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Overview and productions

The sultry climate, professional crews and the world’s largest number of Unesco heritage sites make Italy a strong contender in attracting international productions. Add to that a generous tax credit and the nation’s 19 regional film commissions vying with each other to offer plentiful funding that attracts top international production talent.

Productions working in Italy “feel on vacation”, says Marco Valerio Pugini, who supports many of the incoming international productions as president of Italy’s Association of Production Services Companies. “Jokes aside, where else can you have beautiful locations, great crews, facilities and technical equipment, all seasoned with delightful food, sun and idyllic places to relax or enjoy culture — all the while benefitting from a 40% tax credit?”

Among those enticed were the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus; Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny; Universal’s Fast X; Alfonso Cuaron’s Apple TV+ mini­series Disclaimer; Florian Baxmeyer’s Paramount+ series One Trillion Dollars; season three of HBO’s Succession; and Angelina Jolie’s Without Blood, financed by Fremantle and shot at Rome’s iconic Cinecitta Studios as well as the southern region of Puglia.

Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 3 for Sony, starring Denzel Washington, shot in the historic centre of Rome and the capital’s Rome American Hospital before relocating to the Amalfi coast where filming took place in the villages of Atrani, Maiori and Minori, before moving on to the city of Naples.

Kenneth Branagh also chose Italy to shoot his third Poirot adventure A Haunting In Venice for 20th Century Studios, as did Denis Villeneuve for Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two and numerous Net­flix projects including The Old Guard 2, Lift, The Witcher season three and The Union (working title), along with Jessica Woodworth’s sci-fi Luka.

This year has already seen a wealth of filming, from Edward Berger’s Conclave, produced by FilmNation Entertainment and the UK’s House Productions and starring Ralph Fiennes and Stanley Tucci (which filmed at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios) to Roland Emmerich’s gladiator series Those About To Die with Anthony Hopkins and produced by AGC Tele­vision, High End Productions and Constantin Film, which also shot at Cinecitta. Elsewhere Michael Uppendahl began shooting The Decameron for Netflix earlier this year in Rome and nearby Viterbo.

“We are seeing a constant and ongoing rise in the number of productions, but competition isn’t felt so much on locations as it is on the workforce and on studios,” says Cristina Priarone, president of the Italian Film Commissions group. “However, with good planning and a suitable local partner, any issues that arise can be handled easily.”


Overview and productions

Locations and permits

Italy has many “wonderful locations to fulfil any kind of request”, insists Federica Mugavero, assistant producer at local outfit Recalcati Multimedia, which recently shot an ad campaign for drinks company P31.

There’s everything from the spectacular Amalfi coast to the beautiful historic cities of Rome, Florence and Venice, and from the striking snowy Alps to the Tuscan hill towns.

With these wonderful locations, many productions choose to shoot Italy as itself, but it can also easily double for other countries. The south can double for Greece, while Rome and Milan can be shot for Paris and New York, Naples and Matera for Jerusalem, and there are desert settings in the quarries around Rome.

“If you shoot on the Sardinian coast, as we have done, the seaside is just so amazing that it can double for the Caribbean or any exotic place,” enthuses Claudio Pintus, executive producer at local production service outfit Dude Film.

Following Covid-19 restrictions, productions have been getting back into full swing (albeit under tight protocols supervised by Covid managers), and it is possible to secure permits again.

It is important to note, however, that procedures and regulations vary from one city and province to another, so it is best to get in touch with them ahead of the shoot and “request a permit seven to 10 days before you start,” says Pintus.

Local know-how is paramount for productions and some locations, such as Vatican City and Rome’s Roman Forum, are near-impossible to film. But local production companies can advise on affordable and accessible alternatives. 

Italy has a reputation for being an expensive place to film but producers report costs are often competitive with Spain. Indeed, the 16 regional film commissions from Turin to Sicily are all keen to host international crews and boost investment after what has been a difficult few months with the pandemic. 

Infrastructure and crews

International production services and crew providers include Lux Vide, which is investing in its production facilities having been bought by Fremantle last year, Panorama Films, Cattleya, FPC, Lotus Production, 360 Degrees Film and Mestiere Cinema, all of which provide support that ranges from authorisation requests and permit provisions through to full-scale production, filming and location services.

Rome’s Cinecitta Studios is also a main attraction, with a massive $333m (€300m) revamp that has transformed it into one of Europe’s leading studio complexes.

Travel and logistics

Italy is a peninsula of 300,000 square kilometres. Mountains make travelling between regions easiest by plane. Each region has its own film commission. The least red tape can be found in northern Italy while Roma Lazio Film Commission is the most experienced in working with international productions.

Travel and transport services are fast, with an efficient rail network connecting north to south.

Size matters

Italy runs more than 1,100 kilometres from the Swiss border in the north, down to the Mediterranean in the south. It covers more than 300,000 square kilometres with a coastline of 7,600 kilometres, offering a welter of diverse and versatile landscapes. Within its national borders are two independent states: the Republic of San Marino and Vatican City.

“[There are] many unspoiled locations, from north to south,” says Marco Valerio Pugini. “One region that is still unexplored in terms of natural and architectonic landscapes is Le Marche in central Italy on the Adriatic coast.”

European status

Italy is a member of the EU and is part of the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.

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