Sand and sea, that’s what Mallorca is about, right? Well, yes, of course, beaches are a thing, but so are the mountains, the architecture, and above all else the weather. The year round sunshine ensures that film, TV and commercial production plans can be made and rarely have to be altered to accommodate inclement conditions. This means productions are made on time, and crucially, on budget. Swedish commercials director, Ola Holmgren, recognised Mallorca’s potential as a year round filming destination in 1993 when he moved to the island with his wife Grete. They opened an office in the heart of Palma´s old town and their new venture was christened Palma Pictures.
The original team was made up of a mixture of enthusiastic locals and foreign residents and today one of the company`s strengths continues to be its diversity borne from this eclectic mix of cultures and backgrounds. English and Spanish are spoken by the whole crew as well as German, Italian, French, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Japanese and even Icelandic.
The Night Manager
The film company has grown into one of the world´s leading production service companies. They now operate from their studio complex in Marratxi, north of Palma. The company employs 45 full-time staff and supplements this by drawing from a pool of 400 incredible freelancers offering hair, makeup, set design, wardrobe and more. “We have everything here that we need to shoot,” Germán Travers, the head of the location department at Palma Pictures tells me, which is just as well as major feature films and TV companies have all been beating the path to Mallorca to film, most recently the BBC shooting with an international cast for “The Night Manager”.
What Mallorca can’t naturally offer they can create in the studios at Marratxi, everything from spaceships to the Arctic. “Mallorca is very ‘film friendly” says Germán.
“Because of the touristic development on the island there are plenty of hotels available out of season to house shooting crews. Plus it’s a relatively safe place to work, compared to some other countries.”
Having been a location manager for 16 years must mean Germán knows where all the secret places are… So could he reveal his favourite place to go in Mallorca? “I love to cycle around the Colonia St Pedro in Arta, there are some hiding places there! i enjoy the sea and the mountains and the natural park there, it’s protected so it’s not so easy to access. The rocky coast and the Tramuntana is lovely”.
Behind the scenes
Palma Pictures has worked on more than 1000 television commercials and 25 feature films. In 2007 they began to cater to the world of Photo and Motion. In 2015 they serviced 170 shooting days, and 70 motion photo shoot days. For 2016 and beyond there’s ever more to play for though as Mallorca could expand its services and attract more productions if more incentives were given.
“Game of Thrones is shooting in Andalucia, they could be here instead”, says Germán with a hint of frustration in his voice. “If we could get some more institutional support and offer tax breaks to the producers then we would be able to get even more here I’m sure of it”. In the meantime more than 100 commercials are now being made every year on the island.
Spring is the busiest time of year leading up to the Cannes festival in May, so keep an eye out for a camera when you’re out and about, you never know!