Lets not mince words...It was love at first sight.We had been hearing a lot about the Balearic gem and the eponymous Palma Pictures, so we thought wed hop down to check it out..
On Location with LBB in Palma de Majorca
Let’s not mince words...It was love at first sight.
We had been hearing a lot about the Balearic gem and the eponymous Palma Pictures, so we thought we’d hop down to check it out. For those of you not in the know, a “hop”, in air travel lingo, refers to a short jump over to an island. And that brings us to the first thing you should know about the place: it is no more than a two hour flight from any major European ad centre. Oh and there are great locations, 300 sunny days a year, a superb tourism infrastructure, and a world class studio facility and production service company in Palma Pictures. But we’ll get to all of that.
LBB spent a couple of days checking out the city and the island. And there is a lot to love about the place, as a visitor and as a production location. For starters, LBB (well, one of us) got lost and stranded in the middle of the island with no mobile, no money, no español, no train ticket and it was no problem. You see, Mallorca is safe and friendly. No high crime rates or violent attitudes towards foreigners. No political upheaval or racial tension or drug lords. Palma de Mallorca is competing for your production dollars with cities that are rife with the aforementioned problems, and dozens more.
The weather is hard to beat. LBB visited in November, the most heinous weather-wise of all the months for most of us in the northern hemisphere, and we found crystal clear blue skies, a sparkling sea and the sun gleaming on the caramel coloured capital city. And while most of the Camper-shod residents strolling the lanes of the old town were wearing coats and scarves, those out in the sun were down to bare legs and arms. We even spied the odd bikini top. This weather is available to those of you in Europe without crossing the International Date Line or the equator.
But all fun aside, this is about the work, isn’t it? LBB have visited a lot of different companies around the world and have seen a lot of set ups but rarely have we been so impressed with what we encountered at Palma Pictures. A lot of companies bang on about being a “one stop shop” but PP is the real deal. In fact, we were so blown away that we decided to add Palma to our list of LBB cities on the strength of the company alone. It’s like a whole city of possibilities in just one company. But don’t just take our word for it, Sookie Foster, executive producer at RSA adds “Mallorca is a pretty island and offers up a good variety locations . Palma Pictures were great to work with and I look forward to going back to shoot again.”
Palma Pictures offers full equipment services, including cameras, lighting, grip, transportation and more. There is a full time staff of 60 people, all of whom speak English and Spanish (other languages spoken include Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch and Finnish) and a wide range of local freelancers as well as specialized crew from the Spanish mainland. To sum up their capabilities, MD Mike Day says: “Palma Pictures has enough equipment for 3 daily units, crewing up is straightforward and we can easily bring in anything or anyone additional that is required. Our full-time team of 60 people represent 14 nationalities as we have a very wide client base and try to focus on their sensibilities. We like to offer the safety of understanding little nuances”. This team can service your entire shoot from production to location scouting to casting to technical requirements and even insurance.
PP also has a media company, Pathfinder, under their umbrella. CEO of Pathfinder, Stuart Speechly believes that his company deepens the PP offering: “Pathfinder is an evolution of the traditional production model. As the advertising landscape shifted, so did we. We offer a full spectrum media creation service to clients and their agencies. We handle everything from TVCs, print campaigns and interactive work all the way through to post production”.
In addition, PP offers a 4,500m2 studio complex with sound stages, workshops, casting and make up rooms, restaurant, production office, gymnasium, terraces and wifi throughout. The company also caters to photo shoots and has an Academy to increase the skill levels of the trained production professionals located on the island.
And we thought they were just a production service company.
Palma At A Glance
Palma is located in the south west of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera, in the Western Mediterranean. Palma is in the Bay of Palma, with rocky inlets to the south and tourist resorts to the east.
GMT +1. 1 hour ahead of London, 6 hours ahead of New York, 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 10 hours behind Sydney, 4.5 hours behind Mumbai, 7 hours behind Hong Kong, 2 hours behind Moscow, 4 hours ahead of Buenos Aires, 1 hour behind Cape Town and 8 hours behind Tokyo.
€ Euro currency conversion for Feb 21 2011: 1€ = ¥113.78 = £0.84 = $1.37
Mallorca has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, mild autumns and pleasant, cool winters with temperatures rarely drifting below zero. The average year-round temperature is 21 degrees centigrade. About 300 sunny days per year.
As Palma Pictures MD, Mike Day reports: “Peak season has historically been in the spring but we shoot 12 months a year. We put in weather cover flexibility and since we have our own team, this is easy and inexpensive.”
Recently Shot on Location
Recent projects: Palma Pictures provided production service for Left Bank Pictures - voted best independent UK production company at Broadcast Awards - for Sky’s first original series, “Mad Dogs”, starring Ben Chaplin, Max Beesley, Marc Warren, Philip Glenister and John Simm. Now shooting The Inbetweeners Movie for Bwark Productions/Young Films for C4.
Getting There & Getting Around
The airport is located a mere 8 kms east of the city. It is the third busiest airport in Spain and approximately two hours from most European cities. You can get around central Palma well on foot, by hiring one of the pedal bikes now available www.palmaonbike.com or by taking a taxi. It's best to arrange the taxi through your hotel if possible so as to provide an exact address. Plaça d'Espanya is the transport hub for the island. Estació Intermodal caters to train and bus passengers going anywhere in Mallorca while nextdoor is the station for the Ferrocarril de Sóller, an electric train that runs from Palma to Sóller in the northwest of the island. It is an historic train and a major tourist
attraction. There is also a city bus line that does a loop around the old town and a metro consisting of nine stops.
The locations on offer are very diverse, ranging from mountains to seaside and everything in between. There is no other place with such a wide range of locations in relation to size. This diversity means Mallorca offers an entire continent on an island which is a huge draw for filmmakers. Mike Day, MD of Palma Pictures, agrees saying that “[they] will have a thousand bids this year and 80% will be location based”.
The main business in Mallorca is tourism, making it a great place to stay while you’re shooting. There are a number of fabulous boutique hotels as well as something for every taste and budget. The restaurants and bars are plentiful and top drawer. If you want to unwind after your shoot, or treat your team or client to a jolly, then there are loads of options available. The island is safe and the locals are used to filming and are welcoming. Check the eat, drink and sleep sections for local recommendations in our Palma section.
Why Shoot There
Climate, sunny days, beautiful light year round, proximity to European centres and excellent airport and transportation, local tourism infrastructure, local crews and talent, studios, all equipment available, stunning and varied locations which are easily accessed from the city.
Stuart Speechly of Pathfinder sums it up: “There are no official benefits for bringing your commercial work to Mallorca but we work closely with the tourist departments, film commission and local authorities to make filmmaking as easy and as cost- effective as possible. The island is film friendly and once you combine this with its short travel times from most European advertising centres and experience the professional capabilities and huge diversity of this place, you quickly see that shooting here makes obvious sense.” We’ll say!
Palma Pictures estimate that their work comes from the UK (30%), Germany (20%), France (15%), Spain & Italy (10%), Scandinavia (10%), Eastern Europe (10%), Japan, Russia and North America.
One of the reasons the locals are easygoing about filming is the good relationship with the local business community. As Speechly from Pathfinder tells us: “[The market is] not saturated and hassled with film crews”. Palma Pictures has forged strong ties with the city, providing employment opportunities and growing the skilled workforce through its Academy.
We wanted to find out a bit more about Palma Pictures, so we spoke to MD Mike Day and to Stuart Speechly, CEO of Pathfinder Media, a media creation company that operates under the PP umbrella.
LBB: Tell us a bit about your company and what makes it unique?
: Palma Pictures has a different business model. We are a hybrid between services, studio and rental. Due to our significant investment in people and infrastructure, we offer a much deeper “value add” than a smaller outfit. Our scale provides security and means we always deliver. We are also very agile on pricing. Our focus is to match expectation and budget.
LBB: Any particular job that stands out in your mind that you would like people to see/find out about?
MD: Most recently: MJZ “Cheesy Strings” and a Brahma Beer Spot shot in Barcelona. And, of course, production service for Left Bank Pictures for Sky’s first original series, “Mad Dogs”, starring Ben Chaplin, Max Beesley, Marc Warren, Philip Glenister and John Simm.
: We recently shot an American and Pan-European campaign for Lysol (known as Dettol in Europe). We shot with Australian director David Denneen out of Film Graphics in Australia. David is phenomenal to work with as is his executive producer, Anna Fawcett. David's very unassuming, a gentleman but damn he knows his craft. Had a great DP on board, Matt Stewart, who works often with David. It was a global campaign, 7 day shoot, 2 cameras, an interactive unit, behind the scene filming, stills, motion control, huge cast, kids & animals, endless packs and trying to avoid sounding sycophantic - a great American client! - it was all going on. The end result was really fantastic according to the response we've had so far.
LBB: Are your clients mainly production companies or do you work direct with agencies too?
MD: Pathfinder, our media creation company, was designed to impact ad spend for major brands. It’s geared towards brands so we are working with clients. We have 300 directors on call. Our focus is on creating sustainable relationships with partners.
LBB: Do you have your own directors or work with others?
SS: We have no roster of directors. Instead, we access a global pool of talent in line with the incoming creative requirements. We also have some very strong links with production companies in Europe and around the world with whom we couple on productions.
LBB: Does a production company have to work differently nowadays with interactive, integrated, etc. projects?
SS: Pathfinder is a media creation company and was set up with the intention to handle the cross platform media requirements of modern creative. On several TVCs we have also shot print and interactive spots as well. Of course a majority of TVCs now find their way to the web either via clients, agencies and of course the companies that produce them.
LBB: What are the insurance ins and outs? Is this something that is sorted by a local production company?
SS: With our respective backgrounds in the UK and European production industry we understand the importance of advertising insurance in production work to all parties concerned. On a purely practical level, broader insurance such as public & employers’ liability are provided locally whilst all other coverage is provided by global insurance companies.
LBB: Do politics in your region have any effect on shooting? How about censorship? What, if any, are the issues?
SS: On a national level, very seldom. There is the occasional protest but we warn clients well in advance of this to avoid any issues surrounding production. On a regional level Palma Pictures, our partners, have a strong and well established relationship with local government and their open dialogue policy keeps us well informed of any pending issues, including censorship an all and any other legal revisions within Spain and the EU.