makers 3

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Mapping the streamer's multi-billion dollar global expansion


Money Heist showrunner Alex Pina on the Spanish drama boom




elcome to the third edition of makers, the biannual magazine for the global production industry. Thanks to a wonderful reception for our first two issues, this edition is our biggest so far.

One Of the fOunding aims Of MAKERS is tO fOcus On all creative prOductiOn sectOrs, in the awareness that the wOrlds Of film, tv, cOmmercials and games are cOnverging.



ART DIRECTION & COVER IMAGE Les éditions du bois du Marquis CREATIVE DIRECTION Sue Hayes


INTERNATIONAL SALES CONSULTANTS Russell Brooks, Anthony Wildman, Rodrigo Carrasco COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Clara Lé

One of the founding aims of makers is to focus on all creative production sectors, in the awareness that the worlds of film, TV, commercials and games are converging and producing more ambitious work as a result. TV drama, of course, has become much more watchable thanks to top filmmakers embracing the genre. Commercials producers are diversifying away from the 30-second spot. Games design, meanwhile, is influencing visual effects across all forms of production. Our two lead interviews in this issue sum up how creatives from different countries and different disciplines are shaking up conventional ways of creating content.

Spanish showrunner Alex Pina, the creator of global hit La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), tells us of his journey from journalism to scriptwriting and a first look deal with Netflix. And Jason Kingsley, the founder of leading European games publisher and comic book publisher Rebellion, tells us why and how the company has diversified into film and TV with upcoming projects like Judge Dredd TV sci-fi drama Mega-City One and feature Rogue Trooper. To really underline the global nature of makers, we lay bare the international production ambitions of Netflix, mapping out exactly where the streaming giant is making all of its new series and films. We also profile the best countries in the world for productions to shoot in – outlining the talent, facilities and incentives on offer. We hope you enjoy this issue. makers will be back again in the autumn. If you have any feedback, or would like to get in touch, do drop us a line at Tim Dams, Editor

MARKETING MANAGER Constantin Ursachi

FINANCE Desmond Kroats, Farhana Anjum CONTRIBUTORS Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, Steve Davies, Dave Cook MANAGING DIRECTOR Jean-Frédéric Garcia CONSULTANT Ben Greenish FOUNDER Murray Ashton

PRINTERS Barley Print, UK

PLEASE ADDRESS ALL ENQUIRIES TO THE PUBLISHERS The Location Guide, Unit 6A, Oakwood House, 414-422 Hackney Road, London E2 7SY, UK T (44 20) 7036 0020 E E W 2019 © The Location Guide Limited All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced in any form whatsoever, by photocopying, electronic or mechanical means without prior written consent of the publisher. The publisher has taken all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information presented is accurate and correct, but cannot take responsibility for any omissions or errors, nor take any liability for any misuse of images or of the information.





022 Making of: HANNA

Shooting throughout Europe on Amazon’s thriller remake


Should producers target Saudi?


008 News in Brief

Production news from around the world

010 The World at a Glance

Mapping global production trends

012 Tech & Facilities News

From cameras to studios, the latest in production technology news

016 FOCUS 2019

Previewing a globally focused show, aimed at all the creative screen industries

028 Festival Spotlight: CANNES FILM

The movies in the spotlight at the world’s greatest film festival

068 Festival Spotlight: CANNES LIONS

This year, Cannes has sought to put content right at the heart of the festival


014 Around the World:


Six locations chosen by award winning location manager Janice Polley 6

040 Interview with: ALEX PINA

The producer, writer & creative mind behind the most watched non-English language show on Netflix

074 Contributor: STEVE DAVIES

Opportunities for ad producers

096 Report: WHAT’S UP DOC?

Broadcasters & streamers are fuelling a renewed interest in ambitious documentaries


104 Interview with: FIORENzA PLINIO

How to win a Cannes Lions

112 Interview with: JASON KINGSLEY

The founder of Rebellion, one of Europe’s leading games developers



044 Are Festivals Worth it?


115 Industry Profile: FRAMESTORE

How do you create VFX with small screen budgets? makers talks to head of TV Michelle Martin

138 Contributor: DAVE COOK

Are film festivals still relevant in this era of streaming & digital disruption?

066 Agents of Change

US talent agencies’ push into production is now being emulated elsewhere

086 The World of Netflix

Where do all the new series & films that the streamer has announced come from?

102 All Change in Ad Production

makers casts an eye over the fast changing world of advertising production

Digital humans: the evolution of VFX doubles. Dave Cook asks how far the technology can be taken

118 Ride of a Lifetime

Just as drone filming becomes ever more popular, regulations could be about to tighten

132 The Art of Design

152 The World from Above


The FireFlies Tour is a series of gruelling industry bike rides for charity What’s the secret of great production design?

From incentives to location highlights, makers presents a series of in-depth guides to some of the world's most film friendly countries 025 Argentina 030 Canada 042 Chile 048 Eastern Europe 070 Greece 076 Iberian Peninsula 090 Iceland 098 India

106 Kenya 110 Malaysia 116 Malta 120 Thailand 126 UK 136 Uruguay 140 USA:


East Coast







ill the launch of Apple’s subscription VOD service later this year dent the growth of Netflix? Analysts are still split on the issue, weeks after Apple’s splashy unveiling of the Apple TV+ service which was accompanied by high-profile partners including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. Apple’s new TV service will 'super-aggregate' streaming services including Hulu, HBO and Showtime, as well as allow access to cable TV packages and its own Apple TV+ offer. Apple will roll out the service in 100 countries from Autumn 2019. A big challenge in assessing the impact of Apple TV+ is that the company has so far left key questions unanswered, such as what it costs and what shows it will offer. At the event, Apple only screened a 90-second trailer of shows it has ordered so far. Enders Analysis concluded that: “The new services offer glimpses of novel concepts, but stops short of taking risks to truly differentiate.” Enders added: “It is not conceivable that many Netflix users would cancel their subscriptions as a result of Apple’s

MGM has pushed back the release of the next James Bond film from February to April 8, 2020. It’s the second delay for Bond 25. MGM and Eon originally announced in 2017 that the film would open on Nov. 8, 2019, then moved it back to 2020 after Danny Boyle exited from the director slot and was replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Bond 25 began shooting in March with Daniel Craig in the lead for the fifth time.

Others pointed out that Apple’s content spend is nowhere near the USD10 billion Netflix will plough into content this year. However, many noted that Apple has something Netflix does not: more than a billion devices on which to stream content to all over the world. This eclipses by far the 139 million people worldwide who have subscribed to Netflix. Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin said Netflix “has an inferior competitive position to [Apple] over time, as we see it, in both: a) customer acquisition costs; and b) content costs.” Assuming Apple will target its existing global user base, she argued that Apple has “zero consumer acquisition costs.” She added that Apple’s content costs will be offset by the revenue share of subscriptions it will sell through the Apple TV Channels storefront for HBO, Showtime, Starz and others.

FORTNITE BOOSTS GAMING SPEND Male teens are spending more than ever on video games. On average, the male teens surveyed for a Piper Jaffray report said they're dedicating 14% of their income to video games— whether game purchases, in-game purchases, or buying consoles. Only two categories exceeded video games for male teen spending: food and clothing. Part of that spending is going towards Fortnite (pictured right), the free-to-play shooter that's dominated the video game market for the last 1.5 years.

ale characters dominated the big screen in 2018, according to a recent study by the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.


The fact that there are more female protagonists could be a sign that Hollywood is taking account of evidence that suggests that movies starring women earn more than male-led films.

Only 35% of films included 10 or more female speaking roles. By comparison 82% of movies had at least 10 male characters with speaking roles, according to the study.

According to a recent report from the Creative Artists Agency and shift7, a company started by the former United States chief technology officer Megan Smith, the top movies from 2014 to 2017 starring women earned more than male-led films, whether they were made for less than USD10 million or for USD100 million or more.

However, female protagonists were featured more heavily in 2018, thanks to films such as Crazy Rich Asians, Mary Poppins Returns (pictured), and A Star is Born. The percentage of top grossing movies that feature female protagonists increased to 31 per cent, up from last year's 24 per cent.


less-expansive product, such is the value that a Netflix subscription currently offers, especially in the US where TV ARPUs (Average Revenues Per User) for the biggest three cable suppliers are between £68 and £92 per month.”

The research also found that films that passed the Bechdel test — which measures whether two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man — outperformed those that flunked it.

the number Of

All eyes are on Saudi Arabia

subscriptiOns tO Online videO services such as netflix and amazOn arOund the wOrld

increased tO 613.3 milliOn,

The global entertainment industry is paying close attention to the Saudi Arabian market, where the government is planning to invest USD35 billion in the entertainment sector.

a 27% increase frOm 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), which issues cinema licenses, wants to open 2,500 screens in the country over the next five years.

GLOBAL MARKETS ARE BOOMING A fast growing home entertainment market and a strong Chinese box office is helping to buoy up global entertainment revenues. Global entertainment revenues hit USD 96.8 billion in 2018, a 9% increase on 2017, according to Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) figures. The MPAA’s 2018 THEME Report noted that global box office climbed 1% on 2017 to reach USD41.1 billion, while home entertainment grew at a much faster 16% year-on-year to reach USD55.7 billion. The North American box office grew by 7% to reach a record USD11.9 billion but China is now not far behind. China was the largest territory outside North America with USD 9 billion in revenues, a 12% gain. China was followed by Japan on USD2 billion, the UK on USD1.7 billion, South Korea and France both on USD1.6 billion, India on USD1.5 billion, Germany on USD1 billion, and Australia, Mexico and Russia on USD900 million apiece. The report also highlighted how quickly the home entertainment market is growing, powered by digital spend.

YOUTUBE CANCELS SHOWS YouTube has denied reports it is moving away from investing in high-end original entertainment. However, the company has cancelled plans for two big shows it had in development: the second season of sci-fi series Origin (above) and comedy Overthinking with Kat & June. YouTube said it will steadily build its SVOD business, and develop new series and formats that will appeal to a global audience through a new ad-supported model.

FRENCH CO-PROS RELEASED France produced 300 feature films in 2018, but investment fell 15% to EUR1.2 billion according to France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC). Overall, French producers were involved in 118 co-productions from 42 different countries. Key co-producing countries included Germany (13), Belgium (13), Italy (11), Switzerland (6) and Spain (6). The average feature budget fell 17.7% to EUR4 million.

The kingdom lifted its ban on cinemas in 2017, with AMC opening the first public cinema in April 2018. However, progress on cinema building has been slower than planned, partly due to investors cooling on Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“the plans are designed tO fOster a lOcal film industry, and are part Of sOcial and ecOnOmic refOrms champiOned by crOwn prince mOhammed bin salman under the visiOn 2030 banner.”

AMC is planning to open more cinemas in the country, while IPic Entertainment is reportedly planning to build between 25-30. A UK indie multiplex chain is also expanding into Saudi Arabia. The moves come as Saudi Arabia recently announced the launch the Red Sea International Film Festival, which will focus on emerging Arab talent.

The number of subscriptions to online video services such as Netflix and Amazon around the world increased to 613.3 million, a 27% increase from 2017, passing the number of cable subscriptions (556 million) for the first time. In the US, home entertainment consumer spending now stands at USD23.3 billion, accounting for 66% of combined theatrical and home entertainment expenditure. The number of MPAA member studio films that went into production in 2018 was 107, consistent with 2017. In all, 576 US films with a budget greater than USD1 million went into production. Of these films, 171 had an estimated budget greater than USD15 million. The top grossing film of the year was Disney’s Black Panther, which took USD700.1 million at the US/Canada box office.

NEW INTEREST IN REALITY TV High-end and high-budget drama has been the big focus for broadcasters and streamers at TV markets in recent years, but the signs are that they increasingly are eyeing up more cost-effective formats to diversify their schedules. Reality and unscripted shows such as Fremantle’s The Greatest Dancer (above) and Matchfit and ITV quiz Catchpoint were a big focus for buyers at the recent MipTV programme market. Netflix, meanwhile, has ordered format Nailed It, obstacle course game show Ultimate Beastmaster and reality series The Circle.

Saudi’s culture ministry has also announced other arts initiatives, including a film school and a national film archive. The plans are designed to foster a local film industry, and are part of social and economic reforms championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under the Vision 2030 banner. See Dawn McCarthy-Simpson’s column Should producers target Saudi? (page 38)



The world

at a glance 4 sweden united KingdOm 2

3 united states




france 7

9 pOland

12 rOmania

6 mOntenegrO

sOuth africa 8




thailand 5


10 india

5 australia 11





URUGUAY Uruguay has unveiled a new pilot 25% filming incentive, available to all projects except commercials that shoot in the country. The incentive joins an existing VAT mechanism, which exempts fiction and docs from paying the 22% charge.

FRANCE Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch has set the record for highest spend by a foreign production in France. Shooting in the Charente region in south west France, The French Dispatch will spend EUR27 million in France.

UNITED KINGDOM Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner swept the British Arrows 2019, winning 14 awards including Commercial of the Year. Adam & Eve/DDB was crowned Agency of the Year for the third year running, while Somesuch took the Production Company of the Year.

SOUTH AFRICA BBC One young adult series Noughts + Crosses has become the latest British drama to shoot in South Africa, accessing a 35% rebate. Eleven episodes of Doctor Who have shot on location in South Africa, as has Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens.

UNITED STATES Showtime’s Penny Dreadful has become the latest series to relocate to California, attracted by the state’s tax credit. Principal production previously took place at Ardmore Studios in Ireland. SWEDEN Films and TV dramas shooting in Western Sweden are now eligible for a rebate of up to 30% on local spend – a pilot scheme that is Sweden’s first formal incentive. Film I Väst, the region’s film fund, is administering the incentive. THAILAND Asia’s leading advertising festival, AdFest, saw Dentsu Inc. named Agency of the Year, and CJ Worx Bangkok winning Independent Agency of the Year. The Production Company of the Year was awarded to Hub Ho Hin Bangkok / Shots Post Production Bangkok. MONTENEGRO Montenegro has increased its cash rebate to 25%. The new scheme, which is overseen by Film Centre of Montenegro, surpasses the previous incentive by 5% and will apply to features and TV series.

POLAND Poland’s 30% cash rebate scheme is now available, after years of effort by the local film industry. The scheme is available to Polish, international co-productions and services provided for foreign productions in the country. INDIA Hotel Mumbai, which recounts the 2008 siege of the Taj Hotel, filmed between Mumbai and Adelaide. In Mumbai, production services were handled by India’s Take One Productions. Interior scenes were shot at Adelaide Studios, Australia. AUSTRALIA Filming has begun in Victoria on Australian crime thriller The Dry starring Eric Bana, his first Australian role in more than a decade. It will shoot entirely in Victoria, across several regional locations in the Wimmera region. ROMANIA Romania’s 35-45% rebate has started reeling in big budget productions. Launched in October, the rebate has so far received forty-one applications, four of which secured top tier 45% grants.









NEWS tech & facilities FROM CAMERAS TO




swathe of new studios are being planned throughout the UK as the country looks to capitalise on booming levels of production.

Demand for stage space has grown since the introduction of the high-end TV tax break in 2013, which has built on the UK’s attractive film tax break. GBP938 million was spent on high-end TV drama production in 2018, along with GBP1.9 billion for film, according to the BFI. London is busy adding studio capacity, with a major new studio complex being developed in Dagenham and Shepperton Studios planning to double in size. In Birmingham, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is working on plans to open a six-stage complex called Mercian Studios. In Liverpool, a new studio facility opens next year in the iconic former Littlewoods building, which will be managed by Twickenham Studios.

ARRI is launching the Alexa Mini LF camera (pictured above), which combines the compact size of the popular Alexa Mini with the large format Alexa LF sensor. The long rumoured model will start shipping mid-year. Pricing has yet to be announced. Its compact size and high spec means that it is likely to quickly gain a foothold in film, high-end drama and commercials production.

Two new studios, meanwhile, are planned for Scotland: one in Port of Leith, backed by Screen Scotland; the other in Salters Gate, south east of Edinburgh – a project being driven by PSL Land. There’s also two new studios set to open in Oxfordshire. Games and comic publisher Rebellion has taken over a printworks near Didcot, where it will house inhouse and external productions. A former airbase at Heyford Park, near Bicester, is also due to be developed into a film and TV campus. Meanwhile, new studio complexes are being planned in Yorkshire. One is in Doncaster, spearheaded by 360 Degrees Media. Another is in Leeds, where Prime Studios is working to expand its offer. In Manchester, Space Studios is also mulling building another stage. See interview with Rebellion’s Jason Kingsley on page 112.

AUTODESK LAUNCHES FLAME UPDATE Autodesk has launched an update to its VFX and compositing system Flame, which comes with a new machine learning-powered feature. The Flame 2020 release includes machine learning analysis algorithms to isolate and modify common objects in moving footage, helping to speed up VFX and compositing workflows. “Machine learning has enormous potential for content creators,” said Steve McNeill, director of Flame family products at Autodesk.


etflix has officially opened its first European production hub in Tres Cantos, Madrid. The hub currently has three soundstages in operation and another two under construction which will open in January. Netflix said the hub is part of a multi-million Euro investment in Spanish language content. At the launch of the hub, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings unveiled another two Spanish shows – El Inocente and El Crimen Del Siglo – that add to a 2019 and 2020 slate that includes series such as La Casa De Papel season 3, Alta Mar, Las Chicas Del Cable season 4, Elite season 2, Criminal and El Vecino. Netflix said that in 2018, over 13,000 cast, crew and extras have worked on Spanish originals. This year, that number is set to increase to 25,000.


“Our aim is to be part of the Spanish creative ecosystem. We are investing for the long term,” said Hastings during the launch. Álex Pina, showrunner of La Casa de Papel, was one of the many Spanish execs at the launch. Pina said: “Traditionally, Spanish fiction has always been much more watched in Spain than American fiction,

now I believe that the challenge ahead is to make the leap to other markets. With La Casa de Papel, we are experiencing success in many countries with cultures very different from our own, such as Saudi Arabia, which is incredible”. See Alex Pina interview on page 40 and The World of Netflix feature on page 86.

British firm OutpOst VfX has BecOme the latest

facility tO Open a studiO

in mOntreal, saying it has

Media Composer revamped

respOnded tO client

requests tO Open a facility in queBec tO leVerage the prOVince’s generOus film

One of the big announcements at this year’s NAB media technology show in Las Vegas came from Avid which unveiled a “redesigned and reimagined” version of its flagship video editing system, Media Composer (pictured below).

taX relief.

MONTREAL’S VFX BOOMS Montreal has quickly established itself as a global hub for visual effects, attracting a swathe of the biggest VFX firms. British firm Outpost VFX has become the latest facility to open a studio in Montreal, saying it has responded to client requests to open a facility in Quebec to leverage the province’s generous film tax relief.

VENICE CAMERA UPGRADE Sony is to upgrade its high-end Venice camera, introducing High Frame Rate (HFR) shooting as part of its latest firmware update. The upgrade, available in June, will allow Venice to shoot at speeds of up to 120 frames per second (fps) in 4K. The new frame rate is suited for drama, movie and commercial productions in 4K and 6K. Ang Lee’s The Gemini Man, which releases in October, has been made in 3D at 120 fps.

DAVINCI RESOLVE UPDATE Blackmagic has unveiled a major update to its popular editing and finishing system, DaVinci Resolve. The update includes a new ‘cut page’ to speed up the editing process for quick turnaround projects; a series of AI-driven functions including an object removal tool; and a large number of audio tweaks. Blackmagic has also launched a new DaVinci Resolve Editor Keyboard, which again is pitched at “dramatically improving” the speed of editing.

Quebec offers some of the most generous tax rebates in North America – up to 43% for qualifying productions. Montreal’s talent pool has grown significantly because of its ability to lure in international productions, particularly Hollywood films and high-end TV, thanks to the tax breaks. Almost 40 visual effects and animation companies are now based in the city. Montreal also has a thriving computer games industry and is a home to companies such as Eidos and Ubisoft. Outpost VFX, whose credits include BBC One’s The ABC Murders (pictured above), follows a string of UK VFX houses that have launched in Montreal, including Cinesite, Framestore, MPC, Double Negative and The Mill. The latter two both opened their facilities last year.

NEW STUDIO OPENS IN BELGIUM New Belgian studio, Lites Studios, has opened its doors in Brussels offering five stages, including an advanced water stage capable of underwater filming. The new underwater stage can be converted into a flooded stage or a wet stage for water surface filming. Underwater cameras, lighting and crew are all available at the studio, as well as equipment for dry filming. Water FX possibilities include waves measuring up to one metre, rain, mist and dump tanks.

Used by film, TV and commercials editors the world over, Avid Media Composer has been revamped so that its user interface has less clutter and shows only what editors need and want to see. It also allows editors to find media faster.

“aVid is alsO pushing media cOmpOser 2019’s all-in-One credentials with new finishing and deliVery wOrkflOws letting users “create and deliVer higherquality cOntent.”

Avid says Media Composer 2019 offers “unparalleled security to lock down content, reducing the chances of unauthorised leaks of sensitive media.”

Avid is also pushing Media Composer 2019’s all-in-one credentials with new finishing and delivery workflows letting users “create and deliver higher-quality content with editing, effects, colour, audio, and finishing tools without leaving Media Composer.” It can also handle 8K, 16K, or HDR, and Avid says it has been working with OTT content providers to help establish future industry standards. Jeff Rosica, CEO and president at Avid, says the changes were based on input from hundreds of editors in the industry. “Media Composer 2019 is both evolutionary and revolutionary. It maintains what longtime users know and love while giving them more of what they need today – and what they will need tomorrow.” Media Composer 2019 will be available in late spring.




1 - FEz, MOROCCO - SPy GAME Tony Scott always pushed for authenticity. His films were not only images they also had to stimulate the senses with colour, smells and life. I was doing early prep for Spy Game. This tannery in Fez, for me, summarised his creative vision. 2 - MIAMI - BAD BOyS FOR LIFE Miami for most people is about the water, the beaches, the blue skies and the neon art deco hotels. This is the new Miami, away from the water, at night and featuring the pace and light. 3 - LOS ARCOS, MEXICO CITY MAN ON FIRE Tony Scott and I were looking for a rooftop location. Having driven around the area we decided to stop to eat our ritual lunch of tuna sandwiches. I remember we sat on the kerb, eating, talking and taking photographs – those were always very special moments. 4 - MIAMI STILT HOUSE - MIAMI VICE Sometimes a location might not make it into the film but it will inspire the director to look for other ideas.


n 2016 Location Manager Janice Polley was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award by the Location Managers Guild International (pictured left with Michael Mann at the ceremony). Her career has spanned three decades, six continents and 34 countries. Polley is known for her tenacity and her ability to scout and cast locations like a director. She credits the late Tony Scott and Michael Mann for relentlessly pushing her towards achieving the impossible. Throughout her career, time after time, she has pulled it off.

Scouting the opening high-speed boat chase for Miami Vice, I came across this old stilt house in the water. Ultimately, Michael Mann decided on simplicity – just the water and boats. 5 - PERUVIAN SALT MINES - THE LONE RANGER Looking for vast open landscapes for the actors to ride their horses, I came across this view of the salt mines. It was different and offered a stepped landscape for the actors to navigate. 6 - BOLIVIA - LUCKy STRIKE I was in the helicopter scouting for rivers in the jungle and turned a corner and saw this beautiful village in the middle of nowhere.

Images: Janice Polley & the LMGI.




At FOCUS 2019, delegates can meet with producers, film commissions, production service companies and locations providers from over 60 countries, as well as attending a conference programme with over 150 industry leaders. makers reports on an event that has quickly established itself in the global production calendar.


FOCUS, the Meeting Place for International Production, is gearing up for its fifth edition on 3/4 December 2019 in London. In just five years, FOCUS has earned a strong industry reputation for its business and networking opportunities, and for being more friendly, informative and accessible than most industry events. The show is produced by The Location Guide, which also publishes makers magazine. “FOCUS is a great opportunity to meet collaborators past, present and future from around the world, catch up on the latest news and share

information with the production community,” says The Ink Factory head of production Tracey Josephs. Once again FOCUS will be aimed at all the creative screen industries – including film, TV, advertising, animation and games – and it is the only UK trade event where attendees can meet with content makers, film commissions, production service companies and locations providers from over 60 countries. Notably, the event – which is held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London – remains completely free to attend for industry professionals. Over 2700 professionals – including UK and


international visitors, exhibiting organisations and official delegations – attended FOCUS 2018, a 40% year on year increase in footfall. Some 64% of visitors last year were from production companies from the UK and around the world, working in independent film, TV drama, advertising, documentaries, studio features, corporate films, music videos and still photography through to animation and games. Other visitors came from broadcasters, ad agencies, production service companies, film locations or film commissions. “fOcus is a great OppOrtunity tO meet cOllabOratOrs past, present and future frOm arOund the wOrld.”

“There are few places where producers of feature films and TV series gather alongside producers of TV commercials and branded content under one roof. PSN feels right at home in this mix. We haven’t missed it since year one,” says Michael Moffett, the founder of PSN – Production Service Network. The top five reasons visitors give for attending, according to specially commissioned FOCUS research, are: networking with industry colleagues; updating knowledge of industry trends, initiatives and developments; looking for new locations, production support services and facilities; attending the FOCUS programme sessions and finding out more about filming incentives. “FOCUS was a wonderful opportunity to get introduced to new territories and filming incentives,” says Left Bank Pictures production executive Chris Lahr. 96% of visitors said they enjoyed attending FOCUS, and 95% said it was a worthwhile investment of their time. Many say that FOCUS is very different from most trade events. “There’s a lovely, infectious and hospitable atmosphere, and it provides stimulating and interesting events while providing good networking opportunities,” notes Helen Hadfield, the founder of Snapper Films.


Alexandra Tzvetkova of Nu Boyana Film Studios adds: “FOCUS has this special atmosphere – cosy, welcoming and neat. It’s a great place to meet your new clients and partners in filmmaking.” In 2018 visitors were able to meet with 244 exhibiting companies (a 41% increase) that packed the Business Design Centre. They included international film commissions, location providers and production service companies offering filming incentives and production solutions from pre to post. Feedback from both visitors and exhibitors last year was highly positive. “I’m filming in France next year, Romania in 2019/20 and Thailand in 2021. I was able to kickstart research for all three in a venue 40 minutes from my front door,” says Excalibur Films’ Paul Wiffen. Meanwhile, exhibitor Bui Baldvinsson, the founder of Hero Productions Iceland, says: “Since Hero Productions Iceland started attending FOCUS we have been growing extremely fast and well, and that is mainly due to the contacts we have met at the event. The networking is amazingly easy and it’s all about breaking the ice.” Mikael Svensson, representing the Swedish Film Commissions, adds: “It’s an incredible achievement to create such an indispensable event in such a short time.” FOCUS has quickly established itself as an important date in the screen industry calendar. Pact UK managing director of business development and global strategy Dawn McCarthy-Simpson, who is chair of the 2019 FOCUS Content Advisory Board, comments: “FOCUS is one of the top events that

theRe aRe FeW Places WheRe PRoDUceRs oF FeatURe FilMs anD tV seRies gatheR alongsiDe PRoDUceRs oF tV coMMeRcials anD bRanDeD content UnDeR one RooF.


happen in the UK, where you can meet 60 countries, and find out incentives and partners and potential opportunities. A key factor is that it is free. FOCUS is inclusive and brings everyone together – a whole range of people at different levels of their career”. it’s an incReDible achieVeMent to cReate sUch an inDisPensable eVent in sUch a shoRt tiMe.

Sustainability will continue to play a major role at FOCUS. For 2019, in association with AdGreen and BAFTA’s albert, FOCUS will introduce a series of pledges and work with the Business Design Centre to reduce the carbon footprint of the whole event. Sustainability issues will be embedded throughout the content programme, addressing the environmental impact of the production industry at every opportunity. The Green zone, showcasing eco-friendly companies and offering dedicated sessions at The Green Academy, will be expanded. FOCUS’s networking opportunities will also be refined for the 2019 edition, offering a bespoke brokering of relationships. Last year’s FOCUS hosted 30 dedicated networking events, including a Producers’ Brunch in association with Variety, the Location Managers’ Christmas Drinks, the Advertising Producers Association’s Christmas Party and receptions by a wide range of film commissions including Italy, Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Estonia, Ukraine, Madrid, Creative England/FO:UK, Poland, Cyprus, Portugal and Marseille. FOCUS will also continue to expand its international reach, creating additional formal partnerships and inviting overseas delegations. Over 30 associations from 20 European countries, representing producers, directors, location managers and other audiovisual professionals, joined as new affiliates for the 2018 edition of FOCUS. One of the key draws for visitors to FOCUS is its packed content programme of more than 60 sessions, featuring over 150 expert speakers. For 2019, the speakers will address the key opportunities and challenges facing the production




industry today. This year’s programme is being developed in consultation with organisations including the British Film Institute, British Film Commission, Pact, Directors UK, Advertising Producers Association, The Production Guild, ScreenSkills, UK Screen Alliance, Creative Europe Media Desk UK and Women in Film and TV. Last year’s event looked at how the screen industries could best take advantage of a deluge of global production spurred by the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Apple. Elsewhere, there were case studies about the making of blockbusters such as Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again, Mary Poppins Returns, and The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Other speakers at FOCUS included the producer of Les Miserables, Louise Say; Calibre producer Al Clark; the founder of film and TV investment firm Head Gear Films, Phil Hunt; and the producers of ITV’s hit Love Island. Production designer James Lapsley also talked about his work on the biggest hit of the year, The Bodyguard, while the rise of short form content was discussed by Barcroft Media founder Sam Barcroft and Little Dot commissioning editor Adam Gee. FOCUS Managing Director Jean-Frédéric Garcia said: “We could not be happier to see how well received FOCUS 18 has been, counting visitors from across the world and from all sectors of the creative screen industries. We enjoyed a lively exhibition hall, an amazing conference programme and many networking opportunities. We have ambitious plans for 2019 and look forward to welcoming even more delegates and exhibitors.” FOCUS takes place at the Business Design Centre in London on 3/4 December 2019. It remains completely free to attend for industry professionals. For more details, see



Making of Hanna



series remake of Joe Wright’s hit 2011 film, Hanna stands out as one of the new breed of globally-focused, European-made and SVOD-financed dramas.

Backed by Amazon, and produced out of the UK by NBC Universal International Studios, the film was based in Budapest, Hungary, and shot on location in Slovakia (doubling for Poland), the UK as well as 10 days in Morocco and Spain, and a weekend in Berlin, Germany.

It’s the story of a young girl (Esme Creed-Miles), raised in total seclusion in the remote woods of Eastern Europe, whose survivalist skills are tested when she is hunted across Europe by rogue CIA agents. Hanna was written and produced by David Farr (The Night Manager), who co-wrote the original feature. Director Sarah Adina Smith (Legion, Room 104) helmed the first two episodes.

The longer playing time of the eight-part drama has allowed Farr to give new depth to the characters and plot, says Tom Coan, the executive producer of Hanna. Such international dramas used to be a hard sell to broadcasters. But that’s no longer the case, says Coan, citing the global sensibility of streamers like Amazon. “We found a home for a piece that we feel is inherently global.”



ARGENTINA epic wonderland

Argentina’s creative spirit is well matched to its extreme assortment of locations. The capital Buenos Aires also provides a production friendly atmosphere, with studios, European style architecture and crews that offer more cost effective rates than their European and North American counterparts.

uenos Aires is a big and sprawling capital whose architecture comprises the whole spectrum of architectural looks. Sometimes referred to as Little Paris, much of the city exudes a neoclassical European elegance. As the city flourished, French and Italian architects designed many of the buildings that shaped the city such as the Santisimo Sacramento Basilica and Paz Palace. As a result, Buenos Aires is a reliable double for cities including Paris, Rome and even London. In terms of more modern styles, alongside built up business districts, there are brutalist modern structures such as the Bank of London and South America, or the MALBA modern art museum. The city also has a colourful character with colonial style houses in San Telmo, or the charming multicoloured neighbourhoods of La Boca (pictured above) or Palermo, where murals and graffiti art adorn the walls.

“deliverOO’s first cOmmercial spOt EAT MORE AMAZING sees giant fOOd zOOming rOund a mOdern city. filmed in buenOs aires, it cOuld pass fOr any eurOpean Or nOrth american capital.”

Deliveroo’s first commercial spot Eat More Amazing sees giant food zooming round a modern city. Filmed in Buenos Aires, it could pass for any European or North American capital. Gulko Films serviced the shoot in Buenos Aires for the UK’s Knucklehead.

As Latin America’s second largest country, the outdoor settings available in Argentina are numerous. Large prairie lands are full of pampas grass, the grazing ground of its famous beef cattle and the gauchos, Argentinian cowboys that oversee the herds. Numerous productions have celebrated these legendary figures from Argentinian culture including spots for McDonalds, France’s La Rencontre and Caprice des Dieux. Flipping the genre


Uspallata, Argentina

Uspallata is a small town located near the Argentine-Chilean border. Situated in a desert valley (pictured above), the village itself is an oasis with poplar trees and surrounded by looming mountains. It is a well-known base for exploring the surrounding region. As director Jean-Jacques Annaud found out, this Andean landscape can easily double for the highland regions of Central Asia. The high Andean mountains that surround the village were the perfect setting for much of Seven years in Tibet. Many locations around the province of Mendoza were used in the film as the region provides numerous snow-capped peaks. A range of sets were built here including a Tibetan city and an ancient palace. The regions has very little rainfall throughout the year, with snow in the mountains during winter and clear skies in summer.



on its head, a 2015 spot for alcohol brand Pampero serviced by PSN Argentina, entitled Llaneros saw a flock of wild horses invade a city at night. The Revenant director Alejandro González Iñárritu unexpectedly found himself chasing snow in Ushuaia, Patagonia. The production had to relocate here from Canada after an unseasonably warm spell melted snow earlier than anticipated. Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, acts as a gateway to the Antarctic and is a convenient base for productions shooting in Southernmost Patagonia. BBC documentary series Patagonia: Earth’s Secret Paradise is one of the productions to fully explore this region on film.



Fifteen including Latin American agreement, France, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Morocco. ATA CARNET



Writer and Director Damian Szifron – Wild Tales. Martin Mercado. Executive Creative Director Mercado McCann. Composer Gustavo Santaolalla – Brokeback Mountain, Babel. CURRENCY

PESO = USD0.024


GMT -3 Images: Clemence Béhier, David Davis & Photo Politain.


Another favoured and slightly more accessible location in Patagonia is the Argentinian Lake District. The attractiveness of the valleys and blue lakes are only enhanced by the snowcapped mountains all around. Both The Motorcycle Diaries and On the Road shot here, while more regular work comes from documentary series. Bariloche is a tourist destination in the Lake District, providing hotels and good infrastructure. Moreover, the region tends to have sunny weather during summer months. Elsewhere, plate shots of the Iguazu Falls, in the Iguazu national park were used in Marvel’s Black Panther. The fictional world of Wakanda was made up of numerous locations from around the world but the falls star as Warrior Falls. Iguazu’s two hundred and seventy-five waterfalls that drape themselves off the green cliffs measure 1.7 miles in diameter, making for pretty impressive shots. Buenos Aires is home to most of the country’s production infrastructure and is where producers can source some of the most extensive range of film equipment in South America. Camaras y Luces is one of the largest rental houses and studios in South America and can be found in the capital. Unfortunately, Argentina’s lack of an incentive scheme has become more apparent in recent years as neighbours Chile and Uruguay have both introduced schemes. While this shouldn’t affect the commercial industry, some action may be required to protect its incoming film and TV work. Having said this, working in the country still provides savings on comparable work in Europe or North America. On top of this, the access to equipment and a solid crew base may assist Argentina in retaining its place on the world stage.

buenOs aires is hOme tO mOst Of the cOuntry’s prOductiOn infrastructure and is where prOducers can sOurce sOme Of the mOst extensive range Of film equipment in sOuth america.


Argentina is the second national government, after Canada, to become a member of the Blockchain Research Institute. The collaboration between the two countries means that the Argentinian government has committed to the creation of a “Blockchain Research Institute Centre of Excellence” in its country and will be able to access the projects and programmes that are available to the institute’s members. Blockchain, the revolutionary technology that is redefining how transactions are made, ideas are shared and workflow is managed, is being implemented in projects in Argentina including government purchasing and contracting platforms and providing secure public records. The research institute is a global think-tank aiming to help organisations understand and utilise the new technology to unlock the potential of the digital economy. Currently there are a hundred projects carried out by the institute’s research programme and members include Accenture, Aon, Cisco, Deloitte, FedEx and Fujitsu.


CANNES FILM This year’s Cannes Film Festival seems to be balancing features from familiar industry heavyweights with a new generation of filmmakers.

while French director Arnaud Desplechin, who opened the festival with Ismael’s Ghosts in 2017, will compete with Oh Mercy!

Festival veterans Ken Loach, Terrence Malick, the Dardennes brothers and Pedro Almodovar all have films in the main competition. They are being presented alongside features from Mati Diop and Ladj-Ly, who have managed the rare feat of cracking the competition with first films. French-Senegalese Diop will bring Atlantique, set in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, while Mali-born Ladj-Ly’s comes with Paris set crime drama Les Misérables.

Four films directed by women — Diop’s Atlantique, Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Justine Triet’s Sibyl — have been selected, marking a slight improvement on the usual two or three, and tying a record previously set by the festival in 2011. Overall, 13 of the 51 filmmakers (a little over 25%) announced in the full Cannes selection are women.

Italian director Marco Bellocchio is in competition for the seventh time with his latest, The Traitor. Canadian director Xavier Dolan, who shared the Grand Prix with Jean-Luc Godard at Cannes three years earlier, returns with Matthias and Maxime,

The Hollywood studios will be represented by Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman, a Paramount Pictures biopic starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, which plays out-of-competition.

12,000 120

crime drama from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, which plays out of competition. Netflix, meanwhile, is again conspicuous by its absence following the festival’s ruling that films selected for competition must be released in French theatres. The contretemps cost Cannes dear last year after Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma went on to win the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival and three Academy Awards. Asif Kapadia is presenting his documentary about football legend Diego Maradona out of competition with the Argentine expected to appear on the red carpet. The festival opens with Jim Jarmusch’s zombie satire The Dead Don’t Die.


Amazon Studios will be in attendance with at least one episode of Too Old to Die young, a 10-part

cannes in numbers


cOuntries REPRESENTED IN 2019













FILMS IN Official cOmpetitiOn



anniversary OF THE MARCHE DU FILM IN 2019


CANADA grand ambitions

A major creative hub, Canada has established itself at the top of the international production leagues. While Canada may be Hollywood’s home away from home, the sheer size of the country means that, from locations to talent, plenty of untapped possibilities remain.

A recent Film L.A. report, which broke down filming locations for 2017’s top 100 US domestic box office features, placed Canada at the top. British Colombia hosted principal production on 11, seven were based in Ontario while Manitoba and Quebec welcomed one each.

Canada’s array of stackable incentives can amount to major savings, making filming in the country an attractive proposition. The nationwide Film and Audio tax credit programme affords a 16% credit on Canadian labour expenditures. For co-productions this jumps to 25%. On top of this, every province and territory, bar Prince Edward Island, offers stackable fiscal incentives to incoming productions and post-production incentives can also be found.

“its clOse prOximity tO the us, parity with the dOllar and extreme natural and urban envirOnments maKes canada a cOmpetitOr tO its us neighbOur fOr high end cOmmercial wOrK.”

Canada has the infrastructure to support the steady stream of both large scale and long-term productions. Acknowledging this, in October 2017, Netflix announced that its first permanent production presence outside the US would be in Canada. The streaming giant has committed to investing CAD0.5 billion by 2022, pinpointing “the quality and the strength of Canadian content, talent, and crew”. With Canadian-made global successes such as To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Lost in Space (pictured above) and Altered Carbon, Netflix has already said it expects to exceed the initial promised spend.



Athabasca Glacier, Colombia Icefield, Alberta The drive, winding its way through the Jasper National Park, is impressive enough but the magnitude of the icefield really drives home the power of nature. Covering 124 square miles, the icefield is comprised of six glaciers and feeds into three oceans; the Arctic, the Pacific and the Atlantic. It is the largest ice mass outside the Arctic Circle. Of the six glaciers, Athabasca (pictured above) is the most accessible. It was first used on screen in 1978 as the exterior of the Fortress of Solitude in Richard Donner’s iconic Superman. The location is ideal for filming and can easily accommodate small crews. The Icefield Centre has two restaurants as well as a lodge with 32 guest rooms.


A comprehensive array of locations are also on offer. Modern cityscapes or historic and Europeanlooking quarters can be found in towns and cities while Canada's outdoors is full of untapped locations. What’s more, certain regions support provincial filming through additional tax uplifts. With such copious resources and technical crews, Canada makes a top choice for international advertising work. Its close proximity to the US, parity with the dollar and extreme natural and urban environments make it a competitor to its US neighbour for high-end commercial work. And when principal photography has wrapped, there is little reason to leave the country. Quebec, Toronto and Vancouver are at the forefront of the global post-production industry and the 16% labour credit includes post-production work. As testament to this, Sony Imageworks relocated its headquarters to Vancouver in 2014. The federal commitment to growing the tech industries has played a large role in this. Under The Global Talent Stream, employers can secure work permits for high-skilled jobs, involved in video games and VFX, in as little as 10 days making access to highly-skilled labour needed for the sector quick and convenient.

ALBERTA Alberta’s production grant provides up to 30% of eligible expenditures, and the province has accrued more Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe wins than any other. Scenic epics Brokeback Mountain and The Revenant and sci-fi sagas Inception and Interstellar all shot here. Recently, two series of Sky Atlantic and Amazon Prime’s western crime drama Tin Star (pictured on the next page) have used Alberta’s mountainous landscapes. Tin Star is based at the new Calgary Film Centre whose three sound stages have provided space for productions including Fargo since opening in 2016.

BRITISH COLUMBIA With skilled workers, extensive infrastructure and a 28% tax credit, Vancouver has managed to emerge as Canada's production powerhouse. Studio space accommodates TV series including Riverdale and Altered Carbon, but productions are drawn to the landscapes too. War for the Planet of the Apes found impressive locations on Vancouver Island's Long Beach, in nearby Tofino's Pacific Rim National Park and in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial park over its 180-day shoot in BC. Special effects and interactive digital media are also big business here. Over 170 video game development studios are based in Vancouver (backed by a 16% credit on BC labour expenditures) and companies such as EA, Microsoft Studios, Kabam and SEGA all have a presence in the city.




The Lighthouse

Q: What locations in Nova Scotia were

used for the film? A: We found the ideal location on the western tip of Nova Scotia called Cape Forchu which is on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Yarmouth. It provided the perfect ominous, jagged backdrop to the story Robert Eggers wanted to tell. When we needed to do our stage work, we were able to move into a soundstage located in Dartmouth which is across the bridge from the province's capital city Halifax. Q: What advice would you give producers

considering shooting in Nova Scotia? A: If you're shooting in the winter on the windward edge of the Atlantic I'd say bring an extra set of socks and a warm toque. That said, we started filming at the beginning of April and it didn't snow once which was obviously great for us. The crews weren't phased at all. They were remarkably comfortable with working on location and could roll with anything thrown at them. Q: How did the local incentives help the film? A: The best aspect of the tax incentive regime they have there is that once you deliver the film and the audit is done, the government will write a cheque to the production within two to three months. That's fast! Q: Have you any recommendations for how

to unwind while shooting in the province? A: If you like lobster, there's no better place. Even if you don't, the restaurant scene in Halifax is remarkably strong and diverse. The city itself is bigger than we thought and has everything you need. An afternoon of sailing around Halifax harbour or even in nearby Lunenburg or Yarmouth can't be beaten either.



MANITOBA Manitoba’s tax credit is Canada’s highest, offering productions a choice between receiving up to 65% with the Cost-of-Salaries Tax Credit which includes bonuses, or 30% on all eligible Manitoba expenditures. A large proportion of filming takes place outside the capital of Winnipeg. “Our locations are quite varied,” says Ginny Collins from Manitoba Film & Music. Northern Manitoba, she adds, “features icy tundra and our idyllic small towns and beautiful lakes are also frequently used”. SOMETHING ELSE

Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront is soon to be made over into a futuristic tech-driven smart district (pictured below). Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation company behind the new neighbourhood want it to be “an exemplar to the world of how to build cities that have the greatest impact on our future”. Some of the plans for the district include streets constructed for driverless cars, pedestrians and cyclists, a zero-emissions microgrid, residences catering to a full spectrum of incomes and public spaces engineered to double the hours residents spend outdoors, even in the Canadian winter.

Dreamwork’s family film A Dog's Journey recently wrapped. Manitoba has removed the sunset clause on the incentive and to this end, Amazon sci-fi series Tales from the Loop is soon to shoot, blending futuristic elements with rural scenes.

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR Discovery Canada and Netflix co-production Frontier films in the coastal province taking advantage of the incentive which consists of either the 40% on regional labour or 25% of N&L production costs. The series following Jason Mamoa as an outlawed trapper has shot extensively in Avalon Peninsula and the Gros Morne National Park, which has cliffs, waterfalls and fjords.

NOVA SCOTIA Nova Scotia’s ranging landscapes have doubled for locations as diverse as Napa Valley to Maine and hosted historic productions including Moby Dick and Titanic. Netflix comedy series Trailer Park Boys is created and shot here, displaying the capabilities of the creative industry. Nova Scotia has generous incentives on offer; up to 32% of eligible expenditure, 60% on Animation labour and either 50% qualifying expenditure on gaming or 25% of total expenditures. Having recently increased its funding pot, Nova Scotia is able to provide incentives for more productions.

ONTARIO “There is a healthy mix of foreign and domestic product being produced in Ontario; in fact, slightly more than 50% of production in the last year was foreign service production,” says Justin Cutler, Film Commissioner of Ontario. Incoming productions can claim a 35% incentive on eligible Ontario labour or 21.5% on production expenditure. Studio space is coveted, especially since both Netflix and CBS have both announced major commitments to Ontario, with Netflix leasing stages at Cinespace Film Studios and Pinewood Toronto.


tO ensure OntariO can cOntinue facilitating the large-scale shOOts it has becOme synOnymOus with, anOther 1.2 milliOn square feet Of sOund stage space is set tO becOme available in 2021.


Known for special effects work, Quebec has a 16% rebate for SFX and animation. Game of Thrones carried out much of its special effects work in the province at Rodeo FX which has won three Emmy’ Awards for its work on the show’s big set pieces. The province provides a 20% production incentive on all production costs and a 16% SFX and animation incentive.



57 including the UK, India, Russia, South Korea, Ireland, China and Germany. TAX INCENTIVES

16.5% 16.5% for foreign production companies on qualified Canadian labour expenditures or services rendered in Canada by Canadian residents. INTERNATIONAL TALENT

Director Denis Villeneuve: Arrival, Sicario, Blade Runner 2. Oscar nominee, 73 wins including Hugo Award, Toronto Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. Composer Lesley Barber: Manchester By the Sea. ASCAP composers choice nominee. Screenwriter and Producer Evan Goldberg: Superbad, The Green Hornet. American Comedy Awards, Canadian Screen Awards. VFX Art Director Yannick Dusseault: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. VES Award Winner. ATA CARNET


Pinewood Studios, Vancouver Mammoth Studios, Cinespace Film Studios, North Shore Studios. CURRENCY & EXCHANGE

Canadian Dollar. 1 CAD = 0.75 USD TIME ZONE

-7/-2.5 Images: Lost in Space © Netflix, Tin Star © Sky UK Limited, Star Trek Discovery © 2017 CBS Interactive, Picture Plane for Heatherwick Studio & Martin M303.


However, over two million square feet of sound stage space, and nine thousand highly skilled workers are currently based in Ontario, supporting productions like Suicide Squad and Star Trek Discovery (pictured above). To ensure the province can continue facilitating the large-scale shoots it has become synonymous with, another 1.2 million square feet of studio space is set to become available in 2021. For post-production, Ontario offers an 18% incentive on labour. Companies including Deluxe Toronto, Technicolor Toronto, Eggplant Picture and Sound, and Legend 3D have worked on award winning projects, such as The Shape of Water, American Gods and Captain Marvel.

Pristine lakes, overpowering glaciers and rugged mountain terrain are what Yukon is known for. It’s one of the most reliable locations for snow, and specialist production service companies such as SnowShoot Productions Inc. can help productions take advantage of this. In addition to production servicing, SnowShoot specialise in avalanche risk management, so you know you’ll be in good hands. Car shoots covet this vast terrain and most recently a BMW Commercial by Sequoia Content shot portions of its spot here. A 25% Yukon rebate is currently in operation. In addition, commercial productions are eligible for travel rebates up to CAD15,000 to cover travel to Yukon.

QUÉBEC “A lot of productions come out here, because they can have access to a multitude of looks,” explains Chanelle Routhier, National Commissioner of Quebec Film and Television Council. Founded in 1608, Québec is the oldest city in Canada and retains European looks and modern architecture. X-Men: Days of Future Past filmed extensively in Montreal for this reason. Parisian peace talk scenes were shot at Montreal’s Hotel de Ville (city hall), the St Jacques area of old Montreal doubled for New York City and the ultra-modern Stade Olympique also doubled for Washington DC’s RFK Stadium with the help of some special effects. Montreal based Copilot Productions recently filmed a campaign for Canada Goose, involving multiple teams to carry out TVC production, stills photoshoot, a web film and corporate content. The team spent ten days shooting the campaign near Baffin Island, close to the Arctic Circle. Copilot’s CEO Jim Edward elaborates, “It was quite an adventure, we were in the capital of the Nunavut which is called Iqaluit. We were using it as the main base for other travels to glaciers, and the other locations we had pre-scouted”. Copilot works on a whole range of projects from TVC’s to IMAX Films and TV series, and has line produced over three hundred and eighty-five projects in the last twenty years – a rate of about twenty a year.


Montreal based immersive entertainment studio Felix & Paul is currently working with Time on an immersive virtual reality documentary series filmed on and around the International Space Station. PSN Canada partners Sailor Productions are servicing the year-long shoot which is set to “culminate in the first-ever capture of a spacewalk in cinematic virtual reality”. The ISS Experience will capture the first-ever extravehicular activity (EVA, or spacewalk) in VR using two purpose-built camera systems that allow astronauts to capture their missions from a never-before-seen perspective. Two z CAM V1 Pro cameras, certified by NanoRacks and NASA were launched into space on board a SapaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft in December 2018. The VR cameras were then mounted on the Canadarm2 robotic arm, which can be controlled from the ground. The series will be distributed as both a digital XR experience and physical ticketed experiential exhibition at select museums and public locations.



Should producers target Saudi?

the MiDDle east enteRtainMent anD MeDia MaRKet is DeVeloPing RaPiDlY, With saUDi aRabia at the FoReFRont oF change. DaWn MccaRthY-siMPson oUtlines hoW PRoDUceRs can best taKe aDVantage.

he Middle East has long been a big free-to-air TV market. All 21 countries in the region share their channels, but navigating around 1,200 of them with no EPG or country filtering doesn’t make for a pleasant viewing experience. Pay-TV has struggled to take advantage, largely due to lack of credit card penetration and an unsophisticated direct debit system.

But things are changing, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the launch of Vision 2030 – the strategy to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil, with the entertainment and media industries playing a leading role. While Saudi Arabia has often been in the news for the wrong reasons – their treatment of women being a prime example – the signs are that talk about change is being followed through by actions, in some areas at least. In April 2018, the Ministry of Culture & Information (MoCI) ended a 35 year cinema ban, allowing men and women to attend screenings together. There has also been significant investment in a 334 sqkm Entertainment City near Riyadh. The Saudi government is also investing heavily in training for writers and producers to create programming that represents the new Saudi. That’s not to say that it will be plain sailing for international producers looking to exploit opportunities in the region. Cultural differences remain: language,

culture, IP protection, political instabilities and the problems with navigating market entry. But for those producers who are attracted by the ‘desert-dollar’ then be prepared to do your homework. Keep an eye on shifting patterns in consumer behaviour and channel strategies, and find local partners that will ensure ongoing dialogue. Consider the cultural sensitivities and religion – and get on a flight and meet people, it’s the best way to really understand a market. There are plenty of markets that bring MENA together such as Discop and CabSat. In terms of programming, drama remains the most popular genre pan-MENA and is dominated by imports from USA (42%), Turkey (19%) and South Asia (17%). Kids TV, meanwhile, accounts for 8% of programming across all channels in MENA. And I think there’s scope to expand in entertainment and lifestyle programming, particularly programmes aimed at shared family viewing. This demand is evident with a raft of formats acquired by SBC from ITV’s Talpa, including new survival show The Desert. Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is currently rolling out its digital platform, Jawwy TV Home across the MENA region, offering a more modern viewing experience. And with internet penetration high, investment in high speed fibre connections taking place, and a population that is device obsessed, the modernisation of media production and consumption across the Middle East looks set to be rapid.

Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE is managing director of business development & global strategy at UK producers’ alliance Pact, where she is responsible for developing opportunities for international IP exploitation and markets. 38


interview alex withderspici pina roducer and writer Alex Pina is the creative mind behind the most watched non Englishlanguage show on Netflix, La Casa de Papel (Money Heist).

The founder of Spanish production company Vancouver Media, his credits also include Locked Up (Vis a Vis) and The Ship (El Barco). Last year, he struck a global deal with Netflix for whom he is making new projects including the third series of La Casa de Papel. His most recent release is The Pier (El Embarcadero). Upcoming projects include Sky Rojo, a female-action drama, and Ibiza-set White Lines, which Vancouver is making with the UK’s Left Bank Pictures. MAKERS MAG

How did you begin in this industry? ALEX PINA

I studied journalism because I wanted to write and earn a living with it. But soon I found out reality has some limitations that fiction doesn’t. Then I got the chance to write scripts for a series called Más que Amigos. Of those first scenes, no line I wrote remained. There and then, I realised that the scriptwriter’s task was much more technical and harder than I had imagined. I needed to learn how to write scripts on the go. MAKERS MAG

What were the major turning points in your career? ALEX PINA

The first was the move from journalism to fiction, and the NETFLIX

most important took place several years later, after Bienvenidos al Lolita flopped. That’s when I learnt most. After that fiasco, I spent six months analysing the latest fiction. I’d watch Breaking Bad and take notes. I would analyse the narrative, the characters’ arc, the structure… And then Locked Up came out. To make La Casa de Papel, I created my own production company, Vancouver, because I wanted to keep a tighter control over the projects.

used a building belonging to the Spanish National Research Council, and the inside was built in our studios in Colmenar Viejo, on the outskirts of Madrid. We rely on our art department, led by Fernando González Ansa and Abdón Alcañiz. They create the sets for all our series.


Our strength is the creation of characters. They have a distinctive charisma, along with strong moral ambiguities – eccentric at times, humane at others, with ample arcs of development. They are unique people, most of the time – full of surprises, magnetic, stimulating, moving. They alter the journey that the viewers foresee.

Why do you think La Casa de Papel has been such a big hit in Spain, and internationally? ALEX PINA

Its overwhelming success beyond Spanish borders was totally unexpected. In fact, the impact in Spain did not equal the impact in other countries such as France, Italy, Argentina or Colombia. In long conversations with my collaborators at Vancouver, we have been unable to work out the reason for such a passionate reaction. It may have something to do with the disenchantment towards governments and central banks. There could well be other factors. It is an ensemble series – including twenty very emotionally strong female characters – and the point of view is not masculine but feminine. MAKERS MAG

Where did you record La Casa de Papel – and how did you manage to create such an authentic world? ALEX PINA

In different locations around Madrid. For the Royal Mint, we


What kind of series do you like to make? ALEX PINA


What does your deal with Netflix mean for the company? ALEX PINA

For us, it’s a wonderful agreement since it is the first signed with a Latino showrunner. It’s huge news for Latino and Spanish fiction, and specially for people making fiction outside of the English-speaking world. Now we can begin to compete on equal terms in the global entertainment and fiction industry. Before signing, I said I wanted to keep my creative freedom, to maintain Vancouver Media’s DNA, and they have supported us. Above all it will give Vancouver stability since our company was born just over two years ago and it chiefly intends to make a quasi-artisanal fiction in a distinct way.


Tell us about the new projects you are working on? ALEX PINA

The third season of La Casa de Papel is going to be very intense. It is going to be recorded primarily in Spain, although there are other locations. Sky Rojo will be a female action drama and White Lines will recount the investigation of a disappearance in Ibiza, twenty years ago, of a well-known British DJ. We are working again in two different time frames in White Lines, as we did in El Embarcadero and in La Casa de Papel. We are still working on the time fragmentation, and on the moral ambiguity of a series which is deeply hedonistic and emotional. On each series, there is a different script team and I work with each team on the conception, development and the writing of the script’s final versions. I wouldn’t recommend this – it’s almost like a circus artist spinning plates, but we have a heavy workload and we want to look after our series. MAKERS MAG

What is the key to success in TV drama? ALEX PINA

I’d advise anyone who wants to work in this industry to be self-critical and able to rid yourself of mediocre ideas so that others may shine. Do not hesitate to toss some out, edit often, and let things fall out. These actions mean that, at the end of the process, the most interesting parts remain.




CHILE dramatic scenery The country is also set up to handle more long format content. Chile has the ATA Carnet system, so importing filming equipment en masse is a straightforward process. In addition, the level of equipment available for rental is high. In order to become a more cost-competitive destination, Chile is currently piloting an audiovisual incentive programme, which provides 30% of Chilean expenses up to the limit of USD3 million. Productions spending more that USD2 million in the country qualify.

Chile’s striking locations are worth serious consideration for any production looking to make an impact. Moreover, with most locations easily accessible, a pilot incentive and streamlined permitting process in place, incoming productions should find shooting here a breeze.

Chile’s climate is just as diverse and unpredictable as its fantastic locations. Summer falls from December to February and Winter from June to August. In general, the southern areas are cooler than the north. There are direct connections to North America, the UK and Europe as well as Australia and New zealand. s you’d expect from a country that runs down half the flank of Latin America, Chile’s locations are varied. While a large number of coastal settings can be found, mountainous regions, desert landscapes, Antarctic polar landscapes and verdant agricultural valleys are all available too. Easter Island’s subtropical climes extend the offering further, although you will have to catch a five hour flight to reach it. The proximity to the coast from almost anywhere in the country also means that more than one location can be shot over the course of a single day.

The accessibility of these wildly dramatic locations makes Chile a favourite for high end commercial productions. Superdry’s Snow “the accessibility campaign, for instance, shot in Valle Nevado, a ski resort in the Of wildly dramatic Andes mountains that is located lOcatiOns maKes chile only 6km outside of the capital a favOurite fOr high city Santiago. In comparison, to end cOmmercial prove the durability of its Toyota prOductiOns.” TRD the car company shot a commercial on the coarse and rugged terrain of one of Chile’s numerous active volcanoes. The jagged black landscape dotted with snowy glaciers in southern Chile made for some impressive shots.


Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is a colourful port city (pictured above) only an hour and a half drive west of Santiago de Chile. Built around forty-three hills, the colourful houses are built on hilly inclines and Valparaiso’s maze of steep streets, alleyways and staircases are lined with vintage mansions and some of Latin America’s most creative street art. The place is well frequented by travellers who explore the city via the funicular or trolleybus. Eli Roth’s 2012 disaster movie Aftershock, was located in Valparaiso. Based on the 2010 Chile earthquake that had a magnitude of 8.8 the film shot in some of the same locations the disaster hit. Images: Adonis Abril & LM Spencer.



Are ďŹ lm festivals still worth it?


theRe’s no DoUbt the FilM FestiVal-going eXPeRience has changeD PRoFoUnDlY since the heaDY DaYs oF the eaRlY 2000s, leaDing soMe to qUestion WhetheR theY aRe still ReleVant in this eRa oF stReaMing anD Digital DisRUPtion. Don’t WRite FilM FestiVals oFF too soon thoUgh, PRoDUceRs anD sales agents tell MAKERS.


t’s a familiar part of the festival-going routine. During most festivals, there’s anecdotal chat that the event is quieter and numbers are down on previous years. Tables are easier to book at restaurants, say veteran festival goers, deal-making is lacklustre or there are fewer stars in town, and not so many glossy posters advertising the latest films. This was certainly the case at Cannes last year. It wasn’t helped by its spat with Netflix, which pulled all its movies from the festival, causing leading trades to speculate that Cannes had lost its mojo. In an era of rapidly changing viewing habits and the rise of streamers, critics questioned whether a festival like Cannes was even relevant any more. Soon after the event, however, the Cannes market announced that a record number of registered participants, over 12,400, had attended – a fact confirmed by sales agents who reported that business had been busy in 2018. Indeed, Cannes and its market have grown considerably over the past ten years, with rising numbers of buyers and sellers coming from the fastgrowing Asian economies in particular. Attendance last year at the Marche du Film from China alone was up 22% year-on-year to 700 participants. Elsewhere, the festival circuit has been showing signs of health. Sundance, in particular, saw frenzied deal making this year, with Amazon paying USD13 million for US rights to Mindy Kaling’s comedy Late Night and USD14 million for global rights to Adam Driver’s political thriller The Report. The Berlinale’s important European Film Market has seen steady growth too – from 8,091 registered participants in 2013 to 9,973 in 2018. Numbers slipped back 10% this year, however, due to controversial security changes that limited access to the market. While the overall numbers might be up at key festivals, there’s no doubt that the festival experience is very different to what it was even 10 years ago. Then figures like the now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein bestrode the festival circuit, snapping up films in a blaze of publicity and multi-millionpound deals. Deal-making is now much more subdued. Since 2007, the independent film business has been buffeted by unprecedented difficulties, from the financial crisis to digital disruption and increasing competition for audiences. The net effect, according to consultancy Olsberg SPI, is that the international market value for independent films is down around 50% since 2007.

In particular, prices have fallen because international buyers no longer have the safety net of strong local physical video and television markets when they acquire films, so are more focused on projects with recognisable commercial elements. “The world of bidding wars is wholly gone,” confirms Phil Hunt, the MD of film financier Headgear and a shareholder in sales company Bankside Films. “The money being made in film has dramatically decreased.” As a result, the expenditure on film promotion has decreased – which is why festivals feel so different to many film industry veterans. “Lots of sales “the wOrld Of companies used to have bidding wars at their staff staying in film festivals is really fancy hotels, now whOlly gOne. they are AirBnB-ing it,” says Hunt. “In the the mOney being 1990s, the parties in made in film has Cannes were the best in dramatically the world – in chateaus decreased.” with famous acts and champagne flowing. It would be pointless doing that now – there is just not the money to be made.” That said, nobody thinks the era of the film festival is coming to a close any time soon. “For us, they are still important,” says producer Al Clark of Wellington Films, whose most recent film Calibre sold to Netflix after a market screening at Cannes last year. His company will travel to Cannes each year, and alternate between attending Berlin and Toronto festivals depending on the projects they have: Berlin, for European facing projects, Toronto for those that are more aligned to the North American market. “Cannes, meanwhile, is for everything, but because of that it can be chaotic.” He says it is important for an indie like Wellington, which is based in Nottingham, England, to be seen at these festivals. “We started making features after the heady days of pre-sales. But somewhere like Cannes is still a relevant place for us to have meetings and look for co-production partners.” Cannes, he adds, is a focused space for meetings – where it is often easier to meet industry colleagues than it is at home. The networking events, says Clark, are often more important for business than the pre-arranged meetings, as chance encounters can often lead to new opportunities. “That’s the golden thing about Cannes.”



Images: Late Night © 2018 - Sundance Institute (above). e Report © Amazon Studios (below).

Both buyers and sellers say that festivals remain vital for business, even in an era of Skype and video conference calls. cannes anD its MaRKet haVe gRoWn consiDeRablY oVeR the Past ten YeaRs, With Rising nUMbeRs oF bUYeRs anD selleRs coMing FRoM asia in PaRticUlaR. attenDance last YeaR at the MaRche DU FilM FRoM china alone Was UP 22% YeaR-on-YeaR.

“It’s the one moment of the year when you can meet folk from all over the world to finance films, sell films and to package them,” says Hunt. “Hopefully you can have a really nice dinner with them, and get to know them more – so that you really know if you want to do business with them.” Nothing, he says, can take away from the power of sitting opposite someone in any business. “Even as distribution models change, you will always need film festivals and markets to service that human need for contact.” Hunt travels to the “three main festivals” every year – Berlin, Cannes and Toronto – “because everybody else does. You can get to see a ton of people at those festivals, which are also, importantly, markets as well.” For arthouse films, festivals also remain vital platforms for a new launch. A festival selection still provides a validation for a new film, boosting its industry and media profile and possible value to buyers. It’s for this reason that most funding bodies ask producer applicants to specify which festivals they will aim to launch their film at, before handing out any cash. The world’s oldest film festival, Venice, has emerged as a key launch pad for films with Oscar ambitions – partly due to its August/September dates being timely for an Academy Award run. According to recent Screen International research, 39 (36.8%) of the 106 nominations across all Oscar feature film categories first launched at Venice, including The Favourite (10 nominations), Roma (10) and A Star is Born (8). Cannes was the second most represented, according to Screen, with 13 of the 106 nods, with BlacKkKlansman (6) and Cold War (3) its two main titles. A festival nomination is seen as key to securing distribution. According to film industry researcher Stephen Follows, over half of Sundance and Cannesnominated films reach US cinemas, with Venice and Berlin nominees not far behind.



Distribution secured by films that have premiered at festivals has also been getting wider over time. In 1998, the average Cannes nominated film reached cinemas in 14 countries, according to Follows. By 2017, this had doubled to an average of 28 countries. Follows also says Cannes is the highest performing festival in terms of securing theatrical distribution. Other festivals are also valuable for launching films, such as Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Telluride in the US, and Locarno, Rotterdam, London and San Sebastian in Europe, and Busan and Tokyo in Asia. TV is now following the film festival route, with major dramas looking for festival berths. Berlin has emerged as an important launchpad for globallyfocused dramas. Recent Amazon series Hanna debuted at the Berlin film festival in February. “Amazon was really supportive of us submitting to Berlin,” says the film’s executive producer Tom Coan, of NBC Universal International Studios. “It lends a cachet to the show.” At a time when money is tight in independent film, festival-going is not cheap though. The price of Cannes accommodation soars during the festival. The cost of attending Cannes for most of the festival’s run is a minimum of EUR3-4000 per head, if “nOthing can taKe staying in an average away frOm the hotel room. Hiring a pOwer Of sitting sea-facing apartment on OppOsite sOmeOne. the Croissette, which even as distributiOn many sales companies book for meetings, can mOdels change, cost anything from yOu will always EUR10,000-50,000 a need film festivals week. The cost of and marKets tO attending such festivals service that human is a frequent gripe among attendees. need fOr cOntact.” Still regulars return year after year though. “They are great places for other producers from around the world to meet each other – to catch up, to share tips, and exchange war stories,” says Clark. “You don’t get that anywhere else.”




game on

More productions are heading to Eastern Europe than ever before. it has long been home to some of Europe’s most reliable studio facilities and crews but new territories are also now finding their voice. With a range of competitive incentive schemes and innovative thinking, the industry is listening.

Game of rones © 2019 Home Box Office, Inc.

he game is well and truly on when it comes to attracting production to Eastern Europe. Increasing levels of international work are heading to the region, drawn by the exceptional value it provides. It is a vast region encompassing the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, through to the former Soviet countries of Georgia and Ukraine as well as the Balkan nations of Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria as well as central European countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary. It goes without saying that Eastern Europe boasts a rich tapestry of settings for on location shoots. But there are far more reasons to consider setting up shop in Eastern Europe. As a region, it is becoming progressively more production friendly, with high quality facilities, creative talent and technical knowledge in large supply.

“EvEn though Bulgaria doEs not havE a schEmE in placE, it doEs attract a considEraBlE sharE of thE largEr-scalE projEcts that comE to EastErn EuropE.”

There is also a dynamic range of incentives available. In general, the region has wholeheartedly subscribed to the framework of incentives, adhering to the theory that fiscal schemes manage to draw in high end international work, boosting their reputation as production hubs as well as the local economy. Moreover, for regions that are able to fully capitalise on them, the knock-on effects in terms of increased tourism can far outstrip any original investment. No-one can deny, for example, the effect that Game of Thrones has had on tourism to Dubrovnik (pictured above), Croatia.


location HiGHliGHt

River Soca, Slovenia

This brilliant aquatic blue river runs from western Slovenia down to north eastern Italy and is a popular destination for water sports such as kayaking because of its fast rapids. Running through a valley and surrounded by towering mountains covered in thick forestry, the gorge is a spectacular natural location. 2008 production The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (pictured above) erected a bridge where the river runs close to the mountain town of Bovec, east of Triglav National Park. To reach the Soca valley, it is a two hour drive from Sovenia’s capital Ljublijana. e Chronicles of Narnia; Prince Caspian © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Walden Media, LLC.



PHiliPP ScHMalriEdE ExEcutivE ProducEr cobblEStonE FilMProduktion

Q: What was the brief for the spot? A: Essentially, the brief was to shoot a whole family (four different people) watching TV at home, at the same time, on four different devices, in four different rooms. But, the actual challenge was that we not only needed to shoot the family, but also all the content shown on the devices. Q: Why did you choose to shoot in

Eastern Europe? A: Bucharest, with its studio and backlot options, offered us the best conditions in terms of locations, set construction, production value and budget. We needed a large variety of settings so we had to build parts in the studio as well as use existing studio set construction and outside backlots. We could only find that in Romania. Q: Did you consider any other locations? A: No, for this job Bucharest was actually our first pick and it was clearly the right choice from the beginning. We shot in Romania with Family Film as our local service production. Q: Do you have any tips for filming in


Almost every country in the region now has an incentive package and, as the trend has taken hold, offerings seem to be escalating in size and scope compelling others to scale up their packages, increase funds available and cater to specific subsections of the creative industries. Moreover, those first in the race are now experiencing such high demand that spill over is flowing to fledging nations, whose sectors are able to gain momentum more rapidly than ever before. But producers should not head to Eastern Europe with the notion that the end product will be of inferior quality. Eastern Europe can comfortably facilitate international production, offering internationally recognised creative talent working from pre – to post, animation, emerging technology and gaming. For international producers all this means two things. Firstly, incentives have made an already competitively priced region even more economical so that savings are easier to come by than ever before. Secondly, it means more choice – sometimes confusingly so. Producers inclined to shoot in Eastern Europe are more than likely to find what they need, but may also be left wondering how to determine where will be the best fit for their production. This report will take a deep dive into what is happening in the region, and how best to capitalise on all that it offers. There are production service providers that operate throughout the region, and can help you decide which location will provide the most relevant base for your shoot. Romania’s Family Film is one such production company. With established offices in Romania, Hungary and Serbia together they have worked on major international campaigns for the likes of Ikea, Samsung and Absolut. The most generous incentive currently in operation comes from Romania. Causing quite a stir upon its launch in October 2018, the 35-45% cash rebate applies to feature films, medium and short films, TV series and direct-to-video or internet films as well as documentary and animation. In an effort to revitalise the production sphere, the incentive is by far the largest to be found in the region and has already attracted international productions including Sony’s Alex Rider TV adaptation, production on Hallmark’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, fantasy epic Dragonheart 5 and Afterburn, an action movie set to star Gerard Butler. The rebate provides the 35% return on eligible spend to

A: Take your time and look around. There is a lot to explore and to see. Stay away from the foreign party crowd and stick with the locals. Besides the great studios and backlots with awesome construction crews there are also great locations all over the country that makes it worth going there.



depends on the type of production, as minimum spend in Poland ranges from PLN300,000 for documentary productions up to PLN1 million for fiction features. Different spends are required for co-productions and international projects. There is a cap of PLN15 million which equates to roughly EUR3.33 million per project. Accessing the rebate also depends on who you work with as there is a PLN20 million applicant cap per year. Although productions like Claire Denis’s High Life and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies chose the region before the introduction of the rebate, the new scheme should spark renewed interest and further build on Poland’s substantial sector.

Papillon © 2017 Papillon Movie Finance LLC.

productions who spend a minimum of 20% of the total budget, which amounts to at least EUR100,000, in Romania. There is a per project cap of EUR10 million, and the annual budget for the scheme is equivalent to approximately EUR50 million. Moreover, projects that explicitly promote Romania can access a 10% uplift, effectively bringing the rebate up to an astonishing 45%.

poland’s incEntivE, which has 10% allocatEd to animation work, Builds on thE nation’s history in thE sEctor. polish-British coproducEd loving vincEnt Brought in usd35 million worldwidE and was nominatEd for an acadEmy award.

Bogdan Moncea of Romanian studio Castel Film says the new incentive has created a high level of interest in filming in Romania. “Before this moment Romania was already a known and established country in the film community but had to face the pressure of not having such a programme in place... Such a programme has already brought many more projects in various stages of development or production now including some bigger budgets”. Even before the incentive was introduced, Romania had built a reputation for high quality work at an affordable price point. BBC America’s acclaimed thriller Killing Eve shot extensively in the country, with Alien Films providing local services. The Romanian capital of Bucharest doubled for Russian and French cities. The city centre and suburbs make an excellent double for Moscow, where production costs are noticeably higher. During filming, producers at Sid Gentle Films deemed Bucharest’s backstreets a good double for Parisian districts and additional scenes were filmed here to supplement those shot in the French capital. Being an international production, shooting in Paris, Berlin, Sienna as well as London, continuity was a priority for the production. A convoy of fifteen trucks travelled around Europe and an international team of fifty joined a Romanian crew of over a hundred local professionals for the two-week shoot. Golden Globe Winning actress Sandra Oh noted on the press circuit the ingenuity and of the crew there who just “get things done”. Elsewhere, a number of 30% rebates are in action. Poland launched its highly anticipated incentive scheme in February 2019. Accessing the benefit


aniMation cloSE uP

The Skeleton Crew VR

Warsaw based Immersion Studios was recently involved in a project for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Skeleton Crew VR will be part of the T-Rex: The Ultimate Predator exhibit that introduces visitors to the entire tyrannosaur superfamily. Skeleton Crew VR is the museum’s first multiplayer interactive VR experience. Up to three visitors are put in a space in the Museum’s Hall Of Saurischian Dinosaurs to work together to help build a T-Rex skeleton bone by bone (pictured above). Once fully built, the T-Rex comes to life before the player’s eyes and the museum’s interior is transformed into the marshlands of Montana the T-Rex inhabited over 65 million years ago. The experience was built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine software for HTC’s Vive headset, which uses room scale tracking technology that allows movement in 3D space and motion-tracked handheld controllers interact with the environment. Skeleton Crew will feature in the exhibition which is running until August 9, 2020. In the past, Immersion has worked with HBO Europe, developing an app and 360-degree video for TV series The Pact.


The Czech Republic operates a 20% rebate on qualifying Czech spend. The option is well worth consideration for TV series that are looking to base production in Eastern Europe, as there is no sunset date on the incentive. Moreover, feature films may be equally inclined to venture to the Czech Republic, as there is no cap of per project funding – but eligible expenditure is capped at 80% of any total budget. Prague’s Barrandov Studios is one of the most established studios in Eastern Europe with six sound stages. It has hosted Mission: Impossible and Casino Royale as well as more recently series including Knightfall and Das Boot. International series that have already taken advantage of the incentive include Warner Bros. TV’s comedy-drama Whiskey Cavelier, shooting with Stillking Films in 2018, where the country doubled for European cities such as Paris and Berlin as well as Moscow. Norway’s Atlantic Crossing series also chose the Czech Republic for its seven-month shoot with Sirena Film. Both Montenegro and Latvia operate incentives with low minimum spends, which is particularly suitable for independent productions. Latvia’s rebate provides a 20% rebate to international productions that have a total budget of at least EUR711, 436 for full length features, and EUR142,287 for documentaries. Co-productions choosing to shoot in Riga can access another 20-25% on qualifying spend depending on whether the storyline is set in Riga or not. Meanwhile, Montenegro provides up to 25% rebate on eligible expenditures as long as local spend exceeds EUR100,000 and applies to feature film and TV films and series as well as documentaries from established producers. Before the introduction of the incentive Montenegro’s wild charm enticed features including Pierce Brosnan’s 2014 action crime thriller The November Man shot in the idyllic settings of Sveti Stefan island, the old town of Perast and the coastal town of Hercog Novi and shoots for the 2017 period drama Papillon (pictured on previous page). Now with the additional funding opportunities available, it is only a matter of time before the cinematic potential of Montenegro’s mountain lakes, deep canyons and jagged Adriatic coastline is realised by international productions. In the face of these increasingly competitive offerings, and the success of already implemented programmes, many countries have scaled up their packages or are catering to specific subsections of the industry. The Hungary National Film Fund increased its tax incentive to 30%, and extended the programme until 2024. The scheme applies to films, documentaries and animation movies as well as TV series and short films and post-production. Recent productions to



JaMES WatErS ProducEr cHoPPYWatErS.coM

Confusion to Clarity –

Q: What was the brief for the commercial? A: The brief was to create a ‘world of confusion’. A surreal world where consumers are bombarded with a bewildering amount of choice. is the road through this chaos to clarity. Q: Why was the Ukraine chosen for the spot? A: Let’s not beat about the bush... you get a lot

of bang for your buck in Ukraine. A hell of a lot. Kiev wasn’t the obvious location but other locations in Western Europe that I bid were close to GBP1 million higher for an eight-day shoot. So really, in my opinion, there was nowhere else that we could get the scale and the craftsmanship within the client’s budget. Q: From a value for production point of

view, what does Ukraine provide? A: Radioaktive have spearheaded making Ukraine a film friendly country. When you work there you feel hooked up, like anything is possible. There are incredible locations from the Brutalist architecture of the Soviet era, to locations that can double for USA or Southern Europe. And if you can’t find it, you can often build it – the art department is world class and the costs are low. Q: Have you shot more than one spot in

Ukraine? If so, how diverse is what you can find and what types of productions does it suit? A: I’ve shot car ads, a choreographed spot with mostly Ukrainian talent in a unique location and I’ve shot studio-based jobs. Plus a bunch more. Ukraine works for a diverse range of productions. Sure, there are jobs that for one reason or another simply can’t work there, but when pitching a job I find it’s always worth asking yourself if you can make it work in Ukraine!



Catherine the Great ©Sky Uk Ltd.

have shot in the country include Netflix’s The King, a Plan B Entertainment produced adaptation of several of Shakespeare’s histories for Netflix which stars Robert Pattinson and Timothy Chalamet.

sErBian 3latEral’s tEchnology dEvElopmEnt in digital humans is fEEding thE gamEs and film industry. now part of Epic gamEs, thE industry in sErBia will only Expand in Both tEch and talEnt.

In December 2018, Lithuania increased its production incentive by 50%. Now, the 30% incentive is in operation and international productions are increasing in number. Indre Pavilonyte of the Lithuanian film Centre explains that the decision to increase the incentive level was made after the previously existing fiscal incentive scheme of 20% demonstrated positive results. “Since its introduction in 2014 there has been a rapid growth in the number of foreign film productions that stimulated the local film industry and fostered private investments in this sector. The new law was adopted to maintain these positive developments in the future and ensure the Lithuanian film industry’s competitiveness in the region”. Since the boost, Sky Atlantic’s Catherine the Great (pictured above) which stars Helen Mirren as the Russian monarch chose to shoot in the country. Lithuania’s Baltic Film Services worked on the project which filmed across both Lithuania and Latvia. An upcoming three-part BBC documentary The Rise of the Nazis is also shooting in Lithuania, using the country to double for Germany. Serbia also increased the funds available for its programme by RSD100 million (roughly EUR850,000) in 2019. Milica Bozanic, executive director of the Serbia Film Commission maintains that the Ministry of Economy is closely watching how it fares. “They are supportive of it as the results showcase how significant impact has been achieved in a short period of time. The incentives are also available to European co-production projects which


location HiGHliGHt

Casino Constanta, Romania

This impressive abandoned Casino (pictured below) lies at the end of a board walk overlooking the Black Sea in Constanta, Romania’s port city. Large shell windows pour light over its crumbling facades, chandeliers and sweeping staircases that give away the Casino’s former grandeur. Commissioned by King Carol I, the art nouveau palace was opened to the public in 1910 and welcomed Europe’s elite. Since 1990 the casino has been derelict and is now designated as a historic monument by the Romanian Ministry of Culture and National Patrimony. The Casino’s intricate details and beautiful surroundings makes it a popular destination for photographers and visitors alike. The casino starred in a shoot for Sony Bravia Balloons serviced by Romania’s Digital Spirit. Large white floating orbs slowly fill the palatial interior bathed in golden light and captivating passers-by. Only a two-and-a-half-hour drive direct from Bucharest, Constanta is a popular tourist destination with hotels and appropriate infrastructure.


helps Serbian content and authors expand beyond the existing national funding”. Since launching in 2016, the 25% cash rebate has set in motion a revitalisation of the country’s industry. In 2018 the estimated value of incoming productions amounted to EUR35 million with productions including Ralph Fiennes The White Crow and Luc Besson’s Anna benefiting from the scheme. Serbia, alongside Georgia, is one of the only two nations in Eastern Europe whose incentives apply to the advertising industry. Both Georgia’s 20% rebate and Serbia’s 25% incentive apply to TVCs spending over roughly EUR100,000 in the region. In Serbia there is no cap per project, while in Georgia requests over EUR330,000 must receive special approval from the government. As a result, Serbia has become a hot spot for commercial production, producing high-end campaigns from around the globe. In 2018, over 40 commercial and special purpose film projects were in receipt of the rebate. One of the highest spending spots to have shot in Serbia recently was for German retailer Penny’s that transformed Belgrade into a fairy-tale setting. German agency Campaign delivered the spot serviced by Serbia’s Emote. Directed by Martin Aamund, production took place in some of Belgrade’s most marketable filming locations – New Belgrade’s brutalist housing blocks in New Belgrade, as well as downtown Belgrade’s city streets. Mass crowd scenes involved over a thousand extras in the four-day shoot, and crew spanned between one hundred and fifty and two hundred people per day. Aside from commercial productions, Georgia’s incentive covers a wide range of content – from feature film and TV series to miniseries and pilots, animation as well as documentary, reality and music videos. TV series Bullets, a high-end Finnish thriller created by Minna Virtanen and written by Antti Pesonen and Matti Laine of Bordertown shot between Finland, Belgium and Georgia. Pivotal scenes were captured over a three-day shoot in Georgia. Valeria Berezhna from The Martini Shot, who serviced the production in Georgia notes that the production “needed a very specific landscape that would look like nature in Chechnya country as per the story” which they found two hours from Tbilisi. The production shot in desert areas, a cave town called Uplistsikhe and the Sololaki District of Tbilisi city – a grand district with crumbling art nouveau architecture. Berezhana explains that the “huge benefit of Georgia is that it’s very integrated with natural landscapes, and you don’t have to go too far from the city to get to the raw nature or find small villages. Also, it is very diverse in terms of terrains which allows for a good variety of locations”. Only two production hubs in Eastern Europe do not provide incentives; Bulgaria and Ukraine. However, both countries are recognised for the quality and competitive price points on the international stage.


Q&A ESPEn Horn ProducEr

The Oil Fund

Q: Can you give a brief background

to the project? A: The Oil Fund is a TV series about the Norwegian Oil Fund. Its founded on the social democratic policy that its one for all and all for one, so we tried to make comedy in that cross between capitalism and social democratic values. Q: Why did you shoot in Lithuania? A: A lot of it goes on in an office building; offices, stairwells and canteens and halls. There was no need to for us to shoot in Norway, so let’s shoot somewhere with good locations and good incentives. We did look around quite a bit, but both myself and Harald Zwart, the director, have shot quite a few commercials in Lithuania before. We were very impressed by the Lithuanian crew, their technical standards and locations that are so easily accessible. In many countries there is bureaucracy and paperwork making it much more difficult to get such easy access.

Lastly, the line producer at Artbox, Violeta Daubariene, is absolutely fantastic. Often line producers just do what they are told. With Artbox, we experienced a line producer who had good ideas for solutions and about the series in general. And then, they had managed to find a fantastic office building that was empty with nice offices, good stairs and elevators and we could use 100%. They also had some fantastic other locations that could go for Russia or London or wherever in the world because we do travel a little in the TV series. They have a multipurpose location variation. That’s why we ended up in Lithuania, it’s fantastic.



sErBia, alongsidE gEorgia, is onE of thE only two nations in EastErn EuropE whosE incEntivEs apply to thE advErtising industry. gEorgia’s 20% rEBatE and sErBia’s 25% incEntivE apply to tvcs spEnding ovEr roughly Eur100,000 in thE rEgion.

Ukraine is more connected with the commercial production. Most recently, Audi spot Synchronised Swim (pictured above) from Independent Films and directed by Johnny Hardstaff for BBH London found its perfect location in Ukraine. With the tag line “Precision. It runs in the family”, the amusing spot sees the two cars perform an synchronised routine in a swimming pool. Radioaktive Film serviced the shoot in Ukraine, where a swimming pool large enough to fit the two cars was specifically designed and built for the shoot. Considering Bulgaria does not have a scheme in place it does see a considerable share of the larger-scale projects that descend upon Eastern Europe. These incoming projects are drawn to film in the country because of its strikingly good value, as well as the skilled crew available and the well-equipped Nu Boyana studio. Increasing numbers of local service companies and crews are based here meaning that large productions can be easily facilitated. In just the last few years, Nu Boyana has facilitated projects as diverse as action favourites including Rambo V and Hellboy, fantasy series like CW’s The Outpost as well as ‘period’ productions such as Horrible Histories and five seasons of the BBC’s Plebs which called upon the studios extensive Roman set. In addition to its thirteen sound stages and seven standing sets, which

location HiGHliGHt

Budapest Stock Exchange Palace Budapest’s stock exchange is an imposing building that takes up an entire side of Liberty Square in downtown Budapest. Built in 1905, the stock market was at the centre of the financial life of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After the second world war it was converted into the headquarters of MTV, the state broadcaster, but is now a privately-owned building, set for development into retail and office space. Measuring 50,000 square metres the palace has an echoing lobby and Romanesque columns dot both the interior and exterior. The dome shaped roof lets light in and is ringed by balconies. This is where Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (pictured above) set the standoff between police officer K (Ryan Gosling) and Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). The Palace took on the role of an old-school Vegas casino. The USD 150 million production filmed extensively in Hungary, at both Korda and Ortiga Studios near Budapest. Image: Bladerunner 2049 © 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC.




range from international cities to American villas and an ancient village, Nu Boyana has recently added an underwater stage. Completed in February 2018, the facility measures twenty by twenty metres, and is six metres deep, making it the largest to be found in the region. Moreover, the studio can handle productions from beginning to end as it has continued to invest in the latest technology and equipment. In terms of production, its Vicon motion capture stage caters to the gaming industry, but it can also work on CG character animation and VFX shots through its own VFX arm – Worldwide FX. Worldwide FX has more than two hundred animators providing 3D animation, 2D compositing, and character animation as well as subtle effects, and its credits include Olympus has Fallen and The Expendables which both shot at the studio. Eastern Europe’s fostering of subsections of the industry is carried out in a multitude of ways. Poland’s incentive, for example, has a 10% allocation solely for animation work, and builds on the nation’s history in the sector that started with stop motion puppetry. Polish-British coproduced animation Loving Vincent was not only one of the biggest box office releases to emanate from Poland, bringing in USD35 million worldwide, but was also nominated for the Academy Award in the best animated feature category, and won the European Animated Feature Film prize at the European Film Awards. Serbia’s incentive also extends to visual effects and animation. In November 2017, the conference CGA Belgrade launched to promote the local VFX hub while at the same time bringing in leading industry names and offering an opportunity for networking, education and the promotion of VFX in film, advertising, gaming, new media and digital arts. Milica Bozanic explains: “CGA goes beyond conference by collaborating with universities, informal education and international peers” to set the industry up for future talent. Belgrade based Crater Studios has both Hollywood and Bollywood work in its portfolio including The Shallows and Point Break as well as 2.0 and Bahubali 2. Meanwhile, Serbian 3Lateral has become part of American video game and software company Epic Games. Bozanic comments: “We are very proud of the work that 3Lateral is doing. Their technology development in digital humans is feeding the game and film industry and by becoming part of Epic Games the hub for local industry here will only expand in both tech and talent”.

Q&A Y raJEEv rEddY ProducEr

Kanche and Gautamiputra Satkarni

Q: Why did you choose Georgia as a location

for your films? A: We were able to find the right locations suitable for our projects. My line producer and the local crew were very organised which gave us a lot of confidence and we were sure we would get the best value for our money. Q: How would you rate local crews, cast and

production support services and suppliers? A: Local cast and crew are extremely honest, hardworking and transparent. I was able to finish two big projects within the schedule and within the planned budget with absolutely no deviation only because of the local support. Q: What location / production advice would

you pass on to others considering filming in Georgia? A: Personally I am amazed by the choice of locations available in Georgia. Having travelled around the world and having worked in many other countries, Georgia is always my first choice for filming. The line producers and local crew are extremely honest and hard working. A big salute to the line producer we work with, George Melikishvili. Q: How would you rate Georgia for cost

Croatia’s 25% rebate has pulled in a hefty production that has sparked a boom in tourist activity, and efforts are now being made to spread interest in production to underdeveloped regions. Its incentive and beautiful locations have served for Game of Thrones, which used Dubrovnik as the location for Kings Landing, the capital of the seven


effective production values – production bang for your buck? A: It was slightly expensive compared to what we usually spend in India but much cheaper than shooting in any of the European countries. Also the 20% cash back was big bonus for us!


Mamma Mia: Here we go Again © 2018 Universal City Studios Productions LLLP.

kingdoms since season two. In search of tax incentives, Abba musical Mamma Mia: Here we go Again (pictured above) relocated to the island of Vis in 2017. Now, Croatia’s incentive which applies to TV series, feature films documentaries and animations are provided with an uplift if they choose to film in underdeveloped areas. One of the first international productions to take advantage of this was German feature film The Master Butchers Signing Club, an adaptation of a novel by Louise Erdich set between North Dakota and Germany. SoMEtHnG ElSE

Rail Baltica is a joint venture between Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that will connect the Baltic region to Western Europe, increasing both trade and traffic. The high-speed railway infrastructure will connect Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border, continuing on to Warsaw for connections to Berlin and beyond. As the largest Baltic-region infrastructure project to have taken place in the last 100 years it will see more than EUR5 billion worth of investment in the region. The three Baltic nations involved are funding the project to the tune of EUR1.27 billion while European Union funds are accounting for the remaining 85% of financing. The line will be about 870km long and is expected to be operational by 2025. High-speed trains are estimated to run from Vilnius to Warsaw four times per day once the line is launched, halving the time it currently takes to reach Riga from Tallin by car. One of the main goals of the project is to provide an environmentally sustainable infrastructure as transport emissions remain the biggest obstacle in delivering the EU’s climate commitments.


The uplift could also bring back the types of productions Croatia was known for in the twentieth century as its hinterlands were commonly used to double for the American west in German made spaghetti westerns such as Winnetou. Elsewhere, the Baltic region is looking at approaches to build on capacity as a whole. Working together and promoting themselves a production cluster hub, rather than as individual filming locations, would allow incoming productions to access the shared talent, locations and capabilities of the region through one entry point. At the Tallin Black Nights Film Festival in November, Olsberg SPI announced forthcoming analysis that would assess the potential of the concept, as well as an analysis of how incentive mechanisms could be harmonised. In this way, Estonia, Finland and Latvia could potentially create a joint film region in order to attract ‘footloose projects’ as well as co-productions. In addition, The Tallinn Film Studios complex, set to open in the spring of 2020, will allow the region to facilitate bigger productions. Unveiled as the biggest in the Baltic Sea area, the Tallinn Film Studios would consolidate seventeen Estonian production companies in the cluster that aims to be a one-stop-shop. The current rebate available in Estonia provides between 20 – 30% of support for feature films and TV series animation and documentary films and with a new studio in the works, it is hoped that foreign productions will be able to take full advantage of the incentive. While it is evident that having a financial incentive is a proven way to increase interest from international productions, quality training and infrastructure proves to be just as effective for industry growth. Above all, producers are inclined to return to dependable regions where production proves to be straightforward.

thosE first in thE incEntivEs racE arE now ExpEriEncing such high dEmand that spillovEr is flowing to flEdging nations, whosE sEctors arE aBlE to gain momEntum morE rapidly than EvEr BEforE.



Agents of Change

Like many of the seismic shifts in the entertainment industry, this one began in the United States. In the past few years, the big US talent agencies have gradually begun pushing into production – a move that is now being emulated elsewhere. For agencies, leveraging their access to talent might make business sense – but it’s a move that is fraught with potential conflicts of interest. makers reports.



lowly but surely, talent agencies are expanding into production. The trend has been led by Hollywood’s two largest agencies – Endeavour and CAA. Endeavor launched its Endeavor Content division in 2017, which has been involved in projects such as BBC America’s Killing Eve and Hulu’s The First. CAA, meanwhile, has invested in production companies such as wiip, Tornado Productions and Platform One. In the UK, meanwhile, agency Curtis Brown pioneered the push into production through Cuba Pictures, whose credits include BBC1 and AMC hit

McMafia. Last year, US management and production powerhouse Anonymous Content teamed up with leading UK talent agencies Casarotto Ramsay and United Agents to form production outfit Chapter One. “There are definitely more agencies with some form of development arm or production arm allied to them or that are integral to their business,” confirms Jane Villiers of agency Sayle Screen, which represents talent such as Oscar nominee Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite).

The reason for the diversification is two-fold. In the era of peak TV, demand for top talent is insatiable – so agencies are leveraging their access to talent, often with a view to taking an ownership stake in the content their clients star in. Secondly, it’s a response to structural change in the industry. The rise of global streamers like Netflix and Amazon has changed the nature of deal-making. The streamers want to own outright as much of their content as possible, on a global basis. The noTes a producer has To give a clienT are very differenT To The noTes an agenT has To give – The discussion is very differenT. someTimes Those Two can’T mix.

This has upended the traditional syndication and international sales market – the source of significant backend for creatives. Deals used to be structured around payments during principal photography, and also what would flow through in the form of residuals which could be very substantial over many years. Today it’s often about commanding the highest upfront fees that global platforms will pay. The move by agencies into production, however, is fraught with the potential for conflicts of interest that arise when the same company represents the creative talent on one side of the table and is the employer on the other. On one level, it’s led to fears about the increasing power of agencies. This was exacerbated by a recent Writers Guild of America report said that nearly 90% of all TV shows are packaged by talent agencies, and nearly 80% of those shows are packaged by just two of them – Endeavour and CAA. Then there’s questions about how compensation and commission terms are set, which clients will be offered the hottest properties, to how inevitable creative troubles will be handled. “The notes a producer has to give a client are very different to the notes an agent has to give – the discussion is very different. Sometimes those two can’t mix,” says Roger Charteris, managing director of The Artists Partnership, which represents talent including Emily Blunt and Idris Elba. Charteris has experience of running an agency and production company. At the same time as running The Artists Partnership he used to be CEO of World Productions, whose credits include Line of Duty and more recently, The Bodyguard.

Images: Killing Eve © Sid Gentle Films/Robert Viglasky, e First ©Paul Schiraldi & McMafia © the BBC.

It was not a combination that he felt comfortable with. If fact, he says he strove to keep the two businesses separate, concerned that people would think one fed the other. World was sold to ITV Studios in 2017. “The best producer environment

for them was ITV Studios. From my and their point of view, there was a paranoia about making sure they were kept apart.” Villiers is similarly uncomfortable at the idea of mixing agenting with production. She produced Marc Evans’s 2002 horror film My Little Eye, and says she would never do so again. “My skillset is far more in agenting rather than producing.” Producers, she says, have to doggedly run three or four projects, often over long periods of time, whereas agents have to be adept at juggling many different clients and projects. “The only thing we care about is looking after our clients to the best of our ability,” she says. Villiers adds that there is also “potentially a conflict of interest” in agenting and producing. One of these is agencies being reluctant to give over their clients to work with production companies affiliated with rival agencies, for fear they may be poached. Charteris agrees that “our primary business is still representing talent.” But he acknowledges that the industry has changed – and there are new ways to represent talent. One is to help them build their own production companies, and to develop their own projects. To this end, The Artists Partnership recently launched new sister operation, The Development Partnership (TDP), which works with clients from the main agency. “Our drive to have a closer proximity to production is about helping our clients to become producers,” says Robert Taylor, who heads TDP. He stresses that this doesn’t mean TDP is moving into physical production. Rather, it’s about giving clients a meaningful voice in the development process. “It allows them to take partly developed and hopefully excitingly packaged projects, not to the broadcasters directly but to the serious producers who can take the project over from a production perspective.” Such a move, he explains, gives clients some “meaningful ownership” of a project. As such this represents something of a middle way in the move by some agencies towards production. “Creators are very different now,” says Roger Charteris. Not everybody is in the same old box as they were when I started in the business. More and more people are becoming multi-hyphenate. It’s not necessarily that they want to make more money. It’s about empowerment.” 67


CANNES LIONS Last year’s Cannes Lions was billed as a ‘reset’ year for the world’s biggest advertising festival. The organisers made a number of changes in the wake of criticism about the costs and benefits of expensive industry events. This included reducing the event to five days and simplifying its awards structure. The number of awards entries fell as a result, from 40,000 to 32,000. This year, Cannes has sought to put content right at the heart of the festival. Indeed, it’s promising to address 10 big questions facing the ad industry – and hopefully provide delegates with the answers to them. So what are the big questions deemed fundamental to advertising? One is how can modern technologies improve the art of storytelling. Here speakers such as bestselling author Kwame Alexander and the team


cannEs in numBErs




NUMBER OF grand prix winnErs IN 2018


behind Sesame Street will be on hand to provide answers. Elsewhere the festival will look at how the ad industy can use creativity to drive exceptional customer experiences, with figures such as P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard offering advice on how to “provide rich consumer journeys in the 'age of me'”. Elsewhere, the festival will be looking at how to infiltrate popular culture and stay relevant at scale, as well as how to strike the right balance between purpose and profit. Diversity is also a big theme at the Cannes Lions this year. Other themes include how to future proof creative organisations and proving the value of creativity. Indeed, the line-up of speakers at Cannes tackling some of these themes is impressive – ranging from

Oscar winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, through to designer Thomas Heatherwick, photographer John Rankin, producer Shonda Rhimes, Harvard professor Stephen Pinker and internet entrepreneur Adriana Huffington. Overall, the 10 questions seek to explore how advertising can stay relevant – and effective – in an era of digital disruption and at a time when Millenials and Gen Z’s are emerging as the key consumer cohorts. The jury line- up this year includes: Trevor Robinson Founder & Executive Creative Director of Quiet Storm; Daniel Bonner, Global Chief Creative Officer, Wunderman; and Margaret Johnson, Chief Creative Officer, Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

600 32000 SPEakErS


aWard SubMiSSionS



rEtirEd lion for product dEsign






GREECE classic locations

the Greek production industry has had a successful year welcoming major international shoots. the alluring blue of the Mediterranean Sea and ancient sites that date back to the birth of democracy mean that it’s hard to find such a classic destination.

osing the production on the Mamma Mia sequel to Adriatic rival Croatia in 2017 spurred Greece to take action to make itself more film friendly. The original Mamma Mia musical hit filmed on the Greek island of Skopelos, but jumped to Croatia’s Vis due to the tax incentives available at the time. Since then, Greece has launched a very competitive 35% cash rebate that applies to TV series, features, documentaries and digital games.

As you’d expect from a destination with over 200 inhabited islands and over 13,000km of coastline, underwater filming is supported by a number of production companies. Out of the Blue, a specialist production service company based in Athens, can help productions choose the right locations for their shoot – from rocky coastline to clear waters or sandy beaches. Documentary Dolphin Man was one of their most recent projects, which “thE island followed the story of free-diver Jacques Mayol – the inspiration for of corfu won thE Luc Besson’s The Big Blue 2018 EuropEan film which also shot in Greece in the location award late eighties. for thE kEy rolE it playEd in itv’s THE DURRELLS ovEr four sEriEs.”

Permits to shoot at archaeological sites are available, although mostly reserved for feature films and TV series. Productions set on these locations should leave enough time for permissions to be passed through. Having a trusted production service company will make this process easier, as they will be able to contact the responsible government agencies. The Ministry of Culture and Sports handily provides an interactive map of all museums, monuments and archaeological sites to aid your search.


location HiGHliGHt

Moni Hozoviotissis, Amorgos An eleventh century monastery on the island of Amorgos, Moni Hozoviotissis’s (pictured above) brilliant white façade stands out from the craggy cliff face it is wedged into. Hundreds of monks used to live here and its labyrinth of eight floors are all connected by narrow stone staircases carved into the cliff. The views of the Aegean sea stretching to the horizon are spectacular. To reach the monastery, visitors must climb three hundred steps up a cliff pathway, which may be a tall order for productions. Luckily, the monastery itself can be captured from the sea too. Luc Besson’s The Big Blue, about the friendship and rivalry between two free divers, shot on the island of Amorgos in the late 1980s. The crew lived on isolated Amorgos for a number of months where some of the diving scenes were shot. Moni Hozoviotissis is featured in the film, although more screen time is spent exploring the cobalt Aegean than the ancient monastery.



A perfect example of this is the recent John Le Carre adaptation Little Drummer Girl (pictured left). The Ink Factory production for the BBC and AMC secured rights to shoot at landmark archaeological sites including a night shoot at the Acropolis as well as the temple of Apollo at Sounio. Securing the permits for the night shoot, the first to have ever taken place there, went up to ministerial level but were approved with the support of the Hellenic Film Commission.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL sEcurEd rights to shoot at landmark archaEological sitEs including a night shoot at thE acropolis as wEll as thE tEmplE of apollo at sounio.

The production took advantage of the area’s versatility by doubling regions close to Athens for Lebanon and Palestine during the 24 day shoot. Serviced by Faliro House, the crew was mostly Greek.

ESSEntial FactS caSH rEbatE


co-Production trEatiES

Five including China, Canada, France and Israel. intErnational talEnt

Director and Animator Yorgos Mavropsaridis, Director Yorgos Lanthimos. tiME ZonE

GMT+3 Sound StaGES

Kapa Studios, Karamanos Studios and Mariba Studios. ata carnEt


currEncY & ExcHanGE


= 1.12 USD


Venia Vergou Director of the Hellenic Film Commission +30 2103678530 / Images: e Durrells © Sid Gentle Films Ltd. Little Drummer Girl © 2018 Ink Factory & AMC Film Holdings LLC.


Elsewhere, the island of Corfu won the 2018 European Film Location Award for the key role it played in ITV’s The Durrells (main image) over four series. The heart-warming family drama is based on conservationist Gerald Durrell life on the island in the 1930’s. Corfu’s old town is a mixture of cobbled streets and Venetian inspired architecture and is heavily featured in the series. Another interesting location for period productions that The Durrells has taken advantage of is the fake village of Danila. Built in the 1970s, it is a replica of a 1930’s village and was previously used in Bond’s For Your Eyes Only. Sony Pictures’ upcoming Michael Winterbottom production Greed (pictured right) took to the Greek islands of Mykonos and Delos. Starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher and David Mitchell, the film portrays the modern and sophisticated side to the Greek archipelago. Serviced by Film Greece, the satire tells the fictional tale of a retail billionaire and Greece provides the backdrop to the glamourous celebrity- filled world he inhabits – setting forth to an exclusive hotel on the island of Mykonos for his sixtieth birthday party.

Greece has a generally pleasant climate throughout the year. In winter snow can be found in the more mountainous regions while summer temperatures reach 29C (34F) during July and August. From April to October productions can make use of the long days which average fourteen hours of daylight in the summer. Flights take around four hours from the UK and getting around the country is fairly simple. Thirty-nine airports are scattered over the country, and anywhere not on flight paths can be easily reached by boat.


Opportunities for ad producers

for commercials producers, The world producers summiT has become a key evenT in The calendar To discuss The ThreaTs – and opporTuniTies – facing Their businesses. one of iTs founders, sTeve davies, flags up The big issues ThaT are being debaTed There This year.

here can you discuss the big issues for production companies at Cannes, such as in house production, the growing opportunities from working with clients direct and procurement?

At The World Producers Summit, which takes place during Cannes Lions. The AICP’s Matt Miller, the CFPE’s Francois Chilot (now Tony Petersen) and I launched it in 2007 and it is now established as an annual event – and the key business event for commercials production company owners in Cannes. It’s a simple concept. We bring together 100 production company owners from around the world to discuss threats and opportunities to the business. 31 countries get together in a unique intelligence sharing event. Inevitably when you get a lot of people together for the first time, the focus tends to be on the threats to the business of production companies. They are interesting to explore and you have to let people get these of their chests – after all, they are real concerns that they live with everyday. Given the chance to vent about them, they will. We move on though, and fairly quickly, to solutions – in particular, defensive strategies.

For the biggest issue of the last couple of years, in house agency production, we have agreed principles. That is not to participate in bids against agency in house production departments, because the agency can use the information and bids from independent companies to enhance their bid and manipulate the bids to fit its objectives. We also share a lot of information about procurement processes around the world – as when they come to one country, they are likely to come to others, through the brand or its procurement advisors. This year, we are determined to focus on opportunities. For production companies, with more content being needed for more media all the time, that is looking at where else we can get work from. Direct to client is the big opportunity for production companies. It isn’t straightforward though and we need to learn and develop from success stories from around the globe that people will share: how do we help clients choose the best production company for them? How do we help them manage the project and costs? Because if they aren’t able to do that, they won’t buy at all. Production companies leave the summit better equipped to meet the threats and grab the opportunity to grow their businesses.

Steve Davies is the chief executive of the Advertising Producers Association (APA), responsible for setting the APA’s strategy and representing the interests of its producer members. A lawyer by background, he also advices on contracts, copyright and production issues. Steve is also on the board of the Advertising Association and is vice president of the European federation of commercials producers, the CFPE. 74



rich pickings

international streamers have been investing heavily in production on the iberian Peninsula. With tax incentives available across the board, production friendly conditions and enviable creative talent, it is no surprise that the global powers are stepping up their presence.

hile tourists have long been drawn to the area for its coastal, sun-soaked retreats, productions head to the Iberian Peninsula with diverse goals in mind and often capture a multitude of looks in one stint. This is possible because of the region’s mixed climates, natural landscapes and cultural heritage. Having been a point of cultural exchange between Europe and Africa, architectural gems reflect the Moorish legacy, include gothic and renaissance architecture, as well as a modernist verve.

As such, the region has become a go-to location for fantasy productions like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Blade Runner 2049 and Black Mirror which require distinct and inventive locations for effective world building. While commercial productions often head to the region in search of a Mediterranean look, many others make innovative use of the region “gloBal audiEncEs for creative shoots. Take Maze, a arE likEly to sEE a recent Lexus spot serviced by 24:7 surgE in contEnt for Skunk. Sporting the tag line producEd out ‘car buying, simplified’, the darkly of iBEria, with atmospheric spot features a determined woman who bursts intErnational through the maze’s confines to strEaming sErvicEs find her dream car waiting against crEating morE a dark backdrop of hazy locally madE mountains. Shot at Spain’s largest contEnt from maze Laberinto de Villapresente near Santander, Northern Spain, thE rEgion.” aerial shots captured its 5km of pristine passageways.


location HiGHliGHt

Figaro’s Barber Shop, Lisbon Figaro’s (pictured below) is an authentic old school barber shop in Portugal’s capital city. Typical Portuguese tiling, exposed brickwork arches and art deco mirrors line its walls. Figaro’s starred in a David Beckham for H&M spot that shot in multiple locations around Lisbon. Made in Lisbon serviced the shoot for Sonny London and agency Adam & Eve. Even if you aren’t going to film there it’s still worth a visit. Specialising in classic haircuts from the 20’s – 50s and razor shaves, you will come out looking as suave as the footballer himself.

Feature sponsored by



MElodiE Saba ExEcutivE ProducEr tHE drEaMErS

Q: Why did you shoot in Portugal? A: We came to shoot a music video for a top artist (which is currently confidential). Shooting here was mandatory for the artist. It was a great challenge for us to find amazing locations in different parts of the country that were all a reasonable distance from Lisbon, which made it very production friendly for us. We were offered a tremendous choice of top locations and variety that confirmed everything we were looking for.

For our first time shooting in Portugal the choice to go to Ready to Shoot to handle production was pretty evident. Looking at the company’s body of work and the personalised profile of Margarida Adónis, the owner of the company, felt like it was a highly qualified company but also run in a very human way. Q: What locations did you shoot in? A: We were able to shoot in the convent in Batalha, as well as Azehna Do Mar village and also in Cabo Espichel.

We felt that the production throughout prep and shoot was handled very professionally and surpassed our expectations. I feel very confident to come back here because of the tremendous work that RTS pulled and also for the amount and variety of beautiful locations to be found in Portugal which are easily accessible.

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Four countries make up the Iberian Peninsula; Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar. Spain and Portugal take the lion’s share of incoming production as they harbour the most extensive production infrastructure and crews, and both offer an enticing range of financial incentives. At the vanguard is Spain which introduced a federal tax credit for international productions in 2015. This increased to 20% in 2016, securing Spain an important destination for international TV and film production stage. Portugal joined the party in 2017 but has recently increased its offering to a 25-30% rebate. Traditionally more renowned for advertising projects, the boost favourably positions Portugal against its larger neighbour and should stimulate more interest from TV and feature projects. While some rivalry may exist between the two countries, their industries are linked to some extent. Many of the leading production service companies, such as Fresco Film Services, A Productions, 24:7, Seaquist A Company, cover both territories and others have partner companies across the border. Spanish Babieka, which has provided production services for Netflix's Turn Up Charlie and Black Mirror, recently partnered with service company Made of Portugal to extend its offering in the region. Spain’s incentive applies to feature films, TV series, animated films and documentaries and a minimum expenditure of EUR1 million is required to access it. Eligible expenditures include creative personnel up to EUR100,000 per person, transport and transfer of people within Spain, shoot fees payable to town halls and costs directly associated with complementary personal such as choreographers and military consultants. There is a cap of EUR3 million available per production on the mainland. However, higher rate incentives are to be found in certain areas. The Navarre Region operates a 35% tax credit which is available to projects shooting at least a week in the region. There are some location highlights in the region too. Game of Thrones visited the region’s Bardenas Reales Natural Park. Starring as the Dothraki Sea, the park’s semi-desert plains have been carved by wind, leaving canyons, plateaus and surreal pointed peaks. The region’s capital Pamplona is best known for its running of the bulls festival every July, and has stereotypical medieval architecture and gothic churches. Incoming productions can also find a greater incentive when shooting in the Canary Islands where a 40% tax rebate operates. Productions must spend EUR1 million in the Canary Islands to qualify and have a minimum production budget of EUR2 million. Meanwhile, animation and post production work must meet a EUR200,000 minimum spend to receive the rebate.



The volcanic Canary Islands offer bright and sunny long days with low rainfall throughout the year. Due to trade winds they have a temperate climate averaging 19 degrees in the winter while summer temperatures vary depending on the island; Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are distinctly cooler than Tenerife and Gran Canaria – but on average SoMEtHinG ElSE

A recent report from PWC claims that La Liga, the Spanish professional football industry, represents 1.37% of its GDP. According to the report it generated more than EUR15 billion in economic activity, created 184,000 jobs and collected EUR4.1 billion in taxes in 2016/2017. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering Spain’s pasión for the beautiful game. Both Spain and Portugal regularly compete for top prizes on the international stage. In that year, 10.5 million people attended La Liga matches, while additional revenue counted by the report came from activities such as consumption of food, drinks and other products on match days, accommodation and travel expenses, income from written press and advertising on professional football content, gambling and betting in relation to football as well as the sale of video games connected to football.


temperatures reach 23 degrees. Some of the most illustrious productions to have shot in Spain have been drawn in by the seven-island archipelago’s reliable weather and unique landscapes. Lorena Esteban of the Canary Islands Audiovisual department says “the most unique things are its virgin landscapes”, heralding Cofete Beach in Pecenescal Valley on Jandia Natural Park, Fuerteventura as an example of the “most valuable and specific examples of Canary island nature”. The “majestic, spectacularly beautiful” beach fringed by the steep Jandia mountains starred in Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. Over on Tenerife Island, Teide National Park’s volcanic park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. You’ll find Spain’s highest peak here and, despite being of particular interest to the scientific community, large scale filming often takes place. The ninth series of the BBC’s Doctor Who filmed for two episodes here, and Warner Brother’s Wrath of the Titans and Clash of the Titans have both used the site. Portugal’s incentive, meanwhile, is uniform across the country. With a 25-30% cash rebate system, Portugal is now on par with its closest competitor. The rebate is available to international TV, film and VOD productions as well as animation and post-production work. The 30% rate caters to productions which will have a high economic impact, shoot in low density areas or employ cast and crew with disabilities, while the base 25% figure is available to remaining international projects. A minimum local spend of EUR500,000 by fictional and animation work needs to be met, while post production work and documentaries must spend EUR250,000 locally. Served on a first come, first serve basis, it is too soon yet to tell what effect the revamped incentive has had on the industry, but one

onE of thE first notaBlE productions to havE rEcEivEd thE support of portugal’s cash rEBatE was lionsgatE’s HELL BOY, which did somE vfx work in thE country.

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of the first notable productions to have been carried out with the support of the cash rebate was VFX work on Lionsgate’s Hell Boy. Lisbon, where the production industry is largely centred, has seen a steady increase in production numbers, while commercial productions remain predominant, amounting to roughly three quarters of the production landscape. Rita Rodriguez, of the Lisboa Film Commission, notes that the city had an average of five shoots per day in 2018, and recorded a 28% rise on the number of productions compared to 2017. Moreover, it attracts shoots from around the world. In 2018 a major Bollywood production for India’s Yash Raj Films partially shot here, as did two South Korean TV series and co-productions with France, Germany and Brazil. Global audiences are likely to see a surge in content produced by the region’s creative talent as streaming services Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Sky shift attentions to creating more local productions. The reasons for the shift are manifold. Having clinched their stake of the American market, streamers are looking to increase global audiences. Local content is well proven to drive subscription rates. Moreover, with EU legislation looking likely to include streaming services on the minimum 30% local content laws that broadcasters are already subject to, streamers need to make sure their libraries are ready. These contributing factors could make it Iberia’s time to shine. With an estimated 477 million native Spanish speakers around the world, more people speak Spanish than English. Portuguese follows as the sixth most widely spoken language and could act as a gateway to Brazil. The popularity of Spanish content is obvious; Netflix’s Elite (pictured on previous page) and Money Heist were some of the most watched series on the service in 2018, and were widely acclaimed by critics. The streamer has since signed a first-look deal on TV drama series from Atresmedia, co-producers of Money Heist. Furthermore, the streamers have made clear their designs for the region. Netflix decided to establish its first European production hub and fourth EU office in Madrid at Ciudad de la Tele (TV City). Netflix occupies three 1,200sqm sound stages at the complex managed by Grupo Secuoya as it ramps up production in the country. Announcing the move, Erik Barmarck, Vice President of International Originals at Netflix said: “Spain has a rich heritage of innovative, immersive content creation and we are excited to strengthen our investment in the cultural heartland of Madrid”. Late last year, reports also circulated that Amazon was also looking to establish its first production hub outside the US in the Spanish capital. Netflix’s presence in the country is already being felt. Hache, wrapped filming in March after shooting in Catalonia. Produced by Spain’s Weekend Studio, Hache is inspired by true events of a woman who



FErnando carranZa ProducEr

El Recordaror (The Rememberer)

Q: Where did you shoot? A: We shoot in the islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote. In Tenerife, we shot at the National Park El Teide. Inside the park we filmed at “La Catedral” (The Cathedral), El Pico Viejo and La Tarta where the clouds are under you and it gave you the sensation that you are flying.

We also shot the Pirámides of Guimar and later at Los Gigantes and Anaga. On our third day we flew to Lanzarote and we filmed at Parque Nacional Timanfaya with special access to places where people usually cannot visit. We also shot at the Parque Natural de los Volcanes (Natural Park of the Volcanoes) and Playas Negras which are amazing black sand beaches. Q: How long was the filming in the islands? A: We spent four days in the Islands and we had intensive and long days of filming. We started very early in the morning before the sunrise and finished very late after sunset with long journeys in between. Q: What is your view of the filming

infrastructure available on the islands? A: The islands are an amazing place for filming. We hired Canary Films as our local production company and could not be more happy with their job. They are amazing and very professional. We also enjoyed full support from the Tenerife Film Commission and anything and everything was easily resolved.

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was captured by the heroin trafficking business in the Barcelona of the 60s. Carlota Bernaus of the Catalunya Film Commission noted that it was the first Netflix original series to shoot in Catalonia, taking it as “just a sign that streaming platforms are taking an interest”.

ESSEntial FactS caSH rEbatE

20–45% co-Production trEatiES

Both Spain and Portugal are parties in the Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Coproduction and in the Iberoamerican Coproduction Agreement. Spain has twenty bilateral co-production agreements including Puerto Rico, Tunisia, New Zealand, Portugal, India, China, Canada and France. It is also party to the Latin America Co-production Filming Agreement. Portugal has nine bilateral coproduction treaties including France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mozambique and Israel. tiME ZonE PortuGal

GMT +1 Sound StaGES

Spain: Barcelona Studios, Central Studios Mallorca, Valencia Shoot Estudios. Portugal: Digital Azul Cinemate. ata carnEt


For a relatively small territory, Catalonia has much to offer. According to Bernaus “the allure of Barcelona combines with the wide variety of landscapes to be found in a relatively small territory. From sandy beaches to small coves, from snow-capped mountains to quaint little villages, the versatility of our locations also allows for Catalonia to double as many different places”. In 2013 Pierre Morel’s The Gunman recreated the African bush just 15km south of Barcelona “and there have also been elephants strolling down the streets of Catalan towns dressed as India”. Doubling ability is something that the Iberian Peninsula doesn’t lack. Recent commercial work from Portugal’s Ready to Shoot is an example of this. Nujeen (pictured above), an inspiring spot from National Geographic, follows the story of wheel-chair bound Syrian refugee Nujeen Mustafa in her 3,500 mile journey from her war-torn homeland to Germany, where she now lives. Directed by Reed Morano for Pulse Films, the entire spot was shot in Portugal with Ready to Shoot servicing the production. Another major production shaping up is the next Woody Allen film co-financed by Spain’s Mediapro, which has previously co-produced two of the filmmakers’ works including Vicky Christina Barcelona. Having scouted in the Basque region and locations around San Sebastian, production is expected to begin in July and last seven weeks. An Allen feature will play a small part in filling the void of Spain’s long-running relationship with Game of Thrones, which has filmed in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Bilbao (pictured below), Seville, Almeria, Italica Amphitheatre near Seville, Girona in Catalunya, Cáceres, Guadalajara and countless more. Having proved Spain’s production potential, the production will leave an indelible mark on Spanish industry’s global reputation but rumours have circulated that spin off series The Long Night will return to Iberia.

location HiGHliGHt

Belchite, Spain

The small town of Belchite (pictured above) in the Aragon region of northwest Spain was once home to 4,500 inhabitants. However, since the late thirties it has stood as a derelict ghost village. Positioned on the front lines during the Spanish Civil War, the village changed hands many times during the conflict. By the end of the war, the city was reduced to rubble and few inhabitants remained until a new village was built. The town still exhibits the scars of the constant shelling and combat on its derelict and crumbling baroque and gothic structures. Guillermo Del Toro used Belchite for his 2006 dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth which was set during the civil war. In the opening sequence the camera pans through the town taking in the remains of the gothic monastery, church and houses to set the scene. Twenty years previously, Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen also shot in Belchite where it plays a town surrounded by invading Turks.

intErnational talEnt

Cinematographer Acacio de Almeida – Rage, In the Shadow of Vultures. Director Teresa Villaverde – Colo. Composer Alberto Iglesias – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener, The Kite Runner. Cinematographer Oscar Faura – The Imitation Game, A Monster Calls, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. tiME ZonE SPain

GMT +2 Images: Game of rones shooting in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain © Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission. Ribeira, the old town of Porto, Portugal © Aiisha. Elite © Netflix & Manuel Fernandez-Valdes. Nujeen filming in Portugal courtesy of Ready to Shoot.


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THE WORLD of Netflix has been investing heavily in original production from around the world as it tries to grow its international subscriber base. This map, based on exclusive makers research, reveals exactly where all the new series and films that the streamer has announced over the past year come from.

























































continent. It also has slew of local shows in the works across Latin America and Asia.

makers tracked all the announcements by Netflix of new drama, comedy, documentary, entertainment, animation and films for the period March 2018 to February 2019, plotting them by geography.

This map, however, reveals that the US is still – by a considerable margin – the main focus for Netflix in terms of original production. Out of the 200 new drama and entertainment series announced in the year, 67 come from the US – or one third. A majority – 54% – of all the films that Netflix has announced come from the US too.

he global ambitions of Netflix are laid bare in this map of its international commissioning over the past year.

The map reveals the key territory focuses for Netflix. Countries such as Spain, Mexico, the UK and India are clearly high on the priority list for the streaming service.













By comparison, the streamer is growing fast internationally, where it has another 88.6 million subscribers. In its last quarter, Netflix added nearly 9.6 million new subscribers – and 7.9 million of these came from outside the US.




To attract these international subscribers, Netflix has invested heavily in local, foreign language productions – acknowledging that viewers generally want to watch locally made shows they can relate to and that reflect their lives rather than imported programmes.


Europe is a key target: in 2018, Netflix earmarked USD1 billion to spend on production from the





International markets are now a key focus for the company. After a period of strong growth in the US, Netflix is showing signs of reaching saturation point in its home market where it has 60.2 million subscribers.

The company is also investing in physical infrastructure in the US. Netflix has acquired a production studio complex in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It plans to produce film and TV series in the new facility and at locations around the state, including apocalypse dramedy Daybreak, supernatural drama Chambers and suspense drama Messiah. In total, Netflix said it will invest USD1 billion in production in New Mexico over the next ten years, creating up to 1,000 production jobs a year. Canada is also a key production centre for Netflix. In February, the streamer announced that it is creating a production hub in Toronto, leasing four sound stages at Cinespace Studios and another four stages at Pinewood Toronto Studios. Both sites will support Netflix series and films, including the horror anthology series Guillermo del Toro Presents Ten After Midnight

netflix drama or entertainment series produced by a local production company






From these figures, it’s safe to assume that the US will be the main recipient of the USD12 billion that Netflix reportedly plans to spend on content this year.






netflix film produced by a local production company netflix animation produced by a local production company

netflix documentary series produced by a local production company netflix commissioning base netflix studio facilities

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accordingly, unveiling 14 new series and one film in the past year.

and the film Let It Snow – which Netflix says will provide production jobs for up to 1,850 Canadians per year. The new spaces add to Netflix’s existing physical production footprint in Canada, which already includes a lease of British Columbia’s Martini Film Studios. Outside North America, it’s notable how much investment Netflix is pouring into Spain. makers has tracked 20 new series and four new films announced in Spain during the period, including superhero comedy in El Vecino, female mini-series Días de Navidad, and an anime adaptation of the best-selling novel Memorias de Idhun. Netflix has also struck a first look producer deal with Alex Pina, the creator of Spanish hit La Casa de Papel (see interview page 42). Tellingly, Netflix opened its first European production hub in Madrid, a new 22,000m2 campus that will house its growing slate of Spanish-language original content. Another Spanish-language territory, Mexico, comes in just behind Spain. makers has tracked 17 new drama and entertainment series announced over the past year, plus five films, one animation and two documentaries. Netflix recently said that is has over 50 projects in various stages of production in Mexico, and confirmed the

opening of a Mexico City office for later this year. “The richness of talent in front of and behind the camera in Mexico was key in our decision to begin our local production strategy with Club de Cuervos four years ago,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos recently. In total, Netflix says it has a slate of more than 70 original productions being filmed across Latin America. After Mexico, Netflix’s other important Latin American markets are Columbia (seven series), followed by Brazil and Argentina. Next up is the UK, where 16 series have been unveiled, plus four films and four documentaries – ranging from the next series of The Crown to football drama The English Game, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

it had close to 40 UK-based projects underway (a mix of originals and co-productions) – and said that over 20,000 cast, crew and extras were working on them. Other important European markets include Germany (11 series, 3 films) and France (7 series, 4 films) where it has recently opened a Paris office. It is also making series in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. Netflix also spies great potential in India. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during a recent visit to the country that the streaming video giant’s next 100 million subscribers will be "coming from India" given the fast growth of Internet connectivity and usage there. It has stepped up its commissioning of originals

India is just one element of Netflix’s push into Asia. The streaming company’s other key markets on the continent include South Korea, where it has unveiled seven series and four animations this year, and Japan where it has backed 11 animations. The figures underline how Netflix views anime as an important way to attract subscribers in the Asian market. It has also backed Mandarin language productions out of Taiwan, and recently greenlit its first Thai series too. “viEwErs gEnErally want to watch locally madE shows thEy can rElatE to and that rEflEct thEir livEs rathEr than importEd programmEs.”

The map also shows that Netflix is increasingly commissioning genres beyond drama, with a significant number of animation, comedy and documentary orders. Netflix, it seems, is not just content with global expansion – but wants to become a full service entertainment destination as well.

It’s also just about to open a production base at Pinewood Studios, and has been staffing up its central London office. Recent hires include former Sky director of drama Anne Mensah who is leading the scripted series content team focused on British productions. Since starting to invest in UK original content in 2015 with six productions, Netflix has significantly broadened the range of projects and partners it works with across the country. In 2018, Images: La Casa de Papel & e Crown © Netflix.




ICELAND cool north

iceland’s epic yet easily accessible locations are what first put the country on the Hollywood map. With a sizeable industry infrastructure and top-notch crews, incoming productions will not be disappointed.

celand’s out of this world locations have added creative value to some of the most popular productions of recent years. As a result the local crews are highly-accomplished at handling all types of shoots.

The country has recently welcomed Game of Thrones, Captain America: Civil War and Sense8. Star Wars has also been a regular visitor, finding the setting for the planet of Eadu at Reynisfjara black sand beaches where the wild Atlantic crashes into pointed black basalt stacks near the shore.

Iceland operates a straightforward 25% rebate for productions, which has been in place since 2001. Einer Tomasson, Iceland’s Film Commissioner says: “We have been doing this for a long time. It’s a very simple system, one of the simplest ones you will find in the world “much of thE because there’s no minimum and country is there’s no cap.” Applications unpopulatEd, must be submitted to the Icelandic making it an Film Centre before starting the idEal dEstination production. for advErtisErs who nEEd milEs of unspoilt scEnEry.”

In early 2019, The Iceland Film Commission became a permanent member of what was formerly known as Scandinavian Locations. Changing its name to Nordic Film Commissions, the network promotes both the locations available and the established production infrastructure and services in the Nordics. The move reflects the existing geographic, cultural and political affiliations between the Nordic countries that extends to links between their


location HiGHliGHt

Dettifoss Waterfall, Vatnajokull National Park 500 cubic metres of cold Icelandic water flow over Dettifoss every second. It creates a misty environment visible for miles around. It is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, measuring 45m tall and 100m wide. Dettifoss is surrounded by steely rocks and craggy cliffs which gives the place vast amounts of cinematic potential. Ridley Scott used the waterfall as the setting for the opening scene of Prometheus in 2013 (pictured above). The waterfall is located in Northeast Iceland, on the 162-mile Diamond Circle, a sightseeing route which takes you through some of the Island’s attractions. In the summer months, from May onwards, access is much easier as more roads are open around the waterfall.


respective screen industries. For example, Netflix’s 22 July, which followed the aftermath of the 2017 terror attack in Norway, engaged Norwegian actors and split production between both Iceland and Norway. Nordic co-productions bound for international audiences are also common, joining the company of international projects shooting in various locations throughout the region. Icelandic-Swedish co-production 20/20, a new geopolitical crime thriller, began shooting in Iceland in the spring, produced by Iceland’s Sagafilm and Sweden’s Yellow Bird. Described by its creators as an eco-thriller, it has all the hallmarks of the popular Nordic noir genre. Arguably, Nordic noir has become one of the region’s most successful cultural exports, proving that the country is not only able to host international blockbusters, but can produce original content that resonates the world over. The last major TV series to emanate from Iceland that enjoyed international attention was 2016’s Trapped which has been distributed in over 100 territories. The ten-episode drama followed members of a police department investigating a murder in a small Icelandic fjord town, whose inhabitants are trapped due to an icy blizzard. Trapped was produced by Iceland’s RVK Studios, a production company focused on film and TV production as well as offering production services to international projects of all kinds. In addition to on location shoots, its studios are a short drive from Reykjavik, and provide 3,200sqm of studio space. Incoming productions will find a great filming infrastructure in Iceland. As Tomasson puts it, “we’ve been servicing Hollywood since the eighties, so we have a lot of experience, meaning that the crew base is very good, they know exactly what they are doing”. He adds: “We don’t have a union, so we use a much smaller crew”. Crews in Iceland work on a 12-hour day, six days a week so productions stand to use fewer days to finish a shoot in comparison to many European countries that impose an 8-10 hour day. However, Tommasson says, what has made Hollywood a repeat client is the out of this world locations that can be found in the country. Dazzling glaciers, black sand beaches, powerful waterfalls, moss covered canyons, placid or icy lakes as well as steamy sulphurous mountains are just some of the visceral settings at your disposal here, often located just a couple of miles from each other. In 2018, Netflix’s Lost in Space travelled to Iceland for a shoot serviced by Pegasus Pictures. The award-winning science fiction series carries out



JESSE Mcdonald SuPErviSinG ProducEr

The Amazing Race 31

Q: Why did you choose Iceland as a location? A: We chose Iceland for several reasons to film the first episode of the 31st season. Namely because of the magnificent natural wonders and the extreme outdoor conditions. We love to open our series with stunning sites and stunts and Iceland provides the most impressive locations to make this all happen. Another reason would be because of the number of direct flights from our starting line in New York City and Reykjavik. Q: What was is that impressed you the

most about working there? A: Since our show travels all across the globe, it’s very easy to recognise good, dependable work ethics with local crews, and we were very fortunate to have worked with the most fantastic crew assembled by Petur Sigurdsson and On The Rocks. I was impressed by the local crews willingness to go above and beyond what was asked of them to help us pull off an incredibly challenging and most of all, safe Race through the beautiful country. Q: What location / production advice

would you pass on to others considering filming in Iceland? A: I would recommend filming on the Langjökull Glacier and inside the world’s longest man-made ice tunnel, provided the conditions are suitable. Always heed the advice of the locals when it comes to weather safety. And don’t worry if a particular outdoor location doesn’t work out for budget, weather reasons etc. The great thing about Iceland is that you have so many fantastic alternatives. The entire country is a cinematographer’s dream.



principal photography in British Colombia, Canada but undertook a five-day shoot in Iceland for critical scenes. The series tells the story of a family fighting against the odds to survive after crash landing on an alien planet. Despite British Colombia’s reputation for impressive and powerful scenery, the production was looking for awe-inducing scenery which they found with Skogafoss waterfall and a nearby black beach that has a backdrop of black cliffs. What’s even more appealing is the accessibility of these incredible locations. Iceland itself is easy to

ESSEntial FactS

co—Production trEatiES

A member of the EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, Canada and a pre-existing treaty with France. tax incEntivES

25% Productions can receive a 25% reimbursement on locally incurred expenditures in Iceland. The scheme only applies to feature films and television shows, and applications for the incentive must be sent to the Icelandic Film Centre prior to the start of production. ata carnEt


intErnational talEnt

Director & Writer Hlynur Palmason: Winter Brothers. Director, Actor and Producer Baltasar Kormákur Samper: Everest, Adrift. Sound StaGES

RVK Studios.

tiME ZonE

GMT 94

reach with flight routes to major cities in the US and into all the major European hubs. Once in Iceland, the main ring road known as Route One covers 830 miles rolling past many of Iceland’s most popular natural destinations. The country is also ideal for car commercials as the roads are well maintained despite the heavy winter snowfall. Much of the country is unpopulated, making it an ideal destination for advertisers who need miles of unspoilt scenery. VW, Nissan and Land Rover have all capitalised on this. It is still important to be wary of the weather conditions which vary greatly throughout the year. Days are shortest in December, with only four and a half hours of sunlight. By June this stretches to twenty-one hours. Due to its location in the middle of the North Atlantic, weather can be unpredictable but with locations often close by, schedules can be easily adapted. Much of Iceland sees snowfall in the winter, although temperatures are surprisingly mild considering Iceland’s latitude – with average temperatures reaching -1.3 Celsius in January, however this does not account for the potential windchill factor. In July temperatures average at just over 15 Celsius.


Two Beluga Whales – Little White and Little Grey – are to find a new home in Iceland’s waters. Currently performing at an aquarium in Shanghai, the whales are being sent all the way to a bay on the Island of Heimaey near the south coast of Iceland. The news has come after many years of campaigning – the conservation charity Sea Life Trust has been developing the plan for six years. The bay is an ideal home for the Belugas who have lived in captivity since the age of two. Surrounded by cliffs and sheltered from the Atlantic, it is more than deep enough for the whales. They can measure up to 12 feet when fully grown so the water must be at least three times this depth. To cope with tides and currents, Little White and Little Grey are being trained to hold their breath for longer and to swim faster. Scientists will study how the Belugas adapt to their new life in the bay.


What’s Up Doc?

Broadcasters and streamers are fuelling a renewed interest in distinctive, ambitious documentaries, proving that the true life tales can be every bit as compelling and bingeable as scripted drama – but at a fraction of the price. makers reports.



ocumentaries are having a moment – both on the big and the small screen. In fact, it’s become commonplace to hear that it’s a golden age for documentary. And this at a time when it is already meant to be a golden age for drama. Certainly, documentaries are thriving in the theatres. Five recent docs – Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, Oscar-winner Free Solo, They Shall Not Grow Old, RBG and Three Identical Strangers – have become among the top 30 grossing feature docs of all time at the US box office.

The genre is making waves on the small screen as well. After premiering at Sundance, the Michael Jackson expose Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me has become one of the most talked about pieces of TV in the UK and the US, airing on Channel 4 and HBO. Indeed, the documentary revival has its seeds in a renewed focus on the genre by broadcasters. HBO has long been one of the pioneers of the documentary genre. More recently, Netflix has started focusing heavily on the genre – earning kudos for singles such as Fyre: The Greatest Party That

Never Happened and Abducted in Plain Sight through to multi-part series like Making A Murderer, Wild Wild Country, The Staircase and Evil Genius.

in a world where so much informaTion is being given To us in Tiny biTs and pieces, iT’s creaTing an appeTiTe for someThing longer and more engaging.

So too have cable firms such as Nat Geo (Free Solo) and CNN Films (RGB), as well as rival streamer Amazon Prime (All or Nothing: Manchester City). In the UK, Channel 4 has backed both Leaving Neverland and Three Identical Strangers. For many, they are proof that documentaries can be every bit as ambitious and bingeable as hit dramas – but, crucially for broadcasters, at a much more affordable price point than scripted TV. Indeed, Netflix recently revealed that series two of Making A Murderer was its second most binge-watched show of 2018, ahead of hit dramas like 13 Reasons Why, Bodyguard and Orange is the New Black. But it’s not just documentaries themselves that are doing well. Audiences, it seems, can’t get enough of real life stories. Six of the eight films that competed in the best picture category for the Oscars this year were drawn from real life: BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book, Roma, The Favourite and Vice. Perhaps, the old adage is true – real life is stranger than fiction. The reasons for the non-fiction boom are multiple. New platforms are hungry for top quality factual content that stands out, and that is distinctive from the copycat reality TV shows that pepper cable channel schedules around the world. October Films’ creative director Matt Robins says that streamers such as Netflix have ‘raised the bar in documentary storytelling’. Robins is currently executive producing a six part series about the lives of America’s First Ladies for CNN. “There’s a realisation that documentary can be as impactful as fiction,” he says. Budgets and ambition have picked up as a result – as have the number of feature docs being made. “Netflix has proved that people will watch documentaries over 45 minutes long on challenging subjects, and even with subtitles,” adds Richard

Melman of Spring Films, which currently has four feature docs in post and has credits including Night Will Fall and Into the Inferno. He thinks Netflix has “opened up” traditional broadcasters, who are keener now to back feature length documentaries. He cites Spring Films’ recent doc Meeting Gorbachev, backed by broadcaster A&E. “I don’t think that would have happened a few years ago,” says Melman. Melman also reckons that the youth market is starting to come back to documentaries. “I was told five years ago, you couldn’t get young people to watch documentaries because of their short attention span.” But he thinks something has changed. Perhaps it’s that younger audiences are seeking facts and insight at a time when the world is convulsed by political upheaval, characterised by presidency of Donald Trump and Brexit. “A documentary film can be something of a guiding light in a dark and dangerous world,” says Melman. CNN Worldwide EVP for talent and content development Amy Entelis has her own explanation. She also attributes the doc craze to the recent rise in multi-media platforms, which has enabled the non-fiction format to find a greater audience. “We’re seeing a golden age of storytelling about inspiring people, great characters, really well executed,” Entelis told Keshet’s Innovative Media Conference. “Many places are investing, the quality is very high – a cycle is going on. Also in a world where so much information is being given to us in tiny bits and pieces, it’s creating an appetite for something longer and more engaging.” Oscar winning documentary producer Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Searching for Sugarman) agrees that there is “a buzz around documentaries now – something has shifted.” Platforms like Netflix, he says, have shown a voracious appetite for documentaries. As such they have “thrown down a gauntlet” to traditional broadcasters around the world. “The fact is that the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK have to compete against Netflix documentaries – it does mean that they have to up their game in documentaries.” “Premium docs,” Chinn says, “are having a moment.”

Images: Free Solo © National Geographic, Wild Wild Country © Netflix, Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me © Channel 4.



INDIA going global Land Rover recently celebrated their seventieth birthday by filming a short ad film in the village of Manebhanjyang in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal. India’s Angles Unlimited provided production support for the commercial which showcases the remote Himalayan village reliant upon a fleet of 1950s Land Rover Series One vehicles. At the altitude of 1,523 metres the village provided a misty setting for the short ad film celebrating the longevity of the vintage vehicles. Having its own booming film industry means that studios, kit, a deep pool of crew and talent are at production’s fingertips in India. location HiGHliGHt

Athirapally and Vazhachal Falls, Kerala

With a wildly successful film industry of its own, india has all the crew, kit, studio space and talent a you could need plus a wealth of untapped locations. it offers a great mix for the more adventurous production.

ndia’s colourful and vibrant culture has been celebrated in many international blockbusters including The Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Bollywood also shoots internationally on a regular basis which is helping the country develop its global links. It already has co-production agreements in place with 12 countries including the UK, Canada, Poland, New Zealand and Germany and it has recently signed a co-production agreement with the Nordic Film Commissions.

India and Australia also have a growing relationship. 2016’s Lion, the true story of an adopted Australian man determined to find his long “Bollywood also lost family in India, shot between shoots intErnationally West Bengal and Australia. Hotel Mumbai, vividly recounting the on a rEgular Basis 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel which is hElping thE by a group of terrorists, also country dEvElop worked in both countries. its gloBal links.” Directed by Australia’s Anthon Maras, the production shot in an Adelaide studio but extensively filmed on location in Mumbai serviced by Take One Productions.


Waterfalls are numerous in Kerala, but Athirapally and Vazhachal are two of the most popular sites to visit. Located 5km away from each other, they lie on the edge of the Sholayar ranges that are covered in lush green forest. The free falling water roars over the rockface is particularly during the monsoon seasons which fall between June and August, and again in October to November. The hazy mist that is created by the falls make the place a particularly atmospheric setting. Films including 2015 action feature Baahubali and Mani Ratnam production Raavan have used this epic scenery. In fact, Baahubali’s theatrical release poster used an image of the waterfall to promote the story of a young adventurer who aids his rebellious warrior lover in the rescue of the Queen of an ancient Indian city.




focus on european content & copyright rexit may have dominated debates within Europe recently, but the European Parliament has still found time to pass two key items of legislation that will have a major impact on the creative industries.

Firstly, the European Parliament has updated the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) so that video on demand services such as Netflix and Amazon have to carry a greater amount of European content in their catalogues.

drowned out by imported shows. It says the share of EU films on Netflix’s European offering was 21% in 2015. More than half of EU member states already have mandatory European content quotas, but these shares can range from anywhere between 10% and 60%. The new directive seeks to standardise content quotas. It also asks video on demand platforms to contribute to the development of European productions, either by investing directly in content or contributing to national funds.

Second, European politicians have voted in favour of a new Copyright Directive, as part of sweeping changes to regulation around online copyright.

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Why’s this?

The regulation is likely to spur Netflix and Amazon to boost their investment in Europe by increasing both original productions and local acquisitions. Netflix says it spent USD1 billion on European production in 2018, and is opening production hubs in Spain and the UK. It has also announced slates out of Germany, Spain, France, the UK and other European countries. Amazon is also bulking up, with projects including their first British scripted show, Good Omens and Bibi & Tina, a new German-language kids series.

With services such as Netflix growing fast across the continent, the EU wants to make sure that European content doesn’t get

European distributors, meanwhile, are anticipating being able to sell more of their library content to the streamers.

Let’s start with the EU content laws. What’s the change here? The EU says broadcasters, SVODs and the likes of Facebook and YouTube must now guarantee a 30% share of European works in their on-demand catalogues. EU member states have to work this directive into national legislation before the end of 2020. MakErS MaG


What’s the response of the streamers to this?

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Ok, is this linked in any way to the Copyright Directive? Not specifically, although both are being seen as moves by the EU to rein in the power of the big US digital giants by making them more accountable, and sharing more of their multi-billion dollar revenues with European creatives. MakErS MaG

So what is the Copyright Directive about? Essentially, it about updating pre-digital era legislation. Most media attention has focused on Articles 11 and 13. The EU reckons that online platforms and news aggregators are reaping all the rewards of the online world, while creatives and journalists see very little remuneration for it. It says an online platform must not earn money from material created by people without compensating them. The Directive also says a platform is legally liable if there is content on its site for which it has not properly paid the creator. As a result, platforms will likely have to negotiate licenses with copyright holders, and introduce content filters to stop unauthorised copyrighted material being uploaded in the first place. Articles 14 to 16 are also important for creatives who license their copyright protected

work. The EU has demanded greater transparency in revenue reporting, letting creatives know how their work has been exploited and, crucially, the income generated from such exploitation and the revenue due. The EU also wants to ensure that creators whose work makes more revenue than expected are not cut out of the profits by contracts based on lower projections. MakErS MaG

How has the industry reacted to this? Broadly, creatives and smaller companies are in favour – while the digital giants have lobbied hard against the changes. The chair of Directors UK, Steve Smith, calls it a game changer for authors, directors and all European creators. “Like other directors, my work is uploaded and used all over the internet, for which I receive no additional payment. The implementation of the Copyright Directive will level the playing field between creators and the tech giants and help directors, for the first time, be rewarded fairly for the use of our work.” The Chief Executive of PRS for Music Robert Ashcroft also welcomed the legislation. “This is about modernising the Internet and it’s a massive step forward for consumers and creators alike.”




All change in the world of commercials production

Stink Films brought back The Dude from The Big Lebowski and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw in this spot for Stella Artois. The creative agency was Mother New York, and the director was from Traktor.


AheAd of the CAnnes Lions, MAKERS CAsts An eye over the fAst ChAnging worLd of Advertising produCtion, whiCh is being disrupted by inhouse produCtion, digitAL pLAyers And A greAter need for diversity. pLus, overLeAf, MAKERS finds out froM fiorenZA pLinio how to win A grAnd prix At the CAnnes Lions.

Advertising ain’t what it used to be. For commercials producers, reflecting on the industry on the eve of the Cannes Lions, the key challenge is navigating a sector in continual flux. “It’s changing, that’s the only constant,” says Jeff Baron, managing director of Stink Films in Los Angeles. At the heart of this change is the disruption wrought by the rise of digital platforms – whether Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or Netflix. “The whole industry is changing as the eyeballs of most 18-35 year olds refuse to be interrupted and choose to watch online or on-demand, easily skipping the boring ads,” says HLA founder Helen Langridge. Falling budgets are a particular focus too. Budgets might be declining, yet clients and agencies still have sky high expectations. ‘More for less’ has been the order of the day for some time now, and a big concern for production companies is simply finding ways to keep delivering quality commercials on reduced budgets. Budget cuts have been soaked up over time by production companies, which have trimmed the fat and adopted innovative ways of working. But many say there is no longer much fat to trim without creativity suffering. Indeed, many say that the focus on cost is already having a detrimental effect on quality and effectiveness. HLA’s Helen Langridge reckons the industry is truly in a challenging place. “I’ve been in it for over 35 years and have survived two recessions – this is the worst I have ever known it.” Inhouse agency production is a major threat, according to Langridge: “My feeling is that the advertising agencies in their quest for profit have ruined what was a world class industry. We were known for our great work, sadly we can’t say that today. The advertising agency bosses have undermined the production houses and other craft related businesses in their aim to make more on their bottom line. Bringing film production in-house to an ad agency, an area they don't understand, does not help a brand, it restricts a brand.” On the flip side, more production companies are working directly with clients – or are diversifying into other areas completely. Langridge says the last three jobs HLA has done in America have been without an agency: “Projects can be initiated by us or the brand. We have the opportunity to make the most of our creative drive: we can make docs, write scripts, shoot interviews, make features films, we’re small and creative, we can turn on a sixpence. Brands may decide to get on board with this new way of working or not, for some it will not suit them. We know that we need to change. There’s no more waiting for agencies to give us work, they have changed the method and we need to adapt. Things can only get better!”

Change, she adds, is always difficult but in the end “it will provide an opportunity for those of us who are determined to retain quality at the centre of what we do.” This is a theme taken up by Jeff Baron at Stink Films in Los Angeles. Asked what trends Stink is seeing in terms of creativity, Baron replies: “We are seeing a real openness to new voices and ideas, and genuine interest in pushing creative boundaries. It’s harder than ever to get viewers’ attention, so "playing it safe” just isn’t an effective strategy. That’s leading to some really deep collaboration and inspiring work.” Baron reiterates how changeable and varied the industry has now become. “One day we’re producing a branded film and the next we’re shooting a Super Bowl “The adverTising spot. It’s a highly diverse environment and it’s agencies in Their moving really quickly.” quesT for profiT

have ruined Baron adds: “It’s a whaT was a world climate that really calls class indusTry. ” upon our strengths as producers to be nimble while also recognising that the core of what we do hasn’t changed. The new platforms and technologies that exist simply offer more ways we can do what’s fundamental to all of us: tell stories. I welcome the new opportunities that gives us.”

Diversity is another big theme within the industry – and is one that will be widely discussed at Cannes this year. “The way women are depicted in advertising still relies heavily on gender stereotypes,” notes Fiorenza Plinio, head of creative excellence development at the Cannes Lions. She points out that when J Walter Thompson New York and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media analysed more than 2,000 campaigns from the Cannes Lions archive, the research revealed that women were 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen, while men were 50% more likely to be shown at a sporting event. “A red thread runs between this lazy stereotyping and the lack of women in creative departments and the drain of female talent from the advertising industry at large,” says Plinio. One of the reasons is the lack of advocacy and visibility, Plinio adds. That’s why, she says, the Cannes Lions launched the See It Be It initiative five years ago: a mentoring and networking programme at the Festival for creative women from around the world, who are not quite at CD level yet. Cannes has also added The Glass Lion: the Lion for Change to its prize list. “We hope that our two initiatives, See It Be It and The Glass Lion, will re-inspire creatives about working in this industry because of the impact they can have on ensuring we build a more inclusive culture.”



how to win a cannes lion inning a Cannes Lion stands as one of the ultimate accolades in advertising, with the prizes heavily fought over each year. Last year, there were 32,000 entries from 90 countries. Ahead of this year’s event, makers spoke with the Cannes Lions’ head of creative excellence development, Italian-born Fiorenza Plinio to get her advice on what it takes to be an award winner. Plinio is responsible for nurturing creative excellence at the festival. A former head of awards development at Cannes Lions, she launched several new awards competitions, most notably the PR Lions awards. She is also a frequent speaker on creativity and creative leadership in the communications industry. Previously she was a journalist at news agency ANSA in Paris. She holds a Masters’ degree in Media and Journalism from the LUMSA University in Rome and the Sorbonne in Paris.


How does the judging process work at Cannes Lions? FioREnzA Plinio

Enormous consideration is given to who will judge the work and how. The high calibre of our juries is matched by the high standards that we hold them to and the rigorous processes they undertake. Our judging consists of three rounds involving viewing, voting and discussions and awarding of Lions. In the first round, judges consider and score each entry on a scale of one to nine based on whether they consider it a shortlist candidate. The second round is a


review where judges will consider whether entries on this provisional shortlist are worthy of being shortlisted only, a possible winner or a definite winner. In the final round, guided by the Jury President, judges review and debate entries before voting on whether they consider each a Gold, Silver or Bronze Lion winner, or shortlist only. It takes a two-thirds majority vote to claim a Lion and only about 3% of entries will do so.

There is a two minute limit for case films and that’s not a goal. If you can share your story in a shorter amount of time, go for it!

process, which is very rich in learnings itself, can have an impact on where their creative bar sits.

Something else that’s crucial when entering a Lion is to consider the cultural nuances of your work and remember that our juries are completely international. English is not always their first language. Context needs to be explained in order to resonate. Explanatory slides and subtitles are welcomed.

Work that wins a Lion represents the year’s most exceptional campaigns. Which makes the festival a critical tool for creative benchmarking in everybody’s business.

After voting, results are read out and juries confirm the decisions. Candidates for Grand Prix, selected from among Gold Lions winners, are also identified and further discussion follows before a last vote to determine the Grand Prix winner. Entries for public awareness messages, non-profit organisations and charities aren’t eligible in their Lion, but will be considered for the Cannes Lions and Lions Health Grand Prix for Good. As Film Craft and Innovation awards are judged on the merit of the craft/ technology behind the idea, they are an exception to this rule. All Gold Lion winners from the Film Craft and Innovation Awards are eligible to win the Grand Prix within their own Lion.

You don’t want your great work to slip through the cracks because the cultural nuances haven’t been covered off. One last tip I would give to potential entrants is to take a fresh perspective and to distil their work down to its core for a new audience. You might have lived and breathed the work and you may be heavily embedded in it, but the jury need to go back to basics. In other words, try to re-imagine your story for a fresh audience.


What do creative campaigns have to do to stand out at Cannes Lions? FioREnzA Plinio

Our jurors will sometimes go through 200 entries a day. We know that some campaigns are complicated and require explanation, but the jury won’t thank you for submitting something unnecessarily lengthy.


What impact does winning a Lion have? FioREnzA Plinio

Traditionally winning an award would help agencies attracting new talents but also generating new business. But I think what people don’t necessarily consider, it’s the benchmarking aspect of winning a Lion. Cannes Lions is the only event for the creative industry where you can see everything relevant in the same place, at the same time. In 2018, we received over 32,000 entries from across 90 countries. For companies that have decided to use the Lions as a benchmark, even just going through the


What do you expect to be some of the key themes at this year’s Cannes Lions? FioREnzA Plinio

We have identified eight major themes, which span from the changes in human insights that are influencing how we think about targeting, personalisation and reach to ways to marry creativity with commercial results and how to embrace equality and diversity. We'll explore the deep structural changes and shifts to the branded communication landscape by focussing on talent and how agencies can build outstanding creative capabilities. Some of the world's largest brands will also share case studies on how they are re-inventing themselves to maintain customer relevance and what does best-in-class digital transformation look like.

Fiorenza Plinio is Head of Creative Excellence Development at the Cannes Lions.




KENYA rich locations

Kenya’s panoramic landscapes and vibrant capital have long attracted filmmakers. Some of East Africa’s longest established service companies are based here, and continued investment means that Kenya is fast becoming a regional production hub.

enya’s main filming infrastructure is centred in Nairobi. Most production service companies, rental houses and studio spaces are found in the capital and in general it is the cheapest location to shoot in the country. Shooting in more remote areas requires added support and travel, but these costs provide a great return and productions can access some of the most varied landscapes in Africa by doing so.

Commercial content produced in Kenya draws on a mixture of these wide-ranging natural landscapes as well as the culture and spirit of those who inhabit them. In a spot for Diageo from agency Net#Work BBDO, director Dan Mace and his crew travelled “through Kenya to find 42 tribes and create a sound track, an anthem, in order to unite the nation”. The colourful spot flits between performances on traditional “The Maasai Mara instruments by various local tribes iTself is easily to urban scenes of Kenyans accessible, Taking playing sports and dancing on around an hour by rooftops or working in music plane. as iT is one of studios. The ad shines a light on the eclectic landscapes available, kenya’s MosT from sea and waterfalls to visiTed TourisT savannah and tea plantations desTinaTions, which are all drenched in the infrasTrucTure and golden hue of a setting sun.

accoMModaTion sTandards are high.”

The immense savannah featured in Kenyan-shot works such as romantic drama Out of Africa is what many imagine as the iconic African landscape. The Maasai Mara is Kenya’s most famous stretch of this safari type landscape and is a tourist haven due to the annual wildebeest migration.


locAtion HigHligHt

The Great Rift Valley

The Great Rift Valley is a continental ridge stretching from Lebanon to Mozambique. It runs the length of Kenya. It is the result of shifting tectonic plates that run along the East African Rift. The valley is growing larger as the Somali and Nubian plates gradually shift in opposite directions. The Kenyan portion has created a large lake system which are stop off points for migrating birds. Huge flocks of flamingos are common making the surface of the lakes appear pink from a distance. Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader (pictured above), based on the story of Kimani Maruge’s fight to go to school at the age of 84, filmed on location here instead of South Africa as originally planned. Chadwick cast a whole local school in the film instead of professional actors.



Rafiki (main image)

The reserve has been of particular interest to wildlife and anthropological filmmakers but also possesses the cinematic potential that fictional and commercial projects are after. The BBC’s long-running Big Cat Diaries, described as a ‘feline soap opera’, captured the life of four lion families in the reserve for over a decade. In contrast, a memorable BBC ident featured a group of Masai tribesmen jumping in slow motion against the backdrop of the savannah and the gnarled trees that dot the landscape. It was filmed on location in the reserve by the BBC Natural History Unit while producing Big Cat Diaries. The Maasai Mara itself is easily accessible, taking around an hour by plane or six hours by road from Nairobi. As one of Kenya’s most visited tourist destinations, infrastructure and accommodation standards are high, ranging from high-end lodges and campsites in the park to more budget friendly options on the outskirts of the reserve.

Q: How did you become involved in Rafiki? A: We were looking for great African works to

adapt into film. Wanuri Kahiu, the director, came to us with a short story we optioned and developed. Wanuri co-wrote the script with South African writer Jenna Bass. It took seven years to make, ending up with eight co-producers. Q: What locations did you shoot in? A: Initially the project was set in rural areas but, due to budget constraints, it was a lot cheaper to shoot in Nairobi. Jenna and Wanuri spent a week looking for locations and they re-wrote the script based on what they found.

One of the main locations was a huge housing estate. It was like a village with a corner shop, hairdresser, repair shop and supermarket. It was a microcosm of society. We also shot at a lot of landmarks and on Nairobi’s streets. Q: What advice would you give to producers

considering shooting in Kenya? A: A lot of people have told me that they want to shoot in Kenya. What I always say, and this is important for me, is make the film as authentic and believable as possible. In Kenya there are strong technical crews, a decent infrastructure as well as a willingness amongst the authorities to see more business coming through so I would encourage people to shoot there if their film is set there. Q: Was there any local talent involved?

Kenya often welcomes second unit teams to capture arresting supplementary footage that heightens setting and tone. However, the country is more than capable of handling larger scale productions. Netflix’s Sense8 undertook significant shoots in the country. The Wachowski sisters were at the helm of the ambitious and progressive sci-fi series that followed eight strangers from across the globe who become psychologically linked. Nairobi featured in the series as the home of Capheus, a bus driver who knows every back alley of the bustling city. Kenya’s capital held its own against other cosmopolitan cities such as Seoul, Berlin and Mumbai and was presented as a colourful and effervescent metropolis, while not shying away from the underbelly of the city. One key memorable action sequence saw Capheus perform a chase sequence around the city’s highways and backstreets (pictured on the next page). The on location shoot was serviced by Ginger Ink. Kenyan talent has also made incremental gains on the international stage too with the arrival of actor Lupita Nyong’o. Another notable example is Kenyan photographer and visual artist Osborne Macharia, who was commissioned by Marvel to create exclusive pieces for the launch of Black Panther. Macharia describes his afro-futuristic style as “the repurposing of the post-colonial African narrative into something that is more culturally defining with an element of combining history, the current culture and the future aspirations of people of colour” explaining that “I think we are at a point where as Africans we are trying to get our visual language. Anything good takes time and people have to learn to respect the process”. To advance the visual language and storytelling of the Kenyan industry, both the Kenyan Film Commission and international collaboration provide opportunities to develop the talent and skills and build capacity in the country. One Fine Day is an

A: The entire cast, the gaffer and grips unit, location heads, casting director and musicians were Kenyan. There’s real talent in Kenya and strong technical crews. I was very encouraged by the whole experience.



SoMEtHing ElSE

In 2017, Kenya introduced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags. Taking anywhere between 20 and 1,000 years to degrade, plastic bags often end up in the food chain. While some UK consumers may have expressed chagrin at the thought of having to pay five pence for a plastic bag, Kenyans caught producing selling or using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or face fines of GBP31,000. The ban came about after a photographer and activist, tired of the amount of plastic he saw in his local area started a grassroots campaign. The campaign got widespread support, but the drastic ban took 10 years and three attempts before being passed into law. Improvements were seen quite quickly as residents noticed streets were cleaner, waterways less obstructed and fishermen noticed less pollution. Moreover, the ban has created public awareness for the need to protect the environment and created a stimulus for companies themselves to come up with creative and solution orientated methods to combat pollution.


alternative production company founded in 2008 by two German directors in partnership with Nairobi’s Ginger Ink. Projects to have emerged from the collaboration include internationally recognised features such as Supa Modo, Kati Kati and Nairobi Half Life, which have screened at Berlin, Toronto, Durban and Rotterdam festivals.


Although there is no incentive for incoming productions, this is not unusual for the continent and Kenya still provides good value for money. Instead of a rebate, productions will be able to waive the 25% import duty on equipment as well as the 16% VAT on television cameras, digital cameras and video cameras. On top of this, all taxable goods and services enjoy a 0% VAT.

Removal of 25% Import Duty and 16% VAT on cameras, digital cameras and video camera recorders. Zero VAT and taxable goods and services offered to film producers. 100% investment deduction on Capital expenditure incurred by a film producer or purchase of equipment.

Film licenses can be secured through the Kenya Film Commission but must do so through a local agent or production company. Permits for documentaries and commercials are processed on application while dramas and feature films should be processed within 48 hours. As a result, when working in Kenya it is imperative that producers work alongside a trusted local production service company. Some of East Africa’s most established and trusted service providers are headquartered, or have offices in the country. Blue Sky Africa is a good example having operated from Nairobi for over eighteen years. Over this period, they have provided production services for international projects including The Constant Gardener and The Good Lie and The First Grader. They also work throughout East Africa, most recently having facilitated Netflix’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind in Malawi and Disney’s upcoming live action The Lion King.


AtA cARnEt


intERnAtionAl tAlEnt

Directors Wanuri Kahiu, Mbithi Masya and Jim Chuchu. Actor Lupita Nyong’o. tiME zonE

GMT+3 intERnEt StAtS

Broadband Speed Mean: 17.06 Time to Download 5GB HD Movie 00:40:01. Images: Rafiki © Big World Cinema. Sense8 © Murray Close & Netflix.


MALAYSIA star potential The country can also provide more period locations and double for a lot of Southeast Asia. Numerous films such as Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which is set in Hong Kong and Shanghai of the 1940s and Indochine set between 1930 and 1950 ‘s Vietnam have worked in the country. Lust, Caution shot partly in Ipoh and Penang, the city where Crazy Rich Asians found some traditional Southeast Asian looks. Malaysia is relatively cost competitive for the region and also provides a 30% cash rebate on local production expenditure for film and TV fiction, documentary and animation productions, which applies to post production. Malaysia’s climate is typically tropical with warm and humid days and cooler nights, but the dry and wet seasons differ depending on area.

Malaysia hosted Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, one of its most successful credits yet. With international standard facilities available, a reliable cast of beautiful locations and a generous 30% incentive, Malaysia has the makings of Southeast Asia’s next production hotspot.

inewood’s Iskandar Malaysia studio is a significant reason international productions head to the Southeast Asian country. The facility, which opened in 2016, has over 100,000 square feet of sound stages, 30,000 acres of backlot as well both indoor and outdoor water tanks. Being located just over the Malaysian border from Singapore, the facility is an ideal central spot to base any production heading to Southeast Asia.

International series such as Netflix’s Marco Polo have based themselves at Pinewood Iskandar. The series, which follows the sixteenth century merchant on his travels around the globe, was able to make use of the variety of local casting “inTernaTional options available. The studio also series such as has an equipment rental supplier that caters to both productions on neTflix’s MARCO and off the lot.

POLO have based TheMselves aT pinewood iskandar .”

Warner Bros’ hit film Crazy Rich Asians is perhaps Malaysia’s most high-profile recent success. Although set mostly in Singapore, Malaysia managed to double for a range of exotic locations. In particular, the Four Seasons Hotel’s beach front villas on the island of Langkawi in the Malaysian archipelago was taken over by the production. The islands are an hour’s flight from Kuala Lumpur and are a highlight of the country.


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Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, George Town Penang Cheong Fatt Tze was one of Malaysia’s most successful businessmen. He displayed his wealth by building this impressive mansion (pictured above) – his home until his death in 1916. Originally built with thirty-five rooms, five courtyards and seven staircases, it is the largest building in the traditional Hakka style in Malaysia. Although set in Singapore, the mansion starred in Crazy Rich Asians as it allowed the production to escape the modernist architecture of the city state. This is one of Malaysia’s strong suits; while it has built up modern cities, there are plenty of locations with a lot of tradition and heritage still evident. Images: Anthony Shaw & Nakata Sahc.


interview jason withderspici kingsley ason Kingsley founded Rebellion, one of Europe’s leading games developers and comic book publishers, with his brother Chris, in 1992. Now with a staff of close to 350, the Oxford-based company has made its name with games such as Aliens vs Predator, Battlefront, Sniper Elite and Strange Brigade.

Rebellion bought cult comic 2000 AD, home to Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, in 2000, and is a book publisher, specialising in fantasy, crime and horror. Rebellion also owns performance capture firm Audiomotion, and is now pushing into film and TV production. Last year, it bought a former print factory near Oxford and converted it into a film studio. This will be a base for its own dramas and films, and is also being hired to outside productions. MAKERS MAg


Why are you diversifying from games into film and TV? JASon KingSlEY

The frivolous answer is we think it is going to be fun and interesting. We are still privately owned – and we like doing things. The business analysis is that Rebellion was set up to entertain people, and we’ve done that successfully in games, comics and books. So we thought, why don’t we have a go? MAKERS MAg

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Tell us about some of the key moments for Rebellion? JASon KingSlEY

The first was starting the business. That always takes a lot of guts. The second was hiring our first member of staff – it’s nerve wracking because you don’t quite realise what being a boss is all about for the first time. We then won our first project working with Atari, who took a chance and hired us to make Alien vs Predator, considered one of the scariest games of all time. Then we did a lot of games work for hire – James Bond, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Star Wars. That was a good business, but you are always in the control of a multi-national


corporation. The rise of digital was hugely empowering. Suddenly we could sell games directy. So we stopped doing work for hire, and put our own money into projects to retain IP. We launched the Sniper Elite series – each one has been a number one game worldwide.

JASon KingSlEY

The new studio will house the Judge Dredd TV sci-fi drama Mega-City One and the feature Rogue Trooper, set to be directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code). Rogue Trooper is still at script stage. Mega-City One is pretty much ready to go, so we are working out routes to market. MAKERS MAg

Why the studio purchase? JASon KingSlEY

A lot of the big studios are booked up, and we thought, why don’t we do it on our own? I wanted to be materially involved,

so it had to be somewhere I can get to on a daily basis. The studio has an enormous sound proofed main building – inside looks like a James Bond villain lair. MAKERS MAg

Will you produce yourself or bring in external producers? JASon KingSlEY

We have people inhouse, but we are increasingly hiring people to work with us as partners. I’ve got script development executives here, and do a lot of it myself. We are in the fortunate position of being able to fund our own projects, and that is really the direction we want to be able to go. We don’t mind teaming up with the right people, but they have to add value. MAKERS MAg

What kind of synergies are there between games and film and TV? JASon KingSlEY

There is a lot of crossover. Scripts are the fundamental underpinning of any creative endeavour, whether a games design or a linear screen-based script. So we are putting a lot of money into development. Also, we work in genre, and we have our own social media so already have a deep relationship with sci-fi, action adventure, horror and fantasy fans. And we have a huge team who work in the tech industry. We will be looking at doing our own vfx to certain extent. Software and hardware don’t scare us – we are a tech company, and a lot of production companies need to hire tech specialists.


So why haven’t the games and film industries crossed over more? JASon KingSlEY

One of problems is the film industry often sees itself as the senior creative partner. And increasingly that is simply not the case – the games industry stands alongside and, in some cases, heads and shoulders above film in terms of return of investment and creativity. MAKERS MAg

What do you see as the key challenges for you in doing this? JASon KingSlEY

We don’t have much of a track record in TV and film production. So we have got to make that happen. Having said that Rebellion Productions has been producing my YouTube series, Modern History, which has taken off in a massive way. It’s very much part time – about medieval knights. But it is very high quality, and it’s a test bed for the production company. MAKERS MAg

Tell us more – you’re known for being a fan of jousting as well? JASon KingSlEY

I have got 15 horses, and I am really interested in the high medieval period. I have several suits of armour. When I put on a suit and joust, I am experiencing time travel in a way. For me it is a form of escapism, of getting away from high tech to low tech.




VFx house Framestore has been ramping up its tV work in recent years. makers talks to head of tV Michelle Martin about how to create VFx with small screen budgets.

PROFILE Framestore FX house Framestore is best known for its work on movies and commercials, with shows such as the Harry Potter series, Bladerunner 2049 and Paddington to its name. In recent years, however, Framestore has made a concerted move back into TV visual effects – tapping into the greater ambition, budgets and talent that can now be seen on the small screen.

TV played a pivotal role in Framestore’s early development and success. It was one of the early studios to deliver large, tent-pole VFX heavy TV shows, such as 1996’s Gulliver's Travels and 1999’s Walking With Dinosaurs. But during 2000s, falling TV budgets meant it was difficult to make long-form VFX work pay. Instead, Framestore focused on the features market, which took off for VFX firms as fantasy films and superhero franchises ploughed ever more money into effects. KEY StAFF Head of tV: MicHelle Martin creatiVe director tV: russell dodgson VfX superVisor: pedro sabrosa deVelopMent producer: benjaMin perry

“The emergence of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon has reinvigorated the format, with the most exciting narrative and VFX-heavy storytelling beginning to take place in the TV sphere again,” says Framestore’s head of TV Michelle Martin.

“The TV department was born with the idea in mind that we should be leveraging the right talent from across the company to deliver the shows,” says Martin. “TV is a very different beast to film and commercials and requires a hybrid approach due to its wide range of budgets, varied VFX requirements and often large volume, fast turnaround shows.” WHY DiD MAnY VFx coMPAniES PUll oUt tV tEn YEARS Ago?

“TV budgets dropped but the expectations of production companies remained the same – so many of the high-end VFX companies had to take a step back from television work.”

“In the past five years we have seen a huge shift with large investment into content for streaming platforms and episodic series. There is a variety of work now and higher budgets allow greater freedom to create quality high-end VFX.”

FoUnDED 1986, london

tEll US AboUt tHE tV DEPARtMEnt – HoW DoES it oPERAtE?

StAFF 2400+

FilM arteMis fowl captain MarVel paddington 2 fantastic beasts graVity doctor strange

Framestore draws on its artists with backgrounds in film, TV, commercials through to VR, says Martin. Rather than having a single department with hundreds of operators focused solely on TV, it operates more flexibly – channelling work to the right creative teams.


oFFicES london, Montreal, new york, los angeles, cHicago, pune

tV Mars (nat geo) one strange rock (nat geo) black Mirror (netfliX) tHe terror (aMc) curfew (sky atlantic) His dark Materials (bbc/Hbo)

filmed – and assigning the right people to the job from across Framestore’s creative teams.

Since it moved back into TV three years ago, Framestore has worked on projects such as National Geographic’s Mars (pictured above) and One Strange Rock, through to Netflix’s Black Mirror (pictured left) and the BBC and HBO’s upcoming big budget series His Dark Materials. “We’ve been lucky – we’ve had a real mix of projects since we re-joined the long-form world,” says Martin. Despite budgets for TV growing, they are still very much lower than the Hollywood movies that Framestore often works on. So how can Framestore deliver vfx on TV budgets? Framestore says one of the key ways is to work collaboratively very early on with clients – often at script stage – to plan exactly what is affordable and possible. It is also about being careful about exactly what is shot, and how it is

“The core TV team (see opposite), often bolstered by further production and supervision talent from across the different departments of the company and across the global offices, is responsible for dealing with our TV clients, bidding on the projects and then channelling the work into the right creative teams.” WHAt iS 2019 looKing liKE FoR tHE DEPARtMEnt?

“It’s shaping up to be a busy year. We’ve a number of exciting shows in development across a host of genres and OTT platforms. Framestore is handling all the VFX across the forthcoming BBC / HBO series of His Dark Materials.”



MALTA small but versatile EUR2 million into a new indoor sound stage close to Ricasoli, which should pave the way for more incoming shoots. There are also a number of animation studios based in Malta that work on international projects. International visual effects company Stargate Studios, whose credits include BlackkKlansman, American Gods and Medici: Masters of Florence, has a Malta studio. Stargate Studios Malta recently provided animation work for Spanish series Sabuesos (Hound Dogs). Malta recently announced that the incentive will be raised to a maximum 40% rebate. Taking the form of a cash rebate the rebate must be applied for forty days prior to filming in Malta. For productions not portraying Malta as Malta, or without special Maltese cultural content the rebate is a lower 35%.

Malta has long been one of the industry’s hubs for water tank filming. now the country’s reputation is growing in other sectors – backed up with a 35-40% cash rebate.

alta has carved out a strong niche on the international production stage as a home for both historical features and water-based productions. Now it is seeking to attract a wider range of shoots.

Malta Film Studios has a global reputation for its water filming capabilities. It has three water filming tanks: a Surface Marine Tank, a Deep Water Marine Tank, and a Covered Insert Tank. Between them they can facilitate any type of water filming, both indoor and outdoor. Its shallow “The governMenT tank is particularly popular because it provides a seamless has announced horizon effect. Sky’s Das Boot an invesTMenT of (pictured above), the World War II eur2 Million inTo a U-Boat drama, utilised the facility. new sTudio, which should pave The way for More incoMing shooTs.”

Malta’s locations can also be used for historical projects. Most notably, Fort Ricasoli is a medieval fort that has been utilised as a location for films including Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora, Gladiator, Helen of Troy and Julius Caesar. Other Maltese towns and cities also have a classic Mediterranean look. The island does, however, lack indoor space – although this may soon be remedied. The government has announced an investment of


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Church of St. Dominic and monastery, Rabat The Catholic Dominican order settled in Rabat in 1450. The construction of the monastery (pictured above) began seven years later and took 50 years to complete. When they took control, the Ottomans used it as a base to attack the nearby city of Mdina which resulted in the destruction of many of the original buildings. Much of it was rebuilt in the 17th Century and is now famous for its courtyards, colonnades, fountains and walled gardens. Game of Thrones filmed here during its first season using it as part of the fictional city of Kings Landing. Images: ©Nik Konietzny / Bavaria Fiction GmbH & Andrey Shevchenko.


Ride of a lifetime

‘For those who suffer, we ride.’ That’s the motto of the FireFlies Tour, a series of gruelling industry bike rides which raise money to support life-saving research for cancer. Perhaps the most challenging of them all is the 1000km FireFlies Patagonia ride, a seven-day event on CX bikes through remote Chile and Argentina. makers reports.

ycling for the FireFlies is not for the fainthearted. This annual advertising and entertainment industry ride to raise money for the fight against cancer began in 2001 with a group of cyclists making their way from Geneva to the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival.


The annual Cannes event has spawned FireFlies charity rides elsewhere, including FireFlies West where cyclists pedal 900km down the Californian coast to Los Angeles, and FireFlies Patagonia, a 1000km ride through this remote region of Argentina and Chile.

It’s no mere bike ride though. The Cannes route crosses the Alps and covers more than 20 mountains in eight days, entering Cannes behind a police escort that accompanies riders along La Croisette to the finish line.

The Location Guide, which publishes makers magazine, is one of the sponsors of this year’s FireFlies Patagonia event. It is arguably the toughest of all the FireFlies rides.

Since then, FireFlies riders have raised millions for Bloodwise, which funds research into the treatment of leukaemia and cancers of the blood.


Polo Luisetti, one of the organisers of the ride for Chilean production company La Casa Films, has ridden the Cannes, US and Patagonia rides before. He says one of the big challenges of the Patagonia

you CAn’t just wALk out of the door And do this – it’s so ALien And different. you push yourseLf beyond whAt you think you Are CApAbLe of.

ride is that it is largely on gravel, passing isolated lakes, glaciers and active volcanoes. “It is very different to riding on paved roads. It’s much more tiring. Not only are you riding on gravel, but you’re climbing on gravel – often up volcanoes. It’s also a very isolated place – pure and brutal nature.” Luisetti reckons the riders climb the equivalent of three to four Everest’s along the seven-day route, in unpredictable weather that can vary between snow, rain and sun. The challenge, he adds, is probably more psychological than physical given the conditions and remoteness of the ride. FireFlies Patagonia started three years ago, and has attracted riders from all over the world, especially from the UK, France, Spain, the US as well as local riders from Chile, Brazil and Colombia. There were 300 applications for this year’s ride, which took place in March. Of these, 18 were chosen. That’s partly because it’s very complicated to produce a ride with so few facilities en route. “It’s not like in Europe where you climb the highest mountain and there’s a beautiful terrace with a nice coffee at the top. Here there is nothing. You are probably one of the first to ride a bike here.” Riders camp en route, or stay in lodges or in the houses of friends of the organisers, and are backed up by a sizeable support team. The riders themselves are a diverse group, mainly drawn from the industry – and include directors, editors, producers and DoPs. All are chosen for their desire to help combat cancer. Many have family members or friends who have been affected by the disease.

Cannes three years ago, and says he didn’t really cycle before then. “It was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.” Most riders start their training four to five months before a FireFlies event. “You can’t just walk out of the door and do this – it’s so alien and different. You push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of,” says McGee. “iT’s noT like in Ahead of the Patagonia event, he trained for up europe where you to five hours every cliMb The highesT Sunday and Saturday, MounTain and and for two hours for There’s a beauTiful another three days of Terrace wiTh a the week. nice coffee aT The Top. here There is noThing. you are probably one of The firsT To ride a bike here.”

“I live in a world of making imaginary things come true,” says McGee. “But there is nothing better than getting out in the real world.” The race, he says, feeds his imagination, helps him to achieve a personal goal – and is all for a good cause.

This cause is key to the riders. “It’s a great opportunity to do something for people who are really suffering,” says Luisetti. “Our industry can be very selfish, and we really need to do something about cancer.” He stresses that the Patagonia event is not a race, and that the best riders are encouraged to look after and stay with the slowest. “The spirit of the FireFlies is at the back – with the person who is suffering more.” To support the FireFlies Patagonia team, visit:

The group is not simply made up of super fit, experienced cyclists. Many will not have done a long bike ride before. The youngest on this year’s Patagonia ride was 28, the oldest 65. One of this year’s FireFlies Patagonia riders was the chief creative officer of vfx house Framestore, Mike McGee, 57. He took part in the FireFlies ride to Images courtesy of Matt Maynard.

PATAGONIA To support Mike McGee’s fundraising for the FireFlies Patagonia ride see:




THAILAND production paradise

thailand’s solid infrastructure and talent, which ranges from set design to post production work, does not receive as much acclaim as it deserves. the Southeast Asian country boasts all of this at a competitive price point, with an additional incentive for feature and tV work.

n recent years Thailand has emerged as a cosmopolitan production centre. The fast developing Bangkok attracts people from the world over to live, work and play and has managed to shed some of its reputation as a flashy tourist hotspot that feature films like Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and The Hangover II helped proliferate.

For the production sphere Thailand’s evolution is striking. Thailand really does have it all; from on screen talent to crews and cast as well as all the necessary facilities and equipment.

The country has made a particularly strong imprint as a hub for commercial production with global production companies such as The Sweet Shop and Great Guns establishing offices in Bangkok. It is a vibrant city “seT design and arT bursting with creative possibilities deparTMenTs are of as well as infrastructure. Varied a high sTandard. in and spectacular locations are also a recenT spoT for easily accessible from Bangkok. furniTure brand There are also plenty of casting opportunities in the city. Zinus, a whole Town was creaTed ouT of cardboard.”

A high proportion of work comes from Japan, India and Europe while Korean, Chinese, US and Australian productions are also frequent visitors. This means that production service companies are accustomed to dealing with a range of needs and are competent in working to international standards.


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Sai Yok National Park

Released in 1978, Michael Cimono’s Oscarwinning The Deer Hunter was one of the first Vietnam war films to double Thailand for Vietnam. Bangkok stood in for Saigon, while Sai Yok National Park played the part of the dense, impenetrable Vietnamese jungle. Located in the Kanchanaburi Province, a western province on the border with Myanmar, Sai Yok has some of Thailand’s more accessible areas of jungle as well as waterfalls and mountainous backdrops. Running through the park is the River Kwai, where The Deer Hunter’s sets were built. Interestingly, David Lean’s World War II film The Bridge Over the River Kwai actually doubled Sri Lanka for the Thai setting. Other Vietnamese war films of the era to base production in Thailand include Good Morning, Vietnam (pictured above) and The Killing Fields.


Les Nordhauser of production service company Greenlight Films, which services productions all across the Asia Pacific region, notes that “Thailand has a really exceptional number of crew that’s done international work… In my opinion, they’ve got more international level crew and more equipment than almost anybody”. Equipment rental houses such as VS Service and camera hire firms like Asiahire Bangkok offer a wide range of up-to-date cameras as well as all the necessary grip, lighting, rigging and SFX gear. Wet hire, that comes with expert crew attached is the norm here, but dry hire is possible.



Mechanic Resurrection

Studio Park is Thailand’s largest sound stage, providing five purpose-built soundstages available for hire. The USD158 million studio is spread across a 90,000sqm space, over half of which makes up the studio’s backlot and is easily reached by two international airports. Set design and art departments are of a high standard too. In a recent spot for furniture brand Zinus, a whole town was created out of cardboard in a studio close to Bangkok. Six sets were created for the whimsical Tales From The Box campaign from LA’s Mirada Studios. Bullets Thailand oversaw the production, where a team of 20 laboured over three days to create all six sets made out of cardboard with a high level of detail including a telescope, flowers, an alarm clock and turntables. Thailand is also a fantastic location to access martial arts skills and choreography. Thailand’s most successful martial arts pro and stuntman Tony Jaa has worked on many features over the years, most recently on Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter, a feature based on the video game of the same title. Commercial spots are also prone to use martial arts masters in their work. The Chicken Liken: Inner Peace spot for the fast food brand shot in Thailand because it could provide the talent at a reasonable price. The 70’s martial arts parody called upon the country’s extensive martial arts skills, shooting in Chinese palatial locations and backstreets. In order to remain a competitive and economical filming destination, Thailand introduced an incentive in 2017 for feature and TV series. The base 15% is available to productions spending over THB50 million – roughly USD1.5 million in Thailand. A further 3% is added with the hire of key Thai personnel and then a final 2% for the promotion of Thai Tourism. Incoming productions must get permission before shooting in Thailand and hire a local production coordinator. Les Nordhauser explains the need to use a “certified production coordinating company that really becomes your partner. They are there to help you. Every country in the world has certain


Q: Why did you choose Thailand as

a location? A: A combination of the locations and the cost. I’ve now worked in Thailand for Prince and Me 3, Elephant White, Ninja 2 and most recently Mechanic Resurrection. Q: What was it that impressed you the

most about working there? A: The crew are professional and people are great to work with. Q: With so much experience of working in

the country, what location or production advice would you pass on to others considering filming in Thailand? A: Make sure you have a good local production company. It is the key to getting all you need from the government and the crew. Q: How would you rate Thailand for

production values and bang for your buck? A: It is the most cost-effective place, other than India and a few Eastern European countries.



issues, whether about history, religion, politics, they all have things that have to be handled correctly. Customs, conditions, all of those things have to be handled properly. That is part of what the production service provider does, we are cultural liaisons”. Permits are administered to productions, whose material meets culturally sensitive criteria. Once authorisation has been granted, the Thailand Film Office can assist with getting permits for filming at historic sites and national parks.


15% base rate. 3% additional for hire of Thai key personnel, Additional 2% Promotion of Thai Tourism. Minimum spend 50 million Baht (approx USD1.5 million). Applications applying for the rebate on both physical and post production, physical production must be 50% of total local spend. Eligible formats: features, mini series, music videos, short films, reality shows, documentaries, TV series. Post production: animation, VFX, 3D converting, editing, music and scoring sound design, subtitles and colour grading. AtA cARnEt


Studio Park Thailand, Pace Studio Bangkok and Chopstick Films. intERnAtionAl tAlEnt

Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Stunt and Action Choreographer and Thai Martial Artist Tony Jaa, Producer Raymond Phathanavirangood, Writer and Director Prabda Yoon. tiME zonE

GMT +7 contAct

Thailand Film Office +66 2 2194 0107 Images: Good Morning Vietnam © Touchstone Pictures. Grand palace at twilight, Bangkok © Sanchai. e Wat Arun Ratchawararam riverside temple © Pfeifferv. Maya Bay © Balate Dorin.


Outside of Bangkok, Thailand has a ceaseless offering of locations. Blissful beaches are of course numerous, but jungle and rural farmland are also plentiful. The coast’s crystal blue waters are a great option for underwater filming and caves and waterfalls can be found throughout the country. Historical ruins and exquisite temples can be located both in natural habitats or intertwined in urban settings. One of the most obvious examples of this is the Chao Phraya, the major river that runs through Bangkok. The Wat Arun Ratchawararam riverside temple (pictured left) is hard to miss here, but its gold ornate spire is set against the backdrop of Bangkok’s modern skyscrapers. In terms of accessibility, the capital Bangkok is serviced by multiple international flights every day. There are twelve international airports, two of which operate in Bangkok, making entry easy and frequent. November to February is the ‘cool’ season, although this just means that humidity is kept at bay and the climate is pleasantly warm. Temperatures rise between March and June. Productions may want to steer clear of the wet season between July and October where the air is most humid. Skies are overcast and storms are common in the late afternoon and evening but hotels and travel is cheaper and there is less interference from tourists.

SoMEtHing ElSE

In 2018, one of Thailand’s most famous beaches closed to tourists indefinitely. As a testament to the power of film tourism, Maya Bay, on Ko Phi Phi Island was one of the most popular tourist destinations, with up to five thousand visiting each day on 200 boats. Maya Bay starred in Danny Boyle’s 2000 thriller The Beach. It may have been the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio once lounged on this beach, or the idyllic picture of paradise the film presents, but tourists have flocked to the beach ever since its release. As a result, pollution and boat traffic has caused more than 80% of the coral around the bay to be destroyed and has impacted on the nearby mangroves. The park agency is rehabilitating the area by planting over one thousand corals to rejuvenate the ecosystem. Since its closure, black tail sharks have been spotted in the bay suggesting that the ecosystem is on its way to recovery as they can only survive in certain environments; warm and shallow waters, usually with coral reefs.


UK in full bloom

thanks to award-winning above and below the line talent, the british industry continues to be recognised around the world. Within the UK, regional growth is more pronounced than ever, and international productions are becoming increasingly familiar with these secondary hubs.

wo of this year’s Academy Award winners, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite, emanated from the UK, underlining the nation’s enduring standing on the international stage. While the spectre of Brexit looms, the current success of the British screen industries looks unlikely to abate and the message from industry leaders is that business will continue as usual – especially for incoming productions.

Inward investment and co-production spend on film and high-end TV production in the UK reached GBP2.4 billion in 2018. One of the key reasons that so much international work is drawn to the UK is its long-established incentive programmes. Feature films and high-end TV series can claim a cash rebate of up to 25% on UK qualifying expenditure which also counts for VFX and post production. There is no sunset date, no cap on funds available, and the programme can be combined with regional and international “london reMains incentives. No limit exists on the a key player in budget of the film or the amount inTernaTional of relief payable, although there is adverTising, and an 80% cap per project. Scripted The ciTy iTself series must meet a minimum core expenditure of GBP1 million per plays an iMporTanT broadcast hour. In both cases, role in inspiring iTs above the line costs do count – creaTives.” irrespective of nationality. The latest BFI Screen Business report reveals that since the feature film tax relief was introduced in 2007, the amount of direct production seeded from its support has nearly doubled to a record GBP3.16 billion in 2016. The reliefs now cover high-end TV, video games, animation and children's TV, underpinning the growth seen across the board.


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Royal Hospital Chelsea, London This 66 acre site (pictured above) conveniently situated on the banks of the Thames is a nursing and retirement home for veterans of the British Army. The Grade I listed building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is a historic location bursting with filming potential from the inside out. Grand Halls and a chapel have wood panelled walls, and checkerboard floors. Outside, the grounds are kept pristine and include walled and secluded gardens and extensive lawns that have hosted the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for over a century. The extensive site in the heart of London has a lot of space for unit base facilities and is easily accessible from all London locations. Period productions are particularly fond of the hospital, but the luxurious location also lends itself to regal settings.


Although London continues to be a major hub for all types of production, regional growth has become particularly apparent in recent years. For example, broadcaster Channel 4 is set to open a national HQ in Leeds, and new hubs in Bristol and Glasgow, as part of a move to boost out of London production. There has also been a marked increase in production infrastructure outside the capital. In Scotland, for instance two new studios are under construction which look set to make a significant impact on production in the country. Recent historical drama Mary Queen of Scots was set predominantly in Scotland, but the film was based at London’s Pinewood Studios because it couldn’t find a main production base in the country. Ahead of the film’s release in January, director Josie Rourke expressed disappointment about this fact stating that having a studio “would have made a gigantic difference. We would just have come to Scotland and made the whole film here… there just wasn’t anywhere with a big enough footprint”. Instead, on location production took place at various castles, beaches and valleys in the West Highlands and Lothian area around Edinburgh. The two new Scottish studios will both be based near Edinburgh, at the Port of Leith and at Salters Gate in Dalkeith. Between them, they will offer up to 14 sound stages. Liverpool Film Office has also been solidifying its role as a leading creative hub. The city is a firm favourite when scouting for period locations, with both BBC’s Peaky Blinders and ITV’s Victoria familiar faces. Areas of the city are known as doubles for American cities including period New York for titles such as Florence Foster Jenkins, Captain America, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 2018 was the city's busiest year to date, averaging four projects filming each day of the year and welcoming projects including Left Bank Pictures’ The Crown (pictured on the next page), the BBC’s War of the Worlds as well as Danny Boyle’s Beatles inspired musical comedy Yesterday, where filming took place on the eponymous Penny Lane. In late March, the Liverpool Film Office launched a new regional production fund that aims to safeguard its position as one of the UK’s regional filming hubs. The fund provides investment for feature films, TV dramas as well as animation and comedy series that choose to shoot in the city and is accessible to local, national and international companies. The fund will invest up to 20% of a production budget with a cap of GBP500,000. The city has also recently announced the arrival of Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star. Production on the third series of Kudos TV’s modern-day western will begin later in 2019. The final series will be set in the northern city, having filmed its two previous series in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies.


Q&A tonio KEllnER PRoDUcER

Welcome to Life - Porsche

Q: What was the brief for the commercial? A: We were looking for an impressive, wild but

at the same time reduced setting for the spot. Following the copy and script from the agency Kemper Kommunikation for Welcome to Life, winding country roads with pure nature backdrops needed to be found to make this Porsche 718 T campaign work. Q: What lead you to shoot in Skye? A: With great support from LS Productions we started scouting with a wider search approach, including Wales, as well as Scotland’s east and west coast. We found that Skye provided not only great locations but they were in quite a close range for fast unit moves, allowing us to shoot multiple locations each day. As shooting days and the shooting window was limited it became clear that Skye was our spot for this production. Q: Do you have any recommendations for

producers looking to shoot in the UK? A: The UK provides great crew, is straightforward while offering a great variety of stunning locations. The slightly longer permit deadlines for road closures shouldn’t make you worry, in our case it all worked out fine. Q: The Isle of Skye is a popular filming

and tourist destination, did this have an impact on the shoot? A: You need to be extra conscious about logistics with regards to confidentiality and traffic. Scheduling was crucial to make sure a hotspot like Quiraing would work without tourists. On the other hand, the local residents were very supportive and used to media productions, as were the local authorities which also made things easy.


ESSEntiAl FActS incEntiVES

25% 25% for High End TV and Feature Film. 10% of the films core expenditure must be UK expenditure. Scripted TV must have a minimum core expenditure of GBP1 million per broadcast hour. The relief is capped at 80% of core expenditure and there is no limit on the budget of the film or relief payable. VFX/post and soundtrack recording qualifies as long as the minimum expenditure requirement is met. co-PRoDUction tREAtiES

14 including Brazil, Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, Morocco and China and a member of the EU Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production. AtA cARnEt


Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, The Bottleyard Studios, Estree Studios, Warner Bros. Leavesdon, Belfast Harbour Studios and many more. tiME zonE


intERnAtionAl tAlEnt

Production Designer Sarah Greenwood – Anna Karenina, Atonement, Beauty and the Beast. Director James Rouse Hope – Red Cross Cannes Grand Prix, British Arrows Commercial of the year, Campaign Magazine Director of the year. Editor Eddie Hamilton – Mission: Impossible - Fallen Kingdom, Kingsman. Images: Sex Education © Sam Taylor & Netflix, e Crown © Des Willie & Netflix, Iliya Mitskavets & Chris Dorney.


Wales continues to bloom as a production destination. The BBC launched a film unit in Cardiff in 2013 becoming a base for Doctor Who and Sherlock. In 2018, Netflix’s Sex Education (main image) filmed on location in South Wales, using a deserted University of Wales campus in the Wye Valley for the fictional Moorfield Secondary School. Other international series to have taken advantage of Wales' facilities include Sky One’s A Discovery of Witches. Although set in Oxford, the series was based at World Studios in Cardiff Bay. Northern Irish studios have also continued to welcome large scale international series. Numerous series of Game of Thrones have filmed at Northern Irish locations from its base at Titanic Studios, and Syfy network’s Krypton has now filmed two series based at Belfast’s Harbour Studios. In terms of local talent, Bafta British productions Derry Girls and Mrs Wilson have each secured Bafta TV nominations after shooting in Northern Ireland. London remains a key player in international advertising, and the city itself plays an important role in inspiring its creatives. Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner, one of the most acclaimed commercial spots of the past year shone a light on the capital’s colourful characters. The witty ad placed resourceful amateur sports enthusiasts alongside native musical and athletic talent to articulate the role of sports and culture in the city’s DNA. Shot throughout London, production took place from Brixton to Dalston, in neighbourhoods where starring talent, including Skepta and Harry Kane, grew up. Produced by Riff Raff Films, the script was devised by Wieden+Kennedy London and directed by MEGAFORCE.

SoMEtHing ElSE

British readers will be familiar with the little blue plaques that adorn London’s streets. Since 1866 the scheme celebrates locations connected to famous and influential people, the first of which was the birthplace of poet and lothario Lord Byron. Other cities have since introduced the scheme. Hull based creative studio Drunk Animal has introduced the scheme to their city with a quirky twist. While traditional plaques can only be awarded twenty years after the death of the recipient, Drunk Animal have decided to celebrate the city’s living legends. Titled Alternative Heritage the plaques celebrate Hull’s ‘charismatic folks’ as well as local ‘lore spread in playground’ – factual or fictitious. The plaques range from the good – ‘Bee Lady’ Jean Bishop who has raised over GBP100,000 for Age UK, to the bad – Ronnie Pickering, whose moment of road rage was caught on camera and went viral in 2015, and the ugly – ‘Pig man, 1700 – present’, a pig-human monster who is said to raid bins and emit haunting squeals for the last 300 years.


The Art of Design


Production design has moved to the fore as TV drama has become increasingly cinematic. Designers and art directors behind shows such as Black Mirror, Fleabag and Batman prequel Pennyworth explain how the small screen can get the best out of the art department.


and hit BBC comedy Fleabag. “I don’t feel the scale of the scenery itself is getting bigger, but there is more money around to build more spaces.”

The look of a show has become a key factor in helping it stand out amid a myriad of TV and film choices that audiences now have.

It’s a point echoed by the production designer Joel Collins, who credits include Netflix’s Black Mirror and the upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for the BBC and HBO. Collins says there is more ambitious, unusual and exciting production design work now being created, particularly for television.

he work of the art department is on view like never before. As TV drama, in particular, has become more cinematic – thanks to higher budgets and improved camera technology – so too have the demands on art departments.

“There’s more, bigger scale set design than there used to be,” says production designer Jonathan Green, whose recent credits include TBS’s Wrecked


A key skiLL for being A good produCtion designer is knowing whAt CAn be AChieved And to see potentiAL in A LoCAtion thAt doesn’t AppeAr to hAve Any.

Take, for example, the projects that supervising art director Adam O’Neill has been working on recently. He’s just come off Netflix/Syfy’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s space thriller Nightflyer, which was based in Troy Studios in Limerick, Ireland. “We created the largest single spaceship interior ever made in a complete new film facility,” says O’Neill. “We had crew from all over the world, as well as local talent.” O’Neill is now working on Batman prequel Pennyworth for Epix, set in a surreal 1960s London. “There is now no difference between what is produced for high-end TV sets and film sets.” Despite a growing number of opportunities for production designers and art directors, many say the key essentials of the job remain the same – no matter the budget or ambition of a series. Despite the changes in the industry, Green says he is still “pretty much doing what I’ve always done – aiming to make the art direction as beautiful as possible.” O’Neill, meanwhile, thinks that expectations have changed, and the general standard of work is high. Despite talk of bigger budgets, he thinks that this higher quality is having to be delivered in shorter time for less money. “Rates of pay in the art department have on average decreased in real terms, and sometimes in actual rates,” says O’Neill. Even if the work is more ambitious, that doesn’t mean that production design should be too over the top. Collins, who has won BAFTAs for The Day of the Triffids (2010) and Black Mirror (2018), says he treats production design like visual scripting, where the environment speaks as much as words. For Black Mirror, Collins aimed to create a subtle production design that wouldn’t overwhelm the story, even if it was set in future or alternative universes – and even as budgets got bigger when Netflix boarded from season three. “The term I would use related to Black Mirror is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” says Collins. Indeed, the production design was deliberately restricted and not pushed too far. “Black Mirror is not like a movie where it is all about the world you have created – it is not a world that is so overt that it

Before & aer set shots on TBS’s Wrecked.


Images: Black Mirror - Laurie Sparham © Netflix, Nightflyers - © Syfy Media, LLC & Netflix.

plays its hand,” says Collins. “My instinct was, no matter what the story, to make it look plausible, attainable and just about right.” He sums it up with an anecdote about an early episode of Black Mirror, in which a piece of technology could be swiped by characters. Rather than aping a movie like Minority Report where “i don’T feel The the characters use huge scale of The gestures to swipe screens, scenery iTself is the Black Mirror tech geTTing bigger, was all about small, buT There is More discreet swipes. “We Money around To thought very carefully build More spaces.” about how people would really behave.” Green, meanwhile, recently returned from Fiji where he was working on season three of US comedy Wrecked, about a group stranded on an island after a plane crash. Six months before shooting started, he went on a recce where he found a disused golf house – a derelict, abandoned building that had been taken over by a herd of goats. He turned this into a baddies Hunting Lodge, used the ground floor for bedroom and corridor sets, and the basement became a surveillance room set. He also built a cave there too. The golf house was on the grounds of a five-star resort hotel, where the crew stayed during production. As there are no studio spaces in Fiji, Green also built a 1980s American Bank interior inside the hotel’s conference centre. “It meant we could keep the shooting crew on site for the whole production, which saved a huge amount of travelling time – and money.”



BACK TO CONTENTS A key skill for being a good production designer, he says, is knowing what can be achieved and to see potential in a location that doesn’t appear to have any.

produCers shouLd hAve A LeveL of trust in the Art direCtor. soMetiMes we Are proposing to spend Money now in order to sAve Money LAter on.

Green has a fine art background, having started out as a sculptor – and this is key to working in production design where every job is different, he says. “I am used to finding inspiration on my own, without help. As an artist, that is what you do – you are always looking around for interesting things.” That said, the ideal project for Green is a collaboration between like-minded people. “You want to work with directors and producers who have a strong vision, and who give you creative freedom – it’s a very fine line.” The fact that each project is so different, keeps designers fresh. “There is always a new script and new people to work with, or sometimes people you haven’t worked with for a long time, so there is usually a good family atmosphere in the art department,” says O’Neill. He says inspiration sometimes comes from the production designer and / or a great script and director. Collins worked on the first four series of the Charlie Brooker drama – and not just across production design, but also on the title sequence, motion graphics and visual effects too. In other words, he worked across the whole filmmaking process of the series – and was a key figure with Brooker and producer Annabel Jones in the production of Black Mirror, helping to provide a sense of continuity across the anthology series. Each of the 19 episodes he worked on were “extraordinarily complex”, says Collins. Collins and his company The Painting Practice are doing the same for the Bad Wolf produced His Dark Materials, which is currently in production with a script by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) as lead director. As such Collins describes his work as being about more than traditional production design. The Painting Practice combines concept design, production design and visual effects under one roof. “I always say I don’t want to be the person who just puts a chair in a green room. I want to be the person who designs the room. Because if I don’t do it, a vfx company will.” That said, on Black Mirror, Collins tried to do as much of the effects in camera as possible. “It was all about keeping it as subtle and naturalistic as possible.”

A SketchUp model & final cargo bay set for SYFY’s & Netflix’s Nightflyers.




Many production designers say they like to work with familiar teams of people – art directors, set decorators, buyers and graphic designers – particularly if they have an intensive two- or threemonth project to deliver. “You generate a shorthand with people – it becomes much easier to work with people you have known a long time. It’s always good to have new blood, but consistency and familiarity are really helpful,” says Green. That’s partly because the challenge of working in production design, which covers everything you need apart from cameras, lighting, make-up and what the actors are wearing. “Everything else is down to the production designer,” says Green. “It is either dressing a location or building a set. It is props, animals, action vehicles through to weapons – and it is involved in stunts and special effects.” When shooting Wrecked in Fiji, for example, Green had to build in plenty of time to ship in set dressing and props from Australia and New Zealand, as there was little available on the island itself. Shipping, “i TreaT producTion he says, could take three design like visual to four weeks alone from scripTing, where Australia to Fiji. “The The environMenT earlier you can start the speaks as Much better, particularly if as words.” there are sets to build.” Managing the process of production design is a key part of the job. “You’ve got to keep on top of every aspect of it – graphics, pre-production, visuals, copyright clearance – it’s a never ending and huge area of responsibility,” says Green. O’Neill also stresses the need for a good team in the art department to manage the workload. “You need the right construction manager and team, and the support of the producer to get the right team. There’s always a balance of budget versus getting enough people to service the job. When you are working with a good production designer and production team, this generally will work.” When this doesn’t happen, O’Neill says things can get messy quite quickly. It’s important, he adds, to be on your guard during the early part of production to make sure all runs smoothly. O’Neill says that directors are generally supportive of the art department, as are location managers. “The advice I would give to producers is to have a level of trust in the art director – that they have the best interests of the production at heart, and that sometimes we are proposing to spend money now in order to save money later on.”


URUGUAY on the up under an hour to reach Buenos Aires and two and a half hours to Sao Paulo meaning that any additional equipment is easily accessible. The capital city Montevideo has large streets and a uniquely European style characterised by buildings such as the Palacio Salvo and Solis Theatre. For this reason, Uruguay has been used to stand in for a range of global capitals by commercial productions looking for a cheaper price point. On the other hand, the city can easily exude a classic South American ambience. A spot for Kayak entitled Carnival did just this, putting on a traditional carnival for oversized puppets in a city street.

With a new incentive programme in place, the next 18 months could be the making of the country as a South American production hub. Already established as a commercial production centre, Uruguay may be able to attract back the features it once hosted.

n April 2019 Uruguay introduced a new audiovisual fund that offers a 25% cash rebate of up to USD400,000 per production. To access the support, shoots must spend over USD600,000 in the country. It applies to all audiovisual productions with the exception of commercials. Introduced as a pilot scheme, the fund will operate until October 2020.

AMC’s alternative travel series Ride with Norman Reedus also recently shot in Uruguay with El Camino Films.

The new fund complements the existing 22% VAT exemption that is already in place for logistical and service expenses incurred while shooting here, including advertising work.

“The counTry is in a greaT posiTion To welcoMe More feaTure work as iT can provide boTh skilled crews and a base of equipMenT.”

Uruguay has previously hosted films such as Blindness, serviced by El Camino Films, as well as international features Children of Men and Miami Vice, but the rebate should make the country an even more interesting proposition for larger international shoots.

The country is in a great position to welcome more of this kind of work and can provide both skilled crews and a base of equipment. The country also has great links to South American hubs. It takes


A fast paced commercial for Nike (pictured left) serviced by Oriental Films for La Casa Films gives an urban feel to Uruguay’s picturesque coastline and city. Shot on the palm fringed coastline, colourful outdoor sports courts and faded halls the spot has a charming allure.

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Punta del Este

This surfers’ paradise and popular holiday resort is located on a narrow peninsula in the southeast of the country. One local attraction is the La Mano de Punta del Este (The hand of Punta del Este) sculpture on Brava beach (pictured above) created by Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal. As well as its beaches, Punta del Este’s Avenida Gorlero has a palm fringed central strip evocative of a pared down Miami so it’s not surprsing that Miami Vice shot there in 2006. The film also shot in Montevideo and the resort town of Atlantida.


Digital humans: the evolution of vfx doubles


wiLL visuAL effeCts firMs ever be AbLe to CreAte reAListiC digitAL huMAns – ones thAt Are so ConvinCing they CouLd repLACe ACtors? dAve Cook trACes the history of digitAL doubLing – And Asks how fAr the teChnoLogy CAn be tAken.


et me take you back to 2009, and arguably the first film to create realistic digital doubles in such an ambitious manner – Digital Domain’s Oscar winning work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This remains a watershed moment in the development of VFX. The believability of the digital face was crucial to its success – and what harder task than to recreate a face as recognisable as Brad Pitt? The task here was to create an ‘old man’ Brad Pitt. Something the audience had no reference to before the film. More recently we have seen actors brought back to life, like Peter Cushing in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or rolling back the years as MPC did with Sean Young for Blade Runner 2049, where audiences have previous knowledge of the subject. When a convincing digital face is created, it will not necessarily pass the test of likeness to a face that is familiar. Beyond that, reconstructing the performance and emotion of a specific, and possibly well known, actor whose minutest twitch can convey so much, means digital doubles remain a high mountain for any VFX team to climb. Tools and techniques are being developed to capture the nuances of an actor’s performance, either live on set or in separate dedicated shoots in motion capture facilities. We are now able to capture incredibly true to life results thanks to the cross polarised setups that capture wrinkles, pore detail and the flushing of cheeks, linking to physically plausible skin and hair shading models. Standardised expression sets capture the range of motion in the underlying muscles of the face and break it down in a way that can be rebuilt in a 3D model with controls that allow both for motion capture and keyframe animation to be added. Jellyfish Pictures has worked on many projects for digital doubles. These have included re-creating well-known actors through to complete new humans from scratch.

On one project we were tasked with ‘de-aging’ an actor, taking him back to his most iconic era over forty years previously. This was back in 2013 – a lifetime ago in technology years. Back then we used a single SLR for our photogrammetry. While the fundamentals have remained similar, tools have been refined and the datasets that can be handled now are much larger. Photogrammetry would now be done with Lidar or in a booth with fifty dedicated cameras. Beneath the hood of the renderer, shaders use much more computationally intensive calculations of absorption and scattering within skin than were possible previously, especially back in 2013. The key to successful digital double is when audiences may not even be aware of the VFX. That’s often the best VFX of all. Acting with rigs and pixels to suggest intention and describe emotion is the new artistic frontier of VFX. With regards to digital humans, they are already replacing the legions of extras that were required – in for instance battle scenes – in the early days of cinema. When it comes to replacing a lead actor, the digital actor is still driven by a human performance, be that a motion captured actor, an animator working on a rig or a combination of the two.

“we are now able To capTure incredibly True To life resulTs Thanks To The cross polarised seTups ThaT capTure wrinkles, pore deTail and The flushing of cheeks, linking To physically plausible skin and hair shading Models. ”

AI algorithms and machine learning may make completely digital actors possible in the near future, but whether a director will find them any easier to work with than the human kind remains to be seen.

Dave Cook is head of 3D at Jellyfish Pictures, the London-based visual effects and animation studio, which has worked on features films like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Kingsman: The Secret Service, TV series such as Black Mirror and Outlander as well as animated series including Dennis and Gnasher: Unleashed and Floogals.




shooting stateside

taking in the production hotspots of georgia and new York, the eastern seaboard of the United States also offers a wealth of locations – from sunny beaches through to swamps, modern cities and historic towns.

iscal incentives available on the East Coast vary dramatically and remain in a state of flux characteristic of the USA’s vacillating relationship with the programmes. At their zenith in 2010, 44 states had tax incentives for the industry, but in 2019 only 34 states continue to do so. Nearly half of these are to be found on the East Coast so exploring the region is a must for savvy producers.

Some states receive strong support from government representatives who approve extensive incentives and systems sometimes with no sunset dates. Kentucky, for example, has an annual USD100 million cap on incentives it can administer and operates a non-refundable tax credit of 30% for approved expenditures, 35% on Kentucky resident labour and 30% on non-resident labour. For projects filming in certain outlying counties the 35% incentive applies to all labour and “savannah’s large expenditure. The incentive has hisTorical disTricT, allowed the state to build on its quinTessenTial Tree filmmaking heritage having lined proMenades provided settings for productions and colonial including Rain Man, Seabiscuit and Philip Noyce’s Above era archiTecTure is Suspicion starring Emilia Clarke. a ready-Made seT for period producTions.”

Having seen a decline in incoming productions after scaling back the incentives on offer in 2014, North Carolina has redoubled on efforts to make the state an attractive destination. Now offering a 25% rebate, the programme’s annual funding cap was raised to USD31 million and the sunset date has been removed. TVC’s can also access the rebate. The per project cap now sits at USD12 million for TV series, USD7 million for


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Chippewa Square, Savannah Georgia Founded in 1734, Savannah’s rich history has left it with numerous beautiful locations to explore. Once the capital of the state, the coastal city is full of antebellum mansions, tree lined squares draped with Spanish moss and historic cemeteries. In the centre of Savannah sits Chippewa Square (pictured above). Named after the battle of Chippewa in the war of 1812, the square has a statue of the founder of the colony of Georgia, General James Oglethorpe. Now the square has taken a place in film history, as the location where Tom Hanks uttered those immortal words “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get”. Sitting on a prop bench, Gump strikes up a conversation with a stranger while waiting for a bus in the square. Forest Gump filmed all over the USA, including Arizona, California, Maine, North and South Carolina and Montana.




American Animals

Q: Why was the production centred in

North Carolina? A: One of the most important decisions of where to shoot American Animals was the choice of a university campus which combined the right artistic look as well as a willingness to entertain the invasion of a sizable filming unit during term time. The production approached virtually every state in the US to source a viable shooting location and Davidson College in North Carolina were the most proactive and forthcoming in hosting the film. From this central and key location we were able to source virtually every location for the film within a 10 mile radius of the college and this included location doubles for Amsterdam and New York. Q: What other locations were used in

North Carolina? A: The production filmed extensively in and around Charlotte for the duration of the shoot. The city managed to deliver an extremely eclectic and broad range of locations doubling for multiple locations in the US and Europe. Q: Was there any local talent involved in

the production? A: The production was crewed almost entirely with local crew and cast. The principal leading actors came in from Los Angeles and New York, but the majority of all other cast roles were sourced locally. Q: Where did North Carolina double for? A: While a second unit was dispatched to shoot generic New York scene establishers, a considerable amount of the action in Manhattan was in fact shot on location in the downtown area of Charlotte. We also filmed all the Amsterdam interiors in and around Charlotte.

feature films and USD 250,000 for TVC’s. In 2018 alone, LD Entertainment’s feature Words on Bathroom Walls and the pilot for DC Universe’s Swamp Thing shot in North Carolina’s coastal Wilmington region. Demand for incentive packages largely remains strong within professional production circles where programmes have been cut. However, some state legislatures cite a lack of return on investments per dollar or insufficient influence on job creation as reasons to roll back on the incentives. Florida’s 30% film incentive expired in 2016, while West Virginia followed suit in 2018. While it should be noted that calls to reintroduce incentives are gaining traction, producers should not dismiss working in the state until this happens as more localised incentives are available in some areas. Florida is a good example of this, offering several localised incentives that make working in the state a more affordable option. Once the third largest production hub in the US, its alluring infrastructure and expertise did not disappear alongside the incentive. Experienced crews remain, locations that can double for anywhere USA, a year-round balmy climate and miles upon miles of brilliant beaches are all draws that cannot be easily replicated in many states. Critical successes under Florida’s belt range from the Oscar winning Moonlight and The Florida Project, to TV series including Netflix’s Bloodline (pictured on previous page). Florida’s Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward Country Film Commission, for instance, provides a cash rebate for qualified production expenditures of up to USD500,000 for film, TV, commercials as well as music videos and stills. The region has played host to series including Fox’s Graceland which doubled the region for Southern California and feature films like Rock of Ages which transformed Miami into LA and captured key scenes at a Fort Lauderdale nightclub. Moreover, there is an array of locations to be found throughout the state. Emerald Coast Film Commissioner Gail Morgan highlights the range of film friendly locations in North West Florida. “We have everything from the sugar white quartz sandy beaches and the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico to beautiful lush forests, farmlands, rivers and lakes to quaint small towns. The largest Air Force Base in the world is located here along with the home of special forces where Paramount filmed Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third in the series”. Meanwhile in South West Florida, Paradise Coast Film Commission Director Maggie McCarty explains that the region has “the unique Everglades National Park to our east, the small, rural and working towns of Everglades City and the two resort areas of Marco Island and Naples. Naples still maintains a charming downtown area, several World-class hotels, and a culinary scene that is becoming a sensation all wrapped in lush, tropical vegetation”.


BACK TO CONTENTS currently ranks third in the US, behind California and New York and in part due to its incentive, Savannah has secured its fair share of high-profile productions.

Divergent documentary and factual productions are drawn to the area because of this diversity; both Top Gear and A Place in the Sun have shot here, and in 2018 a German documentary crew captured the unique “Shark Tagging” programme that happens through the Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Reserve that protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands “on a night shoot where the film crew was able to capture, tag, and release over six sharks”. sTaTes ThaT invesT in perManenT infasTrucTure and producTion faciliTies Tend To see The greaTesT benefiTs froM Their producTion incenTives. boTh new york and georgia, The easT coasT hubs ThaT offer exTensive incenTives, consisTenTly prove This To be True.

Eccentric director Tim Burton is also a fan of shooting in Florida. Portions of 2016’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children shot in St Petersburg Clearwater area of Tampa Bay. Burton gave a ringing endorsement to working there, explaining “there’s so many things to offer here, so many different vibes and scenarios and looks that it’s a good place to shoot” adding that “the crews are a big deal, that what makes it all work and tick and they were really really great. They made things happen”. Miss Peregrine made use of St Petersburg Clearwater’s local incentive, which pays up to 10% of qualifying local spend and has a USD500,000 annual budget. Elsewhere on the east coast, local incentives are also working in tandem with pre-existing state-wide rebates. By enticing incoming productions away from production epicentres with additional stackable incentives, smaller hubs have quickly developed. Savannah, Georgia is one example of such a city. According to the MPAA, Georgia’s film industry

In addition to Georgia’s 20-30% state incentive, the Savannah Regional Film Commission offers a 10% rebate on qualified Savannah spend with a per project cap of USD100,000 for feature films and TV pilots. TV or internet-distributed episodic productions with a minimum of five episodes also qualify for the 10% rebate, with a per project cap of USD250,000 per year. The incentive is set to run until at least 2022. In 2018, and Ang Lee feature Gemini Man was one of the biggest films to shoot in Savannah to date. Hulu’s true crime anthology The Act based production in the city, and Gloria Steinem Biopic The Glorias which sees Julianne Moore as the feminist icon Gloria Steinem recently wrapped filming here too. Moreover, the locations available make it an attractive destination. Savannah’s large historical district, quintessential tree lined promenades and colonial

SoMEtHing ElSE

Scientists at Pennsylvania State University may have discovered a natural replacement to man-made fibres like nylon and polyester. The researchers point to a protein originally found in squid called SRT. Standing for ‘Squid Ring Teeth’, SRT is a protein used by the species to build suckers, or a ring of teeth on their tentacles that help them grip onto surfaces. For those concerned about the environment, the discovery is great news. According to the scientists, the protein is made of versatile building blocks which could be integrated into man made textiles known to shed microplastic into the oceans. Most man-made fabrics contain up to 64% of plastics such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polymide which shed fibres while being washed, seeping into the oceans and making up a remarkably large proportion of ocean pollution. Incorporating SRT into man-made fibres could stem this issue. The researchers have also suggested that SRT could be used to generate materials for energy, biomedicine, security and defence sectors such as defensive films to protect from chemical and biological warfare.



era architecture is a ready-made set for period productions. Both Mark Amin’s civil war drama Emperor and Disney’s upcoming live action remake of Lady and the Tramp have taken advantage of this fact. Such high-end work signifies that Savannah’s production capabilities are recognised by top studio executives and in January Moviemaker named Savannah as the number one spot on Moviemaker’s best small cities to live and work in the US, snagging the top place over New Orleans, Louisiana. The Savannah Regional Film Commission is also doing its best to further the city’s budding potential and links to Hollywood. In a move to attract more quality crew, they offer experienced film and TV professionals a USD2,000 relocation fee, and are looking to secure direct flights to Savannah from LA as well as addressing the need for more sound stage space. Elsewhere in Georgia, business is booming. Between June 2017 and June 2018, 455 feature films and TV productions shot in the state, generating an economic impact of USD9.5 billion. Georgia's success lies in its broad range of appeal to large scale feature films and long running TV series alike. The state’s 20% base transferable tax credit can

be granted a generous 10% uplift by including an embedded Georgia logo on approved projects. Both resident and non-resident workers’ payrolls qualify and there is no limits or caps on Georgia spend and no sunset clause making it a great choice for TV series with more than one planned series. Recent highlights have included HBO’s Sharp Objects and Netflix’s Ozark (pictured on previous page) which both doubled the state for Missouri.


Critical Thinking

Investment in infrastructure and skills development has played a decisive role in forging Georgia’s pre-eminence. Since 2010 sixteen film and TV studio facilities made announcements to locate or expand in Georgia meaning that there is enough studio space to handle all the incoming work, and skilled crew to staff them. One such studio to do so was the UK’s Pinewood Studios, which opened its first US production base in Atlanta in 2014. With 18 sound stages ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet as well as a 400-acre backlot, the facility can support large scale, action packed productions. Avengers: Endgame, Antman and The Wasp and Captain America: Civil War have all filmed at the studio since it opened.

Q: As a film based on true events, did you

use any authentic locations? A: It was important for us to have the film feel authentic and represent the Miami of 1998, when the story took place. The real boys were part of our team throughout – as chess and story consultants and appearing on screen as well. The boys lived in places like Liberty City, Allapattah and Little Havana, which can be quite rough neighbourhoods. We could have certainly cheated that, but we wanted to capture the authentic vibe of these neighbourhoods. We went heavy on police and security and reached out to local communities ahead of our arrival, and it worked without incident. Q: Florida has no state-wide tax incentives

in place, did you consider other locations during pre-production? A: We looked pretty seriously at Puerto Rico. Another producer Scott Rosenfelt and I went there and had a good look around. But we would have had to shoot part of the movie in Miami anyway for authenticity. That would have meant doubling up on some crew, offices, travel, and schedule, and would give us less opportunity for spontaneous change. All of this cannibalizes some of the cost savings we would have gained. Q: What advice would you give producers

considering filming in Florida? A: Spend some time getting to know the people and the landscape. Miami is a bustling city, but it’s also a tight knit and networked circle, both within the film community and the city at large. It’s worth investing time and energy into the people, not just to steamroll through as a production company on location.




States that invest in permanent infastructure and production facilities tend to see the greatest benefits from their production incentives. Both New York and Georgia, the East Coast hubs that offer extensive incentives, consistently prove this to be true. New York’s Film Tax Credits programme has an annual USD420 million fund, providing a 30% credit on qualified in-state spending, and an additional 10% credit on qualified labour expenditure in certain counties outside New York locAtion HigHligHt

Peddocks Island, Boston Harbour Martin Scorsese found the setting for psychological thriller Shutter Island with Peddocks Island. Set in 1954, the film is set in the Boston Harbour’s islands themselves where Di Caprio (pictured below on set with Scorsese) and his partner are sent to investigate the disappearance of a patient to be. Emerging out of a storm, the pair are greeted with a foreboding cliff-edged island surrounded by pebble beaches and covered in dense forest. In reality, Shutter Island’s red-bricked asylum served as army barracks built during World War II to house soldiers and sailors. Now a national park, ferries run from Boston Harbour’s Long Wharf for visitors.


City. The credit applies to post-production too, and USD25 million of the total amount is reserved for post-production work. Seven of the eleven New York productions nominated for Academy Awards this year were supported by the credit. In terms of TV, four supported productions including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Escape at Dannemora (pictured above) and The Americans won Golden Globes in January. Michael Owen CEO of MediaCombo explains New York’s enduring appeal saying that “part of the reason is New York City’s iconic locations are always a draw. But at a time when green screen technology is cheaper and better, several factors make NYC a perennial favourite relative to cover locations. There is incredible depth to the production staff, technical crews and on-camera talent. The equipment resources and other infrastructure have also grown to meet increased demand. The Mayor’s Office for Film, Theatre and Broadcasting also work hard to accommodate producers’ filming requests”. Samson Jacobson, location manager on Academy Award winner If Beale Street Could Talk (pictured on the next page) which shot period New York City, adds that “generally speaking, most people want me to provide them with authentic New York neighbourhoods that still provide a sense of what this city’s pulse looks and feels like. I’ve noticed that as producers are becoming more aware of their social impact, they want to convey neighbourhoods that represent the social issues at the heart of their stories. Whether it’s the African American Harlem identity or the Latin culture of Northern Manhattan and the outer boroughs, they understand that the real neighbourhoods provide a sense of vision and purpose for the creatives and actors that cannot be replicated by fake sets”.

local incenTives are also working in TandeM wiTh pre-exisTing sTaTe-wide rebaTes. by enTicing incoMing producTions away froM producTion epicenTres wiTh addiTional sTackable incenTives, sMaller hubs have quickly developed.


AniMAtion cloSE UP

New York’s Rockstar Game’s Red Dead Redemption II was one of the most ground-breaking releases of 2018 that raked in USD750 million in only the first three days of its release. Taking five years to develop, the open-world game revolves around Arthur Morgan’s gang of outlaws. Consisting of 500,000 lines of dialogue it has over 1000 speaking roles and countless ecosystems to discover. In amongst high-octane pursuits, dramatic heists and shootouts, the outlaws begin to question their place in America at the change of the century. It’s a world full of attention-to-detail that allows gamers to feel truly rooted in the game; coffee needs to be brewed before drinking, bodies are manually looted, wild animals react to other predators and bullets sound different depending on the environment. Reflective of fervent critical reception, The Hollywood Reporter said that “Every nuance of the game, from plot to game design, elevates the entire medium of gaming to levels that have until this point only been made in empty pre-launch promises. It does not set a new bar, but rather signals a changing of the guard, a new future for video games”.


In addition to TV and film production, New York is a major player in the advertising sector, with a separate USD7 million incentive programme for commercial production. Michael Owen who has serviced shoots for international brands including Toyota and Korean apparel brand NEPA notes “one frequent reason overseas agencies and commercial production companies end up shooting in New York is that the star is committed to being in NYC on the production dates. Whether it’s a pre-production car on display at the New York Automobile Show or an actor starring in a hit play on Broadway, it’s surprising how often that’s the reason productions come here”. Just across the river Hudson, New Jersey has introduced a new and competitive incentive catering to spill over from the Empire State or shoots that require a less frenzied atmosphere. The 30% tax credit on production expenses increases to 35% in certain counties. What’s more, the incentive is addressing industry disquiet, by including an additional 2% Diversity Tax Credit that encourages productions to employ women and minorities and applies to above and below the line costs. With such easy access from the creative nerve centre that is New York City, the incentive should capture interest and in future, New Jersey-set projects, such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire may be more inclined to film in their authentic settings.

Images: Bloodline © Saeed Adyani & Netflix, Chippewa Square Savannah © Olivier Jully, Ozark © Tina Rowden/Netflix, If Beale Street Could Talk © Tatum Mangus. Escape at Dannemora © Sky Atlantic.

The incenTive is addressing indusTry disquieT, by including an addiTional 2% diversiTy Tax crediT ThaT encourages producTions To eMploy woMen and MinoriTies.


The World from Above



he opening sequence to 2013’s Skyfall, in which Sam Mendes used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capture electrifying visuals of Bond leaping over Istanbul’s rooftops, cemented the place of drones in high-end filmmaking. The shots placed audiences closer to the action than ever before, displaying a flexibility and agility that existing equipment couldn’t compete with. Moreover, their accessibility was compelling. Filmmakers and producers working to tight TV budgets were suddenly able to capture cinematic aerial shots. Nowadays, low budget and independent productions can access quality drone equipment ready for shooting, straight out of the box. Complete systems with a camera, stabilisation systems, a down link and ground controls are readily available.

At the higher end, rapidly evolving technology is ironing out once common grievances, according to Jeremy Braben, the CEO of London-based Helicopter Film Services (HFS), which has provided both helicopter and drone filming for features including Dumbo, Captain America: Civil War and Ready Player One. Braben notes: “Battery technology over the years is improving but it’s still the Achilles' heel of using the drone” because it impacts both flight time and equipment capacity for high-end filming. Heavier, cinema grade equipment increases payloads therefore diminishing battery power. However, Alan Perrin, chief UAV pilot at HFS, highlights the fact that “batteries are now giving twice as much energy




as they were before”. Cinema grade drones are now capable of anywhere between nine and 15 minute flight times, but this will only continue to improve. Not only has the flight time increased, but the types of cameras now being mounted are of higher quality with better gimbles and stabilisation systems boosting end results. Continuity can also now be achieved between cameras used on the ground, and those flying in the air. Helicopter Film Services’ go-to system is an Alexa Mini, and DoPs are able to see the shot as it’s being delivered. Moreover, this year, HFS unveiled an ultra-heavy lift drone paired with the ARRI stabilised remote head “noT only has SRH-3 that enables The flighT TiMe DoPs and VFX increased, buT The supervisors to fly large Types of caMeras format digital or 35mm now being MounTed film packages safely. are of higher

While these advances qualiTy wiTh beTTer are welcome, drones will giMbles and never completely replace sTabilisaTion helicopters or wire sysTeMs boosTing systems. Despite the time expense of setting end resulTs.” up a wire systems, they allow cameras to fly through crowds, a shot never permitted with a drone. Helicopters, on the other hand can still capture magnificent shots in taxing weather conditions while drones are more sensitive to the environment. Moreover, this can outweigh potential savings as waiting for suitable conditions can, in worse case scenarios, eviscerate the low cost of drones.


for fiLMing, As Long As CorreCt pAperwork is fiLed, the new MeAsures shouLd not drAMAtiCALLy iMpede shoots.

Nevertheless, the creative potential of drones is still evolving. Wildlife documentary maker David Attenborough recently claimed the technology will have a “game-changing” impact on wildlife TV, amounting to the “biggest technological impact of the last ten years” in the space. In comparison to loud helicopters that disturb wildlife and vegetation, drones can venture anywhere undetected. As a result, South American pumas were captured in the One Planet Seven Worlds after a number of failed attempts in the past. Filming in built-up cities, something that has posed problems, is also evolving. Andrew Pavord, founder of Filmfixer, which manages filming in sixteen of London’s boroughs, notes that “operators are getting much more skilled, and that’s being reflected in the licence that they get from the CAA”. In the UK, pilots certified with an Operational Safety Case (OSC) by the Civil Aviation Authority are trusted to go beyond the standardised set of regulations regarding separation from people, vehicles, and structures that those with licenses for commercial drone operation abide to. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that drones are a disruptive technology, as those caught up in the Gatwick drone fiasco of December 2018, which saw over 1,000 flights cancelled due to a device flying over the airport, can attest to. Even in production, the gear has proved a headache in terms of security. During the covert filming for Game of Thrones series eight, the production employed “drone killers”, devices more commonly used by police, that disable any spying cameras looking for spoilers. In response to the Gatwick incident, transport secretary Chris Grayling said, “it is crucial our regulatory and enforcement must keep pace with rapid technological change”. New measures will allow police to forcibly land a drone and seize it alongside any data if a serious offence is committed, and exclusion zones around airports and sensitive sites may also be expanded. For filming, as long as correct paperwork is filed, the new measures should not dramatically impede shoots.



What is certain is that drones are not going anywhere, and filming authorities need to reconcile themselves to this. Pavord explains: “London is a centre for film making. It is the busiest centre for film making in the world” and at Filmfixer “we want it to embrace all the new technology because it adds to the appeal of the city”. In 2015, Filmfixer was involved in a cross London group of facilitation offices who met with police and city of London authorities to discuss a common approach to drones. The resulting system reflects the Civil Aviation Authorities regulations and the permitting process can turn simple applications that don’t affect road closures around in 24 hours. However, Pavord laments, the rules are not so clear and consistent across all London boroughs not involved in the scheme. In terms of global filming, certain destinations where importing or flying drones are illegal enforce hefty fines or other measures. Productions must go to extra measures to ensure the correct authorities are in accordance with “we had To shoots here. Alan Perrin revisiT The cusToMs has secured permits to office wiTh a operate drones in some represenTaTive of these destinations by froM The MiliTary liaising with respective national civil aviation To assure TheM authorities as well as ThaT The drones local authorities, were safe.” receiving signed permits before travelling and ensuring each drone travels with necessary paperwork. However, he notes “it doesn’t always go that smoothly… on arrival, in Jordan our drones were seized for 24 hours, just because the paperwork hadn’t arrived to the right person at the right time. We had to revisit the customs office with a representative from the military to assure them that the drones were safe and were going to be used for the correct purposes and the filming wasn’t dangerous”. However, as the technology becomes more ubiquitous, acceptance is growing and fewer countries completely prohibit the equipment. But, as Pavord notes, in the UK “an awful lot of local authorities are not making provisions for drones…operators are often left in the dark a little bit about what their responsibilities are when planning a flight”, adding to the likelihood of misconduct.

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