Greece is drawing in international projects to its shores, including the German-Italian-Greek co-production Daughters, thanks to its “stunning locations”, an imminent rise in the incentive from 35% to 40% and “great local crew”, according to a panel of leading production experts in our latest KFTV Talk, which took place 22 July.
“We have handled the crisis well and productions have been resuming since May, so quite a long time now,” enthused Venia Vergou, director of the Hellenic Film Commission of the Greek Film Centre, who sponsored the Talk. “Indeed, no productions have cancelled, and only a few have been postponed.
“On the contrary, there have been productions that were actually planning to shoot in neighbouring countries and then because of the pandemic changed their plans and thought of Greece. So, we are on their radar.”
One of the productions to start up again is German director Nana Neul’s road trip movie Daughters (Tochter), which was filming in Germany in March when the production was put on hold due to the coronavirus. “We were supposed to go from Germany to Italy and then end in Greece. But that changed once we were able to film again and instead we started back up in Greece in mid June on the island of Amorgos,” explained Bettina Brokemper at Heimatfilm, the German co-producers.
Brokemper was extremely complimentary about her experience filming in Greece, describing the location as like “an outdoor studio” where the cast and crew could walk from one location to the other and maintain their social distancing requirements.
Indeed, the production followed the country’s safety protocols and guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Culture, which are “relatively mild” compared to other countries, insisted Vergou.
In terms of access to the country, people from all EU countries are allowed to enter Greece, apart from a few exceptions. “No other countries are allowed to enter Greece, again apart from a few exceptions, like Algeria, Australia, Morocco, Japan, Rwanda, New Zealand, Georgia and Canada,” added Vergou. However, she insists US citizens can come to Greece if they arrive via a European country, and could even arrive direct with special letters from specific bodies (like the embassies or Ministry of Culture).
One of the chief talking points of the Talk was the rise in the financial incentive from 35% to 40%, which is “due to come into play in the next few days,” insisted Stelios Kraounakis, head of the cash rebate department at EKOME (the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication).
The incentive offers an extremely low minimum eligible Greek expenditure of €100,000 for feature films and documentaries and €30,000 for TV Series per episode, with no cap per project. Impressively, “producers can apply just 10 days before a shoot, and you are allowed to have expenses above the line up to 30% of the total budget,” added Kraounakis.
In a further boost, the Greek government has created a 30% tax credit, which can be combined with the rebate, as long as the amount a production receives does not exceed 50% of each project’s total production spend.
Local producer Kostas Kefalas of Faliro House Productions joked: “I’m not sure whether Covid or the 40% is more attractive! Even before the new legislation, we have had a lot of requests from producers who were going to other neighbourhood countries, even scheduled for Canada, who are looking at Greece.”
Locations and crew
Understandably the incredible variety of locations is also a key draw, including archaeological sites, islands, forests, even volcanoes (Miguel Angel Jimenez’s Windows to the Sea filmed on the volcanic island of Nisyros last year).
“For The Trip To Greece, we had gone through our list of favourite locations to visit and be in and unsurprisingly chose Greece,” laughed Melissa Parmenter of Revolution Films, producers of A Trip to Greece, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, which filmed all over the country.
“There are stunning locations, and the most incredible people to work with, including Venia. We brough our crew mainly from the UK, but also used local crew who were fantastic, and spoke English perfectly.”
For the film Greed, also starring Coogan, and produced by Parmenter, they filmed in a hotel in Mykonos, where she said “the local people running it were running our shoot as well. They helped manage the big party that takes place, as they would for a wedding.”
Bettina adds that for Daughters: “We had a wonderful experience with the local crew, such as art directors, electricians, second ADs etc. They were all highly professional.”
Kefalas conceded, however, that “if three productions from the big five studios came at the same time, finding the right people might be tricky. But we are planning to invest in our infrastructure, such as stages, and in the next generation of crew members.”