Greece’s Plans to Attract Hollywood Film Producers

A newly-formed committee within the Greek Ministries of Culture and Finance has recently been tasked with establishing tax incentives for major foreign film producers.

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.


  1. I had the opportunity to work with Universal Studios on a mega- $ film production a few years ago. They were keenly concerned about location and the ability to produce the movie on budget and on time with the quality deserving of their investment. The issue of attracting the film industry to Greece is far larger been described. Punitive labor regulations, strikes, the lack of production and construction crews, the lack of experienced labor force, and equipment unavailability all cause producers to look someplace else or force them to endure delays and unanticipated cost. The water is just as blue the beaches are just as bright and the countryside just as picturesque in lower cost Turkey. The same can be said for the film industry where lost time is big money if they make a bad decision.