Turkey has attracted numerous Hollywood, Bollywood and international productions in the past couple of years thanks to its variety of stunning locations and a new cash rebate of up to 30%, launched just before Covid-19 struck. “My mailbox is exploding with requests from all over the world,” says Chad Ozturk, executive producer at local production outfit Panda Films. “We are even quoting for productions from Belarus and Greece, who don’t usually shoot here. Many in the industry underestimate the locations and talent pool that Turkey can offer. It’s a hidden paradise for cost-effective production, even more so with our currency drop.”
One of the biggest projects to choose Turkey recently was Guy Ritchie’s feature Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre, produced by Miramax. It shot in the southern province of Antalya, including capital city Ankara, an area that is growing as a production hub.
The emergence of Netflix-backed local series such as Rise Of Empires: Ottoman has also boosted the country’s standing. “Turkey is a magical place,” enthuses Ronald L Carr, US producer of France-Turkey-US drama Scent Of My Daughter. “We filmed in the Hatay Province, near the Syrian border, including at a refugee camp, and the local crew and community were great. “Turkey is also great at doubling for other locations, even Beverly Hills thanks to its high-end hotels and malls,” continues Carr, who has set up his own company in Turkey, Czar Pictures, and plans to shoot more projects in the country. “We travelled to Iskenderun, which is on the Mediterranean, and it looks like Nice.”
Turkey is arguably most famous for the city of Istanbul, which has long attracted film productions that shoot against its picturesque backdrops. Beyond the iconic architecture, Turkey offers a broad range of location options, ranging from the Black Sea mountains in the north to the Taurus mountains in the south, and the high plateau region of Anatolia in the centre. There are natural wonders such as Cappadocia, where Hollywood and European films have shot in the past and is like an open-air film studio. Plus, there are beautiful beaches, rocky shores, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, mountains, dry lands, modern architecture and unique cities, towns and villages, all within relatively close distance from each other.
Shooting in Turkey requires permits from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which usually take about two weeks. “However, producers should keep in mind that the general filming permit is only the first layer of permits,” says Mert Gurel, founder of production service provider Fixer In Turkey. “Other regulations and permits will need to follow depending on the city of filming.”
Panda Films have facilitated TV commercial shoots for brands including: Tipico, Unibet, Gatorade, Flunch, Asus, Just Eat for companies like 27KM Berlin, Solab Paris, Cream Paris, Blink London.
They have also produced a music video for Skrillex & Nai Barghouti with the production company Iconoclast and serviced the Korean TV Series Reborn Rich and Netflix Originals Undercover's Season 3 exterior shots and shot over 20 commercials for local market brands like Nescafé, Nestlé, Comfort (Snuggle), Peugeıt, Togg, and Carrefour.
Elsewhere, Karma Films have facilitated numerous major international films such as: Charlie’s Angels (Elizabeth Banks), Palpito 2 (Camilo Vega), Taken 2 (Olivier Megaton), Inferno (Ron Howard), The International (Tom Tykwer), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mira Nair) and +200 commercials.
The local outfit have also been developing and producing film and media projects with a local and international focus, some of which have been awarded in A-list film festivals and found their place on digital platforms such as Hesitation Wound by Selman Nacar (Venice Film Festival Orizzonti Section), The Persian Version by Maryam Keshavarz (Sundance FF Audience Award), Between Two Dawns by Selman Nacar (San Sebastian FF), Convenience Store by Michael Borodin (Berlinale Panorama C.I.C.A.E Award) and Butterflies by Tolga Karaçelik (Sundance FF Grand Jury Prize).
2023 projects include: Hesitation Wound, the Persian Version, Universal Pictures' The Last Voyage of Demeter, and Sony Pictures' Kraven the Hunter.
Turkey is arguably most famous internationally for the city of Istanbul, considered by many to be the point where East meets West. The city has long attracted film productions that shoot against its picturesque backdrop.
Beyond the iconic architecture of Istanbul, Turkey offers a broad range of location options, ranging from the Eastern Black Sea mountain chain in the north to the Taurus mountains in the south and the high plateau region of Anatolia in the centre.
There are natural wonders like Cappadocia, which is where a lot of Hollywood and European films were shot in the past and is like an open-air film studio. Plus, beautiful beaches, rocky shores, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, mountains, dry lands, modern architecture, unique cities, towns and villages, all within close distance of each other.
"Turkey is the ideal country to shoot nowadays because of the currency drop," enthuses Osturk at Panda Films. "Imagine a country where you can find all kind of beaches, mountains, valleys, pastures, fields and A level crew who worked on top class Hollywood and Bollywood productions. You can get an English speaking gaffer for €215 for a 12 hour shoot day. The country really is a hidden paradise for cost effective production."
"Turkey is unique: a transcontinental country with centuries of intriguing heritage boasting a great range of locations and a diverse array of casting possibilities," adds Yasar at Mental Film. "Turkey’s climate provides all four seasons at any time so you can shoot what you want, when you want it across a large variety of terrains."
Filming in Turkey requires permits from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which usually take about two weeks. However, producers should keep in mind that the general filming permit is only the first layer of permits; other regulations/permits will need to follow depending on the city of filming.
Turkey has an extensive and cost-effective transportation network with the Turkish Republic State Railways extending 10,985 kilometres across the country, including a high-speed line that connects Istanbul to Ankara. The network of highways and motorways also exceeds 10,000 kilometres.
Airports across Turkey welcome thousands of international flights each week.
First person to contact
Mustafa Selcuk Yavuzkanat, assistant general manager, General Directorate of Cinema
Turkey is an inexpensive place to shoot with competitive prices for equipment rental and crew, and offers a favourable exchange rate. If producers are bringing in equipment, it is best to do so with an ATA Carnet. If the crew is hiring locally, it is worth noting that most of the rental houses are based in Istanbul.
The intention is to transform the laid-back Mediterranean beach resort of Antalya into a major shooting hub. The city’s Expo exhibition space was used for the filming of Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre with approval from the local government.
Panda Films produce television commercials for the local market and service all kind of projects for Bollywood, Hollywood, European Cinema, Independent World Cinema, TV shows, travelogues, short films, music videos, branded content, documentaries, line production for films, TV series', and web series'.
"We also do fixer jobs if we really like the idea behind the project. We also like to service photo shoots and photography projects. We always take good care of our clients and they keep coming back," says Panda Films producer Chad Öztürk.
Some of the clients that the local outfit have worked for include: Unilever, Nestlé, Bayer, Frito Lays, Accor Hotels, Excel Entertainment India, Apple, Netflix, TVE Spain, TV8 Malaysia, JTBC Korea, NRK Drama, Renault, Peugeot, Bajaj and much more.
Elsewhere, Karma Films have been delivering the highest production support for international filmmakers through their strong local connections in Turkey and Bulgaria. They provide the following: To-the-point location scouting, high-tech filming infrastructures, animation, VFX, and postproduction facilities, strong local network with funding bodies, unions, and the film industry, consultation for production-related regulations, permissions, and working conditions. As well as script and budget consultation, production service in Bulgaria and Cyprus, and accommodation.
Turkey has an extensive and cost-effective transportation network with the Turkish Republic State Railways extending 10,985 kilometres across the country, including a high-speed line that connects Istanbul to Ankara. The network of highways and motorways also exceeds 10,000 kilometres. Airports across Turkey welcome thousands of international flights each week.
First person to contact
Mustafa Selcuk Yavuzkanat, assistant general manager, General Directorate of Cinema: firstname.lastname@example.org