K7 Media sat down with John Paul Lancaster to learn more about the benefits of filming in Colombia.
Can you start by telling us a little about Screen Colombia and the services you provide?
Screen Colombia is a production services company that was started by me and my partner, Luna, who is Colombian, about five years ago. We provide production services to international producers and companies from all over the world, mainly English speaking.
We do TV series, documentary, reality, and we’re just starting to do feature films now and commercials. We’ve worked for companies in the UK like Raw TV, Blink, IWC. In the US, Renegade. There’s an international standard in Colombia and delivery of services now that these companies are expecting.
What are the benefits of shooting in Colombia?
The benefit of shooting in Colombia, from a production point of view, is obviously cost. Crew costs are a lot lower than they are in other parts of the world but the standard isn’t. There’s a strong domestic feature film industry in Colombia and also television and commercial industry, so all the big agencies are in Colombia, like Lowe, BBDO, JWT. Obviously, there’s the infrastructure to support that. There’s a lot of strong equipment houses, with all the normal equipment that you need, Alexa, all the ARRI stuff. The crew standard is high and it’s an international crew now.
Even though the country’s on the equator, you go from the Andes in Bogota, which is two thousand metres up, down to the Caribbean coast. It’s the only country in South America that has two coastlines: you have the Pacific on one side, the Caribbean on the other. In between those two extremes of the Caribbean and the Andes mountains, you have all these other locations and sort of microclimates. I’ve been to places that look like England and Wales or the Lake District and I’m like “I’m in a country on the equator!”
And then you’ve got all the traditional Caribbean locations, and there’s modern cities. We’ve done a lot of cheats in Colombia for other cities. We’ve cheated the USA, UK, Ireland, Thailand, obviously all the South American countries, so it’s a great place for doing a multi-location shoot where you want to cheat places.
Tell us about the domestic television market in Colombia.
The Colombian domestic TV market is fairly similar to a lot of the other domestic markets in the world. You’re seeing programmes like The X Factor, Wipeout, Wife Swap, you know, franchises that we see in other parts of the world. Reality TV is growing there, it’s an expanding market. And, obviously, there’s the traditional telenovelas. At the moment, Netflix is producing a series there called Narcos, that they’re shooting in Colombia. I think when you know a company like Netflix is spending that sort of money in a country on such a big series that the talent and the infrastructure is there.