Filming in Greece: A Beginner’s Guide

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By Jim Ballas

Whether filming an action-packed historical fiction or a documentary about archaeological landmarks, Greece is an ideal place for foreign films to be shot. In a period where Hollywood film budgets are steadily increasing and location shoots are becoming common, Greek Hollywood Reporter takes a look at what it takes to film in Greece. For this article, we will look at two types of production: assisted or unassisted production.

With assisted production, the movie producers will hire a production location service. Two such organizations are CL Productions and Film Greece. These organizations provide any services necessary for production, from casting extras to gathering permits for historical sites. CL Productions has been hired for such features as “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” Film Greece has worked for many television shows, including the History Channel’s “Human Weapon” and many Discovery Channel documentaries, including “Atlantis: Is It Real?”

While production location services seem to be a one-stop shop for all your filming needs, they are generally used by smaller-budgeted productions in order to keep costs down. A big-budget film would usually go with an unassisted production, filming without the assistance of a Greek location service.

In order to film without a location service, it is essential to first get shooting permits. There are multiple types of shooting permits in Greece and each one comes from a different location. In order to get a standard shooting permit, which works for most locations, producers must go through the Ministry of Press and Mass Media. According to the Ministry’s website, “the granting is based on the filming script which is submitted to the competent independent committee. The license permits the filming of scenes at sites other than those where a special permit is required.”

Special permits are required to film at archaeological sites, military bases or to film aerial shots or shots requiring the closing of public places. The most common of these special permits are the permits for historical sites. In order to get this permit, producers have to go through the Ministry of Culture. These permits allow supervised shooting in archaeological locations.

Once permits are bought, producers can focus on the production itself. The Hellenic Film Commission Office is a great resource for producers. They can assist with telling you how to get permits as well as locate other resources for production. On their website alone, they have contacts for Greek production companies, television studios, unions and even a network of other state-funded institutions, such as the Greek Film Centre and the Mediterranean Film Institution. These other institutions are great resources, both for Greek and foreign filmmakers.

Filming in Greece can add beauty and history to a film, so it is not difficult to imagine why filmmakers choose Greece. To find out more information, check out the following websites:

CL Productions: http://guide.clproductions.gr/en/

Film Greece: http://www.filmgreece.com/

Greek Ministry of Press and Mass Media: http://www.minpress.gr/minpress/en/index.htm

Hellenic Film Commission Office: http://www.hfco.gr/

Greek Film Centre: http://www.gfc.gr/

A-Rod, Modonna, Kravitz and the "Greek" Cynthia

A-Rod and wife Cynthia Rodriguez (Skurtis)

All this names would have never been featured here if Alex Rodriguez’s wife wasn’t Greek-American. As the NY Post and Daily news have reported, the Baseball star and his wife Cynthia Rodriguez (Skurtis) are not together anymore. In fact the tabloids went one step further to write that the baseball player is dating Madonna and Cynthia is having an affair with singer Lenny Kravitz. The last one has denied the rumors.

Cynthia states on her MySpace page:

Greetings all. I’m Cynthia Rodriguez (née Scurtis). Also known as C-Rod. Before meeting Alex, I was a high school psychology teacher in Miami and attending college to continue my Masters. I come from a Greek-American family and grew up Orthodox. I met Alex many years ago in 1998, at a Body and Soul gym in Coconut Grove, Florida.”

Cynthia’s grandfather founded the first Greek orthodox church in Florida.

A-Rod, Modonna, Kravitz and the “Greek” Cynthia

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A-Rod and wife Cynthia Rodriguez (Skurtis)

All this names would have never been featured here if Alex Rodriguez’s wife wasn’t Greek-American. As the NY Post and Daily news have reported, the Baseball star and his wife Cynthia Rodriguez (Skurtis) are not together anymore. In fact the tabloids went one step further to write that the baseball player is dating Madonna and Cynthia is having an affair with singer Lenny Kravitz. The last one has denied the rumors.

Cynthia states on her MySpace page:

Greetings all. I’m Cynthia Rodriguez (née Scurtis). Also known as C-Rod. Before meeting Alex, I was a high school psychology teacher in Miami and attending college to continue my Masters. I come from a Greek-American family and grew up Orthodox. I met Alex many years ago in 1998, at a Body and Soul gym in Coconut Grove, Florida.”

Cynthia’s grandfather founded the first Greek orthodox church in Florida.

NY Based DJ Brings Forth Slamming Tracks

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In the field of music it is a tough world to break into let alone the complex area of DJing. Yet one individual has harnessed this area so well he has become a key player in his field. Young Chris “The Greek” Panaghi has taken the DJ scene by storm, from his beginning years doing small parties to headlining the biggest venues in the music business. He started with the most simplified equipment which he taught himself how to master and became a household name in the business. The Greek’s success has open many doors and enabled him to create his own recording studio where he produces music.

Chris soon decided to produce his own musical style and flavor and market it. He began his climb in the late 80’s when dance music was very much in demand. Chris worked most of the clubs across the NY-Tri State area. With his unique style and impressive work his name soon was being passed onto the big marquee artists. Chris has produced remixes for many top artists such as Marc Anthony, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Michael Jackson as well as countless others. Part of what Chris does in the studio is working with artists and their songs to remix them with his certain musical style that fits the dance market. His own music is a reflection of what he produces for others.

Recently, Chris “The Greek” Panaghi, is back in the studio again working on a new compilation entitled “HANDS UP: ANTHEMS” which is due to be released by JRA Music Group. This non-stop Mix CD compilation features fifteen slamming tracks including the massive club anthems from Linda O, South Side Crew, Galaxy 68 and Collage many of which have never been available before on any commercial dance compilation.

“I’m really excited about this upcoming release and feel it’s perfect timing for the summer season.”

Judging from Chris Panaghi’s past success this young entrepreneur is due for another chart busting release. The culmination of various dance artists on this CD gives dance music enthusiasts what they want; the hits and places it on the cutting edge of the electronic music scene. He’s nailed some incredible exclusive tracks here, packed with powerful big room bangers!

Just recently Chris released his album “Now’s The Time” with five songs charting on the Billboard Dance Club Play Chart including two that reached the number 5 slot. Chris has always reinvented himself and his music and that is why he has longevity in the music industry. The Greek has infiltrated the European market with his cutting edge sound and managed to acquire a massive fan base in countries like England, Germany, Greece and France.

“Being in this business as long as I have you need to stay on top of your game. You need to be true to yourself and give the consumer what they yearn for.”

In a day and age where everyone seems to be a producer or a remixer Chris Panaghi stays on top of the playing field. It seems that his creative juices never seem to dry out as The Greek has always prided himself on developing and working with talented new artists. Judging from his past accomplishments there is no doubt this new release will be another success.

“Working on this compilation was exciting and fulfilling. I really enjoy all the tracks and talented artists that are a part of this project.”

The upcoming CD “HANDS UP: ANTHEMS” will be in-stores nationally on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. In the world of big room trance, Chris Panaghi has been compared to Tiesto’s brilliance as an artist, producer, remixer and as evidenced here a master at finding the most incredible new tracks before anyone else!

Closing Night of LAGFF

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By Savas Abadsidis
Photo Credit: Alex Vacca

After five days, with an opening night gala at the Egyptian
Theatre featuring a fully restored version of Zorba the Greek, the 2nd
Annual LA Greek Film Festival came to a resounding and successful
close last night with a gala at the Pacific Design Center in West
Hollywood.

Attending the event last night was a who’s who of prominent
Greek-Americans most notably music superstar Sakis Rouvas. Frequent
television host and journalist Debbie Matentopolous introduced the
film, beginning with comments questioning why the very people who
invented show business, “Ever heard of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Homer–not
the one from the Simpons,” had to wait so long for a film festival in
the heart of the entertainment capital, “I mean, two thousand years
and this is only the second one?,” she added.

She went on to introduce the two people who made the film festival
possible in the first place, Program directors Ersi Danou and Angeliki
Giannakopoulos, as well as Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras, Consul General
of Greece in Los Angeles, and Sid Ganis, President of the Academy of
Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences among others. Other stars in
attendance included My Big Fat Greek Weddings’ Michael Constantine.

Featuring the film Little Greek Godfather, directed by Olga Malea and
based on a screenplay by Malea and Nicholas Papandreou, the crowd was
treated to one of the best films to come out of Greece in recent memory.
Based on the autobiographical short story by Nicholas Papendreou, son
of former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Little Greek Godfather,
tells the story of young Alex, the son of a prominent Greek politician
who in the summer of 1963 is sent in lieu of his father to Crete to
baptize the daughter of a local Democratic party official and deliver
the speech his father was to give while his father heads to Paros to
stem party opposition. A funny, sentimental and moving film, Little
Greek Godfather was greeted with much praise by the audience and led
into the Orpheus Awards Ceremony which bestowed the best film award to
“Eduart” and the best documentary film award to “Resurface”.

WATCH THE VIDEO

Gena Rowlands and friends pay tribute to John Cassavetes

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The 2nd annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival held a tribute to honor the collaboration between director/actor John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands on Friday, June 27 at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Director Peter Bogdanovich moderated a panel discussion which featured Gena Rowlands, actor Seymour Cassel, producer Al Ruban, and composer Bo Harwood. Following the discussion, there was a screening of “Faces”, the 1968 film directed by Cassavetes which starred John Marley, Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel.

John Cassavetes was a Greek American director and actor who is credited with inspiring the American independent film industry with the release of his film “Faces”, which was one of the first independently financed films to receive Academy Award nominations. Gena Rowlands explained that her husband’s interest in filmmaking was “in reality and what people say in their homes to each other.”
“Faces” explores the relationship between a married couple, played by John Marley and Lynn Carlin, who decide to separate after 14 years of marriage. Marley seeks the company of a young professional escort played by Gena Rowlands, and Carlin spends her time with a hippie cowboy played by Seymour Cassel. When Rowlands first saw “Faces”, she described it as “so stunningly different and honest… and not an easy picture to watch.”
The panel remarked that Cassavetes’ films were all personal and intimate stories about people. John Cassavetes himself said in a brief montage that was shown at the beginning of the presentation that he wanted his characters to “analyze love… the rest of the stuff doesn’t interest me. I have a one-track mind for love.”
In his own life, Cassavetes found love with Gena Rowlands. They met in New York City when they were both young actors in the 1950s. They married in 1954 and had three children, Nick, Alexandra and Zoe. Since Cassavetes passed away in 1989 at the age of 59, his film company, Faces Distribution, is overseen by Gena Rowlands and Julian Schlossberg. All three Cassavetes children are involved in filmmaking.
Director Peter Bogdanovich said Cassavetes had an “extraordinary understanding of women” as evidenced in many of his films including “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974) which Rowlands starred in and calls her favorite movie. Rowlands explained that just because an actor is playing a realistic role does not mean it is based on that person’s own life. She plays her characters as if she is their “defense lawyer”. Her acting on screen is driven by her need to defend her character no matter if they are right or wrong.
The panel agreed that in addition to all his talent, Cassavetes was a truly caring and compassionate person– a rarity in show business. Composer Bo Harwood said that when Cassavetes liked what you did, “he empowered you.” Producer Al Ruban, who worked on every film that Cassavetes made, said Cassavetes “changed my life. It was a privilege.” Actor Seymour Cassel, who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in “Faces”, said “I was lucky to work with the best.”
Bogdanovich described Cassavetes as the “only director of his generation that could be called a poet”. A collection of five of Cassavetes’ independent films was released on DVD in 2004 called “John Cassavetes–Five Films” by The Criterion Collection.


Red Carpet – Los Angeles Greek Film Festival

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Stars come out for the Opening Night of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival

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Photo Credit: Alex Vacca
The 2nd Annual Los Angeles Greek Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, June 25 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood with a first-time screening of a newly restored print of Anthony Quinn starring in “Zorba the Greek”. Many Greek celebrities in the entertainment business came to show their support.
Tony Thomopoulos, former head of United Artists, said he thought that a Greek film festival like this one was very important to allow “second, third and fourth generation Greek Americans to reconnect with their heritage.” Former Democratic nominee for the governor of California, Phil Angelides said the film festival was an opportunity to “enjoy our culture, history and cinematic achievements.”
Actress Molly Ringwald, former “Brat Pack” star of “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club”, attended with her husband, novelist Panio Gianopoulos. Ringwald said her Greek connection has come full circle, since the first movie she ever made, “Tempest” (1982), was filmed in Greece in Peloponneus, and then it turns out her husband’s family is from Peloponneus.
Greek pop singing sensation, Sakis Rouvas, was in attendance to promote the U.S. premiere of his movie, “Alter Ego”, where he plays a rock star dealing with fame and the struggles that go with it. “Alter Ego” was filmed in Greece and is the first acting role for Rouvas who plays Stefanos, the guitarist in a rock band.
Although not appearing in any films in the festival, actor Alex Lyras, starring in the upcoming film “Mona”, actress Marina Sirtis, Commander Deanna Troi from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and Daytime Emmy Nominated actor Thaao Penghlis came to show their support for the Greek community as well.
Festival Directors, Angeliki Giannakopoulos and Ersi Danou, explain that the 2008 festival differs from 2007 with the addition of a fifth day of films. Giannakopolous added that this year the “documentary section is really phenomenal.” Topics of documentary films to be screened at the festival include the Greek fires of 2007, the history of Greek immigration to the United States, and the struggles of a paralyzed man.
The festival runs through Sunday, June 29, ending with a screening of “Little Greek Godfather”, based on an autobiograhical short story by Nicholas Papandreou, son of former Prime Minister of Greece, Andreas Papandreou. For the LAGFF film and event schedule, visit http://www.lagreekfilmfestival.org/

The Comedy Stylings of Tina Fey

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By Jim Ballas

“30 Rock” will make its third season premiere on NBC on October 30, 2008. This television show has met with a lot of success, and it can be attributed to its talented writer, producer and star: Tina Fey.

Tina Fey was born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a very Greek area, in 1970. Her father is German and Scottish, but her mother, Zenobia Xenakes, is of Greek descent. Fey credits her family for inspiring her to do comedy as they would watch countless comedy movies and television shows.

After attending the University of Virginia, Fey moved to Chicago to pursue a comedy career. In 1994, she joined the cast of “The Second City,” a well-known improvisational comedy troop that has other famous alumni such as Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Alan Arkin and Steve Carell.

In 1997, Fey became a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” and in 1999, she became the show’s head writer. She was the first woman to be the head writer of SNL. In 2000, she became a cast member, and she continued to write and act in SNL until she left the show in 2006.

While Fey was on SNL, she pitched a television show idea to NBC about the workings of a sketch comedy show. That idea would become “30 Rock,” which premiered on October 11, 2006. Fey is an executive producer, writer, and the lead actress of “30 Rock,” which takes a lot of inspiration from her days on SNL.

In the show’s short run, it has been given many awards. “30 Rock” won an Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Comedy Series. Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey have both won Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globe Awards for their performances. The show has also won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series in 2008. The common thing in all these awards is Tina Fey.

“30 Rock” has been a great success for NBC and will be a staple of their new Fall lineup. Make sure to catch the series premiere, and our Greek girl Tina Fey, on October 30, 2008 on NBC.

Creece to Receive Entry Forms for2008 Foreign Language Film Oscar

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Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mailed Foreign Language Film award entry forms to 96 countries (including Greece), facilitating their submissions for the 81st Academy Awards®.

To qualify for the 2008 Awards, a film must be released in the submitting country between October 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008, and be publicly screened in 35mm or 70mm film or in a qualifying digital cinema format for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater.

The dialogue track must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English.  Accurate English subtitles are required.

Entry forms and film prints must be received at the Academy by Wednesday, October 1, 2008.  Only one picture will be accepted from each country.

In 2007 the Austrian film “The Counterfeiters” won the Oscar over a field of nominated films from Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland and Russia.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.  The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Unfortunately during the past years Greece had sent films that either were not in the finalists or were not complying with the academy’s rules in regard to the foreign film category.