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Greece sends Matt Damon to go filming in …Tenerife

It is one of Greece’s notorious and chronic diseases: extensive bureaucracy, unaccommodating officials and permanent lack of flexibility. A painful and very costly disease, especially when it comes that the Greek state keeps away investments worth several million dollars or euros.

The latest example of this rigid behavior that causes huge loses in revenues and jobs and advertisement occurred just a couple of weeks ago, when Hollywood producers wanted to feature Athens as the film set for the latest film with super spy Jason Bourne, starring Matt Damon, Julia Stiles and Tommy Lee Jones.

matt damon

Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Damon and Jones at an Athens cafe or a souvlaki corner will be disappointed. The film producers decided to move the film stage to … Tenerife, on the Spanish  Canary Islands. No, not because a film scene demanded lots of yellow canaries, but because of the usual Greek disease: bureaucracy and inflexibility. And inability to implement the laws the governments pass through the Parliament..

“It wasn’t the bureaucracy, they wanted tax returns,” I heard Nikos Xydakis Minister for Culture until a month ago telling private Skai TV last week. Xydakis claimed that he had starting to prepare drafting the relevant legislation to change this, but then early elections came. And he accused the previous governments for having failed to pass such legislation to give tax break to locally-filmed productions as in happens in other EU countries.

Nikos Xydakis has proudly announced the production last June and stressed that an average Hollywood production can spend some 50,000 USD per day in accommodation, transport, local labor craft etc. ” It is a small factory that operates for one to two months,” he had summarized.

Then he looked into the ministry’s papers and let the project go…

     Tenerife turns into …Athens 🙁

It is not the first time that Hollywood producers get angry at Greece and for a good reason.

“Greece continues to be an unfriendly filming location due to extensive bureaucracy and unaccommodating officials with the country having lost massive revenue from international productions including a mini series on the life of Onassis, Hercules, Troy and Alexander, to name but a few.” (gtp.gr)

It has nothing to do with the debt crisis and the troika, the lenders and/or other economic and financial actors. It is a permanent problem. And I remember it to be one since the 1990’s.

Athens in Crisis is the inspiration for Bourne Film No 5: Spy Jason Bourne would be in Athens of the economic crisis and the anti-austerity protests, in the austerity year 2011-2012, and walk around smitten his evil plans when police would clash with indignant Greeks… 

Never mind the relocation. Spaniards are austerity-hit as well.

 Pictures from principal photography in Tenerife…

I don’t remember how many times Greeks AND the Hollywood producers heard governments ever since to promise to change the legislation for the tax-breaks  and even establish a Film Commission.

According to a Law of 2010, a Film Commission was to be established in order to simplify the way through the labyrinth of the Greek bureaucracy.

The Film Commission – a kind of Help Desk – was designed on the papers to facilitate the issuing of filming licenses by Forest Departments, Police, Coast Guard and other authorities. And you know how Greece functions: the pavement belong to the Municipality, the street to the ministry, the forest owners is maybe a far away monastery and so on and so on until the eternity.

But 5 years after the Law was approved, in salvation year 2015, the Film Commission has not been established yet.

We are in Greece!

PS I would really want to know why Greece is allergic to Hollywood. Apparently debt-ridden Greece is large and does not need any extra money and glam.

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  1. Unfreaking believable !!!! what a shame not only for the revenue lost but it would have been the best PR move in a time when the word Greece brings anxt and angina to the minds all the rest of the world.

  2. Get rid of ALL the OLD people in power – all the people of the days of YORE – the days of medievil Greece & things will change.
    Old people know that their time is up … but they still hang on … the place their children & their friends children (who are eternally greatful fot the assistance)in positions of power & rule through them.
    A perfect example is the SYRIZA combo TSIPRAS/VAROUFAKIS who gladly bent over for the Top Guns of Europe like … Jean-Claude Junker.

  3. I believe ITV is filming here on Corfu at the moment making a series called “The Durrells”. Not sure about the financial arrangements but hopefully it will help the Island’s finances either directly or indirectly.