The Republic of Colombia made a name for itself on the worldwide stage through the Pablo Escobar story, but most Colombians will dislike you mentioning this because they know that Colombia has so much more to offer. They are right. Colombia has amazing locations and - to my mind -a great enthusiasm to support you with your filming. Colombian people are generally lovely to work with and the film-friendly attitude is difficult to beat elsewhere.
Of course there is red tape and the speed of procedures needs to be respected but, once you know how to navigate this, the rest is quite straightforward.
The government passed a law allowing a Cash Rebate of between 20 to 40% to foreign productions.
There are sound stages in Bogota. Elsewhere warehouses are turned into makeshift stages.
Colombia has a violent history like most other nations but the present situation is very different from the past. All foreign filmmakers and actors who worked in Colombia will testify that the country feels very safe and in fact it does not pose any more significant threats then large first-world cities.
From the 'old' 35mm, Alexa, Red, Sony, Panasonic - Colombia has it all. There is also a Milo, Technocrane, Remote Heads, Camera Aerial Systems etc. HMI, Tungsten and the standard range of lighting and silent generators exist in Colombia. Any specific or surplus equipment can easily be flown in from nearby Miami since flights are under three hours. Sometimes it is more cost-effective to bring certain equipment from abroad and it is worth comparing quotes.
There are first class post-production facilities with Da Vinci, Avid, Pro-Tools, Dolby etc. The majority of Colombian films are now filming on HD and post facilities are well equipped for this.
Crews are flexible when it comes to working overtime and they will do their best to carry out anything within reason. There are no unions in Colombia waiting to squeeze producers for every bit of overtime. Colombian crews are known to be very hard workers and very good spirited. Their film experience is very strong mainly due to a healthy Colombian film industry which keeps them busy in between service jobs. Normal working hours are 12 including the main meal. There are no surcharges for night days or split days. Normal turnaround is 10 hours and anything shorter would generally be possible if its an exception. Long-distance travelling between home and unit base is excluded from turnaround hours and the agreed radius that constitutes extended travel will need to be considered. Normal respectable rules exist such as crew working on a night shoot cannot be expected to work during the consecutive day hours. Crew are still working if they are wrapping equipment or traveling back to the unit base. Deals can be made to include wrappin time as otherwise overtime will be incurred. If a shooting day call-time will start before sunrise or earlier than 5am then the crew would expect to be informed about this more than one day in advance and transport may have to be arranged. Sunday and public holidays are not paid at a surcharge unless they become a 7th day., with the exception of New Year's Day and Christmas Day. These days and 7th days are paid at x 1.5. Any overtime on these days will be based on these higher rates. A running lunch or "continuous day" is possible, typically for 10 or 10.5 hours (but paid for 12), but crew expect to be advised a few days prior unless it is an exceptional circumstance. It is possible to create a split shift in a shooting day as long as it is at least four hours. Travel days are paid 50% but any travel exceeding 12 hours will be have each and every hour chargeable in full on a pro-rata basis. Public holidays or Sundays (other than New Year and Xmas Day) can be travel days too but drivers will be paid the full normal standard day rate with normal overtime applications. It is possible to hire crew for half a day to Pre-Rig or De-rig or check equipment or do Make Up tests etc and if the hours work do not exceed 6 hours then they will be paid half a day's rate. Any shooting day scheduled to be longer than 14 hours needs to be advised to everyone before the start of 1st day of filming.
The standard crew visa that can be arranged at the airport for Europeans and North American is for 60 days. Longer periods need special visas.
Customs arrangements can be made before equipment is flown in so that duty does not have to be paid when flying out with it.
Colombia is very diverse in its locations ranging from tropical beaches to deserts, mountains, green countryside, jungle and all sorts of modern and old character streets. The diversity and accessibility is hard to compare with other countries. Here is a taste of Colombian locations.
Colombia has a tropical, non-seasonal climate. Bogota's weather base tends to be more wet then dry whilst Cartagena's tends to be dry. The days are long and the overall weather is very much like a never ending spring. When it rains, it tends to be fast and quick. The advantage of such a climate is that filming is very manageable all year round.
Comprehensive weather statistics for Bogota, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin
The Making Of.....
Here is my article about this amazing country: Colombia makes plans to boost location filming