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Mexico

Mexico Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Mexico? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Mexico? See below for an introduction to Mexico locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, fringes and premiums, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Mexico Film Locations

Mexico offers a wealth of film locations including megacities, Spanish colonial architecture, magnificent cave systems, desert cactus landscapes, Pacific and Caribbean waters, beaches, vineyards, waterfalls, jungles, and much more…

Northern Mexico. The Baja Peninsula is famous for its surf beaches and desert landscapes. Tijuana is the largest city in the region. Valle de Guadalupe is famous for its vineyards. Cabo San Lucas is a popular resort city in Baja California Sur.

Sinaloa, known for its cartel, is also in this region. The resort city of Mazatlan is located in Sinaloa.

Durango is the “Land of Cinema”, having had hosted over 120 film productions such as Ben-Hur, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Predator, and many more.

Copper Canyon with the Chihuahua Pacific Railway passing through offers visiting productions a spectacular arid landscape.

The Cave of Crystals in Naica has some of the largest crystal structures ever found. Note, permission to film at this location can take up to a year.

The cities of Monterrey and Saltillo are also in northern Mexico.

Central Mexico. One of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City is a patchwork of rolling, endless neighbourhoods offering everything from colonial looks, to urban slums, to contemporary architecture. Locations of note include Chapultepec Park, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, Zócalo, National Palace, National Auditorium, Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo Soumaya, and Frida Kahlo Museum.

Teotihuacan’s Sun and Moon Pyramids are spectacular Mesoamerican ruins only a 1 hour drive from Mexico City.

The Xico Volcanic Crater lies 40km south of Mexico City.

Querétaro is another major business centre in central Mexico.

San Miguel de Allende is an impressive colonial city and home to artists from all over the world.

Guanajuato City is known for its colonial looks, mansions, extensive network of underground driving tunnels and a disturbing mummies museum.

The Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosí, is the largest known cave shaft in the world with a 370 meter (1,214 ft) drop. Drone filming and base jumping into the cave are currently not permitted, although some accommodations may be made. Rappelling into the cave is still permitted.

Western Mexico. The vibrant Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city.

Jalisco is home to the resort city of Puerto Vallarta and the picturesque beach towns of Sayulita and Yelapa.

Off the coast of Nayarit is the bomb-created Marieta Islands National Park.

The Island of Mexcaltitán is the Venice of Mexico.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán is also in western Mexico.

Southern Mexico. In the southwest, Chiapas is known for the Palenque ruins and Agua Azul waterfalls. Acapulco is a storied resort city in southern Mexico. Puerto Escondido is an under-explored bohemian beachside location. Oaxaca, Mexico’s food capital, is also known to have one of the best Dia de Los Muertos festivals in Mexico.

In the southeast, you can find beautiful Caribbean white sand beaches all the way down the Mayan Riviera. Cozumel is popular for underwater photography with its coral reefs and rich variety of tropical fish. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its natural beauty. Cenotes offer beautiful swimming hole looks above ground as well as spectacular underwater photography (including the affect created when fresh water floats on top of salt water). Progreso Pier in the Yucatan is the longest pier in the world. The world famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza are also in the Yucatan. Nearby Coba ruins are also very impressive and more film-friendly in terms of less tourists. Tulum Mayan ruins sit against a backdrop of white sand beaches and the azure Caribbean sea.

Eastern Mexico. Puebla is an impressive artistic colonial city only 2 hours drive from Mexico City. The highest mountain in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba, is in Veracruz. The Tolantongo Caves are located in the state of Hidalgo.

In terms of agricultural looks Mexico has corn, wheat, sugarcane, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, grapes, coffee, and livestock to name a few.

Mexico has hosted a long list of impressive international films including Apocalypto, Dune, Predator, Resident Evil: Extinction, The Magnificent Seven, Titanic and many more.

Mexico Film Location Permits

Mexico can be quite slow and bureaucratic when it comes to permitting. Most permits are arranged on the local level and permission from several departments may be required. Depending on the location and specifics of the shoot, permits can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months. Allow as much time as possible for shoots requiring exclusive use of public space. For shoots in national parks or historic sites, allow at least a month lead time for permitting. At present, Mexico is open to drone filming in most unrestricted areas.

Filming Pre-Columbian ruins (Mayan, Aztec, Teotihuacan, etc.) is possible but you need to go through the rigorous approval process with the board that governs these protected areas. The process can take up to a month. There is no fee to submit the permit application. Permission to film at Mayan ruins is typically not granted for commercial productions. If it is granted for a commercial project, it is usually only for general shots of the location, not for any action taking place with actors or presenters. Permission is more likely to be granted if the shoot is for the promotion or benefit of Mexico tourism or culture. Guatemala and Belize offer easier access to filming ruins however everything else must come from abroad, which can considerably add to the costs of filming.

Please contact us for more location specific information.

When To Shoot?

The climate of Mexico varies considerably depending on the region and time of the year. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Mexico is home to many colourful fiestas held throughout the year including:

• Carnaval in February / March.
• Semana Santa in March / April.
• Guelaguetza Festival in July.
• Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) in November.
• Bullfighting, bull leaping (recortadores), and charreada events take place throughout the year.
• Lucha Libre contests take place throughout the year.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Mexico.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. The USD is strong against the Mexican Peso. In general, filming in Mexico is much less expensive than filming in the US. Mexico is a large country and many locations require extensive travel. Although some crew and equipment can be found around the country, Mexico City is the main service centre. Mexico City is a large, sprawling city that can take several hours to reach the city limits. That said, our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. Mexico offers tax incentives for co-productions of feature films. Visiting productions are eligible for VAT exemption. Some cities and states also offer their own incentives and discounts for films shot locally. For more information visit COMEFILM.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Mexico has a small but good pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Mexican crews are very experienced in servicing international productions. They are hard working, resourceful and speak fluent English. Both union and non-union options are available. Must use union crews for feature films. Can use non-union talent for all other media. Mexico is a short flight from major US production centres should you ever need to access those crews.

Contact us if you are looking for a Mexico City or Cancun based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Mexico.

Talent. Both union and non-union options are available. Must use union talent for feature films and TV shows. Can use non-union talent for all other media. Mexico offers mainly Mestizo (mixed Caucasian and Amerindian) and International-Latin looks. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.

Fringes. No hidden extras for non-union.

Premiums. Mexico works on a 10 hour day. Non-union premiums are 10% extra after 10 hours. Union premiums are 10% extra for the next 2 hours, 20% for the next 2 hours and 30% extra after that. Night shoots are set on a 8 hour day with the above premiums applying. Shoots on weekends and holidays are subject to negotiable premiums. Mexico requires a 12 hour turn around.

Mexico Film Equipment

Equipment. Mexico offers a range of standard and specialised equipment including 35mm and HD cameras, underwater housing, grip equipment including Technocrane, and a range of lighting packages.

For productions looking to bring in film equipment, Mexico is an ATA carnet country. Permission to bring in gear can also be obtained from your local Mexican consulate. The process generally takes about a month in the US or about a week in Europe.

Communication. Web posted casting, scouting and videoconferencing.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction. Art department heads are of an international standard. Construction is inexpensive and of a high quality.

Studios and Backlots. Baja Studios is a selfcontained production facility originally built for the film Titanic. The studio complex includes sound studios, stages, water tanks, production offices, dressing rooms, wardrobe facilities, and a backlot.

Post Production. All facilities exist in Mexico City, including a film lab.

Visas & Work Permits

Crews travelling on passports from western countries can enter visa-free for stay of up to 180 days. There are no special work permits required to film in Mexico.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Mexico has a very good system of roads with toll roads being of the highest international standard. Domestic airlines cover the country extensively. Many international airlines service flights to Mexico.

Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Mexico City, Cancun (Mayan Riviera), and other parts of Mexico. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments. Hotels of note include:

Camino Real Polanco

Final Notes

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice. Our Mexican fixer / producer organises the appropriate level of security based on the specific needs of your shoots.

Down Time. Mexico has a vibrant nightlife with diverse cuisine and plenty of natural and cultural wonders for visiting productions to enjoy in their down time. In fact, Mexico’s diversity of local cuisine, is only second to that of China.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Mexico, please see below:

Hire Mexico Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Mexico, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Mexico, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.