Baltic Region

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New studios in Estonia will provide the region’s first world-class sound stages and help boost the production offer of its neighbours too.

Lithuania has become more film-friendly since launching its first production incentive in 2014 and has seen a lot of activity over recent years.

The biggest production to shoot in 2018 was the Sky/HBO miniseries Chernobyl, about the deadly explosion at a Ukrainian nuclear power station in 1986. Jared Harris, Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard are among the stars of the project, which is produced by the UK’s Sister Pictures and The Mighty Mint. Chernobyl filmed in various locations around Lithuania from the spring of 2018.

The country is situated in northern Europe along the south-eastern shore of the Baltic sea and borders Latvia, Belarus and Poland. It has an estimated population of just under 3 million. Its cities are characterised by Baroque architecture, while the country’s national parks boast vast tracts of oak and pine forests. The film industry is concentrated in the capital city of Vilnius.

Estonia is also trying to attract international producers and introduced a production incentive in 2016. It provides a varied range of architectural heritages, with many examples of European styles dating back as far as the 13th century. Estonian production is centred on its capital, Tallinn, with architecture in the Gothic style. On the waterfront is the former Patarei prison, which is often used as a filming location.

All eyes are now on Tallinn Film Wonderland, a new production facility that is being developed near the city centre for a planned opening in mid-2020. The facility will comprise three sound stages and although it is intended to help stimulate regional film and TV production, having new studio facilities will likely prove beneficial to the whole of the Baltic region.

Latvia is nestled between Lithuania and Estonia, with production activity centred on its capital, Riga. The Riga Film Fund incentivises international shoots to film in the city.

The country offers historic palaces such as the 18th-century Rundale Palace by architect Rastrelli, and a large number of manor houses. In Riga, it is all about Art Nouveau architecture, quirky 19th-century wooden buildings and a scattering of Soviet-era architecture.

The country can service an almost complete production cycle, except for lab work if using celluloid film. Shooting in Latvia has a reputation for being cost-effective and efficient.

The Lowdown – Latvia

Financial incentives

The Riga Film Fund offers a cash rebate of up to 25% for productions that feature a “noteworthy portrayal of Riga in the story” and work with a local production partner. Projects must have a total budget of at least $804,000 (€700,000). There is also a 20% rebate for films shooting elsewhere in the country.

Full details on the financial incentives in Latvia: Film Riga

Infrastructure and crews

Latvia can comfortably accommodate around four medium-scale productions at any one time and often calls on neighbouring crews and professionals to pitch up to help. Being able to offer a collaborative recruitment policy to expand crews means Latvia can source extra filmmaking and technical services with experience in international projects. Most crew speak English and Russian.

Size matters

There are direct flights to Riga from more than 85 cities in Europe, Asia, Africa and the US, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Paris and Madrid. Riga International Airport is 10km from Riga city centre. Despite the lack of motorways, some 500km of untouched beaches, dozens of ancient Crusader castles and scores of manor houses are all within a couple of hours’ drive on the country’s spiderweb of A-roads. Riga has the largest number of free wifi hotspots per sq km in Europe, which can be accessed in most hotels, cafés and taxis.

First person to contact

Dace Lesinska, Riga City Council
Tel: +371 6703 7659
dace.lesinska@riga.lv

The Lowdown – Estonia

Financial incentives

stonia offers a cash rebate of up to 30% of eligible local spending and is valid for feature films, feature documentaries, animations, animated series, high-end TV dramas and post-production. Features must have a production budget of at least $1.15m (€1m) and for TV dramas the figure is $230,000 (€200,000) per episode.

Full details on financial incentives in Estonia: Film Estonia

Infrastructure and crews

Estonian crews tend to speak at least two languages, and these usually include English, with Russian, German and Finnish also widespread. The country’s small population size is reflected in the compact yet experienced film and TV crew base, and production professionals have a good reputation.

Size matters

Estonia is not yet directly accessible via flights from the US, but straightforward connections are available from multiple European travel hubs. There are regular ferry services between Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. St Petersburg is accessible by boat or train.

First person to contact

The Estonian Film Institute: commissioner@filmi.ee

The Lowdown – Lithuania

Financial incentives

The Lithuanian Film Centre administers a 20% rebate as a filming incentive for feature films, TV series, documentaries and animations. International productions must spend at least $48,000 (€43,000) in Lithuania to qualify for the support and must work with a local co-producer.

Full details on financial incentives in Lithuania: Lithuanian Film Centre.

Infrastructure and crews

The main production facility is the Vilnius Film Cluster, which is a base for nearly two-dozen audio-visual companies. It has a sound stage of 1,100 square metres  and a 350 square metre green screen. Vilnius Film Office provides production support in the capital. Regional service companies are English-speaking.

Size matters

Lithuania is a small Baltic nation with good roads and rail links.

First person to call

Jurate Pazikaite, director, Vilnius Film Office: ilm@vilnius.lt

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