International producers can access large amounts of soft money from Belgium. In addition to the tax shelter system, worth up to 42% of eligible audiovisual spend, there is generous regional funding available from Screen Brussels, Screen Flanders and Wallimage. Producers can also tap into the Antwerp Film Bonus for a little extra financing. When all added together, a film or high-end TV drama can build in 50%‑60% of its budget from Belgian sources.
Belgium still lacks a major studio on the scale of a Pinewood or Barrandov but Lites Studios, close to Brussels, is increasingly popular. Leos Carax visited to shoot part of Cannes 2021 opener Annette, drawn by the much-vaunted water tanks. AED Studios in Lint, near Antwerp, also hosts films and TV shows. Monev Studios, outside Brussels, is another option, while other smaller studio complexes include 3D animation, app and game studio Cyborn in Antwerp, RV Studio in Mechelen and EMG Belgium in Vilvoorde. Within Brussels, a new location replica of an Airbus A319 plane has opened (X flylounge.com), so this is the city for those hijack thrillers or cabin crew comedies.
In terms of locations, Belgium offers a wide variety of landscapes, architecture and settings. Attractions include the seaside promenades of Ostend, the authentic city centre of Bruges and the metropolitan squares of Antwerp, alongside lesser- known gems such as Mechelen and Leuven. The Flanders region is especially rich in locations, and Brussels has a huge range of architecture styles.
Belgium is part of the Council of Europe’s Eurimages fund and has many co-production treaties with countries across Latin America and Europe. Production levels are increasing after the Covid-19 slowdown. There were more than 1,000 shooting days in Brussels during 2021 — roughly the same as pre-pandemic figures.
Wallimage recently supported Matteo Garrone’s feature Io Capitano. UK football-themed thriller series The Window, created by James Payne, was supported by Screen Brussels, as was French director Marie-Hélène Roux’s feature biopic Panzi, about Congolese doctor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, and Pete Travis’s historical series Marie-Antoinette, made by Canal+ and the BBC and starring Emilia Schüle.
The Swarm is among the high-end TV dramas to have shot recently in Flanders, produced by Intaglio Film and ndF International Production through joint venture Schwarm TV Productions (Germany) and co-produced by local outfit Bravado Fiction. The series, starring Luke Watson and Cécile de France, will be distributed via ZDF, France Télévisions,Viasat and Hulu Japan.
Other recent shoots in Flanders include the new series of L’Opéra, produced by France’s Victoria Productions and co-produced by Brussels-based Belga Production, and season two of Hostage, based on the Fredrika Bergman novels by Kristina Ohlsson and produced by Sweden’s Kärnfilm. Italian outfit Wildside, meanwhile, is lead producer on feature The Eight Mountains, co-directed by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch.
Local co-producers are well accustomed to working on international productions. These include Umedia, Scope, Versus, Entre Chien et Loup, Belga, Caviar and Czar among others.
First people to contact
Noël Magis, managing director, Screen Brussels: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Virginie Nouvelle, general manager, Wallimage: email@example.com
Katrien Maes, head of production, Screen Flanders: firstname.lastname@example.org
Belgian crews are multilingual (Flemish, French, English) and have experience working on international co-productions of different sizes. The country also offers high-end post-production facilities from outfits including Galaxy Studios, Flow and The Pack Flanders to name just a few. One quirk that international producers should note is the so-called ‘waffle iron’ politics in Belgium. The country has two major regions: Flanders and Wallonia. They operate separately in film and TV, as in other areas of life, with their own regional funding agencies and film promotion bodies.
You can get from one side of Belgium to the other in roughly the time it takes to travel across Los Angeles. The compact country is at the heart of Europe and has excellent local and international transport infrastructure. It is about 30 miles from Brussels to Antwerp.
Belgium is a member of the European Union and a participant in the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.
This is a compact, easily accessible country in the heart of Europe, with excellent local and international travel infrastructure. Two of the main filmmaking cities — Brussels and Antwerp — are within an hour’s reach of each other, separated by 34 miles. London, Paris and Berlin are easily accessible by air and rail and there are direct flights between New York and Brussels.