Colombia: Hollywood's ideal location

30 May 2018
A friendly legislation and tax incentives are some of the reasons the international producers choose the country to film their movies. In 2013 only one international movie was filmed. Now, 5 years since the law came into force, 28 international movies have been filmed in Colombian territory.


Bogotá, March 2018.  Antonio Banderas, Tom Cruise and Mark Wahlberg are some of the internationally recognized actors who had filmed movies in Colombian territory during the last five years thanks to achievement of the Colombia's Filming Law, which delivers tax incentives to promote international filming in this South American country.  
This law's success is noticeable in numbers. While in 2013 only one international movie was made in Colombia, between 2013 and 2018 a total of 27 movies from international producers have been made in this coffee land. Besides, this law became an energizer factor for tourism and a job generator. 
The law 1556 from 2012, better known as the Colombia's Filming Law, commands that once the producer company ends their production and post production compromises in Colombia, the 40% of the expense made in the national production, preproduction and post production contracting services are recognized, as well as the 20% of the expenses they spent in hotels, transport and food. 

"With the Colombia's Filming Law we have promoted our territory as a filming scenery for movies and we were able to become one of the best alternatives for cinematographic filming. This occurs due the incentives we give to the productions and to the logistic expenses made in the country" explains the Culture Minister of Colombia, Mariana Garcés Córdoba. 

A similar opinion comes from ProColombia's president, Felipe Jaramillo, who underlined the filming advantages that Colombia offers, besides the local talent that can be found in the country.
"Colombia has a very good reputation abroad regarding the management of the cinematographic resources, experienced local talent, infrastructure and geographic closeness with some of the most important markets in the world. The foreign enterprises are looking for competitive price markets and flexible labour offers, characteristics the national industry is offering", he expressed.

Considering that, on average, five large productions are being produced each year, it becomes clear that the audio-visual workforce has begun to contribute and improve Colombia's brand abroad.
Besides, the country has an enormous biodiversity and great wealth in landscapes, which are available to the producers as new sceneries and never-seen-before locations: tropical rainforest and beaches, mountains and valleys, and modern cities where colonial traces can be found in its lanes and constructions. 

Hollywood famous stars do not only recognize in Colombia the potential of an attractive legislation for filming, but also the cultural wealth and the beauty of the country itself. 
"We did not imagine how good were the filming crews in Bogotá, they are as professional as the crews in the United Stated, and in Bogotá we are filming a great action movie as if we were in Los Angeles, we are very excited" said Peter Berg, director of 'Mile 22'.

"I'm fascinated to be here, it is a really gorgeous place, the experience has been wonderful. With everything we've lived here so far, both in work and the fact of just being here, the restaurants are fabulous, the people is very kind and helpful, it has been an amazing experience. I'm looking forward to bring here my family on vacations" said Mark Wahlberg, one of the most famous Hollywood actors nowadays. 

The Dynamo case

Between all the climax, many local producers have come to life and are already leaders in the Latin-American continent. This happened with Dynamo, a 12-year old company with more than 30 feature films in their pocket and that, since 2013, cooperates with the north American producer Participant Media.

Promising movies like 'Los 33', 'American Made' and 'Mile 22' were filmed right under Dynamo's production and care.

The enterprise's president is Andrés Felipe Calderón, industrial engineer from the Louisiana State University, who made a MBA in IE (Spain). To him, the legislation has been a complete plot-twist for the audio-visual industry, it has positioned Colombia as an international feature film location: "without the economic incentive, we would be in great disadvantage with many states from United States and some other Latin-American countries which have diverse locations just like ours, and in many cases better and bigger infrastructure for filming. Thanks to the law, the international industry sees our country as a viable alternative location to shoot movies".  

In this path, "ProColombia has been a great allied", confirms Calderón. "They help us to promote Dynamo abroad and continuously provide us with Government contacts, which is essential for shootings to be viable and welcome in many places. Besides, ProColombia is constantly searching for strategic infrastructure partners so we can offer, as an industry, all the alternatives that this field needs to be internationally competitive". 

Great movies of the world, branded with Colombia

Because of the magnitude of their productions, there are two cases considered successful after the Law 1556 begun:

  • 'Los 33': Was the first approved movie by the committee of Cinematographic Industry Promotion Law. Nemocón and Zipaquirá's salt mines (near to Bogotá) were the sceneries in which the tragedy of Chilean miners was recreated. The main character was Antonio Banderas, and the movie was premiered in Colombia during 2015.
  • 'Mile 22': This movie makes part of the 28 cinematographic foreign projects that have been recently shot in Colombia. With Mark Wahlberg y John Malkovich on board, the production was led by Dynamo. The movie tells the story of an American CIA officer who joins a unit of tactic command to end the smuggling made by a police officer. Something curious about this film is that the fictional location portraited in the movie is not Colombia. 

The future of the audio-visual workforce in the country

There is many things to come. According to Andrés Felipe Calderón, 2018 is foreseen as a very busy year for the development of Colombian filmmaking, which suppose new challenges for this industry with great development potential. 
"This year will be very productive for the industry. We just ended the 'Mile 22' shooting with Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich, an important challenge due to all the action sequences and scenes successfully made in Bogotá. We are working in two big projects with first level talents, great productions tasks that cannot be revealed yet. But beyond foreign productions, our attention is focused on productions for international audiences. For example, this year Dynamo wrote and is about to produce the first Colombian original series for Netflix" pointed out Calderón.