A few weeks ago, Greek government officials revealed an international campaign to prove that Greece was a film friendly destination, aiming to attract the favorably publicity and millions of euros that usually accompany big productions.
The campaign not only came with a fancy video showing Greece’s natural beauty and potential locations, but if offered real and concrete steps like tax credits— a move promised but never delivered by previous governments.
The current government wanted to prevent what were called “embarrassments” and “disasters” from happening again— like the sequel to Mamma Mia, which was shot on a Croatian Island (that was made to look Greek) and the last Jason Bourne film, which included scenes from Athens demonstrations… shot in Tenerife, Spain.
Both films were supposed to shoot in Greece but producers were chased away by the country’s notorious red tape and unfriendly environment for international film production.
But things are supposed to be different now.
Digital Policy, Technologies and Media Minister Nikos Pappas, who has a close relationship wit the the Prime Minister, announced a €75 million ($93 million) budget line-item to support productions in the form of tax breaks and incentives.
He also promised that permits and other related requests would be approved within 45 days of the request— a far cry from months and months of committee meetings and signatures needed from multiple ministries and departments.
A video produced by the ministry touts Greece’s unrivaled natural beauty— ideal for big budget productions, as well as various details about the talented local crews that were accessible to foreign companies.
Pappas’ intentions were dealt a temporary blow when— only a few days after the new initiative was announced, a British-U.S. television production was denied permission to film a scene at the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, south of Athens.
It was the Central Archaeological Council which denied the permission to film scenes of Little Drummer Girl. They’re an independent and powerful group of archaeologists who serve as a watchdog over Greece’s ancient heritage.
What followed was an international outcry, with news of the rejection making headlines all the way in Hollywood, the global center of film production.
Even the Greek government itself chimed in, calling the rejection an international embarrassment and adding pressure to KAS, as the archeologist’s council is known in Greece, to meet again and revisit the request.
In a meeting on Tuesday, April 3, KAS backtracked on the initial rejection and offered Cape Sounion to the production team— but with a compromise that they cut the production day back by several hours to allow some tourist access to the site on that day.
They did, however, grant permission to the production team to arrive the night before and begin setting up their equipment to be ready for the first glimpse of sunshine when shooting is to commence.
This latest fiasco that turned out OK in the end appears to be a stumble— and quick regroup on Greece’s way to become a major film production destination.
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