Written by Murray Ashton on Jan 24, 2014. Posted in Interviews

Filming on location in Spain and Portugal with producer Peter Welter Soler

Peter Welter Soler is a producer with production service company Fresco Film, which covers Spain and Portugal. Locations and permitting flexibility are major factors drawing productions to Spain and Portugal, while the weather in places like Malaga are also an attractive prospect.

Where were the most popular Spanish and Portuguese filming locations for Fresco in 2013?

We shot six shoots in Lisbon, five in Malaga, two in Barcelona, two in Almeria and one in Valencia.

The average budget per commercial was above EUR200,000 on location, some far higher and only a few below EUR50,000, including a music video, part of a feature film and one corporate film. We serviced principally productions from Russia, Germany and Italy with two productions coming in from the UK.

What do you like most about being a service producer?

Being in touch with people and being challenged to help them find the best solution for their production needs. It is quite a creative and challenging task and highly competitive, since we have to find the best combination between budget, weather, locations and cast.

What types of productions do you prefer working on and why?

My great passion is still feature films. This is where I started and this is what I still like. There is a magic moment in the production of feature films when you sit in the theatre, watch the big screen and see your work. It is not about seeing your name on the credits, but remembering how you got to the end result. That is magic and cannot be replaced emotionally by anything else in this industry.

What has been your most challenging location assignment to date?

This year there were two. One was to shut down an entire city intersection for 72 hours straight in order to shoot a street carnival for Beeline in Lisbon. There were lots of art department instalments on the street so the only possibility was to shut down the central intersection entirely.

The other was to obtain road shooting permits for one of the most touristic routes and roads south of Lisbon at the beginning of August. Until the last minute there was no certainty of obtaining the permit, under what conditions and in what timeframe. But we got it. Portugal is special for good collaboration between the authorities and production companies. We could not have done either one of the above in any other place that I know.

What can you say about the diversity of locations available in Spain and Portugal?

The special thing about the combination of Spain and Portugal is that you can find locations that can double up for almost any place in the world. In Portugal there are canals like in Venice and in Spain you have the only two natural deserts in Europe, as well as lots of urban landscapes.

One of the rare locations was the 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon that doubled in backdrop for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

We doubled for Mexico in Malaga and Almeria this year. For one of the feature films, we recreated the streets of Moscow in Lisbon and Barcelona. We used the rice flats in Seville for Indochina, Seville for Italian cities, Lisbon for San Francisco or Germany, and the Sierra Nevada and Pyrenees mountains for alpine snow scenes on many commercials. Malaga doubled for Baghdad and the Almeria desert doubled for Afghanistan.

One of the rare locations was the 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon that doubled in backdrop for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

What local tips can you share with our audience about filming in these locations?

The Canary Islands and the Malaga region offer among the best climates in Europe for winter shoots. Both are sub-tropical and even though there is no guarantee of good weather anywhere, it is quite safe to consider these two regions for European winter shoots without having to travel to the southern hemisphere. But even more than the weather itself is the light. During the winter months, we have a sort of magic hour light almost all-day long in southern Spain and Portugal. The sun comes up to barely over 20 Degrees, so the light and shadows you get during the day are just magical...

Do you have any recommendations for film-friendly hotels in Spain and Portugal?

In Lisbon you have the exclusive Palacio Ramalhete. It’s quite small with 12 rooms, but is very special. In Lisbon there are very film-friendly hotels like the Altis Belem or the Pestana Palace.
In Malaga the Hotel Molina Lario is by far one of the most film-friendly hotels I have ever seen. In Almeria there is the Hotel Elba and in Barcelona the Petit Museum.

Do Spain and Portugal offer good production value?

I would most certainly think so, especially in Portugal. Permits in Lisbon are quite expensive, but collaborations with the local police allow you to save time and get production value. Of course there are limits to everything, but generally Lisbon is one of the best spots for production value onscreen.

What do you do to relax after a full-on location shoot?

Play with my kids and come back to planet Earth and real problems! I do go-kart racing, I hike and try to bring out my inner child.

Thank you

To contact Peter click here.

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