From Locations to Incentives: The Cheat Sheet for Filming in Latin America

9:45 PM 5/18/2019

by Shannon Bowen

With extensive beaches to studio space, a look at the ins-and-outs of filming in Latin America.

'Marighella,' 'American Made,' 'Too Late to Die Young,' 'Roma'
'Marighella,' 'American Made,' 'Too Late to Die Young,' 'Roma'
Courtesy of Films

  • Brazil

    LOCATIONS

    With extensive beaches stretching from Rio de Janeiro and Bahia to the Northeast, the Amazon Forest, colonial towns and indigenous cultures, plus modernist Brasilia and multicultural São Paulo, Brazil has a lot to offer. The expanding São Paulo hub has also lured companies such as Netflix.

    LOCAL FACILITATORS

    BPS Production Service: Based in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and L.A.

    CONTACT: Thiago da Costa, thiago@bps.tv, +55 21-4063-4128 (Rio), +1 323-366-2562 (U.S.)

    São Paulo Film Commission

    CONTACT: Daniel Celli, danielcelli.spcine@gmail.com, +55 11-3117-3125

    FACILITIES & SERVICE

    O2 Filmes/O2Pós, São Paulo

    One of the largest independent studios in Latin America, with 91,500 square feet; three studios, a casting house and state-of-the-art postproduction facilities, with specialization in motion graphics, color grading and visual effects

    INCENTIVE 

    For co-productions:

    Lei Rouanet, also known as the Federal Law for Cultural Incentive, allows companies and individuals to subtract 4 percent to 6 percent of their payable tax income (currently under federal review); up to 95 percent discounts on filming in public spaces in São Paulo (negotiated by SPCine).

  • Chile

    LOCATIONS

    Chile offers almost every possible climate and landscape, from desert in the north to humid forests in the south. The proximity of varied landscapes allows for mountain-to-sea production all in one day, with ski resorts and beaches within 65 miles of the capital city, Santiago.

    LOCAL FACILITATORS

    CinemaChile: Responsible for promoting Chilean film and facilitating contacts with the international film industry.

    CONTACT: Elisa Leiva, elisa@cinemachile.cl, +56 9-789-22615

    FACILITIES & SERVICE

    Fabula, Santiago

    Full production service from pre- and postproduction to location scouting, equipment hiring, crew sourcing and tax accounting for film and TV series.

    Chilefilms, Santiago

    One of Chile’s largest production facilities, mostly catering to television and sports.

    INCENTIVE 

    Pilot Program for High-Impact Audiovisual Investment Support:

    Thirty percent rebate on qualified expenses for productions partly or entirely shot in Chile ($2 million minimum and $3 million maximum project cap); incentive for features and TV series directly or through co-production.

  • Colombia

    LOCATIONS

    Colombia’s locations range from colonial towns to the Amazon Forest and Caribbean beaches. Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (2015) and James Gray’s The Lost City of Z (2016), plus the Netflix original series Narcos (seasons 1 & 2), have all been shot in the Colombian jungle.

    LOCAL FACILITATORS

    Colombia Film Commission: Assists with incentives, forms, locations and services production and postproduction services, legal and equipment rental.

    CONTACT: Lilia Manolova, liliamanolova@proimagenescolombia.com, +57 318-358-8449

    FACILITIES & SERVICE

    Fox Telecolombia:

    Eight studio spaces totaling roughly 23,000 square feet, with workshops, offering on-site postproduction services, including color correction, VFX/graphics, sound mixing and 26 rooms equipped with AVID; plus mobile units and equipment rental.

    INCENTIVE 

    VAT exemption Law 1556:

    Cash rebates offered by Colombia Film Fund — up to 20 percent on lodging, catering and transportation, up to 40 percent for services including postproduction (must spend minimum $600,000 in Colombia). Up to 15 percent rebate for filming in Medellín.

  • Mexico

    LOCATIONS

    Mexico boasts pristine beaches (Oaxaca was a location for Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También), ancient pyramids, colonial towns and vast green landscapes, such as Cuauhtémoc in northern Mexico and haciendas in Tlaxcala, as seen in Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light.

    LOCAL FACILITATORS

    Mexican Film Commission

    The English-language website of the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) lists key locations by type, plus incentives and services including postproduction.

    CONTACT: Mario Hernández, mario.hernandez@imcine.gob.mx, +52 55-5448

    FACILITIES & SERVICES

    GGM Studios, Cinematic Media, Mexico City

    Six spaces, roughly 4,500 to 11,000 square feet; hosts on its premises Cinematic Media, a postproduction service that includes high-speed fiber connectivity service and offers dailies processing, editorial conforming and color grading

    INCENTIVES

    VAT exemptions for co-productions:

    FOPROCINE: Finances up to 80 percent of production and postproduction (topped at $500,000).

    FIDECINE: Finances up to 49 percent of production and postproduction for projects with Mexican directors (top limit $400,000).

  • Uruguay

    LOCATIONS

    Uruguay features over 120 miles of coast with huge sand dunes and pure aquamarine waters, as well as vast prairies and soft, rolling hillsides. Its architecture varies from modern Montevideo to colonial fortresses, churches and entirely preserved towns, such as Colonia del Sacramento.

    LOCAL FACILITATORS

    Uruguay Film Commission & Promotion Office (ICAU): Downloadable bilingual production guide with pictures of locations and contact info for companies and services.

    CONTACT: Martín Pommerenck, internacionalesicau@mec.gub.uy, +598 2-916-61-97

    FACILITIES and SERVICES

    El Camino Films, Montevideo:

    First company dedicated to production services in Uruguay, founded by Nicolás Aznárez and Chris Romano, who previously worked to develop a Latin division of Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender’s company, A Band Apart

    INCENTIVES

    VAT exemptions:

    Pilot program unveiled in March 2019 and in effect until August 2020 — up to 25 percent rebates for eligible expenses (capped at $400,000; company must spend more than $1 million). A new cash rebate plan will be unveiled in Cannes on Sunday, May 19.

    This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's May 19 daily issue at the Cannes Film Festival.