The Czech Republic continues to attract German television productions. According to State Cinematography Fund director Helena Bezděk Fraňková, this year 14 television films and serials will shoot nearly 400 days and spend more than 850 million crowns. “German television productions have in recent years been our most loyal ‘clients’, and Germany clearly surpasses other countries in terms of the number of foreign projects shooting here. This year, among them are crime stories set directly in Prague as well as the high-budget Bavaria Fiction series Das Boot. Foreign filmmakers find here working film incentives, quality film infrastructure and locations that are especially interesting for period stories,” says Helena Bezděk Fraňková.

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Crime stories from Prague on German screens

“This year, we are practically always either filming or prepping German shoots in the Czech Republic – we have already completed over 160 shooting days on seven projects for German TV,” says producer Michal Pokorný from Mia Film and Schiwago Film Praha. “We are now working on two films for the new Der Prag-Krimi series of crime stories and preparations are underway for the second series of the Charité series about the fate of the Berlin hospital of the same name,” Pokorný adds.

Der Prag-Krimi will be the Prague chapter in the successful series of crime stories from various European cities, such as Der Zurich-Krimi set in Switzerland, or Der Tel Aviv-Krimi set in Israel, aired by the German public broadcaster ARD. The protagonist of the Prague series is Berlin inspector Jan Koller, who heads to the Czech capital to investigate the death of a colleague. Koller himself is a native of the Bohemian lands, and as a young boy emigrated with his mother to Germany. Apart from conducting the investigation in Prague, he also resolves his personal ties to his former homeland.

Filming for two episodes of Der Prag-Krimi began on October 18th, and a total of 42 filming days will be spent under the director Nicolai Rohd in Prague. “I had never shot in the Czech Republic before, but after my experience I would definitely like to return. Many international productions are being filmed here, and the cooperation with Czech colleagues is excellent,” the director says.

The shoot is set to close on December 21, and production will spend some 37 million crowns. In the leading roles are popular German actors Roeland Wiesnekker and Gabriela Maria Schmeide. The producers are Michal Pokorný and Martin Lehwald, and this time it is a production of Schiwago Film Praha.

These days, Mia Film is preparing to shoot the second series of the Charité series – also for ARD – about the Berlin hospital of the same name. The crew will spend 60 shooting days in the Czech Republic from 4 December 2017 to 9 March 2018 and spend almost 80 million crowns. The first installment of the successful six-part series was filmed at the turn of 2015 and 2016 in Prague’s Invalidovna hospital and other locations in the Czech Republic. The premiere attracted more than 8.3 million viewers in Germany, or nearly 26% of the television audience share, making it the country’s most-watched serial premiere of the past 20 years.


Artistic professionals in the Czech Republic are first class

The two-part thriller Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night), which takes place in the late 1980s during the time of Perestroika, is being filmed for the station ZDF by Wilma Film. The first scene was shot on on October 17, 2017. The story begins in 1988 in the GDR with the death of a West German tourist and is largely set in the Harz Mountains. The case is jointly investigated by the East German police watchdog and the West German inspector, and their contrasting investigative styles and different attitudes towards life, of course, don’t go unnoticed.

Helmed by the famous director Hans Steinbichler, the crew will be shooting in the Czech Republic until 22 December and spend over 62 million crowns. Apart from the German director, DOP and actors, the crew is comprised of Czech film professionals. “It is the first time for us that German producers have decided to occupy nearly all the head of department positions in the Czech Republic and testifies to the great trust and great name our filmmakers have in the world,” says producer Filip Hering from Wilma Film, which cooperates most frequently with German TV productions in the Czech Republic.

“From November 28, we will also be shooting scenes in Prague for the successful crime series Helen Dorn, which has been broadcast by ZDF since 2014. The plot of the new criminal case revolves around the German embassy in Prague in 1988, so this time Prague will not be standing in for Berlin or some other city but will represent itself,” says Hering. Filming will last 15 days and the spend will be about 20 million crowns.

According to Ludmila Claussová from the Czech Film Commission, German filmmakers are returning here for several reasons: “The Czech Republic offers high-quality film professionals on a comparable level to crews from other countries with advanced film industries. It has a variety of locations from the Middle Ages to every epoch of the 20th century up until today. The incentive scheme of the Czech Film Fund of course is also a factor. Adding to this is the fact that we are neighboring countries, and so German artists do not have to travel far from home. ”


Biggest budget German production shot in the CR Das Boot is full of series stars

German producer Moritz Polter from Bavaria Fiction oversees the production of the eight-part series Das Boot, which has been shooting in Prague since late August 2017 and is the biggest production of German provenance in the Czech Republic since the introduction of incentives here in 2010. “Out of 104 total shooting days, about 15 weeks will be in Prague, where we are creating the submarine’s interiors and scenes of the French uprising against the occupiers. When deciding where to place the heart of our production, apart from the professionalism of Czech colleagues, the suitable locations here for various themes played a role. And, of course, incentives also were a key factor in setting up the financing,” explains Moritz Polter, pointing to his positive experience when shooting the crime series Crossing Lines in the Czech Republic several years ago.

The story begins in 1942 and is inspired by Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 film Das Boot, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim (1973), on which the action is loosely based. About half a year after the events depicted at the end of Petersen’s movie, the submarine war is intensifying, and the U612 submarine sets off into battle again with a new crew. The secondary story line is being developed on dry land in La Rochelle, France, and at its center is the resistance and later rising uprising against the German occupiers. The director of the series is the Austrian native Andreas Prochaska.

Das Boot in a co-production of Munich Bavaria Fiction, Sky Germany and Sonar Entertainment, which is also handling its worldwide distribution. Shooting in the Czech Republic is provided by Stillking Films. Out of the total budget of 25 million euros, about 360 million crowns will be spent at Barrandov Studio, where the submarine interiors are being realized, and on other aspects of production in the Czech Republic. Filming will last until February 2018, and apart from Czech locations, shooting will also take place in France, Germany and Malta.

Among the actors are a number of familiar faces, such as Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones), Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), August Wittgenstein (The Crown), Rainer Bock (Inglourious Basterds) and Rick Okon (Tatort). The Das Boot series’ European premiere is scheduled for the end of 2018 on the Sky satellite network in Germany, Austria, Italy, the UK and Ireland. However, due to anticipated popular demand, Sonar Entertainment is securing world-wide distribution of the series, so it will likely be seen by audiences everywhere.