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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 landscapes, Pacific and Caribbean waters, beaches, vineyards, waterfalls, jungles, and much more.

In terms of agricultural looks Mexico has corn, wheat, sugarcane, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, grapes, coffee, and livestock to name a few. For travel and food productions, Mexico offers an impressive diversity of regional cuisines.

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

Baja California

Includes the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Baja California. The Baja Peninsula is famous for its surf beaches and desert landscapes. Tijuana is the largest city in the region and a popular day trip destination for visitors from California. Valle de Guadalupe is famous for its vineyards. For local fare, head to the beach for a cerveza and tacos de pescado.

Baja California Sur. Cabo San Lucas is a popular resort city in Baja California Sur. Cabo Pulmo National Park is known for its underwater photography. Mobula rays can be seen leaping out of the water in the Sea of Cortez. Isla Espíritu Santo is a beautiful arid island with azure seas. Stuffed clams are the local culinary specialty.

Northern Mexico

Includes the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.

Chihuahua. 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 in the Cave of Crystals can take up to a year. The Dunas de Samalayuca double well for Sahara desert looks. Cascada Basaseachi and Cascada de Cusárare are impressive waterfalls. Chihuahua City is know for its historic buildings including the Palacio de Gobierno, Chihuahua cathedral, and the Belle Epoque-era Quinta Gameros building. Looking across the Rio Grande border with the US, Parque Nacional Canon de Santa Elena sits opposite Big Bend National Park, and Ciudad Juárez sits opposite El Paso. For local delicacies, Chihuahua cheese is a soft white cheese produced by the local Mennonite communities.

Coahuila. Saltillo is a beautiful colonial city. Termas de San Joaquín hot springs and Cuatrocienegas sand dunes are two other film locations of interest. Coahuila is known for its cattle. Machaca con huevo is a traditional beef dish.

Durango. Durango is the “Land of Cinema”, having had hosted over 120 film productions including The Revenant, Ben-Hur, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Predator, and many more. Locations of note include Old West Town, Durango City, Cascada el Saltito, and the Mapimí Silent Zone. The Devil’s Backbone is one of the world’s most dangerous roads. As for local cuisine, Caldillo Duranguense is a hearty stew made with dried meat and red chilli.

Nuevo León. Monterrey is a modern industrial and technological hub. Film locations of note in Monterrey include the Macroplaza, Palacio del Obispado, Museum of Contemporary Art, Planetarium Alfa, and Museo de Historia Mexicana.

Nuevo León state also has several impressive nature locations. Of note, Cascada Cola de Caballo is a beautiful waterfall. Parque La Huasteca is a spectacular mountain canyon. El Potrero Chico is an internationally renowned rock climbing area. La Estanzuela Monterrey Natural Park is known for its forests, waterfalls and swimming holes.

For traditional local cuisine, cabrito is a goat slow cooked over a wood fire and served with charros.

Sinaloa. Located on the Gulf of California, Sinaloa is best known for the resort city of Mazatlán. Picturesque colonial towns of note include Cosalá, El Fuerte, El Rosario and Mocorito. Seafood such as aguachile is a traditional dish from Sinaloa.

Sonora. Hermosillo is the state capital. Puerto Peñasco is a popular beach location for Arizonans. El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve is known for its shifting sand dunes and spectacular volcanic craters located in the heart of the Sonoran desert. Nacapule Canyon is a beautiful location. Mirador San Carlos offers spectacular coastal locations. Álamos and Magdalena del Kino are two charming colonial towns. Known for its ranches and sunny climate, local culinary specialties are very meat heavy. Machaca is a popular dish served with eggs for breakfast.

Tamaulipas is located on the Gulf of Mexico. Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros are border cities. Tampico is a once-beautiful tropical city often compared to New Orleans for its French-style buildings. Two traditional local dishes of note include torta de la barda and ceviche de lisa.

The Bajío

Includes the states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro.

Aguascalientes is a small state located in central Mexico. Aguascalientes is a beautiful colonial city known for Plaza de las Tres Centurias, Catedral de Aguascalientes, San Marcos Garden, Aguascalientes Theatre, and National Museum of Death. The state is a big producer of guava. Pork ribs in guava sauce are a local specialty.

Guanajuato. 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 buildings, colourful lanes, Alhóndiga de Granaditas, University of Guanajuato, Basílica de Nuestra Señora, Teatro Juarez, San Gabriel de Barrera hacienda, an extensive network of underground cobblestone driving tunnels, and a disturbing mummies museum. Estadio Aguilar y Maya is a baseball stadium with an impressive city backdrop. City panoramic views can be filmed from Pipila Monument which can be reached by a funicular.

León is the largest city in the state. Film locations of note include the Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento, Arco Triunfal De León, and Museum of Art and History of Guanajuato.

Museo Exconvento de San Agustín is an imposing building in Yuriria.

Enchiladas mineras are a traditional Guanajuato dish.

Zacatecas. A dry, rugged state known for the yucca cactus. Zacatecas City is known for its colonial architecture. Sierra de Órganos National Park is a beautiful arid landscape known for its towering rock formations. For traditional Zacatecan dishes try the asado de boda.

San Luis Potosí. The city of San Luis Potosí is know for the Leonora Carrington Museum, Teatro de La Paz, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de Aranzazu, and Museo Nacional de la Máscara.

Real de Catorce is a ghost town has long been a pilgrimage site for both local Catholics and Huichol shamanists. Peyote ceremonies can be experienced in the surrounding desert areas.

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.

The Huasteca Potosina region is known for its tropical jungle, azure blue waters, and Tamul Waterfall.

Xilitla is famous for the surrealist sculptures of Las Pozas garden, created by the artist Edward James.

Traditional San Luis Potosí dishes to look out for include picadillo, cecina de res, gorditas, and chiles rellenos de queso.

Querétaro. The state is known for its ranches, wine, and cheese production. One of the best-known dishes from the area is chivo tapeado, goat meat with chili that’s slow cooked in the ground. Querétaro City is a beautiful colonial city and major business centre.

Central Mexico

Includes the states of Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.

Hidalgo. The Tolantongo Caves are located in the state of Hidalgo. Tula is an important Mesoamerican archeological site. El Chico National Park is known for its ancient conifer forests. Biosphere Reserve Canyon Metztitlán is another beautiful location. Acueducto de Tepotzotlán is an impressive structure. Barabacoa is the state dish of Hidalgo.

Mexico City. 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. The Plaza de Toros México is the world’s largest bullring. Cerro de Xico or the is a volcanic crater that on the outskirts of Mexico City. In terms of cuisine, Mexico City offers a wealth of offerings from regional to international, street food to Michelin star restaurants.

Mexico State. Teotihuacan’s Sun and Moon Pyramids are spectacular Mesoamerican ruins only a 1 hour drive from Mexico City. Popocatépetl is an active volcano in this area. Nevado de Toluca National Park is a spectacular location. For a culinary experience, tlacoyos and pulque are traditional state dishes.

Morelos. The capital city Cuernavaca is known for the Zócalo, Palacio de Cortés, Catedral de Cuernavaca, Jardín Borda, Just outside of Cuernavaca you can find the Xochicalco pyramids, and Lagunas de Zempoala National Park. Traditional dishes hailing from this state include pozole, tacos acorazados, and pepita mole.

Puebla. Puebla is an impressive artistic colonial city only 2 hours drive from Mexico City. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is a huge complex located in Cholula. Waterfall Quetzalapan is a beautiful location. Puebla is known for classic dishes such as mole poblano and chile en nogada, as well as street food including cemitas, chalupas and tacos Árabes.

Tlaxcala is best known for the Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl archaelogical sites. The city of Tlaxcala is known for the Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala, Basílica of Our Lady of Ocotlán, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. La Malinche National Park has a dormant volcano. There’s also a Firefly Sanctuary near Nanacamilpa. Local cuisine is heavily influenced by indigenous cooking. Traditional dishes of note include xocoyoles, tlatlapas, huauzontles, and escamoles.

Veracruz is home to Mexico’s highest mountain, Pico de Orizaba. El Tajín and San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán are archaeological sites in Veracruz. Foro Boca is a beautiful building located in Boca del Río. San Juan de Ulúa is a fortress overlooking the seaport of Heroica Veracruz. Local dishes of note include chilpachole, arroz a la tumbada, and picadas.

Pacific Coast

Includes the Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Oaxaca.

Colima. Manzanillo is a port and resort city known for its beaches and marlin fishing. The Revillagigedo Archipelago is a marine sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean 720km (450mi) west of Manzanillo. Colima City is the state capital. Tamales de ceniza (ash tamales) are a traditional local lunch dish.

Guerrero. Acapulco is a storied resort city known for high-rises, the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, and Acapulco Bay nightlife. La Quebrada is an iconic cliff where divers plunge 40m into the ocean below. Isla de La Roqueta has beautiful beaches and azure seas. Fort San Diego is a colonial star fort in Acapulco.

Taxco is known for its colonial architecture such as Santa Prisca church on Plaza Borda. Outside of the city you can find the beautiful Pozas azules de Atzala.

Local cuisine is heavily influenced by indigenous cooking. One dish of note, Relleno is a suckling pig stuffed with fruit and vegetables and cooked all night.

Jalisco. The vibrant Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city. Guadalajara film locations of note include Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco, Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento, University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara Cathedral, and Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. On the outskirts of the city you can find La Barranca de Huentitán.

Puerto Vallarta is a resort city known for its beaches and seafood. Locations of note include the Malecón, Zona Romántica, Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Los Muertos Beach, and Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe. Los Arcos National Marine Park and the bomb-created Islas Marietas National Park are located near Puerto Vallarta.

The picturesque beach town of Yelapa is located in Jalisco.

The home of mariachi music and tequila, Jalisco is also known for traditional dishes including torta ahogada and birria.

Michoacan. Morelia is known for its colonial architecture. As well as being the capital of Michoacán, it is also the closest major city to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Parícutin is a cinder cone volcano. The church of San Juan Parangaricutiro is an abandoned ruin that sits buried under a field of lava. Pátzcuaro is known for its churches and convents such as the Temple Sagrario. The nearby town of Janitzio sits on an island in the middle of Lake Pátzcuaro. The impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located in the city of Zamora. Local cuisine is heavily influenced by indigenous cooking. Corundas are a popular local snack.

Nayarit. The Riviera Nayarit is best known for its picturesque beach towns such as Sayulita, San Pancho, Punta Mita, and Bucerias. The Island of Mexcaltitán is the Venice of Mexico. Tepic is the state capital and largest city. Nayrit is known for its seafood specialties such as pescado zarandeado and shrimp ceviche.

OaxacaPuerto Escondido is an under-explored bohemian beachside location.

Oaxaca City is known for its colonial buildings. Locations of note include the Zocalo, Templo de Santo Domingo, Museum of Cultures, Botanical Gardens, and a range of colourful markets.

Mitla and Monte Alban are important archaeological ruins.

Hierve el Agua is an impressive film location.

Mexico’s food capital, the state is famous for its mezcals, moles, quesillo, and chocolate. Oaxaca is also known to have one of the best Dia de Los Muertos festivals in Mexico.

Yucatán and the South

Includes the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Yucatán.

Campeche has many important Mayan archaeological sites including Calakmul, Balamku, Xpuhil, Hormiguero, Edzna, and Becan. The city of Campeche is known for its colonial buildings and walled historic district including Fort San Miguel. The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve rainforest is home to a diversity of flora and fauna. Panuchos are a street food speciality. Postre de Chicozapote is a crème brulée style dessert made from the sweet, malty chicozapote fruit.

Chiapas is known for its mountainous highlands and dense rainforest dotted with Mayan archaeological sites and Spanish colonial towns.

Palenque is one of the world’s most impressive Mayan archaeological sites. Other Mayan sites of note include Toniná and Chinkultic.

San Cristóbal de las Casas is a highland town known for its colonial architecture such as Parque Central, San Cristóbal Cathedral, Templo y Ex-Convento Santo Domingo, and Arco del Carmen.

Other Chiapas locations of note include Sumidero Canyon, Lagunas de Montebello National Park, Parque Nacional Cañón del Sumidero. Chiapas has many impressive waterfalls including Agua Azul, Misol-Há, El Chiflón, and El Aguacero. Laguna Miramar is a beautiful azure lake surrounded by jungle. El Chichón is an active volcano.

The highlands are known for local coffee plantations. Estofado de pollo en frutas is a traditional stew made with local fruit and chicken.

Quintana Roo. The Mayan Riviera is known for its beautiful Caribbean white sand beaches and azure seas. Cancun and Playa del Carmen are major resort towns. Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are popular islands for underwater photography with its coral reefs and rich variety of tropical fish. Akumal and Tulum are smaller beach towns. Tulum Mayan ruins sit against a backdrop of white sand beaches and the azure Caribbean sea. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its natural beauty. Quintana Roo has many beautiful cenotes including Sistema Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote, and Cenote Calavera.

Food from this state is heavily influenced by its Maya ancestry in its use of traditional herbs and spices as well as indigenous animals such as hogs and turkey. The region’s signature dish is Cochinita pibil, pulled pork seasoned with annatto paste and bitter orange, is traditionally cooked underground in a banana leaf.

Tabasco. Film locations of note include Comalcalco archaeological site, Villa Luz Natural Park, Cascada Villa Luz, and the capital city Villahermosa. Tabasco is known for its network of lakes, rivers and estuaries that flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Traditional dishes of note include pejelagarto asardo, yuca en naranja, and platanitos rellenos de carne.

Yucatán is known for its Gulf of Mexico beaches, beautiful cenotes, and famed Mayan ruins.

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). Cenotes of note in the Yucatán include Ik Kil, Xcanche, Xkekén, and Zaci.

The world famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza are located in the Yucatán. Nearby Coba ruins are also very impressive and more film-friendly in terms of less tourists. Other important archaeological sites include Uxmal, Dzibilchaltún, Mayapan, and Ekʼ Balam.

Cities of note include Mérida and Valladolid.

Progreso Pier in the Yucatán is the longest pier in the world.

Local cuisine is heavily influenced by indigenous cooking. Regional dishes of note include sopa de lima and poc chuc.

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 a 16% VAT refund. 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.