From Paris to Patagonia and everything in between, filmmakers are drawn to Chile for its other-worldly beauty, astonishing variety of natural locations, and ability to stand in for some of the world’s top-notch cities.
Chile in South America is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty. It is a treasure trove of locations beckoning filmmakers looking beyond the obvious shooting destinations. Its immense Pacific coastline is ideal for car commercials, delivering high drama and stunning sights.
The country is a popular place for productions to film opposite-season looks. You can find a great variety of locations including deserts and glaciers, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, beaches and a rugged coastline, islands and lighthouses, lakes and rivers, deep old-growth forests, rural settings, Spanish colonial looks, modern city architecture and American-looking suburbs. Locations also include the Atacama Desert, Andes Mountains, the colourful stilt village of Chiloe, Los Caracoles Road and Patagonia’s other-worldly landscapes of glaciers, mountains, islands and deserts.
Santiago is the capital of Chile and the main entry point by air. Visiting productions have used the city as a dead ringer for Chicago, New York and Paris. Within a two-hour drive from Santiago, you can find looks such as Himalayan mountains, Californian beaches, Mid-Western wheat fields and sandy deserts. The remotely located Easter Island, famous for its stone heads, is also part of Chile. Chile is less expensive than both Brazil and Argentina. Filming outside the city in faraway locations such as the Atacama Desert or Patagonia can add to the travel and transport budget.
The Chilean climate is determined by its latitude, proximity to the sea and altitude. The diverse climate of Chile ranges from the world’s driest desert in the north—the Atacama Desert—through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, humid sub-tropical in Easter Island, to an oceanic climate, including Alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and south. Chile within its borders hosts at least 10 major climatic subtypes.
Central and Southern Chile has a Mediterranean to temperate four-season climate. Summers are hot with long daylight hours. Falls are mild and rainy. Winters are rainy with heavy snowfalls in the Andes. Springs bring green fields and flowers in bloom. Farther south, in Patagonia, summers are mild with very long daylight hours and winters are very cold with very long nights. Easter Island is best avoided during the wet season, from May to June.
Chile’s infrastructure has improved a lot in recent years. The government offers tax credits in the form of cultural donations. This means that local private companies can donate up to two per cent of their net profits to productions. Alongside the tax credits, the government offers 19-per cent VAT/sales tax reimbursement.
Depending on the location, permits for filming are required. Shoots that involve setting up a tripod or laying cables require permits. Separate permits are required for each location you want to film in and may need to be obtained from several authorities. National parks and historic sites require additional permits. Drone filming is allowed but not in national parks.
When a project is approved, most production companies in Chile are able to fix the exchange rate for the project payments, eliminating the risk of exchange rate changes. Chile is the only country in South America which accepts ATA carnet, so dealing with Customs is simple. (ATA Carnet is an international Customs and export-import document. It is used to clear Customs without paying duties and import taxes on merchandise that will be re-exported within 12 months.)
Low-cost talent pool is a major draw for shooting in Chile and it is easy to find all ethnicities cast in the country.
Visas And Working Permits
Citizens from other countries must contact their local Chilean consulate in advance. Work permits: The Home Office (or Ministry of Interior) offers a diversity of work permits depending on each case for professionals that access Chile, being the most practical visa TA-4 for artists for a stay of 30 days or less, extendable, and visa TE-8 for professionals and technicians.