Bang for Your Buck: The Joys of Filming in Turkey and Argentina
In the arduous process of filmmaking, few aspects are as high-stakes as the shoot. Mistakes can prove costly both creatively and financially, and settling on a location can be a challenge.
Today, two countries where filmmakers can offset these risks are Turkey and Argentina. Both countries have seen their currency lose value against the dollar in recent months, to the benefit of international filmmakers.
With beautiful, unique locations and highly-trained crew, the added financial bonus means that there has perhaps never been a better time to film in these countries. To explain more, PSN Turkey’s Chad Ozturk and PSN Argentina’s Rémi Noiriel are on-hand.
Chad Ozturk - partner and EP, PSN Turkey
A beautiful nation linking two continents, it’s not hard to see why Turkey has long been a popular destination for film crews. The country boasts a diverse array of natural environments including imposing mountains, wild canyons, sandy beaches and jaw-dropping landmark sites. It’s home to unique spectacles that are both natural and man-made, such as the iconic hot air balloon festival in Cappadocia, and the Taurus Mountains (which resemble the alps).
In addition to that, an eclectic blend of cultural influences including Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman means that Turkish cities create vistas like nowhere else in the world.
Q> How has the economy in Turkey changed over the past year?
Chad> Over the past few years, the Turkish lira has lost strength against foreign currencies. The silver lining, for us, is that as a result the country has become very cheap for foreign productions. Where previously one Euro would convert to three lira, it now returns over six and a half.
Q> What effect has this had on production in the country?
Chad> Since foreign currencies have become so powerful in Turkey, the number of service productions has rocketed. For instance, an A-class local gaffer who works on Hollywood and Bollywood projects was previously charging 500 Euros for a 12 hour day, whereas now the same time will cost less than half of that. With these new parameters in the economy, Turkey has become one of the most cost-efficient countries in all of Europe.
Q> Why should producers choose to shoot in Turkey?
Chad> Simply because it offers incredibly high-quality staff and locations for a very good price. And it’s a lot of fun. For example, Istanbul is the only city in the world who sits between two continents, Europe and Asia. Just by taking a boat you can cross over to Asia in 10 minutes, or vice versa.
Q> What kinds of locations can Turkey offer?
Chad> Turkey has one of the most diverse landscapes in Europe, with sand beaches on the west and south side, Alps-like mountains in the northeast, exceptional landmark sites like Cappadocia and Pamukkale, endless steppes in Central Turkey with canyons and wild roads all around the country and a big-European-city feel with a Middle Eastern touch in Istanbul.
Some cities in the southeast are really good to fake old Arabic cities or to cheat for countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran where it can be difficult to shoot. It's truly unique and still an undiscovered hidden gem for the production industry.
Q> What sort of resources and equipment can we expect a crew to have?
Chad> We have a huge range of equipment in Turkey, we even have a Russian Arm Mini for car shoots or for rolling shots. There are even two soft suns in the stocks of rentals. Turkey has one of the best grip companies who invent rigs that you’re likely to see online on production Instagram accounts.
Q> What is something you wish more producers knew about Turkey?
Chad> I wish more people understood that Turkey is just Turkey, and it's not Middle East nor ‘the Maghreb’ or ‘Europe’, it is unique with its mix of cultures and flavours. It's safe and secure. It's secular and modern. I also wish people knew it is fun to shoot in Turkey - I’ve never heard someone say they will never shoot in Turkey again!
Q> What are some things that people might not immediately think of which make Turkey a great place to film?
Chad> Well for example, if you need to fly in crew and talent from multiple countries it’s a very quick process to get a permit, and the visas work on an e-visa basis for most nations. After you have a permit, you just need to apply for a tourist visa online and that's it. It takes about three minutes in total.
Additionally, our airports are two of the best-connected in the world. You can fly to pretty much anywhere from Istanbul.
And finally, recently the government has announced a cash rebate of up to 30% for feature films spending more than a million Euros in Turkey (provided that they work with a Turkish production service provider). This comes as an addition to the 18% tax rebate that we already have in place.
Q> Today, what kind of nationalities do you mostly see shooting in Turkey?
Chad> We get lots of shoots from Europe, mostly from the French and English for TVCs and music videos. And on top of that, we have Americans coming for feature films. We also do lots of commercials for the Indian market and, owing to the political situation in Lebanon, we also do lots of service jobs for the UAE and the Gulf Countries.
Rémi Noiriel, executive producer, PSN Argentina
Filmmakers looking for beautiful natural scenery will find Argentina as desirable a location as anywhere in the world. Critically acclaimed box office hits such as ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Black Panther’ were shot all or partially in Argentina’s unique awe-inspiring landscapes, which include the expansive deserts of Salinas Grandes Purmamarca, the crimson rocks of Cafayate Salta and the jaw-dropping Perito Moreno glacier, one of the few left in the world that isn’t shrinking.
The country’s rich cinematic history also ensures that filmmakers in Argentina benefit from some of the highest standards on the continent. The capital of Buenos Aires serves as a production hub in the region, and has often been used as a double for cities such as New York, London and Paris. This has led to Argentina becoming one of the world’s top locations to shoot both feature films and commercials.
Q> How has the economy in Argentina changed over the past year?
Rémi> 2019 was a year of deep recession, which was marked by a devaluation of the Argentine peso of about 125% in 2 years, with inflation close to 55%. Argentina is currently going through a period of economic restructuring, in addition to the change of government and the need to create a plan to help limit the effects of the crisis and lower inflation.
Q> What effect has this had on production in the country?
Rémi> There was initially a modest increase in the amount of shoots we did around the end of 2018, but it has really picked up since September last year.
Q> And has the economic situation made shooting more cost-effective for producers?
Rémi> The drop of the Peso does represent a great opportunity for foreign producers to film in Argentina, because they now have a very favorable exchange rate (one US dollar will convert to around 60 Peso) and Argentina is now easily one of the cheapest countries to shoot in South America. However at the same time, the standards are incredibly high thanks to an international crew of well-trained professionals, many with decades of experience in the industry.
Q> What are some of the benefits of shooting here?
Rémi> In addition to the favourable exchange rate, it’s worth noting that foreign companies are exempt from the usual 21% VAT rate on production services and hotels. What makes the experience even more practical is that Argentina has a large number of skilled technicians, and English is one of the most widely spoken languages amongst them.
And from a creative standpoint, of course Argentina is one of the most desirable countries in the world. There’s a storied cinematic history to the country, especially with its European roots, and the variety and quality of the locations is second to none. The sprawling, diverse capital of Buenos Aires is the best double for Paris in the southern hemisphere, meanwhile you can find rainforests, deserts, flatlands and high mountaintops amongst the country’s jaw-dropping natural beauty.
And finally, the city of Buenos Aires in particular has many systems in place to make filmmaking much easier. For example, getting permission for filming that requires traffic control takes less than a week to be allowed. There’s also a fast clearance process for bringing cars into the country for a shoot, and getting permission to shoot with drones in the city is usually a complication-free process.
Q> What variety of locations can Argentina offer?
Rémi> Argentina has a large diversity of locations and climates. It´is located between the Atlantic Ocean with about 4,700 km of coast and the Andes. Generally speaking, you can find abundant rainforests and beautiful waterfalls in the north east of the country, whilst the north west is comparatively very dry with high mountains, stunning salt lakes, desert locations and even volcanoes.
If you’re looking for something more frosty, the south and the west of the country contain ski resorts, with forests and lakes to be found in the south and vineyards in the west. And of course, our cities are hugely popular locations to film given the practical benefits, not to mention the cultural and architectural diversity.
Q> What are the best seasons for shooting here?
Rémi> That all depends on what you need to shoot. If you need to shoot in the snow, your best bet is from July to September. For a summer feel and longer days, it would be from November to April.
Q> What sort of resources and equipment does the crew have?
Rémi> Argentina has stages and is well-equipped with some of the latest and best equipment.
Q> What are some useful things to know before deciding to shoot in Argentina?
Rémi> It’s useful to remember that we always have the opposite season to the North Hemisphere, which means you can shoot summer when it's winter in the northern hemisphere, and vice versa.
Additionally, Argentina has some amazing locations that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, such as the jaw-dropping Iguazu falls. We’re also lucky enough to be able to draw on a wealth of European architecture, and anyone shooting here will be working with the best production talent pool in South America.
Category: Media and Entertainment , Movies
Genre: Documentary , Drama , People , Scenic , Storytelling