Eastern Europe

(Genius image: National Geographic/Dusan Martincek)

The appeal of the locations, facilities and crews of Eastern Europe and Eurasia is as strong as ever.

Territories across Eastern Europe and Eurasia are buzzing as international productions swarm to the region. Film and high-end TV drama producers are drawn by the crews, locations, tax incentives and facilities.

Czech Republic saw Amazon Studios’ Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, complete shooting in March 2018. Bavaria Fiction’s big-budget TV drama sequel to Das Boot shot in capital Prague in 2017, as did National Geographic’s second season of Genius, which stars Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso. The country’s Barrandov Studios are an obvious attraction for international productions, with 1983 — the first Polish original Netflix series — having shot at the facility in mid-2018.

Hungary recently hosted 20th Century Fox’s spy thriller Red Sparrow and Lionsgate’s Robin Hood, as well as Imagine Entertainment’s The Spy Who Dumped Me and Number 9 Films’ Colette, starring Keira Knightley.

With the introduction of a tax incentive two years ago, the number of international productions shooting in Georgia is on the rise. Hunter Image Media’s Halo Of Stars, starring Lily Collins and Holliday Grainger and executive produced by Terrence Malick, recently shot there, as did Backup Media’s Cannes Competition title Girls Of The Sun, directed by Eva Husson. Bollywood likes Georgia, too. In early 2018, Naveen Chandra and Shalini Vadnikatti shot a movie there (untitled as of November 2018), produced by Veeranjaneya Productions. Meanwhile, German documentary maker Rudolph Herzog headed to Georgia to make his debut feature How To Sell A War.

The government in Poland gave initial approval this summer to a long-awaited 30% filming incentive, though additional stages in the legislative process mean that it is likely to be another few months before the programme is formally launched. Funding available from the Polish Film Institute — if co-producing with a Polish filmmaker — is also attracting international filmmakers. Projects to have visited the country include Indian TV series Bose: Dead/Alive, Sony Pictures Television’s crime series Ultra Violet (produced by Opus Film) and Claire Denis’ latest feature High Life.

Romania launched a base 35% rebate as its first filming incentive over the summer, which is designed to help raise the country’s production profile in Europe. Director Corin Hardy filmed his horror hit The Nun entirely in Romania — where the story is set — using two historic castles and a former military fort as collective doubles for the film’s monastery setting. Interiors were also shot at Castel Studios outside capital Bucharest. In addition, the country recently hosted scenes for the family adventure movie Dragonheart: Battle For The Heartfire, the fourth instalment in the Dragonheart movie saga.

The Lowdown – Czech Republic

Financial incentives

The national incentive, known as the State Cinematography Fund, offers a 20% cash rebate on qualifying Czech spend and a 10% cash rebate on qualifying international crews. The fund applies to film and TV, including all post-production work. There are minimum spending levels that differ for film and TV, and a cultural test is also required. The incentive has no sunset date. Furthermore, Prague launched a new — albeit relatively modest — production fund in 2016, available to productions that depict Prague as Prague.

Full details on financial incentives in the Czech Republic: State Cinematography Fund

Infrastructure and crews

Crews speak English but they also speak German and French too. Producers can bring their heads of department but do not really have to, and more and more international productions are hiring heads of department locally out of the Czech Republic. New stages have been opened at Prague Studios to complement the world-renowned Barrandov facility.

Size matters

Czech Republic is in the heart of Europe and has direct flights to all major European cities as well as Toronto, Montreal, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai and Doha. The studios are located in Prague and close to the city centre.

First person to contact

Pavlina Zipkova, film commissioner: pavlina@filmcommission.cz

The Lowdown – Hungary

Financial incentives

A cash rebate of 30% is available to international film and TV productions, with no minimum spend requirement.

Full details on financial incentives in Hungary: Hungarian National Film Fund

Infrastructure and crews

The water tank at Mafilm Studios, just outside Budapest, is the largest outdoor facility of its kind in continental Europe. Blade Runner 2049 was the first project to use the tank. Ildiko Kemeny’s Pioneer Productions is one of the most active and respected local outfits working with international projects. It has serviced recent high-profile features including Colette and Red Sparrow, and TV drama Genius. The other big local outfit is Mid Atlantic, which serviced Ang Lee’s Gemini Man for Paramount Pictures, and the untitled new Terminator movie, also for Paramount. Crews speak English and are highly rated. Camera rental company Arri has a base in Budapest.

Size matters

There are direct flights from New York to Budapest and those flying from Los Angeles can also connect via Amsterdam or London.

First person to contact

Agnes Havas, CEO, Hungarian Film Fund
havas.agnes@filmalap.hu

The Lowdown – Georgia

Financial incentives

Launched in 2016, the tax incentive offers an initial 20% cash rebate on qualifying expenditure with an additional potential rebate of 2%-5% if the project has added value for Georgia.

Full details can be found at www.filmingeorgia.ge

Infrastructure and crews

The local film industry has deep roots stretching back to the Soviet era. Capacity is also increasing. In the past, if there was one major production in the country, there would not be the resources to host another. Heads of department tend to speak English even if lower-level crew members do not. It is easy for non-Europeans to secure visas, and the World Bank rates Georgia as one of the top 10 countries in which to do business. There are plenty of local service companies.

Size matters

Georgia is a compact country with three international airports, cargo and passenger ports, and strong road and rail infrastructure.

First person to contact

David Vashadze, Georgia film commissioner: d.vashadze@gnfc.ge

The Lowdown – Poland

Financial incentives

A 30% filming incentive has had initial approval and was still working its way through the legislative process as of November 2018. It is understood that it will be accessible to high-end TV productions as well as for features, animation and documentaries. The main source of funding for international co-production is the Polish Film Institute, which now has a fund for minority Polish co-productions. There is also funding available from the seven regional film commissions based in Poland.

More details on film funding in Poland: Polish Film Institute

Infrastructure and crews

Crews are flexible, hardworking, generally speak English and are less expensive than most western countries. Foreign producers will need a Polish co-producer and Polish creative elements to get money back from the Polish Film Institute. Minority Polish co-productions can access around $600,000 (€500,000). Majority Polish co-productions can get between $1.8m (€1.5m) and $2.5m (€2m). In the future, international filmmakers should be able to access both funding from the film institute and support from the new incentive — and so a very sizeable slice of their budget.

Size matters

Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow — where the main studios are based — are within easy reach of each other, either by air or road, and are close to the German border.

First person to contact

Tomasz Dabrowski, film commissioner, Film Commission Poland
dabrowski@filmcommissionpoland.pl

The Lowdown – Romania

Financial incentives

Romania launched its first filming incentive earlier this summer. Producers can now access a base 35% cash rebate when they spend $115,000 (€100,000), with per-production payments capped at $11.5m (€10m). The rebate can increase to 45% for productions that are set specifically in Romania.

See full details here.

Infrastructure and crews

Romania offers two main production facilities. Castel Film Studios outside Bucharest has 10 sound stages, water tanks and an expansive backlot, while Bucharest Film Studios also has water tanks as well as 19 sound stages, and standing sets including Los Angeles and Boston streets. Given Romania’s thriving local industry and international experience, there is also a skilled, multilingual crew base.

Size matters

Romania is easily accessible by air and has an extensive road network.

First person to contact

Oana Prata at Alien Film: oana.prata@alienfilm.ro

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