Filming commercials around the globe
Many of the world’s best TV commercials are made against domestic backdrops. Others are created in post-production/VFX facilities. But sometimes agencies and producers need to film in international locations to achieve the desired creative effect on behalf of their clients.
Popular locations for the filming of commercials include the likes of Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Morocco and South Africa, all of which offer an excellent service at a reasonable cost. But a growing number of countries offer alternatives. KFTV takes a look at these territories.
Stanislav Solovkin, CEO and founder of Moscow-based Soar Productions, has been taking producers into Central Asia for the last decade (eg Armenia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan). For the most part, it is film and TV producers who go there – but it won’t be long before commercials producers catch on. “Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are so small and varied, you can find a high mountain, seashore and desert – all within a couple of hours of easy driving,” says Solovkin.
Georgia also has the added bonus of a new incentive worth around 20-25% - with commercials covered. Major agency groupings are also aware of the country’s potential, with J Walter Thompson active in the country via its local agency Metro Studio.
This UAE state has been chasing production work aggressively in the last couple of years and is now reaping the rewards. The big pull is an incentive that covers commercials as well as film and TV. Nissan shot there earlier in 2016, with Bollywood star John Abraham featuring in a commercial for its GT-R. In addition to the incentive, Abu Dhabi benefits from the fact that there are numerous experienced production services companies down the road in Dubai.
As a southern hemisphere country, Chile is always on the radar for producers wanting to shoot during the winter months. Recently, however, it has started to win international work at the expense of Latin American neighbour Argentina. A key reason for this is that there is less red tape involved in getting people and kit into Chile.
Makers of car ads, in particular, have been attracted to the country. Cadillac, Toyota, Subaru, Peugeot, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz, have all shot commercials here in the last three years. Jaguar F-Type even had director Ridley Scott shoot a long-form commercial in the Chilean desert featuring Damien Lewis (see below).
More good news is that Chile is introducing an incentive programme, though it’s not clear yet whether this will extend to commercials.
Croatia & Slovenia:
Both Croatia as well as Slovenia supply good local talent for international productions coming to shoot in the country, and for the very big shoots this can also be supplemented from Hungary. A Jeep commercial, produced by Trigger Happy Productions in Germany, was shot across the two countries earlier this year. Other brands to have visited the country include Volvo, Orangina, Cafe Royal (pictured below) and Mitsubishi. Production service firms include Light Film International, Embassy Films, Bas Production, Division Productions and many more.
The exotic island of Cuba has always proved popular with commercials producers, largely because of Havana’s beautiful backdrops. Brands such as Stella Artois, Nivea, Garnier, Ambre Soliare and Lynx have all visited.
The big change now, however, is that diplomatic relations have thawed with the US. One of the first American brands to take advantage of the change was Colorado-based Western Union (see below), which shot two commercials in the country last year. Expect more to follow.
A survey once named the Central American country of Panama as one of the best places to shoot from the point of view of visual appeal. Despite this, the country still has plenty of unexplored areas for producers to choose from.
Getting into the country is easy enough and the fact that its economy is based around the US dollar makes it attractive to American producers. Plenty of commercial producers have visited the country so there is a good infrastructure. The Panama Film Commission is a useful place to start when you are looking to film a commercial in the country.
After welcoming some big-budget movies Iceland is not really a secret anymore but it has a lot of variety to offer. The country is perfect for doubling snow and ice locations like The Himalayas, post-apocalyptic Earth and alien planets. It has even doubled for Japan’s Pacific islands. Brands that have filmed here include Nikon and Audi, which launched its new TT amid Iceland’s black sands and lava fields. UGG Boots (see commercial below) also came to Iceland to show off the brand’s waterproof, water-resistant and weatherproof designs.
US State Of California:
Georgia, New York, Louisiana and Canada have all been stealing business from California in recent years. But the Golden State is fighting back with an enhanced tax incentive. Incredibly versatile in terms of its locations, the state is enduringly popular for commercials. Ad agency RPA used Stevenson Ranch in California for its smash hit Honda Ridgeline Superbowl 2016 ad, which featured a flock of singing sheep.
People who know the Middle East refer to Oman as a hidden gem. The country is less well hidden now that Audi has been there to shoot a documentary-style TVC as part of its Audi Challenges Arabia campaign (see the trailer below). The short film, produced by Filmmaster in the mountain village of Bilad Sayt, beautifully captures Oman’s epic scenery and the spirit of its population.
In terms of international production, Thailand has been a bit overshadowed recently by developments in Malaysia and Cambodia. But this beautiful country still attracts around 300 commercials a year, with clients including Honda and Nestle. Thailand offers a mix of great locations and excellent crews.
In 2014, an Israeli-produced commercial for Spring Tea used the country to double as Africa, parts of Asia and Brazil Other international brands like Unilver's Axe and Tiger beer also used the country to film their commercials. Thailand is likely to attract even more work now the government has greenlit a new filming incentive. Announced at the Cannes Film Festival, it will be a 15% cash rebate starting in 2017.
Bollywood has been shooting film, TV and commercials in Mauritius for decades. But now this gorgeous island, off the coast of southern Africa, is getting noticed by producers in other parts of the world, Kellogs and Lenor are just a few of the brands which have chosen to film on the island. Geographically the big pull is its blue water and white beaches, with production services provided by South African companies. However, the introduction of a 30% incentive has added to the allure.
To find out more about filming in various territories, take a look at our country specific production guides, like this one for Spain for example.