It is telling that, before its recent sale, Pinewood Studios signed a memo of understanding to study the possibility of a production studio in Chile with local partner Chile Studio Group (CSG). The territory, which has opposite seasons to the northern hemisphere, is strategically located to serve local and international productions in Central and South America, and itself offers a diversity of
climates, landscapes and ethnicities.
Studio plans continue. “As the promoter and financier of the project, CSG is committed to the development of a studio facility in Chile,” confirms Raj Uttamchandani, director of CSG. He highlights Chile’s talented and growing crew base, investor-friendly structures, safety, cost and “extremely proactive film commission” as attractions for international productions.
Phoenix Pictures’ Mike Medavoy, producer on Patricia Riggen’s The 33, which shot in Chile in 2015, says: “Geographically, it is probably one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There’s an enormous diversity in terms of the topography. You could almost put it next to California and you probably wouldn’t notice a huge difference outside of the cities. And everybody loves the people in Chile.”
Chile’s film industry is boosted by the international profile of local filmmakers including Pablo Larrain, who partially shot Neruda in Chile. Last year, Simon West filmed Salty, starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko, entirely in and around Santiago, Valparaiso and San Alfonso del Mar. Banderas also starred in The 33. US director Eli Roth has filmed in the country several times, including for The Green Inferno and Knock Knock, starring Keanu Reeves. James Bond has also paid Chile a visit, for Quantum Of Solace.
At present, international film productions can access a 19% exemption on VAT for local production services. However, a much more valuable fiscal instrument, likely to take the shape of a 20%-40% cash rebate, is expected to be launched by Film Commission Chile as early as May as a pilot programme, which would initially support just a few projects. Check ScreenDaily.com for updates.
Full details on financial incentives in Chile: Film Commission Chile
Infrastructure and crews
Visiting productions tend to bring in equipment and at least heads of department. “Due to a robust commercial industry in Chile, there is a fair amount of experienced crew there,” says Harry Stourton, producer of Salty. He sourced all of the crew locally except the line producer, DoP and accountants. Chile is one of only two South American countries (with Mexico) to accept the ATA Carnet, the international customs document allowing companies to temporarily import goods and equipment. Santiago has various warehouses and soundstages used for filming.
It takes a bit longer to get to Chile than almost anywhere else in South America. But that is one of its attractions. “Chile has the advantage of being pristine and, because of that, it offers a very creative variety of settings to film whatever you want,” says Eduardo Novion, creator and writer of the script draft for Radar Pictures’ Leftraro, set to shoot in Chile in 2018. He points out that because of the country’s shape, like a thin ribbon, you can get to any location within a couple of hours.
Harry Stourton, producer, Salty, says:
“The diversity of locations that were right for the film, along with the production infrastructure and favourable exchange rate, meant it made sense to move forward with shooting there. The fact there was qualified crew there enabled us to save by not having to bring in as many crew members.”
First person to call
Joyce Zylberberg Serman, general co-ordinator, Film Commission Chile
Tel: +56 226 189 168
Need to know
- DO work with an established production services company that is fully bilingual and transparent on accounting.
- DO plan on layovers and a longer trip than to elsewhere in South America.
- DO keep an eye on new initiatives from Film Commission Chile.
- DON’T assume you need a translator on set. Chilean crews are generally bilingual.