Looking to film in Turkey? Here are some of the best places to capture on camera
Turkey is an increasingly popular location to film. Since 2011, foreign film companies have spent TL 80 million to produce 18 movies in the country. Over the past few years, blockbusters including Argo, Taken 2, and Skyfall shot here; while Nokia, Opel and Maxfactor also filmed ads in the country.
The country is also home to a growing number of production houses, such as Bocek, Karma, Dinamo Istanbul and Atlantik Film, all enjoying roaring trade from Turkey’s popularity for filming.
Turkey’s varied landscape and climate makes the country an ideal backdrop for filming. From Istanbul’s beautiful architecture, to the Taurus Mountains, the heat of the Aegean coast, to snowfall in the elevated Eastern regions, Turkey has it all.
Despite recent concerns over filming freedom, Turkey remains a popular filming location.
World Fixer has put together a list of the top 10 locations to film in Turkey.
Istanbul’s mix of classic architecture, café culture and twenty-first century has formed the backdrop for dozens of films. Straddling the Bosporus Strait, the city’s beautiful architecture reflects the myriad of cultural influences of the may empires which have ruled here. Sites including the Topkapı Palace Museum, Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet
Mosque and Grand Bazaar have drawn film makers from far and wide.
Argo and Skyfall are just two of the many big budget films to have used the city over the past few years.
“I like filming on the famous Istiklal Avenue —Istanbul’s main pedestrian thoroughfare,” says Journalist and Producer, Zeynep Bilginsoy.
“The crowds flow constantly in this iconic location but you should walk down from Taksim Square for about five minutes to find the right angle, I’ve filmed piece to cameras and b-roll there for news”
“However, Police often check your credentials so it’s important to have a press card or accreditation,” She warns.
Spring and Autumn are the best times to film, as in late May the heat ramps up and the crowds begin to arrive. Don’t miss the International Tulip Festival in April!
Mount Nemrut, Adiyaman
Nemrut or Nemrud, is a 2,134-metre-high mountain in south-eastern Turkey, 40 km north of Kahta. It is the mausoleum of Antiochus I, who reigned over Commagene, after the breakup of Alexander’s empire.
The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and famous for the huge statues of animals and Greek gods flanking the mountain.
Several independent organisations have produced documentary films and other visual material at the site. Throne of the Gods, directed by Tolga Örnek in 2000, exploring archaeological research at the site, won several international film and television awards.
Flights are available from Istanbul to Adiyaman, Gaziantep or Urfa.
Fethiye is a port city, and district, on Turkey’s southwestern Turquoise Coast. The region is a popular tourist spot, with visitors flocking to see its natural harbour, blue waters and numerous rock tombs including the 4th-century B.C. Tomb of Amyntas, carved into a bluff overlooking the city.
Many Turkish film makers have used this region, alongside several international productions. Indeed, scenes from Skyfall were shot here; while Russel Crowe used Kayaköy, a district a few kilometres south of the main city, for his latest film, The Water Diviner.
September is the best time to travel to Fethiye, when accommodation is cheaper, and the temperature drops from its summer average of 95oF.
The nearest airports served by international airlines are at Antalya- 3 hours drive from Fethiye, or Dalaman- 1 hour drive away.
Frequently hailed as Turkey’s most popular attraction, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pamukkale is a stunning backdrop for filming. The beautiful travertine terraces, holding 17 thermal springs, are the result of deposition of calcium carbonate, which has crystallised to form this natural feature on the side of the steep valley.
Pamukkale-Hierapolis is situated on the western rim of the Anatolian plateau, 120 miles east of the of port city, Kusadasi. Access to the area by car takes approximately 3 hours from Kusadasi, and 5 hours from Bodum.
Nearby is an incredibly well preserved Roman theatre, built during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus.
However, access to the pools are subject to restrictions. Visitors must traverse the terraces barefoot to prevent damage to delicate calcite deposits
There are a number of small hotels, hostels, restaurants, backpackers’ lodges and other services in the town of Pamukkale
During the summer the area is extremely busy. Springtime, anywhere between April and mid-June, is the ideal time to visit, weather is moderate and dry, and daylight hours are longer.
Bodrum is a port city in Muğla Province, in the southwestern Aegean. It hosts a range of natural landscapes, coastline, marinas, huge shopping and nightlife district, luxury villas and local villages.
“Bodrum is a perfect budget friendly alternative for Spain or Italy’s coastal cities because of the cheap Turkish Lira” Says Altuğ İsler, from Shooting in Turkey, an organisation providing production consultation, shooting authorizations, crew management and location scouting in Turkey.
“We shot the feature film, “Holiday” directed by Isabella Eklöf here, crew from Turkey, Denmark, Holland and Sweden worked together on this 5 week shoot.”
Bodrum experiences a typical Mediterranean climate with long, warm summers and mild winters. The optimum seasons to film are spring or Autumn when temperatures are mild. During July and August average temperatures are 34 °C (93 °F).
Milas–Bodrum international airport serves the Turkish towns of Bodrum and Milas. The airport is situated 36 km northeast of the town of Bodrum.
Kaunos was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few km west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey. The impressively well-preserved remains of the city are fascinating.
The ancient tombs cut high into the cliff side above the harbour are a stunning view. Other archaeological sites including; the Greek theatre, early Byzantine basilica church, bathhouse and temple, also form a stunning backdrop for any film shoot.
Kaunos is also renowned for its ecological importance. The Dalyan River Wetlands, situated below Kanos are an important natural biotope with rich avian and marine fauna as well as typical wetland flora.
The site is a short distance from Dalaman airport, and in driving distance from major tourist destinations like Marmaris and Olüdeniz. Kanos is accessed by boat from Dalyan.
Ilgaz Mountains, Cankiri
Ilgaz Mountain National Park is in North West Anatolia, 45 km south of Kastamonu, and 200 km north of Ankara. Within the National Park there are valleys, ridges and peaks in different characteristics.
The Park boasts a stunning selection of flora and fauna. Black pine, Scotch pine and fir tree blanket the region, home to deer, wild boar, wolves, bears and foxes.
The area is an ideal winter or summer film setting. In the winter it is a popular ski location, with accommodation and chairlifts available. While in summer the region attracts trekkers, campers, and fishing fanatics.
The National Park can be accessed easily from the Cankiri – Kastamonu highway.
Antalya and surrounding area
Located on Anatolia’s southwest coast bordered by the Taurus Mountains, it is the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean coast, home to over one million people.
Most historical architecture in Antalya date to the medieval Ottoman period, with a number of mosques, madrasahs, masjids, caravanserais, Turkish baths and tombs giving the city a Turkish-Islamic character.
The surrounding province also forms a picturesque filming backdrop. With a shoreline of 657 km, ports, and ancient cities scattered throughout, including the World Heritage Site Xanthos, film makers are spoilt for choice. Amongst the region’s best sites are Manavgat Waterfall, Kursunlu Waterfall, Köprülü Canyon, and a variety of cave systems including Altınbeşik Cave National Park.
“The most amazing place that I have shot a commercial in Turkey was at a mountain top in the Antalya region, you can see the beach from the mountaintop,” Says Gizem Başaran from Turkish production company, Atlantik Film.
“I would recommend the location because it gives you easy access to a large selection of different locations,” advised Başaran
The city also has a vibrant media scene, hosting the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival (national film festival usually held in September), Antalya Television Awards, and Mediterranean International Music Festival.
The optimum time to avoid the crowds is spring or late autumn. Antalya is Turkey’s largest sea resort, and during summer tourist numbers rise considerably. During this period weather will still be mild, however increasing rain may cause problems for a shoot.
Antalya Airport has two international terminals and one domestic terminal.
Zeynep Bilginsoy is a freelance journalist and producer based in Istanbul. See her World Fixer profile to find out more