Michael Winterbottom's Greed shot on the "lavish" Greek islands

The black comedy was one of the first to access the country's financial incentive

By Louise Tutt 23 Oct 2019

Michael Winterbottom's Greed shot on the "lavish" Greek islands
Greed. Credit: SPIP/FILM 4

When UK director Michael Winterbottom and his regular producing partner Melissa Parmenter of London-based Revolution Films were deciding where to shoot the black comedy Greed starring Steve Coogan and Isla Fisher, a picturesque Greek island was at the top of their wish list.

“The story is about a retail fashion billionaire having a big party. We wanted a lavish location and obviously one of the Greek islands was up there on the list of great locations to shoot,” Parmenter says. “We wanted to go for a lot of luxury, a lot of sea and sand. The fact there is a tax credit in Greece was also an incentive for us.”

The Greek government introduced a generous tax rebate of 35% on all qualifying expenditure of at least $110,000 (€100,000) for local and international films and TV productions in July 2018.

Financed by Sony Pictures and Film4, the $5.5m (£5m) Greed shot for three weeks on the island of Mykonos and the neighbouring island of Delos in November 2018, spending approximately $660,000 (€600,000) in Greece in total. It was one of the first international productions to access the new incentive. 

“We would have shot there without the tax credit but it all helped with the budget,” says Parmenter. 

They chose Mykonos in the Cyclades islands as they found three hotels that could serve as both filming locations and a production base. The shoot started just as the tourist season was ending.

“We took over the hotel. Poor guys. They were a bit tired at the end of their season,” says Parmenter.


Filming on location

Winterbottom is renowned as a filmmaker who enjoys shooting internationally (India for The Wedding Guest, Italy for The Face Of An Angel, Pakistan and Iran for The Road To Guantanamo) and he wanted to shoot Greed in a similar way.

“When Michael and I make a film, because we work with the same crew every time, we do it slightly unconventionally,” Parmenter explains. “We take our key crew over to shoot and pick up local people, not necessarily through a company if we don’t need to because being in Europe you can just land in Italy or somewhere and make a film.”

She pauses to lament the uncertainty around the UK’s impending departure from the European Union and what that might mean for footloose UK production companies like Revolution. 

“We like to keep in control of our shoots ourselves,” she continues, Brexit despair momentarily shelved. “Because we had one main location on Mykonos, which was a hotel, we didn’t need a massive set-up. It was a question of finding out who we could partner up with in Greece to access the tax credit but for us to still have our crew. But then we ran the production. We had a local company called Film Greece who were great and they did all of our accounts so we could get the tax credit.”  

The team kept the crew as small as possible and used as many locals on the island as possible, with some electricians coming in from Athens. “We had to build an amphitheatre for the party and we used local carpenters for that,” she says. 

Parmenter cautions Greece is not cheap, especially for UK producers for whom the pound has weakened against the euro. “There are also local fringes. If you hire a local fringe, the percentages are quite high and you have to pay a certain amount on top of the salary,” she points out.

Greed returned to shoot a further three weeks in the UK, accessing the UK film tax relief, as well as one day in Monaco.

Overall Parmenter describes the whole Greek experience as “fantastic”.

“We had great support from the local mayor of Mykonos who was very happy to have us,” she says. “The weather was great too, although it was a bit windy so we made it all part of the film.”

 Homepage image of Steve Coogan. Credit: SPIP/Film 4

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