Agora Talks: Meet the Locations by the Film Office of Central Macedonia

Within the context of the Agora Talks of the 63rd Thessaloniki Film Festival, Film Office - Central Macedonia hosted the discussion “Meet the Locations: A Location Guide for the Region of Central Macedonia", on Monday, November 7th, at MOMus – Thessaloniki Photography Museum. The purpose of the event was the presentation of the first location scouting guide for the region of Central Macedonia, featuring  various locations of geographical proximity, which combine nature, areas of cultural value and parts of the cultural heritage, contemporary and traditional landscapes. Film Office - Central Macedonia, during the panel talk, also announced the launch of the new promotional campaign “Meet your next shooting location in Central Macedonia”, as well as a fam-trip, in collaboration with the Hellenic Film Commission (HFC) and the participation of renowned Greek location managers, consisting of a 4-day tour on the possible film locations of Central Macedonia.

The panel begun with a videotaped greeting by Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia and President of the European Committee of the Regions: “During the past two years, since the establishment of the Film Office of Central Macedonia, the first Regional Film Office in Greece, we have attracted global audiovisual productions of excellent quality and big budgets, with many Hollywood producers, directors and actors, who chose our region and shot films in Central Macedonia”.

Angeliki-Lina Milonaki, Head of Film Office – Central Macedonia, presented the location scouting guide (Meet the Locations: A Location Guide for the Region of Central Macedonia): “The guide is clearly and specifically oriented towards the location scout needs, and presents Macedonia as a studio that can host a variety of projects, available for shooting 365 days per year, and with easy access to multiple locations in the time period of a single day”. The suggested locations are scattered around Imathia, Kilkis, Pella, Pieria, Serres, Chalkidiki and, of course, Thessaloniki, while the thematic sections of the guide are: urban and suburban landscapes, natural landscapes, water landscapes, cultural heritage spots, villages, abandoned spaces, castles and bridges, open-air and countryside landscapes, industrial areas, train stations, and alternative locations, meaning those that can be easily transformed and disguised into other existing places, as it happened with river Axios in the summer of 2021, for the shooting of the film Τhe Enforcer, with Antonio Banderas, which substituted Miami landscapes. The presentation of the locations was reinforced by photographic material as well.

Further information on location scouting was shared by Roula Tsotra, CEO of Media World Productions: “History has showcased important film examples, in which the location of the film shoot has a particular impact on the plot and narration of the story”. During her introduction, she also expanded on the advantages of the choice of Central Macedonia as a film location. “There are much more film categories, if combined with the seasonal changes and weather phenomena. We are very proud of the abundance of locations we can provide and which we traced with the help of director Giorgos Siniosoglou, producer Aris Kotronis and director of photography Tasos Kikidis. One huge advantage regarding the locations is the fact that they are in close proximity with each other and easily accessible, but also approachable in terms of accommodation, catering and transportation. Even at the abandoned spaces, there is the possibility of electrical supply, while Media World has also been applying the Green Filming Protocol for years, utilizing solar energy sources to cover production needs”.

Finally, Dionisia Arvanitou, Production Consultant & Film Office Project Coordinator, discussed the fam-trip (familiarization trip): “This experience will become a useful tool for all location managers who are shooting or want to shoot films in the area, and will provide them with the necessary and individualized assistance they need to find the people, locations and services they seek.” Fam-trip is a 4-day trip and includes a visit to the regional units of Kilkis and Serres on the first day, Imathia and Pella on the second day, Thessaloniki and Pieria on the third day, and Thessaloniki and Chalkidiki on the fourth day. “Everything related to this fam-trip was “green”: from the paper and the food to the fuels, everything was sustainable and eco-friendly”, she added.

The event came to an end with the screening of the promotional video, which represents also the official launch of the campaign “Meet your next shooting location”. The coordinator, Ms. Milonaki, thanked the guests Maria Repousi, Tzina Pavlopoulou, Panagiotis Lazarakos, Konstantinos Koukoulis, Giannis Sotiropoulos, Thanasis Thalassinos, Georgia Pina and Maria Koufopoulou. During the Q&A that followed, the suitability of the time of the campaign launch, as part of the 63rd Thessaloniki Film Festival, the duration of the fam-trip, as well as further comments about the improvement of the guide, were further discussed.