Romania: Boom fueled by low costs

Country's professionalism also attracts producers

When Anthony Minghella went to Romania to shoot “Cold Mountain” in 2002, most bizzers didn’t even know how to spell Bucharest, let alone find it on the map. Four years on, the country is experiencing a production boom fuelled by production costs up to 30% below Prague.

Romania has become a popular destination for low-budget horror and action pics, but the professionalism of Castel Film and Media Pro, the country’s two main service providers, are also attracting cost-conscious arthouse and indie producers.

Media Pro has regular clients in Lakeshore, Pathe and Blighty’s Box TV, who produce for the BBC. Media Pro co-produced foreign-language Oscar nominee “Joyeux Noel,” which was largely shot in Romania, and it’s currently taking baby steps into co-financing with the Joe Travolta helmed “White Lies” starring Darryl Hannah.

Last year, Castel Film was so busy they actually had to turn down work. And while their seven soundstages can comfortably house three to four productions at a time, they squeezed in five. Castel is constantly extending its equipment base and offers post-production for the 120-140 commercials that are shot in the studios every year.

Meanwhile Francis Ford Coppola chose Romania as a location to return to the director’s chair with “Youth Without Youth” after an almost decade-long hiatus. Obviously, there’s something about the country that captures people’s imagination — even if it’s just the low prices.