With its high-impact blend of famous ancient sites and urban edge, Athens has long been a sought-after location for international movie makers.
Getting the cameras rolling in the Greek capital, however, has not always been easy. Red tape and a shortage of competitive incentives have often driven film makers elsewhere. But now the stage has been set to transform Athens into a “Film Friendly City” with the launch of an Athens Film Office and boosted cash rebates from the Greek Government. In the best practice of major European cities, the new Athens Film Office will be a one-stop shop for receiving and managing film and television requests, facilitating filming requirements, and acting as a go-between to clear bureaucratic obstacles for overseas productions. It will also help eligible producers claim a 40% cash rebate entitlement (up from 35%); meaning they’ll be able to recoup over one-third of the money spent shooting in Athens.
According to the Athens Film Office website, makers of films, television episodes or advertisements will soon have over 70+ Athenian locations to choose from. Current options span from landmark squares like Syntagma and Omonia and Athens’ emblematic National Garden, to the Maria Callas Municipal Theatre with its magisterial lobby, and contemporary urban hub, Technopolis, in Gazi.
The new approach is already paying off. More than 10 international audiovisual works (movies, TV series and advertising) will take place this year despite the pandemic and two month lockdown; with work already underway on several. Among them: a French character comedy, Say Cheese, set against the Greek Summer (filming locations include Plaka, the Acropolis and the Athens Riviera), and Broadway, a Greek production about a posse of young pickpockets in modern Athens.
Just wrapped, meanwhile, are The Dragon has Come by Christos Passalis shot around Athens and the Attica region, and large Israeli production, the spy thriller Tehran (with Athens standing in for the Iranian capital), to air on Apple TV to international audiences from next autumn.
Says Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis:
"The Municipality of Athens, through the Athens Film Office, aspires to play a leading role in the effort to better utilize the development potential of the city, so that in the near future, Athens becomes a key pole of attraction for new investments - and hosts more and more international film productions.”
In the city’s bid to lure more big movie makers to the city, the Athens Film Office - which comes under the "umbrella" of the Municipality of Athens and the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (EATA)- will also work closely with the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau to ensure that international film executives have access to premium facilities and services throughout their stay.
You can keep up with all the latest Athens film production news on the Athens Film Office's What's On page here.