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El Salvador

El Salvador 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 El Salvador? 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 El Salvador? See below for an introduction to El Salvador locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

El Salvador Film Locations

El Salvador is Central American country known for its volcanoes, national parks, cloud forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, black sand surf beaches, mountains, Mayan ruins, pretty villages with colourful markets, and Spanish colonial architecture.

Agricultural film locations include coffee, cotton, corn and sugarcane plantations. El Salvador is also known for its textile factories.

Film locations can be divided into the following departments: Ahuachapán, Cabañas, Chalatenango, Cuscatlán, La Libertad, La Paz, La Unión, Morazán, San Miguel, San Salvador, San Vicente, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, and Usulután.

El Salvador is Central America’s smallest country so distances between locations are short.

San Salvador is the capital, the main entry point by air, and main production centre where crew and equipment are based. Film locations of note include Libertad Plaza, National Palace, National Theatre, Museum of Art of El Salvador, and the Metropolitan Cathedral Of San Salvador.

El Boquerón National Park is located on San Salvador Volcano, just outside of  the city of San Salvador. Cerro Verde National Park includes the volcanos Cerro Verde, Izalco, and Santa Ana, which is the country’s highest active volcano. El Imposible National Park offers impressive views of distant active volcanos. Montecristo National Park is known for its cloud forests.

The Sierra Madre de Chiapas is a major mountain range that crosses into El Salvador.

Black sand surf beaches of note include Playa El Tunco, La Libertad, Punta Roca and El Zonte. The beaches of Costa del Sol and San Juan del Gozo are known for their white sands and calm waters.

Lago de Coatepeque is a large crater lake in the east part of the Coatepeque Caldera.

The Río Lempa is a major river that runs through the country.

El Tazumal is a Mayan ruins location.

Concepción de Ataco is a pretty village with a colourful markets.

Santa Ana is the country’s second largest city. It is known for the neo-gothic Cathedral, the ruins of the old School of Arts, and the National Theatre of Santa Ana.

Suchitoto is a town known for its Spanish colonial architecture. Just outside of the town you can find the beautiful Los Tercios waterfalls.

Tamanique waterfalls are another beautiful film location.

The Ruta de Las Flores is a winding 20 mile route that goes through coffee plantations and brightly coloured colonial towns. The route is best known for the colourful wildflowers that spring up between November and February. Salcoatitán, Nahuizalco, Apaneca, Ataco and Juayua are the main towns along the Ruta de Las Flores.

Ciudad Barrios prison houses some of the world’s most violent gang members.

El Salvador Film Location Permits

Depending on the location, permission to film needs to be sought on the local level from community groups (including gangs), government departments, or both. There are no specific permits required for b-roll or drone filming. Shoots involving street closures are possible but need more time to arrange. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

The climate varies from tropical in the lowlands to temperate in the mountains. Otherwise there is very little seasonal change. The hot, rainy season runs from May to October. Almost all of the annual rainfall occurs during this time with many mountain roads becoming impassible. The rainy season is the best time to film for surf conditions. The dry season runs from November to April. This is the best time to film for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Semana Santa processions and festivities take place in April. The Panchimalco Flower and Palm Festival is a colourful event celebrated in May. San Salvador hosts the vibrant August Festival. The Balls of Fire Festival also takes place in August. The San Miguel Carnival takes place in November.

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

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. El Salvador trades in the USD. Locations, local talent, support crew, and locally produced goods are inexpensive. The need to bring in all key crew and equipment adds to the costs of shooting in El Salvador. Our Salvadoran fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. There are no tax incentives for foreign feature films or commercials shooting in El Salvador.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. El Salvador has a very small pool of local directors, videographers and stills photographers. Local crews have limited experience and most do not speak fluent English. It is best to bring in your key crew from abroad.

Contact us if you are looking for a 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 for your shoot in El Salvador.

Talent day rates and buyouts are very reasonable and negotiated on a personal basis. Casting facilities are undeveloped in El Salvador so street casting is often required. El Salvador offers mainly Mestizo looks. There is a small local European and Palestinian population. There is also a small indigenous population comprising mainly of Lenca, Pipil and Maya peoples. All other talent looks need to be cast abroad.

El Salvador Film Equipment

Equipment. El Salvador has some standard grip, lighting and camera gear available locally including Alexa and RED cameras and a range of drones. Bringing gear into the country is an easy process. Our local fixer will require a gear list (including serial numbers) and will put together a letter visiting crews will present to customs when entering the country.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art Department and construction is very limited in El Salvador. Key crew are best brought in from abroad.

Studios and backlots at present do not exist in El Salvador.

Post Production. No post production facilities exist at present.

Visas & Work Permits

There is no specific work permit or visa required to film in El Salvador. Crews travelling on Western passports can obtain a tourist card on arrival at the airport or seaport. The card is valid for 90 days.

To ensure speedy passage in and out of El Salvador with all of your equipment, our Salvadoran fixer provide you with an additional letter to present to customs and immigration. For this you will need to send the fixer a project synopsis, passport information pages, and a gear list.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation. El Salvador has a relatively well maintained network of paved roads that cover most of the country. 4WD transport is best for shoots in rural areas during the rainy season. Our Salvadoran fixer is able to arrange that and all other transport needs. Several international airlines service flights to San Salvador.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in San Salvador include:

Villa del Angel Hotel
InterContinental Real San Salvador
Hilton Princess

Please contact us for corporate rates.

Final Notes

Down Time. Try the national dish called Pupusa.

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice. Parts of El Salvador remain very dangerous. Our local fixer will arrange permission to film with local gangs, as well as the appropriate level of security. In some cases it’s better to have more security, in other cases it’s better to be discrete and have less.

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 El Salvador, please see below:

Hire El Salvador Production Support & Shooting Crew

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

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in El Salvador, 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.