The Netherlands is one of the world’s most creative media markets, so there’s no reason from a production point of view why it can’t handle most film, TV or commercial projects.
Amsterdam is the production HQ and is home to respected ad agencies such as 180 and Wieden+Kennedy. It is also one of the world’s most photogenic cities, combining the beauty of its canals and traditional houses with modern architecture.
While Amsterdam leads the way, there are other important production hubs in the Netherlands. For example, a number of leading TV players are based 30km outside capital city Amsterdam in suburb Hilversum. These include public broadcaster NOS and its main commercial rival RTL Nederland. Second city Rotterdam is also a significant centre of production.
Up until recently the Netherlands struggled to compete with places like Belgium and Eastern Europe, due to their lower costs. However, with the recent instalment of a cash incentive and the instalment of a film commission, this is changing very quickly.
The Netherlands has formal co-production agreements with South Africa, Germany, France, Canada and China.
There’s also a robust domestic film business which ensures the country has a very experienced work force, though it has to be said that not many foreign films come to shoot here.
Those that do tend to have a Dutch theme, for example, Anne Frank, The Kidnapping of Freddy Heineken and The Girl With The Pearl Earring. An exception is The Price, starring Noomi Rapace, which will be filming in the country in early 2016.
Heist movie Ocean’s 12, which used Amsterdam as a key location also filmed some scenes in Amsterdam.
As for commercials, Dutch ad agencies are among the best in the world and are regularly assigned global creative campaigns for brand like Adidas, Nokia, Heineken and Nike. Many of these are taken to international locations but there is a decent volume of international and domestic work running through the local system at all times.
The Netherlands Film Commission is part of the Netherlands Film Fund - the national agency responsible for supporting film production in the Netherlands. Operations cover participation in development, production and distribution, and the agencies support film activities such as festivals, coproduction treaties and training for professionals.
Another good starting points for information on permits is the Amsterdam Film Commission. The former provides some basic details and a contact on its website. The basic observation with Amsterdam is that the city is film-friendly but small – which means you need to provide lots of warning and detail. Also, be aware that the residents are very proud of their city and don’t take kindly to films crews making a mess.
As for Rotterdam, there is a very good document called Filming In Rotterdam which was created because of the rising number of audiovisual productions coming to the city. Available at the website of the Rotterdam Media Commission, the document provides details on the kind of notice required for different categories of shoots. The city’s film commissioner can help with applications, though decisions rest with the council.
As mentioned in the introduction, Hilversum is an important location because it is home to national broadcaster NOS and RTL. It also hosts independent companies like United, part of the Euro Media Group. United, housed in the Music Pavilion in the Media Park in Hilversum, is a full-service organisation in the field of facilities – offering everything from equipment rental to studios.
Amsterdam is home to Amsterdam Studios. Here you will find three state of the art stages, sized at 635m2, 515m2 and 430m2. The studios are located only 15 minutes from Schiphol Airport.
As hinted above, Amsterdam is the big draw for producers. The Amsterdam Film Commission says it is “a beautiful city with a mixed landscape of 17th-century canal houses, lush, green parks and contemporary architecture… monumental buildings, courtyards, canals and bridges, as well as a modern business district and the flower fields on the periphery of the city can all be reached within 15 minutes of a major international transport hub: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Even a picturesque beach, dunes and the sea can be reached in only 30 minutes.”
That said, second city Rotterdam also has a lot to offer and has become increasingly popular with producers in recent times. Founded in 1270, the city is now one of the most important ports in Europe. Partly because of this it has a lot of cultural diversity. Another point worth noting is that the centre of the city was destroyed during World War II. As a result is home to a lot of cutting-edge architecture.
Outside the two main cities, the most iconic locations tend to involve windmills and tulips – though there is a decent number of typically Dutch scenes such as bridges, clock towers, town squares, castles and palaces. One thing you won’t find is mountains, the country is quite flat. For ideas on locations and access you could contact The Location Bank which has been helping producers set up their film productions for more than 20 years.
The Netherlands is as well equipped as any territory in the world. United, mentioned under studios, is a major player, as is Amsterdam-based Cam-a-Lot.
Cam-a-Lot’s kit includes a wide range of cameras, lenses, grips and lights. It is situated at the Amstel Business Park, one of the oldest film areas in The Netherlands where a number of studios, production companies and other rental facilities are co-located. Amsterdam is also home to one of the world’s biggest kit shows, IBC, which takes place annually during September.
As for other areas, art departments, set construction and post-production are all of the highest standard. Among well know facilities are Condor Digital (which also has offices in Berlin, Brussels and Cape Town), Filmmore, Post Office, Woodwork and WRKS. International post-production house The Whitehouse has also opened up shop in Amsterdam having formed a partnership with a well-known local firm called The Ambassadors.