Since the first foreign fiction movie, “The Secret of the Ring” (“El Secreto del Anillo”), was filmed in Mallorca in 1913, or the first home production, a story about smugglers called “El Secreto de la Pedriza,” hundreds of films – some more successfully than others – have endeavored to capture the charms, diverse landscapes and hours of sunlight which our island offers.
A few years ago, following the release of Julio Medem’s “Sex and Lucia” (“Lucía y el Sexo”) in 2001, it became obvious that presenting the island as a set for productions of all types was another way of attracting tourism. The exuberance of Paz Vega and the film’s locations encouraged hordes of tourists to pack their bags and head for Formentera, just as they had in the Sixties when the German actress Elke Sommer first shocked Spanish censors by gracing Mallorca beaches wearing a bikini.
During the past decade, the islands have witnessed the spectacular growth of the audiovisual industry in general, but especially of film and television production services, and Balearic companies in this sector have made significant investments. Two 1000m2 studios have been built equipped with modern lighting systems, set construction workshops, storage, dressing rooms, plus makeup and hairdressing facilities, which, together with all the associated services, can be leased to visiting producers. This multi-million Euro investment and the number of experienced multilingual professionals available on the islands combine to make the Balearics even more competitive in the international production market.
More than one hundred commercials are filmed in the Balearics each year. The number of full-length and short-motion pictures being filmed on the islands is also increasing. Recent productions such as Igor Fioravanti’s “Ibiza Dream”, “The Kovak Box” by Daniel Monzón featuring Oscar winner Timothy Hutton, David Marqués’ “Aislados”, Francesca Joseph’s “Four Last Songs” starring Stanley Tucci, or the Mallorcan production “Yo” by Rafa Cortés, were filmed in the Balearics in their entirety.
During the past few years, Mallorca has been the location for the British series “Mad Dogs” and several feature films: from the Russian “Escuchando el Mar” to the French “Jappeloup,” “Los Pelayo,” “The Stranger Inside” with William Baldwin and Sarah Butler, “A Long Way Down” starring Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Toni Collette and Aaron Paul, to the recent “Cloud Atlas,” a Hollywood big-budget movie by the Wachowski brothers, featuring stars such as Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, and filmed in several locations, including Sa Calobra, Sóller, and Formentor. Moreover, there are rumors that Harvey Keitel, who fell in love with the island while filming “The Master” here, is on the lookout for locations for his next movie.
We are also treated to a bird’s eye view of the island in the “Jack and Jill” Adam Sandler film, whose cast included Al Pacino and Katie Holmes.
To conclude, here is a list of fifteen productions which have been filmed on the islands through the years: “Our Girl Friday” (1953) featuring a very young Joan Collins; “Sail into Danger” (1957); “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” (1957); “Woman of Straw” (1963) starring Gina Lollobrigida and Sean Connery, with Artà as a backdrop; “Bahia de Palma” (1962); Guy Green’s “The Magus” (1968) based on a story by John Fowles, starring Anthony Quinn, Michael Caine, Anna Karina and Candice Bergen; several scenes of the classic “El Verdugo” (“The Executioner”)(1963); Jaime Camino’s “A Winter in Mallorca” (1969) about Chopin and George Sand’s sojourn on the island; “Fake” (1971), a documentary written and directed by Orson Welles; “Evil Under the Sun” (1981), Guy Hamilton’s adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, starring Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Bette Davis and James Mason; Jaime Chavarri’s “Bearn” (1982), based on the classic novel by Llorenç Villalonga, with Ángela Molina, Fernando Rey and Imanol Arias; “El Vent de l’Illa” (1987), set in nineteenth century colonial Menorca, and which represented Spain at the Berlin Film Festival in 1988; “The Master” (1999), starring Sadie Frost, Lauren Bacall and Harvey Keitel, and filmed on the beautiful Raixa estate; Sigfrid Monleón’s “The Dutchman’s Island” (2000), which won the best film, best director and best actor awards at the Primavera Cine festival in Lorca, and Bill Anderson’s “Sword of Honour” (2000) starring Daniel Craig.
Recently Pinewood Studios (“Total Recall,” “James Bond: Skyfall,” and the soon-to-be-released “The Hobbit”) have shown interest in filming on the island. We are talking about one of the oldest and biggest studios in the history of filmmaking! Let’s keep fingers crossed and see if they bring stars to the island … or the island to the stars!