Exclusive: Portugal's Spy Manor to participate in UK productions in the Algarve

UK company MovieBox and Spy Manor Productions are shooting a few projects together and setting up a fund for incoming productions

By Chris Evans 14 Jun 2021

Exclusive: Portugal's Spy Manor to participate in UK productions in the Algarve
There's Always Hope filming in Portugal. Credit: Jael Guerreiro

Portugal's Spy Manor Productions has formed a strategic collaboration with Production Algarve and UK production company MovieBox Group (That Good Night) to boost the Algarve region with new studios, co-productions and a fund to support international co-productions.

MovieBox Premiere (the distribution arm of the MovieBox Group), Spy Manor and fellow Portuguese company Monte Productions are already set to shoot a project together in the Algarve this summer called The Infernal Machine. The drama is being directed and written by Andrew Hunt, and produced by Lionel Hicks, Julian Hicks and Alan Latham.

Filming will take place at the new state-of-the-art MovieBox studio complex in Loulé, less than 20 minutes from Faro international airport, which is in phase one of its build and is set to open at the end of June.

Construction is then planned to start in the coming months on the 15,000 square meters site, which will feature three indoor sound stages, two outside water stages, a green screen, and a TV studio within a tech hub.

The Infernal Machine will be a strong cast led production to be filmed at the new MovieBox studio site, followed by a phased development of the studios and facilities,” Vanda Everke, founder of Spy Manor and executive producer on the project, confirms to KFTV.

Spy Manor, MovieBox and Monte are also collaborating on Kit Monkman's The Dark Room, which is scheduled to shoot in October, with producer duties shared between Julian Hicks, Latham and Thomas Mattinson, who is also writing the script. The story centers on the relationship between two women as one recounts troubling memories from her childhood. “The Darkroom will use a hybrid of built-sets and green-screen environments,” says Monkman.

The trio are also set to shoot psychological sci-fi thriller The Evil in Me, written and directed by Carl Strathie, which will be a character study about pain and loss and how far we might go to take revenge. Producers are Carl Strathie, Charlette Kilby and Latham, with Julian Hicks and Everke serving as executive producers.

MovieBox and Spy Manor are already setting up a film fund with the remit to “assist selected productions and part fund co-productions” that choose to shoot in the Algarve, Everke confirms. More details are set to be revealed in the coming months as the organisers seek further investment opportunities.

Spy Manor, MovieBox and Monte also worked with Production Algarve and UK outfits Bad Penny Productions and Eagle Film Productions on Tim Lewiston’s feature drama There’s Always Hope, starring Colm Meaney and Kate Ashfield, which shot in the Algarve between October and November last year. The film tells the story of an author obsessed with trying to pen his magnum opus to the detriment of his relationship with his family.

“Our travel to Portugal was very straightforward and we were not required to quarantine on arrival,” Harriet Hammond at UK outfit Bad Penny Productions explained to KFTV. “It was easy to source the locations thanks to the Portuguese authorities exempting the film industry from the covid-19 restrictions they have imposed on the rest of the country.

“The process, however, was certainly assisted by the rigorous covid-19 protocols we put together, overseen by a designated Covid-19 officer. We combined the existing UK protocols with the Covid-19 protocols for filming recommended by the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health (DGS) for the prevention of COVID-19 and issued by the Portugal Film Commission.

“We are using predominantly a Portuguese crew with a number of British HoDs, and lighting and grip equipment from Portugal. Both crew and equipment have been first class.”

Portugal has attracted several big Hollywood projects in recent years, including Rambo: Last Blood, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and Color Out of Space, drawn in by the sun almost all year round, a stunning variety of locations, including beaches, modern buildings, historical villages, canyons, lagoons and even jungles, and a potential 30% cash rebate — which can be stretched even higher with more local elements, and great crew.

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