Remote, secluded, in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature and yet fully functional, well connected, and spacious enough to accommodate a film crew.
No, this is not a holiday home or a mega villa for the super-rich. Actually, hidden in the description above, there is a hint.
It is in fact the setting of a Swedish reality show called “The Challenge”, which, after years of it being filmed in Malta, decided to give Cyprus a try. With spectacular results, as it turns out.
Just off the Nicosia-Limassol highway, the Swedish crew set camp near the Alaminos village in the Larnaca district about three weeks ago.
Based on the longest-ever running reality show “The Real World,” on air since 1992, where contestants take part in a series of physically challenging tests while living under the same roof under the constant eye of the cameras, “The Challenge” filmed over 19 episodes in just 23 days, is set to air in Sweden at the beginning of 2024.
The production cost for Cyprus is expected to exceed €2.4 million, excluding taxes and mandatory contributions to the state.
The winner of the contest will bag a total of €100,000. The cast of people taking part in the competition included former Swedish reality show stars, hailing from shows such as “Survivor”, “The Bachelor” and many others.
“The idea was to bring in a cast that already has experience with reality shows and having them compete against each other in a series of increasingly difficult challenges. The engine of it all is the actual challenges,” director of the show Hans, told the Cyprus Mail.
“The contestants will work both individually and in pairs. They loved it. Not just the actual challenges, but also filming at a beautiful location such as this one.
“Everything went incredibly smoothly, it was all set to perfection, and we could not have asked for anything better,” he said.
“The Challenge” employed approximately 50 Cypriot professionals, from cameramen to carpenters and builders.
“This is such an important development for the country and its growing television and film industry,” founder and executive producer of Cypriot production company Green Olive Films Simos Manganis, told the Cyprus Mail.
The company was instrumental to the reality show as it brought to the table both expertise and workforce in a setting that was completely new to the Swedish crew.
“It was our job to make sure that everything ran smoothly during filming. There is a lot of potential for TV and film in Cyprus and it still is a relatively untapped market.”
The crew flying in from Sweden was impressed with the scale of the operation organised on the island.
Jakob, the head the Swedish delegation setting camp in Cyprus for three weeks, said that, when choosing a destination for filming either a film or a TV show, production companies necessarily need to tick several boxes.
“The location obviously needs to be on point, but that can apply to many places around the world. An ideal setting also needs to have the right people on the ground, people with know-how and work ethic,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
“It also needs to be financially viable and, when possible, relatively close.
“Cyprus ticked all the boxes. Everyone involved in the making of ‘The Challenge’, from film crews to designers, from photographers to sound managers, was incredibly happy with how smooth things were.
“I think the island has a huge potential in the field. And, obviously, the language barrier here does not exist. Everyone speaks English and, believe me, that is not to be overlooked.
Furthermore, Jakob also praised the political will on the government’s part to make Cyprus an attractive destination for such endeavours.
“Where there is a political will, there is almost always a way,” he said, referring specifically to Invest Cyprus, the national body responsible for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment into the island.
Head of filming at Invest Cyprus, Leftheris Eleftheriou, was on the ground during the last day of filming of “The Challenge”.
“Knowing that everyone was happy with how things went on set is why we do this,” he said.
“Cyprus can become a real player in this field. Operations such as this one are fundamental for our industry and we have only just begun to skim the island’s rich and diverse potential.”