×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Czech Republic: Resources Grow as Foreigners Flock In

Outsiders find a lot to love in the country's infrastructure

In 1990, not long after the Velvet Revolution brought an end to 41 years of communist rule, American producer Rick McCallum came to the Czech Republic to work on Lucasfilm TV series “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”

The production had to bring in department heads, but it was able to staff the rank and file of the crew with experienced locals. And while the soundstages were in decent shape, the real appeal for McCallum was the practical locations. “You could go anywhere — any castle, any building — and the location rates were minimal,” McCallum says.

A quarter of a century later, the Czech Republic’s film and TV production infrastructure has matured along with the rest of the economy, but locations — historic and otherwise — are still plentiful, easily accessible and, while not as cheap they once were, more affordable than those in the U.K., Germany, France, or the U.S.

And local crews, long since adjusted to free market production schedules, earn raves from outside producers for their old-school craftsmanship, ingenuity and strong work ethic.

Producer Kim Zubick says the Czech crew on “The Zookeeper’s Wife” “literally gave 1,000%. There was none of the guff you get with a Los Angeles crew, for example, when they start grumbling about the catering.”

The producers had contemplated shooting “Wife” in Romania or Serbia, then settled on Hungary. But when they dug deeper, Zubick says they found that the Czech Republic could provide a deeper crew base and better locations — such as an abandoned communist-era town that they could turn into facsimile of a bombed-out neighborhood. They also discovered that the general population had “more of a Polish look,” which would serve them well when casting extras for the film, which is set in Warsaw during World War II.

Zubick also learned that the country had a wealth of retired animals from old-school circuses and private zoos that could provide the production with animal stars for its re-creation of the Warsaw Zoo, which was constructed at Exhibition Park in the center of Prague.

For years, the inexpensive high-quality workforce and cheap locations were enough to lure foreign productions to the Czech Republic ranging from 1996’s “Mission: Impossible” to 2002’s “The Bourne Identity.” But as prices rose, spurred by the improving economy — and as neighboring Hungary, not to mention the U.K. and other countries, enacted increasingly rich incentives — the Czech Republic lost more and more shoots to competitors.

So in 2010, the government established its own incentive, which today offers a competitive 20% base rebate on qualifying Czech spend, along with an additional 10% on the cost of foreign cast and crew if they agree to pay the 15% Czech withholding tax on their salaries. The rebate is managed by a single body, the National Fund of Cinematography. According to McCallum, the entire process is quick, painless, and transparent.

It is also easy for visiting producers, casts and crews to communicate with Czech locals. “Anybody who’s below 30 speaks good English,” says William Stuart, the U.S. representative for Barrandov Studios. “With older craftsmen, there still can still be a language barrier, but the younger people act as translators.”

While the Czech Republic doesn’t have the depth of production infrastructure found in Los Angeles, where any piece of technology or talent can be accessed almost instantly, producers say it’s is easy to ship equipment from neighboring countries, and London, with its wealth of talent, is a mere hour and 45-minute plane flight away from Prague.

More Artisans

  • Chile's Production Incentives Include New 30%

    Chile Incentives Pilot Program Aims to Draw Producers With 30% Rebate

    With over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, the long and narrow South American country of Chile encompasses a remarkable variety of weather patterns and landscapes. Filmmakers traveling there will discover that the Chilean Economic Development Agency in alliance with nation’s film commission recently launched what it calls a Pilot Program for High-Impact Audiovisual Investment [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]

  • (L to R) SAMUEL L. JACKSON,

    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

  • READY PLAYER ONE

    How Writer-Crew Collaborations Are Changing the Script for the Creative Process

    In traditional filmmaking, once a script is written, the director and department heads break it down and figure out the costs and logistics of production. But if the screenwriter collaborates during the creative process with key crew members, the entire production can benefit.  Such collaboration offers the prospect of help on many fronts. For example, [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

    The Visual Effects Society announced nominees for the organization’s 17th annual awards on Tuesday. Leading the way in the film and TV fields, respectively, were Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” Each picked up six nominations. Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” received the most nominations among animated feature contenders with five. “Ready Player One” [...]

  • Dynasties BBC Vundu Pack

    Bush Guides, Night Cameras Help BBC America’s ‘Dynasties’ Catch Unique Moments

    Just getting to one of the locations of BBC America wildlife documentary series “Dynasties” — presented by David Attenborough and following the lives of endangered animals — requires an 11-hour flight from London to Johannesburg, a two-hour connection to Harare, Zimbabwe, an hourlong chartered Cessna 206 trip to Mana Pools National Park airstrip and an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content