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Production-Services Help Filmmakers Around the World

A look at local resources in Central and Eastern Europe, China, France, Thailand and the U.K.

Filmmakers chasing incentives around the world often find themselves in unfamiliar territory. That’s when securing the right production-services company can make all the difference between a successful shoot and a troubled one. Every major filmmaking destination boasts local outfits that traveling producers and location managers contact in order to facilitate production. They know all the ropes: local laws, permitting, incentives, crews, facilities, hotels and transportation, equipment rentals — and can help anyone, from a nervous studio exec to a tyro indie director, navigate the treacherous landscape of filming in a strange land.

Central and Eastern Europe

Linking up with a production-services company in the Czech Republic is essential if a producer wants to tap into the 20% production rebate. There are plenty of good options, including Czech Anglo Prods. (BBC’s “The Musketeers”), Film United (“Borgia”), Milk and Honey Films (Tim Robbins’ “The City of Lies”), Sirena Film (DR’s “1864”) and Stillking Films (NBC’s “Crossing Lines,” Scott Free’s “Child 44”).

In Hungary, which also has a 20% production incentive, the leading company is Mid Atlantic Films, whose credits include NBCU’s “Dracula” and Brett Ratner’s “Hercules.” Another option: Pioneer Prods., whose work includes the BBC’s “The Lady Vanishes.”

In Russia, the go-to company is Etalon Film, which has serviced” Fast & Furious 6″ and Kenneth Branagh’s  “Jack Ryan.” Other top companies in the region include Croatia’s Embassy Films, which undertook location work for “Game of Thrones,” and Serbia’s Work in Progress, which handled McG’s “Three Days to Kill.”

— Leo Barraclough

China 

Looking for a mock-up Forbidden City, 1930s Shanghai or a greenscreen studio? You’re in luck because China has been cranking up its studio capacities to lure overseas projects keen to get a foothold in the country’s booming biz. Now the world’s second-biggest film market, the People’s Republic is becoming an increasingly sought-after production location, although overseas shingles have to be aware of local rules for co-productions.

China’s profile as a location got a big boost in May when Legendary East, the Asian wing of Legendary, inked a co-production deal with China Film Co., the country’s largest producer and distributor, to co-produce films for both Chinese and international release.

Another favorite with overseas productions, especially those looking for great outdoor locations, is Hengdian studios in Zhejiang province.

Earlier this year, China Film opened a new greenscreen studio within its Huairou production base near Beijing, which is thought to be the first virtual production stage of its kind in China. The facility uses Lightcraft technology and the studio boasts 16 soundstages.

— Clifford Coonan
France 

France hosts a vast network of veteran line producers and film commissions.

One of the first stops is the Film France commission, where managing director Patrick Lamassoure helps filmmakers looking to lense in Gaul with local laws, permits and finding local resources. Paris boasts two major orgs: Ile de France Film Commission and Mission Cinema.

Headed by Olivier Rene Veillon and marketing topper Yann Marchet, the commission is in touch with foreign producers year-round, participating in several international events, such as the L.A.-set Location Trade Show, to promote the Ile de France region, which comprises Paris and its suburbs. The region also hands out €14 million ($18.7 million) per year to French and foreign projects.

The city of Paris-backed Mission Cinema, headed by Michel Gomez and Sophie Boudon-Vanhille, advises producers on how and where to shoot in the French capital depending on their budgets and connects them with local production managers. The French Riviera, another popular lensing destination, hosts the PACA film commission.

Raphael Benoliel and John Bernard are France’s top two production managers. Bernard’s credits include “Inception,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Hugo.” Benoliel line-produced “Les Miserables,” “Red 2” and co-produced “Midnight in Paris.”

— Elsa Keslassy

Thailand 

Thailand is one of the most popular shooting locations in Asia. The local film biz supports nearly 90,000 jobs, while 636 foreign productions shot in the nation last year.

Thailand goes out of its way to attract foreign filmmakers because they generate tourist coin as well as direct revenues from the productions themselves. Big movies in recent years include “The Hangover Part II,” “The Beach,” “The Impossible” and “The Lady.” The massive success of the Chinese movie “Lost in Thailand” has resulted in a noticeable rise in the number of Chinese tourists.

Don Robinson, head of Siamlite Intl., which is located not far from the home of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, believes Thailand is an excellent place to make
movies because all the equipment you need is available.

“Production design is very good in Thailand, soundstages are cheap and the level of craftsmanship is very high.”

— Clifford Coonan

U.K. 

In the U.K., a small army of production professionals — variously credited as production managers, line producers or executive producers — devotes itself to shepherding major productions, and the easiest way to track them down is through the Production Guild of Great Britain.

The leading group includes Nigel Gostelow (“Thor: The Dark World”), Mark Huffam “(Prometheus”), Callum McDougall (“Skyfall”) and Bernard Bellew (“Les Miserables”). Others include Steve Clark-Hall (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”), Angus More Gordon (“47 Ronin”), Tim Lewis (“All You Need Is Kill”) and Nik Korda (“The Hobbit”). But it’s not just a game for boys, with Sarah Bradshaw (“Maleficent”), Mary Richards (“The Counselor”), Tracey Seaward (“Philomena,: “War Horse”) and Mairi Bett (“The World’s End,” “Jane Eyre”) among the elite production group.

— Leo Barraclough

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