Market Intelligence
Film Industry Greece

Greece Film Industry

A 40 percent cash rebate offers incentives and has created a positive environment for film production in Greece.

Robust government incentives have made Greece a strong destination for film production. Millennium Media’s thriller “Enforcer” was filmed in Greece, and new production “Bricklayer,” is set to be filmed exclusively in the Northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Other productions include “Knives Out 2” and Apple TV’s spy drama “Tehran”, which is returning for its second season. 

Greece has effectively positioned itself during the pandemic offering exclusive covid free island bubbles, which have reassured productions in choosing Greece as their pandemic filming location. This, coupled with the advantageous great weather, 4 seasons, over 300 days of sun, and an abundance of historical locations, makes Greece a very versatile and enjoyable production site.

This was not aways the case. While the infamous “Mama Mia” was filmed in Greece, the second installment opted for Croatia to film the sequel, citing bureaucratic difficulties. “Jason Bourne” runs through Greece’s “Syntagma Square” in Tenerife since the production favored the tax incentives offered by the Canary Islands. 

Many lost opportunities motivated much-needed reforms in 2018. The Government started a generous financial incentive program in 2018. Specifically, a 40% cash rebate for productions is offered if the following thresholds are met: 

•    TV series floor at $16,800-$28,000 per episode
•    Digital Games minimum at $33,000
•    Documentaries at $67,000
•    Short Films minimum at $67,000

The maximum amount that still qualifies for the cash rebate would be a production of $13.4 million. There also is an additional 30% tax relief available to productions separate from the cash rebate. All financing is guaranteed by the Public Investment Program, and the rebate can work as a guarantee for a loan from a Greek Bank. 

Reaction to the incentives has been positive with EKOME, the National Centre of Audiovisual Media & Communication, approving 192 applications, 87 of which were international, with total investments reaching $330M from 2018 to 2020. 

The Greek Film Center (GFC) has introduced public funding programs for fiction, documentary, and animation projects. For foreign productions that have a Greek minority co-producer and Greek participation in either cast/crew/labs, access to this funding pool is possible. This also applies to any of the above shooting in Greece through what is now dubbed the Minority Program. 

The Hellenic Film Commission of the GFC offers a Location Scouting Support Program for productions that either have a Greek co-producer or partner with a Greek production company. This service offers the comparative evaluation of the advantages of each location in addition to financial incentives. In July 2021, the organization executed a familiarization trip for U.S. and U.K. members of the Location Managers Guild International where they visited Epirus and two of the Cycladic islands. 

The demands of the industry continue to rise as production quality and needs to evolve to meet higher standards. A latest study from diaNEOsis, a research and policy institute, shows that Greece lacks specialized staff and crews to support such productions. This includes electricians with film set experience, stuntmen, and other technical roles that require prerequisite experience.  Unable to find such staff in Greece, several foreign productions have had to bring staff in from neighboring countries. This is not ideal on all sides, costing extra money for the production, and preventing locals from securing jobs. The Greek Government is seeking to address this by building a Film School in Athens and executing several intensive training programs. There is a need for film curriculum and specialized training courses.

Currently, there are different authorities overseeing the film production industry. Each authority is responsible for different steps of the process. Please reference guidance provided by the Hellenic Film Commission to get a better idea.
 
The following opportunities likely exist for U.S. firms:
•    content production with generous financial incentives
•    the export of production related products and services 
•    the export of training and consulting related services
•    the export/execution of short-term technical curriculum 

Should you be interested in learning more please reach out to Irini Karajani at the U.S. Commercial Service in Greece via Irini.karajani@trade.gov. You also can connect with the Greek Consulate in Los Angeles via ecocom-sanfrancisco@mfa.gr

04/13/2022