Indies scout frugal locales

Prague sells producer's requirements: inexpensive, fast and good

PRAGUE — After you’ve successfully shopped your studio to all the majors, who’s your next target?

For Prague’s expanding film servicing community, U.S. independent producers are the next wave.

Over the April 27-28 weekend, Barrandov hosted a group of 12 visitors, ranging from location scouts to the head of the Producer’s Guild, selling them on the merits of sending their next projects to Europe’s new film capital.

Vance van Petten, executive director of the 1,600-member Producer’s Guild of America, says his mission in coming to Prague is to “spread the word. Get the message out to producers who aren’t here. Prague still isn’t really well known.”

According to Bill Stuart, L.A. rep for Barrandov, there were twice as many execs who wanted to make the jaunt, which faced size constraints.

Those who came appeared impressed. “Barrandov offers depth of resource, a backlot and craftmanship,” van Petten notes. “What you’re seeing in Prague is that you can deliver all three (producer’s requirements): inexpensive, fast and good. You have quality of productions, but still at an affordable price, and done quickly. Add on a variety of locations from the countryside to the streets of Prague, which is unmatched.”

HBO executive James German adds, “Prague still looks like really authentic Europe. You can do a lot of really great period pieces here.”

The group’s tour included a visit to the set of “Shanghai Knights” at Barrandov and a stop at “Children of Dune,” filming at Prague Studios, with set construction provided by Barrandov. The producers noted the detail of construction, with Czech craftsmen riding a high following the Emmy for last year’s “Anne Frank” set design.

“The depth of crews here is increasing and their capacity is growing,” says van Petten. Prague even beat out Canada in that respect, with enough local Czech crew available to handle four or five productions at any given time.

The junket is expected to reap results down the line — at least two of the participants have projects that look bound for Prague.