By: Caroline Cunha
AMERICAN FILM producers will be visiting the Algarve mid-February to view possible filming locations for future productions.
The visit and guided tour is being organised by the president of the Algarve Film Commission (AFC), high profile Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida.
According to José Manuel Lopes, general co-ordinator of the AFC, who has also been a successful actor, producer and editor, the arrangements were discussed with Almeida at a meeting held in January in Lisbon.
“It will be a very private visit, with no fuss and no publicity. However, the visiting party will include representatives from key independent US film companies, who are seeking locations for productions that are already in the pipeline,” he exclusively told The Resident.
When asked what Joaquim is doing currently, he said: “Joaquim is shooting CSI Miami in the US and has scheduled the visit to the Algarve when filming breaks. He is then off to Seville where filming starts on an American production.” The Portuguese star is aiming to use his connections to make the Algarve a popular filming location for national and international productions.
Speaking at the launch of the AFC, on October 13, (The Resident, October 20 edition), Almeida said that the Algarve was “one of the most attractive areas in the Mediterranean as we have many hours of daylight here for filming all year.” He explained how several independent producers in Los Angeles had said that they don’t know any good locations for filming, and that he was recommending the Algarve during the winter months.
The Andalucia Film Commission was responsible for bringing 415 films to the region in 2005 and, according to Lopes, “that wasn’t a particularly good year.” The AFC hopes to follow its example and bring in millions of revenue to the Algarve by hosting filming.
The AFC is creating the foundations for the region to become a competitive option. “Film budgets are big, but costs are tightly controlled, therefore we have to have staff and equipment readily available, as well as locations and accommodation.”
The AFC is currently developing a database of film production technicians that are available to work in the Algarve and is also developing training courses, in order to be able to supply local professional production crew.
“We have obtained EU funding to operate specialist training courses. Initially, we plan to run one in Faro and a second in Lagos or Portimão. Dates and venues will be announced shortly. The courses will be free for students, but the selection process will be very rigorous,” said Lopes.
The AFC has also been working on developing its website, which will be launched next month at www.algarvefilm.com. It will feature location details, crew database and information on support facilities.
Lopes said that the AFC is working closely with the Algarve’s câmaras and its long-term aim is for each to have a film office with a member of staff to respond to the needs of productions filmed in that area. He also explained that each câmara’s website would feature a page with dedicated information on locations and production support.
The AFC is also working towards becoming a member of the International Association of Film Commissions (IAFC), in order to take advantage of its marketing programme and be closer to the decision making for location choice.
The AFC has already been successful in bringing two feature films to the Algarve, as well as two major adverts: Vodafone and Olá ice cream. It supported the production of a 15 million budget film with several scenes shot in Praia da Rocha and Portimão last summer. Entitled Heart of the Earth, the film is due for release this year and features British actor, Bernard Hill, as well as the AFC’s president, Joaquim de Almeida. The Portuguese premiere is scheduled to be held at the end of March at Faro Municipal Theatre, on a date to be announced, and the director and Joaquim de Almeida are expected to be present.
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