‘Borgias’ cashes in on Czech incentives

Prague's Barrandov studios benefits from returning shoots

Prague– If activity at Prague’s Barrandov studios is any indication, the Czech Republic’s newly passed production incentives are already proving their worth.

“I hope we have the incentives next year because I am sure we will attract more productions with this advantage,” says Veronika Finkova of Etic Films, a co-producer of international cable series “Borgias,” moving into Barrandov for the winter.

The studio has also been buzzing more than usual thanks to French pic “Philibert” helmed by Sylvain Fusee, which wraps in September.

Both projects are taking advantage of the 20% back incentives for new shoots. A rival version of the medieval Borgias story, a Showtime production penned by Neil Jordan, is shooting in Budapest, where a similar rebate scheme has helped attract more business than the Czech Republic has seen since the economic downturn.

Finkova believes the sweetener payouts will soon ramp things up further.

“I think another important factor will be the fast (disbursement of funds),” she says. “It looks like we could get the incentives by the end of the year. If that works out, word will spread quickly.”

The 12-part “Borgias,” to begin lensing in six weeks, will convert soundstages and the Barrandov backlot into 15th-century Italy.

Helmer Oliver Hirschbiegel (“The Downfall”) will direct the first four parts, followed by two directors yet to be named in a production written and produced by Tom Fontana.

Co-produced by Atlantique Prods. of France, AOS of Germany and Prague’s Etic, the series will shoot entirely in the Czech Republic. Ousama Rawi, who shot “The Tudors,” will lense.

Casting is ongoing, but sets of the Sistine Chapel and historic exteriors are finishing construction, according to Jan Macola of Barrandov. The budget has not been released, but the production will be one of the studios biggest ventures this year, shooting through May on Barrandov’s older soundstages, not its newer Max facility.

“The older stages are actually better for sound,” Finkova says.

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