Daniel Craig, Tom Hanks, Jamie Lee Curtis – they and many other stars are to stand in front of the camera in Greece in the coming months. The country is luring film producers with high subsidies and help with bureaucracy.
Athens (dpa) – Greece certainly has had a starring role in films in the past. Consider “Zorba the Greek” or “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” Maybe the cult diving film “The Big Blue” might even ring a bell.
All of these movies, however, date back decades.
Since then, many producers have avoided filming in Greece, fearing complicated bureaucracy – and given the lack of subsidies.
A law passed in 2017 has changed all that. Greece is now enjoying a real film boom, according to the Greek Film Commission.
The state now offers subsidies of up to 40 per cent of production costs if a project involves a Greek producer.
In 2021 alone, some 18 films are being shot in Greece, according to local media reports. They involve a clutch of stars, from Daniel Craig of James Bond fame to Tom Hanks, Lea Seydoux and Jamie Lee Curtis. Director David Cronenberg of “Videodrome” fame is also filming there.
“Over the past three years, we’ve had nearly 500 requests thanks to the new law,” Venia Vergou of the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication (Ekome) tells dpa.
Some 100 films have been shot since 2017, bringing more than 97 million euros (114 million dollars) to Greece in the process.
“Paying 40 per cent of production costs, we give the most support across Europe – only Malta offers that much,” she says.
Other countries only contribute some 25 to 35 per cent of the costs, according to Vergou.
The Greek film commission does not influence the form and content of films in any way, she says. Rather, the agency is “the producers’ gateway into the country” and handles a slew of bureaucratic hurdles thanks to its links to the Ministry of Culture.
It also provides support with organizational issues, any questions the filmmakers might have, as well as all other manner of concerns.
As Ekome describes itself: “Ekome functions as a focal point, and at the same time, as an incubator of ideas and actions, which will allow the necessary conditions to be gradually created, so that young people can find the creative way they seek first in their country and in the international labour market.”
Bureaucracy in Greece can be vast – and often, in the past, it was compounded by a lack of political will.
Many Greeks think back bitterly to the 2016 film “Jason Bourne.”
Lead actor Matt Damon raced through Athens on screen – but the film was actually shot in Spain thanks to subsidies available there.
More painful still was “Hercules,” the 2014 film starring Dwayne Johnson about a topic that is obviously Greek – but shot in Budapest.
At the time, co-screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos said: “Greece didn’t make it easy for us, didn’t open doors, didn’t offer anything. So it was rejected as a filming location.”
That’s all in the past now, according to industry experts.
“The 40-per-cent discount has given the industry a real push to shoot here,” according to Greek film producer Konstantinos Kontovrakis.
Last year, he shot 70 per cent of Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s new film “Triangle Of Sadness,” featuring Woody Harrelson, with his Greek production company.
The film commission does a great deal of important work helping with bureaucracy, Kontovrakis says, praising its extensive support.
An interested film producer just has to contact the commission, and it will take care of all the formalities, he says.
Moreover, he says, “there’s a highly advanced film infrastructure in Greece and suitable personnel, from experienced technicians to the smallest helper.”