Camera Ltd. plans Sofia studio

Bulgaria joins contest for shoots

CANNES — Bulgaria’s Camera Ltd. has purchased and broken ground on a new Sofia studio complex designed as a hothouse for young Bulgarian filmmakers targeting foreign auds as well as a hub for international shoots.

According to company partner Dimitar Gotchev, a d.p.-turned-producer, studios will feature a large, around 3,000 square meter soundstage, two smaller stages, a lake, an internal water-tank and a 50,000 square meter backlot.

“For the international market, you need ever larger stages,” said Gotchev.

The studio is just outside Sofia. Camera is finalizing minor permit applications. Construction will begin in one to two months and will be completed by late 2008, Gotchev added.

The film production, facilities and rentals house already rents a 20,000 square meter studio in Sofia. Gotchev said, “That’s fine for TV production, commercials and Bulgarian movies, but we need something bigger.”

Financing for the studios will come from Camera and other private investors, he added.

The studios mark the next step in growth at the 5-year-old production and facilities company Camera Ltd., which served as a location manager for the Balchik shoot of Francis Ford Copolla’s “Youth Without Youth.”

“We’re open to offering both services and co-production equity on international co-productions and Bulgarian pics. Prices are economical, but the most important thing is our production experience,” Gotchev said.

On international productions, Camera taps seed finance from the Bulgarian National Television and National Film Center, Euro co-producers and coin from the Eurimages European co-production fund.

Camera has also attached eminent French scribe Jean-Claude Carriere, (“Goya’s Ghosts,” “Chinese Box”), to co-write the political noirer “The Popov File” with Bulgarian director Georgi Balabanov.

The shingle has also boarded Milcho Manchevski’s “Shadows,” a co-production, now in post, with Macedonia’s Senka Film, Germany’s Blue Eyes Fiction, Italy’s Classic SRL and Spain’s Tornasol Films.

On its Bulgarian slate, Andrei Slabakov has completed black comedy “Hindemidt.” Dimitar Mitovski, Gotchev’s co-managing director at Camera, is adapting comedy “Mission London,” based on a famous Bulgarian novel of the same title by Alek Popov.

Camera is also trying to nurse young directors’ careers, via the classic strategy of TV movie production.

“New talent is very important for the Bulgarian film industry,” Gotchev said.

Two 52-minute movies are planned with young directors: the Macedonian Bulgaria-based Angel Apostolski and Petko Spasov.

Camera Ltd.’s parent company, commercials and TV house SIA Advertising, produces Bulgaria’s “Big Brother.”

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