own film telling a similar story. “David Hemingson had written a pilot script that took place in an all-boys prep school, and it was wonderful,” Payne says. “I called him up and said, ‘I don't want to make your pilot, but would you consider writing a feature script based on a different idea?’.”

Payne has won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for both Sideways and The Descendants(2011), but he was impressed with Hemingson’s work and engaged him to write The Holdovers. “David did a wonderful job,” Payne says. “He has a marvelous sense of both structure and dialogue.”

And the admiration goes both ways: “I was incredibly flattered because he's a personal hero of mine,” Hemingson says.

The film brought the opportunity for Payne and Sideways star Giamatti to work together once again. “That was perhaps the happiest collaboration I have ever had with an actor and I have had a lot of good ones,” Payne says. “I think Paul Giamatti is the greatest actor. I respect him so much and I think he has come to respect me as a director and likes my sensibility. Every take Paul does is completely truthful and completely new. There is nothing he can’t do.”

To demonstrate this, Payne once challenged Giamatti to read from the Omaha phone book for a live audience at a benefit event in Nebraska. Of course, once the actor started, he brought the house down. “I said, ‘You can even make bad dialogue work!’ He's a lovely, brilliant guy, the most well-read human I know, and a delight to work with.”

And as if Payne needed one, there was an extra reason for casting Giamatti: “I went to a prep school like the one in the movie,” Giamatti says. “My father was a professor. My mother was a teacher.

My grandparents were all teachers. Everybody in my family is a teacher or an academic. It's a background I understand and have a rapport with. I also read some of the texts he talks about in the script. I thought a lot about my past and the people I knew in my past. A lot of my preparation was drawing on that.”

From the first frame of The Holdovers, audiences are transported back to 1970, its style reflecting those movies made before the digital age. But notably, Payne says the film is not just not just set in 1970, its produced as though it was actually made in 1970. “As much as I could, I was tricking myself into being a director then, even with the machinery with which we make films.”

“I was so excited to work with Alexander because I'd grown up watching his films,” production designer Ryan Warren Smith says. “The way he and I approach things is the same. We want to be in other places and treat it like a documentary. We want to absorb the world that we're going to be filming in and then allow that to inform the scenes and the sets. I've failed if audiences are taken out of the story by the design or by the set.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb and director Alexander Payne on the set of The Holdovers
Photo: Focus Features/ Seacia Pavao. ©2023

That's my worst fear.”

For cinematographer Eigil Bryld, it was important to ensure that the period of the movie never became window dressing. It was important that the spirit and feel of the movie reinforced the period feel that Payne was going for. “Nowadays we have so much control that we risk suffocating the movie with perfection,” Bryld says. “A movie must have room to breathe, and its images should grow out of the characters, the locations, and the process rather than being just applied to the picture.”

Payne is well known for preferring to film in real places and has been honoured by the Locations Managers Guild International for his use of locations in his movies. True to form, The Holdovers was shot entirely on location in Massachusetts, with not a single shot on stage. Payne and Smith spent several months searching for “time capsules” that could be taken back to the period. “It turns out that change has come slowly to a lot of New England,” Payne says. “There were many locations where we had to do relatively little to alter them.”

Some of the locations used worked themselves into the script because they



looked and felt right. On one scouting session, for example, they came across a bowling alley. “It was not a scripted location, but we saw this place and knew we had to put it in because it's so beautiful,” Smith says. “So we changed a whole scene because we had to show this place. Alexander is always open to allowing life and discovery to make the film better.”

Smith says Payne found it equally important to spend time with the owners and inhabitants of the locations. “He

cares so much about who is in these places and who owns them. He gets to know everybody and becomes friends with them.”

And sometimes these people make it into his movies.

“When they go bowling late in the movie, the dudes [Tom and Jerry] who are working behind the front desk in the bowling alley are the real guys who own that bowling alley,” Payne says. “We just slapped period shirts and ties on them and they did their normal thing. They knew how to carry themselves. And in the liquor store, the single employee wanted to be in the movie, and I said ‘Sure!’.”

For the high school, Barton Academy, the pair knew that they wanted the location to have an old-school feel, somewhere that hadn’t been overly modernised and updated. In the end, they settled on a number of different buildings for the school scenes in New England, including Deerfield Academy in Groton, St Marks in Southborough and Fairhaven High School.

“I did a ton of research into the schools, looking at old photographs, and I created a look-book to have a visual reference of what things looked like at the time,” Smith says. Given Payne’s vision of not wanting it to look like a period film, but rather a film that was made in the 1970s, lots of light blues, yellows and pastel colors were used. “Alexander really pushed me to use a lot more colour than I usually would, though we washed them out so they would feel like the 1970s,” Smith says. “We started realising that because all these old schools are very brown with so much wood, we needed a little bit more colour to offset it. We were able to do that with wallpapers, cars and other elements.”

Given the time of year the story takes place, it was always going to be important to have snow. “We wanted to show both the beauty of New England in the winter and how oppressive it can feel when it's cold and stormy out, and you're cooped up in these buildings,” producer Mark Johnson says. “It's meant to be a snowy film,” Payne adds. “We had an excellent special effects department to apply fake snow when we didn't have enough. But sometimes the gods answered our prayers so much that we had too much snow and lost a couple of days of shooting.”

Reflecting on the final look of the film, Payne says: “I hope we achieved a convincing sense of period. I hope audiences will feel an unforced, lived-in, sense of period and place.”

Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully and Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham in The Holdovers Photo: Focus Features. ©2023


From Lawrence of Arabia to The Martian, the landscapes of the Middle East have played key roles in some epic flms. Clive Bull looks at some of the locations in the region that have been flmed in recent years

THE SCI-FI epic Dune: Part Two, one of the hit movies of 2024, has been acclaimed by critics as a film like no other. The blockbuster features a cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler and Florence Pugh. Hailed as immense, breathtaking and wondrous, capturing the essence of the desert planet Arrakis in this second instalment of Frank Herbert’s Dune saga was key. Director Denis Villeneuve returned to Abu Dhabi to create the futuristic desert scenes, while the Wadi Rum in Jordan largely provided the rocky terrain. For Dune: Part Two, Villeneuve forged further into the desert, nearer to the Saudi border, in an operation that

involved over 1,000 people, the building of an entire village and 30 kilometres of roadway.

Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) and Epic films facilitated the 27-day shoot with a range of logistical support, including providing vehicles and constructing tents and camps for sets, canteens and the storage of costumes and production equipment. “The Middle East premiere of Dune: Part Two was a “full-circle” moment for us, having hosted and facilitated a large-scale production in 20 locations in the Liwa desert,” Sameer Al Jaberi, head of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission says. “It was the second international Hollywood flm premiere within the last 12 months, as last summer Abu Dhabi hosted the regional premiere of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, a flm where Zayed International Airport played a major role along with other Abu Dhabi locations including Liwa’s famous dunes once again.”

Al Jaberi says the film commission has built strong relationships with major studios and franchises, including




Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure Dune: Part Two. Photo
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/ Niko Tavernise Film AIUIa Studios

Legendary and Warner Bros. for Dune; Paramount for Mission Impossible and Sonic the Hedgehog; and Yash Raj Films for Tiger Zinda Hai and Bunty Aur Babli. “These studios have returned to shoot in Abu Dhabi — not only for the generous rebate incentives and holistic production services we offer, but also because of the beautiful landscapes — from the rolling dunes to the urban cityscapes and iconic landmarks, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,” he says.

The Commission is looking forward to the completion of a new studio complex in Abu Dhabi, which will provide an array of state-of-the-art facilities across 400,000 sq m in the Khalifa Industrial zone of Yas Island. The new development will offer 11 “best-in-class” soundstages, a 3,000 sq m exterior water tank, and six versatile standing sets.

The emirate is home to a fantastic pool of locally-based talent, Al Jaberi says, including cast, crew and production support, who are well-versed in working with most of the major studios, including Netfix, Paramount, Universal, Disney, MGM, Legendary and Warner Bros.

“When it comes to attracting talent, our parent entity, the Creative Media Authority, has taken steps, such as increasing the range of freelancer licences available and introducing the Golden Visa, making it easier for industry professionals to live and work in Abu Dhabi and beneft from tax-free employment and a globally central location. As a result, we’ve seen an increase year-on-year in both vendors and crew setting up in Abu Dhabi.”

Epic deserts, mountains ranges, rugged local towns and unique red-sand formations are all part of the offering from Neom, the special economic zone in northwest Saudi Arabia. “Neom is about 26,500 sq km — that's roughly the size of Belgium — so within that we're blessed with a real variety of landscapes,” managing director, Neom Media

Industries, Wayne Borg says. “We've got roughly 500 km of Red Sea coastline, with some stunning beaches. I had one location manager out here recently who said we could double for some of the Mexican beaches. And we've got these incredible mountain ranges that elevate two-and-ahalf thousand metres up. We had snow there a couple of weeks ago.”

Neom has been rapidly developing with the aim of becoming a regional hub for Middle East and North Africa, hosting domestic and global productions. It includes six industrystandard sound stages, with back-of-house facilities comprising make-up rooms, green rooms, workshops and production ofces. Construction is under way for a 1,200 sq m virtual production stage, with four additional stages launching this year. Neom will also provide comprehensive post-production facilities to flmmakers, including editing suites, audio-mixing studios and colour-grading facilities. VFX services will include digital effects, computergenerated imagery (CGI), motion capture and green-screen capabilities. Neom can accommodate up to 350 cast and crew and plans to increase this capacity to over 750 in 2024. Since becoming operational Neom has welcomed a range of productions, from documentaries, high-end international TV, commercials, reality and scripted television and feature flms — both local and international. The Riyadhbased production company Telfaz11 has a nine-production deal with Neom; Oscar-winning director Terry George is shooting action thriller Riverman in Neom; and the production hub is also hosting director Simon West’s historical drama Antara — based on the true story of Antara ibn Shaddad, a sixth-century warrior.

“On the television front we’re working with Talpa on one of their formats. We've already done the local format, but we've become the regional hub now for a show called Million Dollar Land. We’re just about to go into production with the Dutch version for that one,” Borg says. “And then there’s a range of other reality shows as well, like Unbreakable where we're doing the regional version. So, yeah, it's frenetic at the moment.”

“I'm not foolish enough to say we're going to be the biggest and best in the world because that's not how the

An example of the stunning landscapes in and around the AlUla region Photo: James Lisle/Max



You not only get beautiful desert landscapes, but also a diverse mix of breathtaking locations, stunning architecture, fascinating landscapes, and iconic landmarks.

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business operates,” he says. “But we believe we've got an opportunity to create a media hub that will put us up there with the best in the world. And in some ways it will be a unique ofering in that because we don't have legacy, we're creating here a fully integrated media hub and that means both physically and technologically. Borg points to how modern-day content is seeing a lot of convergence between flm, television, gaming and music and aims to create an environment that that can harness all of that technology.

“We're seeing many of the big international groups now focusing on local content, as they are in many countries, particularly in the streaming space and in the Arab world,” he says. “We're talking about a marketplace here with over 500 million people and that’s supplemented by another 200 million diaspora around the world. It’s a large market any way you cut it. And when you consider the demographics of the region, we've got 50% of the population under the age of 30 who have got a huge propensity to consume content. It's certainly a buoyant market.”

The AlUla region is also playing its part in the rapidly emerging media industry of Saudi Arabia. Film AlUla is The Royal Commission for AlUla’s flm agency, established to promote, support and develop international flm and TV production in and around the historic oasis city.

“Our primary mission as an organisation is to build a sustainable flm ecosystem that opens up doors to young Saudis who may have never considered a career in flm production as part of their future,” executive director Charlene Deleon-Jones says. The year 2024 is shaping up to be a landmark moment for Film AlUla, having recently launched Phase 1 of its state-of-the-art flm studio complex which will house a world-class recording studio.

“We work closely with the Red Sea International Film Festival, we have teamed up with them on the Red Sea Fund to provide grants and production support for nine projects from Saudi Arabia, the Arab regions and Africa — so we’re really investing in flmmakers in the region and on being a place where they can thrive,” Deleon-Jones says.

Film AlUla has signed a key partnership with Hollywood independent Stampede Ventures, which will bring 10 productions to the region over the next three years with a projected $350m spend. “It’s the biggest deal of its kind since the lifting of the cinema ban in Saudi Arabia and the acceleration of the flm industry, and this coupled with the

launch of our state-of-the-art studio facilities means we’re in a really strong position.”

AlUla is hosting Anderson .Paak’s feature debut K-Pops!, a comedy drama centred around a washed-up musician who travels to Korea to write for K-pop stars. Local Saudi productions include Norah (2023), which was the first feature fully flmed in AlUla. Set in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, it tells the emotional story of two soulmates who fnd each other and discover the driving creative forces within themselves. AlUla has also played host to many TV productions, including the British series Expedition with Steve Backshall, a number of Nat Geo documentaries, and season three of Paper Empire (2024) starring Denise Richards and Kelsey Grammer. And shooting has recently completed on Siwar , the debut feature film by awardwinning Saudi director and producer Osama Alkhurayji.

“Everyone who visits here is blown away — we love hosting


and we love to do it as much as possible; we fnd it’s the quickest way for people to get a real sense of AlUla, not just as a location but to get a sense of the local community who are really excited about flm,” Deleon-Jones says. “We fnd that productions often want to take into account the landscape in their projects to better incorporate AlUla, because they are creatively inspired. Paper Empire’s latest season was rewritten to feature the region because the team was so impressed by their initial recce.

“After visiting us to shoot some of his series for Nat Geo, Steve Backshall said AlUla is one of the most exciting, dazzling and natural landscapes on the planet.”

Filming 2022’s Desert Warrior, the period epic backed by MBC, from director Rupert Wyatt, shot in the coastal area of Neom


Canada’s production industry has a long history — and co-production treaties and state support have together played a huge role in enabling the country to punch above its weight, along with its many and varied locations, frst-class crews and facilities, and generous tax credits. Gary Smith reports

IT’S THE second-biggest country in the world geographically, with a comparatively tiny population of under 40 million — yet Canada’s audiovisual sector continues to thrive, and compete on the international stage, thanks to a combination of its extraordinary variety of locations, frst class-crews and facilities and generous tax credits.

Among the raft of major flm and TV productions to shoot in Canada, Sofia Coppola’s 2024 feature film release, Priscilla, used several locations in Ontario including the now-closed Scooter’s Roller Palace in Mississauga. The cast and crew of 125 technicians spent 32 shooting days in the province flming many of the intimate scenes and unexpected private moments that form the core of the flm.

This and other major movies and series are attracted to the province for many reasons. For example, Ontario Creates offers complimentary concierge services to producers, production companies and studios looking to shoot there, making connections to knowledgeable scouts, assembling image packages and arranging site visits tailored to the project’s requirements. The Ontario Creates locations library includes more than 9,000 sites from regions across the province. All location images are meta-tagged and GPS-enabled, making it easy to make specifc searches. Image packages are free and typically turned around in three business days. With well-established connections to an integrated network of regional flm ofces, flming across the province is made easier. Ontario Creates also runs an ofce in LA, working with LA-based producers and studios to assist with productions in Ontario, and

also to support Ontario companies travelling to LA. Foreign service productions get a 21.5% refundable tax credit through the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC) on qualifying Ontario labour, production and post-production expenditures for eligible flm and television production. Since 2022, location expenditures are eligible for OPSTC, up to 5% of the production qualifying expenditures. The OPSTC is complemented by a 16% refundable federal tax credit on qualifed Canadian labour expenditure. Recent TV productions in the region include Reacher, The Boys , Star Trek: Discovery and Umbrella Academy; and as well as Pricilla, high-profle flm shoots have included The Shape of Water (2017), Night Raiders (2019) and Blackberry (2023).

One of the main attractions for visiting productions is the sheer vastness of the region: Ontario is double the size of California and bigger than France and Spain combined. Possible locations range from urban density to small towns, farms, lakes, forests, beaches and vineyards. International airports across the province also provide direct international connections.

The Quebec Film & Television Council organises fam tours for producers with potential projects interested in exploring the possibilities of the province, as well as providing free access to photo libraries and facilitating scouting. “The Quebec government has unveiled its 20242025 budget, delivering a boost to our beloved industry,” film commissioner Chanelle Routhier says. “Thanks to efforts led by the Quebec Film and Television Council (QFTC), alongside key partners like the Association Québécoise de la Production Médiatique (AQPM), many of our recommendations have been heeded, paving the way for exciting opportunities ahead — including a substantial increase in support for the flm production-services sector, with the Quebec Tax Credit for Film Production Services (QPSTC) up from 20% to an impressive 25%.”

Noah LaLonde (left) as Cole and Nikki Rodriguez as Jackie in episode 10 of My Life with the Walter Boys, shot in Calgary. Photo: Chris Large/Netfix. ©2023

Recent shoots in Quebec include TV series Ghosts (CBS/ Lionsgate); The Bold Type (NBC Universal Television Studios); Blood & Treasure (CBS Television Studios); and The Recruit (Netfix). Feature Films include Mayday (Skydance); The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Studios); Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount Pictures); Beau is Afraid (A24); and Scream 6 (Spyglass Entertainment), alongside hosting animation and VFX projects for Barbie, Transformers, Yellowjackets, Paw Patrol, Ninja Turtles, and The Mandalorian

“The province of Quebec can replicate any location from Europe to North America. We have replicated cities such as Paris, London, New York, Washington, Boston and Chicago, to name a few,” Routhier adds. “Additionally, we


ofer diverse rural and modern landscapes, boasting over 1,000 lakes and mountains. Moreover, we have volume stages located in downtown Montreal, and we are one of the largest VFX and animation hubs in the world.”

British Columbia (BC) continues to be Canada’s largest foreign location services hub, and is also home to one of the world’s largest animation, VFX, post and virtual production clusters. BC provides script-to-screen services and support to all incoming productions through its Vancouver-based provincial film commission team at Creative BC, and regionally via eight commission ofces providing localised knowledge and expertise. The motion picture industry is underpinned by a government commitment to incentives, services and policy.

“The province’s financial investment contributes to growing both foreign and domestic production activities through competitive labour-based tax-credit programmes,” film commissioner and current AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International) chair Marnie Gee says. “Productions that choose to flm regionally enjoy increasingly competitive incentives. The programmes are administered by a team of serviceoriented analysts within a dedicated, provincially funded


agency, Creative BC, which acts more broadly as a catalyst for the creative industries and bridges government with the motion picture industry. The programmes combine with B.C. Film Location Policy to refect the government’s business-friendly position with collaboration and support that starts with an attitude of ‘yes’ for industry needs.” Series that have shot in BC recently include CW Network and Warner Bros. Television’s Superman and Lois; Shogun for Hulu/FX; Avatar: The Last AirBender for Netflix; Paramount’s Yellowjackets; Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians; and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ Peter Pan & Wendy

For Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy, 1,200 local cast and crew worked on the production, which shot over 99 days in British Columbia. The production spent over CA$112.3m (€76.4m) in the province, including more than CA$71m on local labour and more than CA$41m on local goods and services from over 780 businesses. The flm used multiple locations including Mammoth Sound Stages, the Triangle Road Backlot, Woods Trail on Strawberry Island and Lost Boys Lair in Hopyard Hill Canyon.

The shoot also filmed at several locations in wild and rugged Newfoundland and Labrador. They were flming there for approximately two weeks with a smaller cast and crew — around 300 — using spectacular natural spots including Dungeon Eco Park and Cape Bonavista, Spillars Cove, around Fort Point Lighthouse and at the splendidly named Tickle Cove.

“What attracts productions to shoot in Newfoundland and Labrador are our incentives, numerous varied and undiscovered locations, plus professional crews,” Laura Churchill, film commissioner at the Newfoundland/ Labrador Film Commission, says.

“We have a 40% all-spend tax credit that has a matching component where non-resident labour can receive the 40% tax incentive up to the amount received on local labour. We also help with location services and location scouts by way of providing bespoke location packages and fnancial assistance in hiring a local scout and approved

associated costs.”

Along with Peter Pan & Wendy, high-profle flms and series shot here recently include Hudson & Rex, Son of A Critch, and SurrealEstate.

Manitoba offers a network of local contacts aimed at helping productions to succeed. “We provide location packages in advance with detailed information about what the production requires,” CEO and flm commissioner at the Manitoba Film Commission, Lynne Skromeda says. “Our in-house team know our city and province well so they’re able to share information directly related to production needs, but also are able to show why Winnipeg and Manitoba are great places to shoot.”

Jacob Elordi (Elvis Presley) Cailee Spaeny (Priscilla Presley) and director and co-writer Sofa Coppola on location at Scooter’s Roller Palace in Mississauga, Ontario for Priscilla

Most recent productions include the TV series Little Bird, which led the 2024 Canadian Screen Award nominations with a total of 19 nods, alongside feature flms Ordinary Angels (Lionsgate), Champions (Universal Pictures/Focus Features) and Violent Night (Universal Pictures). On top of its abundant natural charms, Manitoba has the most competitive tax credit in Canada — up to 65% of eligible labour or up to 38% of eligible Manitoba expenditures. “It works in conjunction with the overall Canadian tax credit which allows even further fnancial beneft,” Skromeda adds. “We have new studio space, direct flights to Los Angeles and Atlanta and great locations that are very industry-friendly. From the strong fnancial incentives to our experienced and dedicated crews, we are always ready and willing to help producers get their show made with the best possible quality.”

The Calgary Film Commission is a one-stop shop that works closely with the City of Calgary to ensure a flmfriendly environment for all local and foreign productions, providing location scouting support with photo packages and on-the-ground scouting services to productions considering Calgary for their upcoming projects.

“On top of the national tax credits, we also ofer the Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit (FTTC) at 22%, with no Alberta ownership required, or 30% of eligible Alberta production costs with no maximum,” co-ordinator at Calgary’s Creative Industries & Operations, Lisa MoreauWebber, says. “From economic incentives to infrastructure, from geography to inclusive, collaborative and dynamic communities, from producer accelerator programmes to innovative sustainability, Equity Diversity Inclusion and Access (EDIA) and Indigenous Reconciliation programmes, Calgary has been recognised for 'Outstanding Film Commission' and for 'Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary TV Series' by the LMGI in 2023."

Calgary and southern Alberta have a long history of attracting creative directors and producers interested in the region’s exceptionalism at incorporating the power and rugged majesty of the landscape as a driving force in stories where theme, plot and action are all infuenced by the physical environment. Within a 90-minute drive from the cosmopolitan centre of Calgary are the Badlands near Drumheller, Alberta, the Rocky Mountains and surrounding foothills, prairies and forests. Calgary also ofers over 700,000 sq ft of purpose-built and retroftted studio facilities. Calgary is also home to LED Virtual Wall studio spaces.

Major productions shooting in the region include Fargo seasons 1-3, 5 (FX); My Life with the Walter Boys (Netfix); Heartland (CBC); The Abandons (Netflix); Billy the Kid (MGM International, Paramount+); and 2015's The Revenant (20th Century Fox).

TELL YOUR STORY ontarioflmcommission.ca 21.5% Tax Refund Additional federal incentives Scouting support Extensive studio space Skilled talent and crew Sustainability resources ONTARIO LOCATIONS © King’s printer for Ontario 2024







Tax incentives introduced in 2002 and boosted six years later are widely credited for the phenomenal growth of the movie industry in the US state of Georgia. But it’s not all about the money; the state’s extraordinary range of locations and its flm-friendly climate make Georgia the perfect home for flmmakers. And we mustn’t forget Clint Eastwood’s contribution …

GEORGIA has a long history of flmmaking. But in the last 16 or so years it has enjoyed a signifcant growth-spurt, following the implementation of the State of Georgia’s Film Tax Incentive. The capital Atlanta was initially the focus of this growth, but it has since spread across the state and notably down to Savannah.

Walker Dalton, executive director of The Savannah Regional Film Commission, says his city has become the secondlargest production hub in the state: “In 2022, we had our biggest year with a direct spend of $207m (€194m). The work that has come here not only brings a nice economic bump, but also boosts tourism and the production talent choosing to live here.”

Fantasia Barrino and Taraji P Henson on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Color Purple
Photo: ©2023 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Major feature flms have helped with that bump. “Clint Eastwood’s latest film,  Juror #2 , recently wrapped in Savannah,” Dalton says. “He has a history of filming productions here, including  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), so it was an honour to have him choose Savannah again for flming.” Meanwhile Apple's Manhunt is Savannah’s biggest TV series to date. It “used every bit of the city to help tell this historic tale of the hunt for Abraham Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth”, Dalton adds. “Savannah proved to be the perfect backdrop, along with its local crew resources.”

Savannah has a rich ofer of locations for any production — the only thing it doesn’t have is mountains. “Of course, our historic settings lend well to anything that has to play as a historic southern town or Civil-War era, but we also have beautiful beaches and modern architecture,” Dalton says. “Productions that have filmed here have doubled for Florida, Louisiana, California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and even London, England. The city itself exists as a ready-made backlot and it is very productionfriendly. One thing that pops up regularly is the ease of travel here, making company moves much more timely.”

The biggest story to have come out of Georgia in a somewhat troubled movie year, 2023, is The Color Purple. Leading names are attached to this new take on the classic story based on Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel. It is directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones. The screenplay


Marcus Gardley, is based on Walker’s novel and the musical stage play by Marsha Norman. Music and lyrics are by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray; executive producers are Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, Mara Jacobs, Adam Fell, Courtenay Valenti, Sheila Walcott and Michael Beugg. The cast includes Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo and Corey Hawkins.

The movie, which opened in December 2023, was flmed throughout the state, including in Macon, a city in central Georgia with historical architecture reminiscent of the early to mid-1900s. The film’s designers added vintage props, signs and marquees to bring it into line with the story’s true period.

Other locations include Inman Park, a historic neighbourhood in Atlanta with a wide range of architectural styles dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s; and Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, a coastal maritime forest turned into driftwood by the constant battering of the sea. It’s a photogenic site used for a wide range of shoots and

WALKER DALTON Lovie Simone and Antonio J Bell in Manhunt Photo: AppleTV+

events and in The Color Purple, was used to represent Africa and the background to the early years of Celie, the main character in the story, portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg in the original and by Fantasia Barrino in this new version. So many big-name projects have shot in the Peach State in recent years, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film Ofce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Stranger Things, Ozark, Black Panther, Baby Driver, Zombieland, The Menu, Will Trent, The Walking Dead — the list goes on and on,” she says. “Some are location-driven, some are brought to Georgia by producers who have shot here before and had a great experience.”

The Film Office markets the state to more than 4,850 motion-picture industry businesses and productionrelated companies through location scouting and by co-ordinating the flming needs of companies with other state agencies, local governments and residents. The ofce also manages the state’s 30% tax credit, which went into efect in 2008.

The ofce also ofers a database of locations to productions that is also open to the public. “Often, location scouts and managers will go through our database on their own and narrow down locations for their project,” Thomas says. “They are also welcome to forward us a script, location breakdown or look-book and we’re happy to pull fles for them.”

Other attractions to Georgia include “five million sq ft of stage space, well-trained crew and great quality of life,” Thomas says. Asked about upcoming productions,


she says: “The biggest new release will be Francis Ford Coppola’s feature Megalopolis — that is one I’m really looking forward to seeing.”

Megalopolis has been filming at Trilith Studios on the Prysm Stage, one of the largest virtual-production facilities in the world. And, at press time, DC Studios' Superman: Legacy had just started shooting at Trilith, which lies 22 miles (35 km) south of downtown Atlanta, in Fayetteville. The flm is scheduled for a 2025 release and stars David Corenswet as the DC Comics' superhero.

The studios boom in Georgia is well documented. With almost 300,000 sq m of stage space across the state, that is expected to have more than doubled by the end of 2025. Serving the Atlanta area, Shadowbox Studios, formerly Blackhall Studios, is an 80,000 sq m site with some 19,000 sq m of sound stages that has hosted a number of big budget movies including Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Cinelease Studios – Three Ring, currently ofering around 24,000 sq m of sound stage, is in progress on a $144m studio expansion in Covington; while Electric Owl



Studios has established a 17-acre site in Stone Mountain, with 13,000 sq m of sound stages. The recently-established Athena Studios complex in Athens currently ofers around 18,000 sq m of sound stages that is set to more than double in its current expansion plans, while Tyler Perry Studios, in Atlanta, remains one of the state’s largest studio complexes, with its 12 sound stages ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 sq m.

A new addition to the state’s burgeoning studio offer is Assembly Atlanta studios. Operated by Universal Production Services, it includes the nearby Third Rail Studios, run in partnership with Gray Television and serving NBCUniversal as well as other outside productions. As well as a comprehensive range of production services, Assembly also ofers exterior flming locations for New York, New Orleans, Tribeca and Europe.

The studios’ debut production is upcoming TV series Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist from Universal Television for Peacock and starring Kevin Hart, Taraji P Henson, Don Cheadle, Samuel L Jackson and Terrence Howard.

The limited series tells the story of an armed robbery orchestrated around Muhammad Ali’s 1970 comeback fght in Atlanta. Hart stars in the series and also serves as an executive producer.

“The opening of Assembly Atlanta as a brand-new 19-stage facility with on-lot production services is a refection of the active production atmosphere in Georgia,” Beth Talbert, vice-president of studio operations, NBCUniversal at Assembly, says. “We are here to support the flmmaking community in Georgia.”

Facades on the backlot at Assembly Atlanta studios Georgia also has 'beautiful beaches'. Pictured is Tybee Island, in Chatham County, Georgia. Photo: Andy Young, Savannah Regional Film Commission




The park's unique landscape, ranging from vast prairie grasslands to stunning badlands, ofers a captivating backdrop for outdoor adventures. Saskatchewan’s tagline is ‘land of the living skies’ for good reason — the horizons are very fat and extend for miles. The land-massto-population ratio is such that light pollution is next to zero in these areas, and it is not uncommon to see northern lights and shooting stars.

Recent shoots in the region include feature flms Memento (2000), Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021), Don’t Worry Darling ( 2022) and Die Alone (2023); and TV shows Big Little Lies (2017-19) and Kingdom (2019-20) ).





Arenal is Costa Rica’s best-known volcano. It’s a stratovolcano — a large symmetrical volcano that’s built upon layers of ash, rock and lava. At 1,657 metres the volcano stands high above the rest of the countryside. It is situated in northwestern Costa Rica, around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela. Costa Rica is a country of wonderful natural landscapes, rainforest and wildlife, and is also a welcoming flm-friendly environment.

Among the many movies shot here are Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and After Earth (2013).



Gifu is a prefecture in central Honshu on Japan’s main island and is home to traditional mountain villages, including Gujo Hachiman and the skiing destination Takayama. This scenario became popular, and visited by tourists, after it became a hot topic on social networking sites in 2015, with people saying that it looked like one of Monet's water-lily paintings, with carp swimming in the pond in the clear spring water and water lilies blooming in early summer.

This is a location where few movies and dramas have been shot — it remains a very mysterious place and a potential gem for flmmakers.



This image is shot from the banks of the Danube River in Budapest, overlooking the Szechenyi Chain Bridge and Buda Castle in the background. The unique suspension design, characterised by iron chains supporting the bridge deck, was a marvel of engineering innovation in its time. The lions guarding the bridge's entrances became the symbolic guardians of the city, representing strength and protection.

Films that have used the bride include Cremaster 5 (1997), An American Rhapsody (2001) and Black Widow (2021). TV shows include Royal Pains (2009-2016) and Baptiste (2019-2021). Also, Fedex and German fashion brand Brax have undertaken photo shoots here.



Jardim Do Mar is a small village on the sea shore in the municipality of Calheta on the southwest coast of the main island of the archipelago of Madeira. The location provides an open ocean front, surfng spots, spectacular waves, a paved beach promenade and a small village with pastel-coloured houses that lie at the foot of the curved clifs. A gem, as yet undiscovered by the flmmaking community, Jardim Do Mar ofers a wide-open ocean view, unique clifs and easy access for cameras on the promenade.



With its spectacular skyline, charming cobbled streets and beautiful scenery, it's no wonder that Edinburgh is so attractive to flmmakers. With a breathtaking array of locations dating from the medieval to the contemporary, the Scottish capital can also boast a unique geology which invades the city, providing rural settings at the heart of its urban centre, while the surrounding East Lothian and Scottish Borders ofer picturesque villages, churches, sandy beaches, spectacular mansions and historic castles and monuments.

Movies shot in the area include: Chariots of Fire (1981), Trainspotting (1996), The Illusionist (2010), Burke and Hare (2010) and Sunshine on Leith (2013). One Day (2024) is a recent TV series that used Edinburgh.



With a history dating back to the early 1790s, Cobourg ofers white-sand beaches, a beautiful waterfront, historic architecture and small coastal-town locations, only 90 minutes by car from the city of Toronto, Ontario. Ontario ofers competitive incentives, a diverse range of looks, robust infrastructure, artists and training programmes and intra-provincial flm networks that come together to make Ontario a flm-friendly destination.

Cobourg has hosted shoots for feature flms Pixels (2015) and Luckiest Girl Alive (2022); and TV series Ginny & Georgia (2021-).





Biggest production hub in Spain

30% Tax Rebate and local grants

Incredible locations that can double for other cities

Top suppliers and service companies

Hands-on assistance and institutional support


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