Hawaii Film Blog

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Europe on the Cheap

Steven Spielberg directs Eric Bana on the set of "Munich." In the background, Malta is playing Rome. (Photo: Joseph Spiteri via di-ve)

On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter did a round-up of European locations, using Steven Spielberg's upcoming "Munich" as a springboard to talk about trends in shooting in Europe. For "Munich," Spielberg shot Budapest for Paris, proving that even big-budget blockbusters keep a watchful eye on the bottom line.

With countries all over the world now offering financial incentives, new studio facilities, and cheap skilled labor, producers have more location choices than ever. According to Francois Ivernel of the UK's Pathe Pictures, location decisions are "a balance of three main parameters: hard cost, what the talent wants and the co-production possibilities."

Here's what some of the most attractive European locations are offering (according to THR):

Recent Filmography: "The Contract" starring John Cusack and Morgan Freeman, "Nine Lives," "Control," "Les Choristes," Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia," "Rambo IV"
Government Incentives: None
Facilities & Services: Boyana Film Studios (opened 1962, 3 soundstages + 1 under construction, lab & tech) and Nu Image Bulgaria (1 soundstage, CGI studio with 60+ artists). Both studios are expected to merge soon.
Pros: Cheap despite no incentives, a "Balkan bargain basement"

Czech Republic
Recent Filmography: "Everything Is Illuminated," "The Bourne Identity," "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe," "Oliver Twist," "Doom," NBC's "Revelations," "The Illusionist"
Government Incentives: None, but studying film industry's economic impact in hopes of developing some
Facilities & Services: Prague's Barrandov Studios (Central Europe's largest production complex w/11 soundstages) and Prague New Studios, plus service providers Stillking Films and Etic Films
Pros: Versatile locations, studio space, English-speaking, open borders
Cons: Not as cheap as it used to be due to dollar depreciation and increasing labor costs (though it's still only 25%-50% of London or L.A. crew costs)

Recent Filmography:
Sofia Coppola's "Marie-Antoinette," Ron Howard's "The Da Vinci Code" Government Incentives: Generous film subsidies for projects with French co-producers
Facilities & Services: Many top-notch
Pros: Landscapes, open historical monuments, top-notch crews, studios and postproduction facilities, SFX experts, modern amenities
Cons: Pricey

Recent Filmography: Tom Tykwer's "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," "V for Vendetta," "Aeon Flux," "Downfall," "Amelie," "Flightplan"
Government Incentives: $103.6 million a year in subsidies, plus loans covering up to 20% of a film's budget (from a 3-yr $110M revolving fund) are available to German productions and international co-productions; Regional governments have their own subsidy systems; None for foreign productions, but reviewing proposals to introduce incentives like the UK's old sale-and-leasback system
Facilities & Services: Studio Babelsberg (great for big films), Bavaria Film (19 soundstages in Munich, 5 in Berlin, post facilities), Magic Media Co., Studio Hamburg, Studio Adlershof
Pros: Top-notch crews, studios and postproduction facilities, modern amenities
Cons: Pricey

Recent Filmography: Steven Spielberg's "Munich," "Eragon," "Evita"
Government Incentives: 20% rebate to foreign productions for Hungary expenditures if local partner involved, $50M loan fund to develop infrastructure and studios
Facilities & Services: Stern Film Studio will open next year w/2 soundstages, another $180M megastudio being built near Budapest, Mafilm
Pros: Versatile and diverse locations, cheap, incentives

Recent Filmography: "7 Seconds," "Cold Mountain," "Seed of Chucky," "Razor's Edge," "Catacombs"
Government Incentives: None
Facilities & Services: Castel Film Studios, MediaPro Studios, Swipe Studios (13,500 s.f. of soundstages, TV production facilities)
Pros: Well-trained crews (~$50 million spent on film production services in Romania last year), cheap (average cost of feature production is 40%-60% lower vs. U.K. and 70% lower vs. U.S.), versatile locations
Cons: Lack of infrastructure (esp. roads)

Recent Filmography: "Kingdom of Heaven," "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," Antonio Banderas' "El Camino de los Ingleses"
Government Incentives: None
Facilities & Services: City of Lights (spanking new $328.4 million studio with 8 soundstages, water tank, large backlot, tech facilities, etc.)
Pros: Diverse landscapes, weather, relatively low costs for comfort and amenities

United Kingdom
Recent Filmography: "Stormbreaker," "Harry Potter" films, "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction," "V for Vendetta"
Government Incentives: Production support from government-backed organization Film London
Facilities & Services: Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, 3 Mills Studios, and Ealing Studios
Pros: World-class technicians and facilities, Film London, modern amenities
Cons: Pricey

Continental thrift [THR, 11/1/05]

Lawyers Rake It In On Runaway Productions
Romania Catches Bird Flu
Romania: Hollywood (Way) East
Hey, Whatever's Cheapest
Black Sand Beaches in Iceland
Our Loss is Their Gain

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