Seven Reasons to Make Mexico City Your Next Location
Mexico has always been a favourite shoot location of film-makers and photographers, which is hardly surprising given its close proximity to Hollywood and New York, reliable weather, varied architecture, and versatile landscapes.
The country has been the backdrop for some of the world’s biggest blockbusters from Titanic to Spectre and Mexico City recently caught the eye of Star Wars producers, who reportedly toured the otherworldly caves and grottoes surrounding the city as potential locations for the highly anticipated Episode VIII and Rogue One.
While Mexico City is currently courting favour with the most discerning of tourists (thanks to an endorsement from the New York Times) it has been an ad industry favourite for decades, and at Habitant we have worked with many partners here, including Nike, Macys, Netflix, Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and Nine West, to name but a few.
So what makes it such an attractive location? The benefits are countless, but in the interests of efficiency, these are my top seven reasons why film-makers and photographers from around the world should be looking to produce in Mexico’s capital city.
1. Variety and Versatility
As the fifth largest city in the world, Mexico City offers an impressive variety of landscapes and architectural styles. Whether you’re looking for modern skyscrapers and award-winning architecture to colonial palaces, historical cathedrals, or tiny Hispanic back streets, Mexico City has it all.
The capital is blessed with the extraordinary chameleonic skill of being able to double for other parts of the world. Neighbourhoods like Colonia Roma are home to French and Italian style architecture, making it a perfect double for European cities (with the added bonus of guaranteed good weather). Close Latin ties and heritage also provides a true flavour of Hispanic and Caribbean cultures and locations from around the world.
2. Production Service: Quality and Heritage
After 80 years of experience, the film and photography industry in Mexico City is well established, with approximately more than 3000 TV spots and innumerable photoshoots made here every year.
Amongst the many still shoot benefits, Mexico City is home to the oldest and largest film studio in Latin America, Churubusco Studios, and has well-established transport links to Baja Studios - The aquatic filming facilities made famous by James Cameron’s Titanic.
The city also provides services for over 80 percent of the country’s film industry, and strong competition has led to an unrivalled level of service in the City. It is brimming with world-class film crews, art directors, set dressers and DOPs. Not to mention, modern labs, post-production facilities, and sound studios that offer end-to-end servicing. With the right partners you’ll never be wanting and having these local resources at your fingertips allows for high quality, smooth production process, for a fraction of the cost.
3. Fast Moving Tech
We’ve been experiencing constant technological expansion within the city and have a stellar telecommunications infrastructure. Mexico City is as advanced as any major city in Europe or North America and is one of the most technologically advanced locations in Latin America.
With the ability to mimic other locations in the region, it is by far the best place to shoot if you’re looking for a smooth pre-production, production and post process. With a short three-hour flight separating Mexico City from LA, there’s also easy access to the newest technology and importing specialist equipment is a rapid process.
4. Culture Boom
Full of historical splendour, Mexico City is ripe with rich traditions maintained and transformed by vibrant young talent and rooted in ancient Aztec culture.
On a personal level, having lived in cities all over the world, from Paris and London to Buenos Aires and Guadalajara, since I was 20 years old, I find Mexico City the most impressive by far. It has a really powerful dynamic where the arts are of paramount importance. Mexico City is famed for its art scene and its museums, which consequently has seen the film and advertising industry boom. Over the years I have come to see Mexico City as the Latin American NYC. When you come to shoot here you are surrounded by a vibrant scene that breathes and added element into any production.
However it’s not just me who is impressed by the capital’s culture, the creative heart of Latin America has recently become one of the world’s top travel destinations (as named by the New York Times).
5. Diverse Casting
Because the film industry has been an established sector in the city for so long, there is wide selection of casting options that means there’s no need to spend thousands shipping cast overseas.
80 percent of actors in Mexican agencies hail from other parts of world, meaning there is a diverse pool of ethnicities and characters that are available for casting. Employing local talent is more efficient than importing and housing international cast, not to mention, it’s far more cost-effective. If seeking an even wider casting pool, you can pop over to use resources and agencies in Miami, LA and New York, in just three hours.
Affordability is a big draw to shooting in Mexico City. Breath-taking locations, dependable infrastructure, and extraordinary talent are all available for a more competitive price than the US and much of Europe.
Because Mexico is now an ATA Carnet country, productions can also temporarily bring film equipment into the country without paying duties for up to 180 days. This includes camera equipment, props, electrical, sound equipment, décor, and costumes.
Working with a knowledgeable production partner in Mexico City is key for value. Those who are familiar and up to date with the processes, authorities and organisations will be able to ensure you take full advantage of the facilities that this country has to offer.
7. Secure Shoots
In the past some have worried about the security of Mexico City, due to world news coverage. As someone who has lived and worked in the city for over 15 years people often ask what the security is like in Mexico.
Today the city is no less dangerous than any other major hub. Knowing where to shoot and who to partner with has meant that I have never come across a dangerous situation on a shoot throughout my career.
Nevertheless, Mexico City actually has a very abundant and experienced talent pool of security services that are available when needed.
As with any shoot, the security and safety of equipment and crew is always of highest priority and key is to work with trusted local partners who have the know-how and logistics to take advantage of those services.
Enrique Santos is Managing Partner at Habitant
Habitant has been providing tailored film and shoot locations across Mexico, Chile, Argentina and the Caribbean for film and photography shoots for 12 years. It has partnered with clients including renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz, Louis Vuitton , Nike, Nine West, Bloomingdales, Saks, Anthropologie, Free People, American Eagle, Boden, Macy´s, Net a Porter, Anne Taylor, Chico´s. Advertising clients include Nike, Johnnie Walker, Chevy, Nissan, Ford, L´oréal, Dish Latino, Santander, Tecate, Tequila Cazadores, Adidas, Camel. Agencies include JWT, Publicis, Leo Burnet, Wing Latino, DRAFT, Publicis, Ogilvy, DRAFT FCB, Saatchi & Saatchi and more.
Genre: Fashion & Beauty , Luxury , Photography , Scenic