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South African Production Companies vs. Colombian Production Companies

 Team WhereNext shooting in Durban, South Africa

Team WhereNext shooting in Durban, South Africa

The top 5 reasons why you should film in Colombia instead of South Africa:

European-based ad agencies, production companies, and filmmakers have historically offshored film projects to South Africa and partnered with South African production companies to take advantage of a strong Euro and a variety of filmmaking locations. However, there’s a new rival to filming in South Africa: Colombia.

Over the past five years, Colombia’s film industry has emerged as the top film destination in Latin America for North American film production companies – and now it’s starting to challenge South Africa for the European market.

Why are foreign producers making a beeline for Colombia? Here are my top five reasons why you should film in Colombia with Colombian film production companies instead of film production companies in South Africa:


 Colombia’s Caribbean Coast at the base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Colombia’s Caribbean Coast at the base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

1. Fresh and New Filming Locations in Colombia

I’ve heard repetitive feedback from European based clients that, while film location in South Africa are spectacular, many have been overshot. Colombia’s geographical position on the northern tip of South America provides a fresh backdrop for filmmakers looking for something new. Its position on the equator means Colombia enjoys a tropical, non-seasonal climate with 12 hours of daily daylight all year round. To change seasons in Colombia you simply need to change altitudes. As a country located in the tropics, filmmakers are spoiled for choice regarding exotic, natural landscapes and biodiversity that drastically change according to elevation. From alpine mountains and thick verdant jungles to grassy plains, deserts and fruit plantations, Colombia has it all. (FYI: No country on Earth has more bird and butterfly species than Colombia).

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta located on the Caribbean coast is an excellent example of Colombia’s incredible geography. Rising up from the sea and reaching to 18,700 feet, this mountainous region is home to unbelievable vistas. From white-sand caribbean beaches, the scenery transforms into tropical rainforests, barren high-altitude moorlands and finally, snowy mountaintops--all within a 40 kilometer radius.

To boot, Colombia is the only South American country to boast both a Pacific and Atlantic coastline. Having access to both oceans means film production companies have the opportunity to capture a host of colourful marine ecosystems.



 Avianca’s new Boeing 787

Avianca’s new Boeing 787

2. Access to Colombia from Europe is Easier than South Africa

Colombia’s strategic location not only encourages amazing natural film settings, but also makes it easy to reach as there are plenty of daily direct flights from major cities in Europe, USA and other South American countries. For example, Avianca’s new Boeing 787 flies directly from Bogota to Madrid, Barcelona, and London.


3. Colombia is Currently a More Economical Film Location than South Africa.

Foreign film production companies can currently take advantage of two Colombian film laws. The laws (Ley de Cine (Film Law) and Cash Rebate - Filming Law 1556) provide fantastic financial benefits to foreign film production companies who opt to work with Colombian film production companies. The Cash Rebate law passed in 2012 that’s managed by the Colombian Film Commission, offers up to 40% cash rebate on expenses paid in the country for production services and and 20% rebate spent on logistics such as hotels, food and transportation. Production must be partially or fully filmed in the country, with a minimum spend of US$600,000. In comparison, foreign production companies who film in South Africa with South African production companies can only benefit from a 20% rebate on production, with a minimum spend of US$800,000.

In addition, the US dollar, Euro and British pound are incredibly strong against the Colombian peso (2018).


 Colombian Coffee Country

Colombian Coffee Country

4. Talented and Well Organized Colombian Film Production Companies

Since the Film Laws were passed, over 30 foreign directors have chosen to shoot their films in Colombia. Colombia’s reputation as a world-class filmmaking location is soaring. And it’s not just the financial benefits that are attracting foreign producers. Colombian film production companies and film crews have repeatedly proved their skills. Director Peter Berg, talking about his experience filming his action thriller Mile 22 in Bogotá said, “We did not imagine how good the filming crews were in Bogotá, they are as professional as the crews in the United States, and in Bogotá, we are filming a great action movie as if we were in Los Angeles.”


 Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

5. Safety

How safe is Colombia?” is a frequently asked question by foreign film production companies wanting to film in Colombia. Over the past decade, the country has gone from one of the world’s most dangerous places to the hottest travel destination (endorsed by Lonely Planet and the New York Times). The change is mostly attributed to the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016. Many regions – such as the vast plains of Los Llanos in northeast Colombia or the Pacific Coast – that were once off-limits for safety reasons are now open to receive travelers and filmmakers, alike.


 Barichara, a stunning Colonial town in Colombia’s Andes mountains

Barichara, a stunning Colonial town in Colombia’s Andes mountains

Bonus #6. Stunning Architectural Diversity and Welcoming Attitude

Colombia’s stunning architectural diversity provides unique filming opportunities for foreign film production companies to tap into. Across the country, filmmakers will find a host of settings to suit any movie genre. Preserved historic towns, built as per typical colonial Spanish design, including white-washed walls and red-tiled roofs, offer the perfect backdrop for film production companies looking to shoot period movies.For an urban stage, the streets and buildings of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali can easily represent any cosmopolitan city. Colombia also provides architectural backdrops of beach, jungle and mountain villages, remote desert ranches, and coffee estates.

In addition to beautiful visual stages, Colombia has a rich cultural heritage and a warm, welcoming and open attitude towards foreigners. Foreign filmmakers will have the opportunity to approach and work with local communities, especially those living in remote and previously out-of-bounds regions.


With fantastic weather all year round, incredibly diverse and exotic filming locations, friendly people willing to work with foreign filmmakers, and highly advantageous local film laws providing lucrative financial benefits, Colombia is now considered one of the top filming locations on the planet.

Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree.


 Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia

Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia

Gregg BleakneyComment