Local facilities and talent may be thriving — and more studios are under construction — but high demand from local film and TV industries is making international projects a low priority in Russia these days.
The 18% tax rebate on co-spends locally can be tapped via the established co-production treaties with France, Italy and Canada — and a more complicated one with the EU. Russian state funding bodies also support projects with cash and without major restrictions on where the money is spent. But in practice it can be a long and complicated process, sometimes so long that players decide it isn’t worth it.
International projects requiring Russian locations can easily find a local partner to facilitate, but largely on a cash-only basis.
In terms of facilities, Russian-owned Thema Prods. is set to open a seven-stage studio in St. Petersburg early next year. Thema, originally founded in Luxembourg, has mostly invested in international co-productions (“Match Point”) to date.
For now, it’s the ex-Soviet satellites, where local production remains in the doldrums, that are luring foreign projects. The privatized and expanded Lithuania Film Studio outside Vilnius is currently housing a four-part “War and Peace” adaptation for director Robert Dornhelm and Italy’s Lux Vide. And a 12-stage studio is being developed near Ukrainian capital Kiev in collaboration with Hollywood’s Culver Studios.
- Theme Prods.: Web: themaprod.com; Contact: Michael Dounaev
- Russian World Studios: Web: rwstudio.com; Contact: Yury Sapronov
Backed by industrial conglom Sistema, Thema Prods. plans to open a seven-studio facility in St. Petersburg next spring. Thema topper Michael Dounaev estimates the cost savings of lensing in Russia to be around 15%-20% over Bucharest shoots, and more affordable than existing Moscow facilities.
Thema is already taking bookings.