Pushed to adopt extreme austerity measures like many other countries after the world’s economy went into recession, the Bulgarian government clashed with film industry professionals late last year when its parliament introduced an amendment to the state film law that could potentially slash established levels of spending.
The resulting crisis saw hundreds of directors and film professionals protesting on the streets of capital Sofia, led to the dismissal of the deputy minister of culture Dimitar Dereliev and the resignation of Alexander Donev, head of the National Film Center and resignation of the head of the National Film Center. He’d been criticized for his silence over the government’s actions and for approving a $220,000 grant to “Bye Bye Mama,” Bulgarian model Michelle Bonev’s helming debut.
Emergency meetings were held with prime minister Boyko Borissov that produced a recovery program that included plans for a levy on audiovisual products and services to create a sustainable fund for Bulgarian filmmakers.
Bulgaria’s constitutional court added a twist to the funding drama early last month when it overturned the parliamentary amendments to the film law.
It said that wording that suggested lawmakers could change the funding formula to respond to financial circumstances was unconstitutional and illegal.
But Bulgarian media reported the ruling would be unlikely to make any difference to funding this year as the government budget was already set and there was simply no money to spare.
The crisis has put the brakes on industry lobbying for rebates or other financial incentives to attract more production; over the past decade Bulgaria — like other countries in the region — has become a magnet for international productions seeking to take advantage of low costs, varied and historic locations and the ease of working in a European Union member state.
STUDIOS & FACILITIES UPDATE
Nu Boyana: Bulgaria’s leading modern move complex offers state of the art facilities at competitive prices. It’s backlot houses 13 soundstages (and a 14th with a water tank planned), standing sets of New York streets, a Roman town with an ampitheater, wartime Italy, a Gulag labor camp, a Middle Eastern street, Japanese Dojo, prison, hospital and police station.
Studios also features extensive costumes, props, an armory, full construction and crew services, vfx services and locations scouting. It hosted Peter Weir’s “The Way Back,” where a Stalin-era Gulag camp was built on the backlot and Bulgaria’s winter mountains doubled for Siberia.
RESOURCES AND CREW DEPTH
The recently completed “Conan” remake employed hundreds of locals, but more pics on that scale at one time would be a stretch if they require studio space.
Resources and crews have been found — or will be — for the upcoming “Kane & Lynch” with Jamie Foxx and Bruce Willis. Plus Sylvester Stallone starrer “The Expendables 2” is in talks with the studio.
POST AND VFX
Nu Boyana has the largest integrated and Dolby-certified sound facility in Bulgaria, and sports a full array of post equipment, suites and experienced technicians.
FILM COMMISSION CONTACTS
Bulgarian National Film Center
Irina Kanousheva, acting director
+ 359 2 988 38 31
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Bulgarian locations can double for Europe and the world.