In recent years, the South American country of Peru has proved to be a popular location for international filmmakers. Boasting beautiful natural landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to dense jungles, alongside a vibrant and varied history stemming from the ancient Inca civilisation to the colonial rule of the Spanish Empire, the country has a lot to offer filmmakers seeking to shoot commercials, documentaries and feature films.
Though there has been an increase in the number of foreign filmmakers travelling to Peru, the country is still lacking an official government film commission, and there is no established network of advanced filmmaking facilities such as studios and back lots.
There have been a number of notable feature film and television productions shot in Peru. A number of scenes for the film The Green Inferno, by the director of the highly successful budget horror film Cabin Fever, were shot in the northern city of Tarapoto. An episode of the popular UK television series An Idiot Abroad was filmed in several locations in Peru, including Iquitos, Cuzco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu and the Oscar-nominated Peruvian film The Milk of Sorrow was filmed in the city of Lima. The Oscar-winning feature film The Motorcycle Diaries shot several scenes in the Peruvian cities of Cuzco, Lima, Iquitos, and at the historical site of Machu Picchu.
In order for international productions to get permission to film in Peru it is recommended that producers get in contact with their closest Peruvian consulate and present detailed information about their filming plans. These should include details of the project, crew, arrival and departure dates, proof of insurance, a day-by-day shot list, and film equipment list.
In order to bring large amounts of filming equipment into Peru it is also necessary to contact a Peruvian consulate to apply for a Temporary Importation permit. This can usually be applied for alongside a press visa which will give filmmakers entry to the country.
For productions seeking to film at archaeological sites, permits must be applied for two weeks prior to shooting. Such permits can cost anywhere from US $300 to US $1,000. It can also be difficult to get access to film within Peruvian airports. Aside from the locations noted above, permits for most other locations will cost considerably less and are usually easier to acquire.
There are currently no major film studios available for international filmmakers to utilise in Peru. There are, however production companies and post-production houses in large cities such as the capital, Lima.
The real attraction that brings filmmakers to Peru is the rich history and culture, alongside its stunning and incredibly diverse natural landscapes.
Among Peru’s many locations of natural beauty is Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake on earth, situated in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Measured by volume of water, the lake is also the largest in South America. Lake Titicaca contains a number of artificial islands made of floating reeds, which are a major tourist attraction.
Manú National Park is another draw for filmmakers. This protected rainforest reserve and UNESCO world heritage site is located in the Cusco region of the country. It should be noted that the park, which is the largest in Peru, is not easily accessible by road.
The world famous Amazon river flows partially through Peru, and the jungle and rainforest areas around the river and its tributaries often act as a prime location for filmmakers.
The Cordillera Blanca offers filmmakers stunning mountainous regions in which to film. Forming part of the Andes, the Cordillera Blanca contains 33 major peaks, including the highest mountain in Peru, which stands at 6,768 metres tall.
Peru also boasts one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, Gocta, which was only put on the international map after being discovered by a German expedition in 2005. Alongside this, there is Cerro Blanco, the world’s largest sand dune and Colca Canyon, the world’s deepest canyon.
The country also has numerous prominent historic locations, probably the most famous of which is Machu Picchu. Created around 1450 by the Inca civilisation, the site is located 2,430 metres above sea level and is thought to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Other important archaeological sites include: Chan Chan, the largest mud brick city in the world; Huaca de la Luna, an adobe brick pyramid covered in colourful frescos; Kuelap, one of the largest stone structures in the world, and Caral, the centre of the most ancient society in the Americas.
Peru also lays claim to a number of impressive historical cities. The former Inca capital of Cusco is a major tourist attraction because of its mix of ancient and colonial heritage.
Lima is the modern capital of the country and similarly contains a mix of Inca and other ancient archaeological sites, alongside modern and colonial architecture.
For crews who do not wish to bring their own equipment into Peru, there are companies through which basic equipment can be sourced. However, any specialist items should be brought into the country, as supplies within Peru are often limited, or even non-existent. It is possible for equipment to be imported from surrounding countries such as Chile.
Most international productions will choose to return to their country of origin in order to complete post-production, however there are services available in major cities within Peru.