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Overview and productions

Greece has hosted a slew of high-profile international productions over the past few years, as the country’s lucrative suite of financial incentives proved a siren call to productions. The cash rebate incentive for film and TV productions stands at up to 40% and Greek administrators looked to speed up the application process and payback of the rebate. Coupled with the country’s 30% tax relief to be combined with the rebate and a further effort from public institutions to be more supportive, the territory has proved popular.

“Since spring last year, the country has hosted a number of high-profile international productions,” notes Hellenic Film Commission deputy director Stavroula Geronimaki. “Greece offers incredibly diverse locations and landscapes — some of which can double for other countries — beautiful light, a Mediterranean climate and, of course, the highly competitive cash rebate and its tax relief programme.”

Recent film and TV projects include Amazon Studios thriller Killer Heat, directed by Philippe Lacôte and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley. The film completed shooting in May 2023 on the island of Crete and in the nation’s capital Athens. Faliro House served as the Greek service production company. 

The TV series So Long, Marianne, which dramatises the romance between Canadian musician Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen, starring Alex Wolff and Thea Sofie Loch Næss, began filming in March with locations including Hydra in Greece alongside Norway and Canada. The series is a collaboration between Norway, Canada and Greece; Tanweer Productions is the Greek partner.

Nu Boyana Film Studios, the Bulgarian production hub owned by Hollywood independents Nu Image and Millennium Media, broke ground in 2019 on a studio facility partnership with John Kalafatis, CEO of the New York City-based York Films, in Thessaloniki. Dubbed Nu Boyana Hellenic, it hosted Renny Harlin’s The Bricklayer in 2022 and MJ Bassett’s comic-­book adaptation Red Sonja.

Set against the backdrop of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Millennium Media-backed Dirty Angels, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Maria Bakalova, Eva Green and Ruby Rose, also shot across Thessaloniki. It follows a group of female soldiers posing as medical relief sent to rescue kidnapped teenagers caught between Isis and the Taliban.

TV series Markaris (working title), directed by Milena Cocozza and based on Greek novelist Petros Markaris’s fictional character Kostas Charitos, shot in Athens and on Andros island and is a Rai2 production. The third season of Apple TV+’s Tehran also filmed in Athens, with the city doubling as Iran’s capital. 

Hellenic Film Commission (HFC) is a directorate of the Greek Film Centre that supports international audiovisual productions by connecting producers with the local production industry and regional film offices. It also provides guidance on filming permits, incentives and locations, as well as location-­scouting financial support for international projects looking to shoot in Greece.

In 2023, HFC smoothed the way for a May 2023 shoot of Uberto Pasolini’s The Return, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. Billed as a retelling of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, the feature sees Fiennes take on the role of Odysseus, who washes up on the shores of Ithaca after 20 years away. 

The Italy-Greece-UK-France co-­production filmed for four weeks on location on the island of Corfu and mainland Greece before moving to Italy for six weeks. Producer James Clayton says the Greek part shot first “for reasons of light and also economy, and trying to get it done before the high tourist season kicks in, because it’s all on location”.

Other than Corfu, where the production takes in the Angelokastro castle among other locations, Pasolini also shot at Chlemoutsi, an old fortress on the Peloponnese. Prepping a big-budget adventure film in Greece, Pasolini says is “fun, stimulating and challenging, looking for a visual language far removed from the standard image of the classic Greek world. It was important the action always feels like it is taking place on an island, looking west to an empty sea.” 

Clayton praises the Hellenic Film Commission and the Ionian Film Office. “We also lucked out with our choice of Greek co-producer. I cannot speak highly enough of Heretic.” The only surprise in putting together the finance plan was that there is not a local Greek domestic lending operation for financing the Greek cash rebate. “It means we were looking to UK-based lenders to cashflow a Greek incentive. It’s a great incentive and Ekome [the Greek body that administers it] has been great. It’s just a strange quirk that there aren’t any Greek lenders who will look at the Greek incentive.”

Elsewhere, Greece offers myriad choices for location shoots — there is even a desert on the island of Lemnos. 

Athens boasts historical sites as well as upscale neighbourhoods that can stand in for Italy or France, and the city has fast established itself as a popular and safe filming destination with proximity to beaches and access to varying landscapes.

As more international projects arrive on Greek shores, the territory is furthering its already well-established reputation for technically proficient, highly trained crews. Shooting permits are straight­forward to obtain, although can be tougher for archaeological sites, as the application needs time to pass through a committee. Book early to avoid disappointment.

First person to contact: Maria Koufopoulou, director, Hellenic Film Commission: 


Overview and productions

Locations and permits

Modern and ancient locations

Many of Greece’s most popular and picturesque filming locations are just a few hours’ drive from capital Athens. Many islands have their own airports and are easy to reach from the mainland by both sea and air. Greece is a four-hour flight from London and 10 hours from New York.

Greece offers so much variety — from medieval old towns to Minoan palaces; snow-capped Mount Olympus to the volcano on Nisyros; the picture-perfect Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea to the forests and lakes of the mainland. There is even a desert on the island of Lemnos, while the striking mountainous region in northern Greece is particularly popular with action movies and thrillers. 

Aside from historical and natural locations, there are many modern sites open to filming. Highlights include the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, which houses the national opera, national library and Stavros Niarchos Park. Upscale neighbourhoods can also stand in for Italy or France, and nothing is too far from a pristine beach. 

"Greece can double for many different locations around the world," Linardakis said. "Athens has diverse architecture that goes back thousands of years, combining modern and classic urban interiors and exteriors, with archaeological sites and very interesting public spaces. Greece in total has very rich and diverse landscape which offers countless options to filmmakers and producers."

Producers are strongly advised to apply at the competent authorities of the Ministry of Culture and Sports at least one month prior to filming. Additionally, the expertise of Greek producers and location managers is needed to handle these permits.

Locations and permits

Infrastructure and crews

The Greek Film Centre offers production support and access to Kapa Studios in Athens, plus a network of service companies throughout the country. Kapa has 10 soundstages (between 400 and 1,600 square metres), while Nu Boyana Studios has opened a facility in Thessaloniki. 

Three hours by car from Bulgarian capital Sofia, Nu Boyana Hellenic in Thessaloniki is ideally located for the transfer of equipment from the original Nu Boyana facility, and the city’s international airport makes it easy to bring in talent. The growing number of productions shooting across Greece means there are good local crews available to work on projects of all sizes.


Travel and logistics

Size matters

Many of Greece’s most popular and picturesque filming locations are just a few hours’ drive from capital Athens. Many islands have their own airports and are easy to reach from the mainland by both sea and air. Greece is a four-hour flight from London and 10 hours from New York.

European status

Greece is a member of the European Union and a participant in the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.

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