American Film Market 2012: Global Locations - Eastern Europe

Romania’s film industry has benefited from both the country’s spectacular locations — encompassing river deltas, dense forests, ancient cities and majestic mountains — and its reputation for cost-effectiveness.

Established studio players such as Castel and MediaPro have recently hosted projects, including Klaus Menzel’s indie feature “What About Love” starring Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia as a U.S. senator and his wife who rekindle love in Bucharest, and Fredrik Bond’s debut, “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” starring Shia LeBeouf.

Bucharest also boasts other facilities, offering a wide range of amenities to international and domestic producers shooting in and around the capital.

Businessman and financier Bobby Paunescu, who runs Solar Pictures in the U.S. and founded Mandragora Movies in Romania in 2005, has two outdoor studio facilities in Bucharest.

Paunescu, whose business interests include wind energy parks, insurance, transportation, hotels, agriculture, mining, real estate development and media, says the studios have “attracted films from all over the world,” with drama “Closer to the Moon,” starring Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong and Harry Lloyd, currently shooting there.

Some Romanian film industry insiders, reflecting on the intense local competition, say the studios lack facilities and amount to a rented former factory site, certainly not in the center of Bucharest, where the former owners of Mandragora Movies, the director Cristi Puiu and his wife, built some facades and a couple of streets about two years ago.

The studio website shows images of a modern set, an exact replica of a contemporary European street with construction spreading over 18,000 square meters, greenscreen and interior sets.

The second studio boasts an exterior period set from the ’60s.

“Filmmakers can conveniently get both modern and classic environments with these two fully functioning facilities and can save more in costs than shooting in more developed countries,” the studio says.

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