Locations in Portugal Move onto the Radar

Martin Dale
·3-min read

Funded by Turismo de Portugal, the country’s shoot cash rebate aims to increase Portugal’s international visibility. Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques stresses that tourism is a key driver of sustainable growth, job creation and foreign investment, as well as promoting Portuguese and European cultural values: “That’s why we have created one of the most competitive film production incentive systems in Europe, especially oriented to those projects that can bring economic social, and environment value and positive impact to the world.”

Portugal boasts the highest number of sunny days in Europe and greener landscapes than much of Southern Europe. Crews are skilled, multi-lingual and offer highly competitive rates.

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The major diversity of natural and cultural heritage within a relatively small country means that shoots can access a wide variety of locales within relatively short distances.

The Portugal Film Commission (PFC) is complemented by 12 film commissions and offices, which facilitate shoot permits and in certain cases can help tap additional local funding.

Separate support for scouting trips has brought international producers to Portugal; PFC attends key markets, including Berlin’s EFM , MipTV, Cannes and the AFM.

Portugal abounds in green oases with micro-climates, such as Sintra, near Lisbon, which attracted “Frankie” and Richard Stanley’s horror pic “The Color Out of Space,” starring Nicolas Cage. The actor praised the support infrastructures and professionalism: “You’ll get your movie made in a really appropriate and timely manner.”

Producer Mario Patrocinio adds: “Portugal is a very attractive and secure location, which is very important for top actors. You get much more for your money. The country has incredible stories waiting to be told.”

Lisbon has hosted two German crime dramas, “Lissabon Krimi,” and a recent four-day shoot for Netflix mega-hit “Money Heist.” “The Portuguese are fanatics about our series which gave us a huge boost,” recalls “Money Heist” cp-creator Alex Pina: “We shot in very famous places, in the centre of Lisbon, on the trams and the April 25 bridge, and it all went very smoothly. Lisbon is a great natural setting, with wonderful light and a huge visual aesthetic.”

U.K producer Julian Hicks, CEO of indie platform Moviebox, lensed “There’s Always Hope” in the Algarve coast, in 2020, and has four further shoots planned for 2021. He is closing finance for a major studio facility in Loulé, Algarve, to open in 2023, with three 21,500 sq. ft sound stages, a water tank and a film academy.

“The Algarve is a great place to live and work”, explains Hicks. “Many top international technicians have a home here which facilitates our shoots.”

The Algarve Film Collective, launched by Spy Manor Productions and Loulé Film Office, aims to establish bridges between Portuguese and British filmmakers.

The rolling plains of the Alentejo and Ribatejo, green in winter-spring, and golden yellow in summer-fall, have attracted productions such as Netflix’s spy drama “Gloria,” historical series, “The Domain,” produced by Paulo Branco, and Albert Serra’s “Liberty.”

The archipelago of the Azores hosted Brazilian comedy “S.O.S.: Women to the Sea 2.5.” The moody romantic charms of Porto were highlighted in Gabe Klinger’s 2016 “Porto” produced by Rodrigo Areias, who is now prepping two more shoots in the city: Brian King’s “16 hours” and Mandi Riggi’s “Mercy.” Other recent shoots in Porto include Brazilian thriller “The Fortune Cookie.”

The Discoveries era endowed Portugal with exuberant Baroque palaces and monuments. It also boasts daring modern architecture – such as the Parque das Nações in Lisbon and the Casa da Música in Porto.

Productions lensed at heritage sites include TV series “Vento Norte” shot in the Biscainhos Museum and Monastery of Tibães in Braga.

Portugal’s rugged interior zones offer a chance to travel back in time and have served as locations for pics such as Marco Pontecorvo’s “Fatima.”

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