Since launching in Serbia in 2018, Belgrade-based Firefly Prods. has not only quickly become a major producer of scripted series, it’s also raising the country’s profile as a film location with its plans to build a major studio complex this year.
Headed by former BBC news producer Ivana Mikovic, Firefly has a fast-growing slate of productions in the works and a new series set to premiere in the coming weeks.
Firefly is also building a €7 million ($7.6 million) studio complex outside Belgrade for its own series as well as third-party and international productions that is set to begin construction in the coming weeks and scheduled for completion next year. The facility will allow the company to produce around five series a year.
Among its three series set to premiere this year are “Tycoon,” which debuts on Telekom Srbija’s Superstar cable channel March 15 and then on Serbian pubcaster RTS. The family drama-thriller tells the story of Vladan Simonovic, a powerful Serbian business magnate who acquired his fortune in the 1990s as Yugoslavia fell apart in war. As a rising new political class distances itself from him, the once influential tycoon faces a growing threat from his rivals.
Also premiering this year are “The Clan,” about two small crooks catapulted into the upper echelons of the Serbian underground, and “Underneath,” described as a Nordic-style crime drama about a police inspector with a dark past on the trail of a serial killer.
Firefly’s fast-growing pipeline includes both original stories and book adaptations. The company has acquired nine book titles, with a number currently in development, including two English-language series projects: Serbian author Borislav Pekić’s “Rabies,” a timely tale set in the 1980s at London’s Heathrow airport during an outbreak of an extremely virulent form of rabies; and “Fatal Ally,” an MI6 espionage thriller by former BBC journalist Tim Sebastian.
It’s also adapting Dejan Stojiljkovic’s Serbian bestseller “Constantine’s Crossing,” a supernatural World War II story about the Nazis’ hunt for powerful relics that once belonged to the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, which is due next year.
Likewise in preproduction are three original projects: “Black Wedding,” about a government investigator looking into a killing spree and its links to ancient folkloric practices; “The Family,” a miniseries tracing the last three days before the arrest of former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević from various points of view, including that of his family, who is under siege in the presidential palace; and “No Trespassing,” which follows a father and daughter as they begin a new life in a village divided by property developers and the locals who oppose them.
The series will shoot at the new Firefly Studios complex. Located 25 minutes from central Belgrade, the facility will comprise three soundstages (two measuring 2,000 square meters, with 15-meter-high ceilings, while the third is 800 square meters and with 12-meter-high ceilings), workshops, production offices and an adjoining backlot.
Mikovic is looking to attract international productions to the new studio. Serbia offers a 30% tax rebate on productions with budgets of more than €5 million and a 25% rebate for productions under €5 million ($5.24 million).