American Film Market 2012: Global Locations - Eastern Europe

Keenly aware that U.S. productions these days are “a rarity indeed,” Poland founded its Film Commission in February to focus on remedying the problem, says commission topper Aleksandra Szczerbak.

Bizzers here fondly recall David Lynch’s Polish shoot of “Inland Empire” in 2006 and location shoots for “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” in 2008. But since then it’s been more about West European shoots such as last year’s Agnieszka Holland Holocaust drama “In Darkness,” a Polish-German-Canadian co-production, and Vincent Gallo starrer “Essential Killing,” with Irish, Norwegian and Hungarian partners in 2010.

Although Poland, with a population of 38 million, is one of Eastern Europe’s economic tigers comprising backdrops that range from coasts to mountains to Old Europe-style cities, the country has yet to introduce film production rebates or tax incentives. That’s something the Film Commission, along with the well-funded Polish Film Institute, is pushing for.

In the meantime, says Szczerbak, industryites have aggressively developed alternative attractions such as regional funds and a healthy body of local shingles to partner with, thanks to the 2005 Cinematography Act, which established the former East Bloc’s most robust local film funding system.

Biz-friendly Alvernia Studios outside Krakow has hosted U.S. legal thriller “Arbitrage,” plus Amy Heckerling horror laffer “Vamps.”

The country has not adopted the euro and its currency, the zloty, has a Hollywood-friendly exchange rate against the dollar. That makes shooting there a serious bargain “that enables us to compete even with countries that provide tax incentives,” Szczerbak says.

With a new American Film Fest that fills Wroclaw with U.S. talent, Poland is clearly focused on drawing more Western productions.

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