Given the difficult time that Greece is going through, it’s comforting to know that there are still some people struggling to set high standards in film production and to improve the Greek film industry on an international level. One of these people is Christos Giotis, the founder of the production company called Film Greece which provides a variety of services from location scouting to film equipment and many more, that makes Greece a more desirable shooting destination. Mister Giotis having recently contributed as a co-director in the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference, talked to us about his work and also explained why 3D filmmaking has started to become hip and what its advantages are.
What is the philosophy of your company Film Greece and how it started?
Back in 2001 – with the Athens Olympics of 2004 just around the corner – my Canadian partner Maxine Heppner and I realized that there was a serious opening in the business of servicing international projects in Greece. Most local companies used to service international productions on the side of their domestic, regular business; so we chose to specialize in this field and decided to put forth “FilmGreece – Production and Location Services” (www.filmgreece.com) . The venture proved successful. By 2011 Film Greece is one of the first companies to inquire regarding “filming” in “Greece”.
Our business philosophy is simple: we work “to make good shoots, better”. So far, the projects we serviced were delivered within budget and as scheduled. Truth be told, in our line of work we cannot afford the alternative.
Tell us about the projects in which you have been involved so far.
We serviced more than seventy five (75) projects from 2001 to the present. We work with all major non-fiction providers of North America, such as National Geographic, The History Channel, Discovery and so on. As of 2007 we started working with India’s “Bollywood”, having serviced two major Hindi feature films to date and currently gearing up for the third. To cut a long story short, our current business network includes Tokyo, Mumbai, Toronto and Los Angeles. We can’t complain.
What is the image of the film production in Greece in the post economic crisis period?
It grieves me to say that by 2011 Greece’s independent/private film production did not manage to achieve industrial status, while government-backed film production simply collapsed.
These days the amortization of a €700,000 budget requires a volume of admissions corresponding to 4% of the country’s financially active population. Add to this a Greek cinema admission price that corresponds to 3 hours of work – as opposed to 50 minutes of work in North America (estimates calculated on minimum wage).
So, it doesn’t take rocket science to deduct that Greece’s scrawny film production will not be able to survive – let alone thrive – within its current operating model and scope. It has to reach out to international audiences and – in my mind – there is no alternative to that.
Thus, the post-crisis question is “how can we take Greek stories to the world?”
It will take some time to identify and execute a viable course of action but there’s nothing dangerous or frightening in clarifying reality. It is rather the opposite that spells real, tangible and irretrievable misfortune.
What are the chances for foreign productions to take place in Greece this period?
“Greece as a filming destination” is an unknown product in the international film and television market. Based on our calculations Greece attracts less than 0.01% (roughly $1,000,000) of the annual global expenditure on international filming; compare that to Toronto’s $610,000,000 in 2008. In these terms Greece has always been absent from the international filmmakers’ map; but this is no news for us and is far from daunting. Let me give you an example.
Back in 2006 Maxine and I got on a plane to India in order to start fathoming what would take to promote Greece as a filming destination and our company as the service provider of choice. So, there we were, a couple of private Greeks asking questions and mingling in Goa’s IFFI crowd amidst government delegations from France, Poland and other countries. Fellow delegates asked what kind of incentives Greece offers, the answer was the all familiar “none”, they politely shook their heads and wished us good luck. A few weeks later we went back to India for targeted presentations. Five months after that we had a contract with India’s Yash Raj Films (www.yashrajfilms.com). Soon after that we signed with India’s Excel Entertainment (www.excelmovies.com) for their upcoming feature “GAME”, releasing on April 1st.
So, yes, for a company wanting to attract international film projects to an “unknown” country that – on top of everything else – offers no incentives it is an uphill battle, but never a lost one.
Tell us about the 3D filmmaking promotion you have took over this period in Canada.
We believe that this time around “3D cinema” is not a passing fad – it’s here to stay.
In fact, there’s an upcoming (2011) S3D film advertising itself as “available only in 3D and in selected 2D theatres”.
I spend considerable time in Toronto and I am somewhat aware of what’s going on in this city in terms of filming in general, and 3D filming in particular. Currently, for Toronto “3D cinema” is a living reality: “Saw 7” or “Resident Evil: Afterlife” were produced by Canadian producers and were shot and posted in Toronto. Here, a producer can find everything and anything required for a 3D production: from tax-breaks to experienced post production houses and from 3D equipment to 3D-familiar film studios – all of that is located within… 20Km/12miles from the city-centre.
The “Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Conference” (http://3dflic.ca/index.php/conference/) emerged from the city’s dynamic. I was given the opportunity to contribute to the Conference as a co-director and I am currently working next to Juana Awad and Toronto’s 3DFLIC consortium to that end.
The Conference is organized by Toronto’s 3DFLIC (3D Film Innovation Consortium – www.3dflic.ca) which helps to build the capacity of S3D production clusters in the Greater Toronto Area.
3DFLIC brings together a uniquely interdisciplinary team of scientists, filmmakers and industry players bridging research in stereoscopic perception with the development of stereoscopic 3D (S3D) film language and production.
What are your future plans?
Based on ten good years of good reputation and international networking we are currently concentrating on the Greek “post-crisis” question: “How can we take Greek stories to the World?” I am sorry for not being able to reveal more information at this stage.