Written by Shona Smith on Jun 18, 2020. Posted in Production News

Greece gets ready to welcome productions as part of ‘Welcome the World’ scheme

From July 1 international flights will be allowed into all airports in Greece, with random tests done upon arrival. This third phase of opening up means that the complexities of incoming shoots will become more simple.

Simos Manganis, executive producer and managing partner at Green Olive Films in Greece and Cyprus says “there has been great support towards restarting the film industry in Greece from producers to government bodies alike; we officially returned to filming on the 18th May with government protocols in place. Local shoots are already happening and although we are not limited to the number of people on set, we have to comply with social distancing and hygiene regulations”.

“They handled the situation very well, in terms of applying the safety measures from day one before there was a big breakout. In that sense, it is a relatively safe country for filming” says Elena Fanariotou, Line Producer at Fixer in Greece. “However, the main issue and what has been blocking those who serve mainly international productions has been the travel ban. "Greece Welcomes the World" scheme sees us gradually start to open up to foreigners inbound and outbound travellers”. The second "bridge phase" is in effect until June 30. International flights are now allowed into Athens and Thessaloniki airports, with travellers from airports not in the EASA affected area list subject to random tests upon arrival. Those from an airport on the EASA affected list will be tested upon arrival, a test and compulsory quarantine for seven days is required.

From July 1st, international flights will be allowed into all airports and subject to random tests on arrival while additional restrictions may be applied to certain countries. This is when productions companies are expecting production to be able to resume more normally.

Maggie Dunn, producer at Stefi Productions notes that “travelling around Greece is business as usual with mandatory wearing of a mask in taxis, the metro, buses, boats and trains. But travel is quite easy especially now since tourism is not yet at large here”.

The Trip To Greece filmed in historical sites in 2019 with Fixer in Greece

Manganis of Green Olive adds that although the lack of tourists means quieter historical sites “social distancing rules apply to all historic sites and the number of tourists entering at any one time will be controlled. Although this will mean less tourists, we would need to allow for more time to enter the location, as is the new reality for any shoot post Covid-19”.

Inbound travel is most critical for long form projects, rather than commercial filming which has adapted to the use of livestreaming shoots. Manganis notes that “for commercials, most international production companies are requesting that we allow for the use of remote video links within our budgets for agency and client to be able to livestream”.

Long form projects are now planning shoots in the country in coming months. At Green Olive, there are two long form projects in prep. “Most of the jobs we are discussing and / or prepping are location based. We’re in prep for a TV series to start shooting Aug 17th and a feature film to commence principal photography in mid Oct”.

At Stefi Productions, there is a mix of commercial and long form production on the table. “We have commercial projects, two from Germany one in a studio and one on location, another on from Dubai will ideally be on location set in a villa”. Girogos Linardakis, who heads the film and TV department says they are discussing three shoots. “Two on location in Athens and around Greece and one which will shoot both in studio and on location. We are going to shoot our first film and TV project early July and the next early-to-mid September”.

Fanariotou from Fixer in Greece adds that the country is able to handle a variety of shoots well into December. “Because Greece is a big country from north to south you have big differences in the climate. Even until December if you want to film at a beach location with sunny skies in good weather, you can even swim in December. My feeling is that we will have gradual opening of the filming season from July. I expect there will be productions being realised in august, September and October. That is what understand in terms of requests from incoming productions”.

In the next few months Greece may also uplift its cash rebate from 35% to 40%. The measure was approved at a cabinet meeting and will be voted upon in the Greek parliament in coming months.

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