Its first iniative? Shrinking – and in some cases eliminating – charges for Greek filmmakers wishing to shoot at Greek archaeological sites.
Speaking on the new legislation, Deputy Culture Minister Angela Gerekou said, “It’s like giving them money to make the movie and then taking it back.” By doing away with fees and red tape, the committee plans “to make Greece into a Mecca for Film.”
This is not the first attempt Greece has made to cultivate a strong national film industry. In a bid to boost domestic film production, a 2010 law requires 1.5% of all private television channels’ profits to go towards the Greek Film Center. The law remains unenforced, however; Nova channel is the only network to reportedly pays its dues.
Greece’s natural beauty and historical landmarks have great potential for the film industry, but too often directors are subjected to a complicated mess of official dos-and-don’ts. In a recent interview with GreekReporter, “Hercules” writer Evan Spiliotopoulos illustrated the obstacles that ultimately drove them away from filming in Greece.
Because of “bureaucracy, lack of incentives for the production, and a non-existent motivation from the Greek state, they filmed the movie in Budapest,” said Spiliotopoulos.
With the new legislation, Minister Gerekou seems particularly keen to attract foreign producers. Tedious bureaucracy and high taxes currently chase away most productions that express any initial interest in filming in Greece – Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” for instance, or Renny Harlin’s “The Legend of Hercules.” But the phenomenal publicity pouring into Greece from the recent film “The Two Faces of January” proves that facilitating foreign film productions can be a lucrative gesture. A film with a budget of 1 million euros pays 600 to 1,000 euros for every minute shot at an archaeological site.
All previous ministerial decisions on issues related to filming archaeological sites have therefore been consolidated into a single proposal, which will be reviewed by the Central Archaeological Council (CAC) on October 14. If approved, producers will get a license within 10 days of submitting a request to film in Greece (current procedure has them waiting for months and typically receiving a negative response). Historical monuments under UNESCO’s supervision will be available only after approval by the CAC.