The filming of three large international television series, cooperation with Bollywood or Hong Kong productions, the opening of new regional film offices and a special feature in the prestigious Variety magazine: the work of the Czech Film Commission also has its role in these success stories of 2016.
For Czech filmmakers, the highlights of 2016 certainly included the filming of three international television series: Britannia, Knightfall and Genius. All three are period pieces and their first ten-part seasons were filmed completely in the Czech Republic, totalling 330 filming days and 2.7 billion crowns ($106m) of production spend, plus the use of dozens of locations as well as jobs for thousands of people.
Britannia is made in cooperation between Sky and Amazon Studios and the series is set in the year 43 AD, when the Roman army returned to the British Isles in order to finally crush the centre of the Celtic empire. The History Channel project Knightfall brings to life the last days of the Templar Knights in the 14th century. National Geographic’s Genius series is an anthology of stories of exceptional minds, with its first season dedicated to Albert Einstein.
The Czech Republic is ideal for historical projects primarily thanks to the huge selection of suitable locations, renowned set construction and top professionals in trades such as the manufacturing of weapons, historical costumes, period props, etc.
German television producers have also been shooting period pieces here in recent years; this year, for example, two films about Martin Luther. The successful cooperation with filmmakers from Scandinavia also continued with this year’s films Borg vs. McEnroe about the rivalry between the two famous tennis players with Stellan Skarsgård and Shia LaBeouf in the starring roles, and the Norwegian fantasy film Ash Lad. Chinese and Hong Kong action films are also being filmed here this year (e.g. The Adventurers with Jean Reno), as are Bollywood romances (The Ring with superstar Shah Rukh Khan). The list of recent productions can be found here.
Billion Dollar Location: Czech Republic
Variety, one of the three most important and absolutely the most widely read trade magazines in the world, named the Czech Republic a “billion dollar location” and gave the Czech film industry exceptional attention and space in one of its June weekly issues. The Czech Film Commission contributed to the preparation of a special feature entitled Billion Dollar Location: Czech Republic.
The Words of Anne Thomopoulos, one of the producers of Britannia and a fan of the Czech Republic, confirm its title of billion dollar location: “You have beautiful and diverse locations here, landscapes untouched by civilisation. Foreign filmmakers are generally only aware of Prague, which is unfortunate. I can truly say that the Czech Republic is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
That is one of the reasons the Czech Film Commission is laying the ground for filming in regions and away from established film locations: it is explaining how to cooperate with productions to representatives of regional institutions, simplifying communication with filmmakers, helping to build infrastructure, etc.
In Jeseník, Ostrava and Pardubice the first contact points have been operating since 2012, while new film offices arose this year in the Ústí Region and in Zlín. A new film office is scheduled to open also in Brno at the beginning of 2017.
The Czech Film Commission team recently got a new addition in the person of Pavlína Žipková, who is joining the office with eighteen years of experience in film production: “I’ve followed the Czech Film Commission’s activities for many years and have also been in regular contact with the team. I’ve always appreciated what they’ve done for the Czech film industry. They took on a great deal of work. For me, this job is a challenge – one I’m really looking forward to.”
Ludmila Claussová, who has been with the Czech Film Commission from its inception in 2004, concluded: “It’s a great feeling when you hear a producers on the set commending the Czech crew. The final scene hasn’t even been shot and they are already planning to return to the Czech Republic next year. At that moment you know that you have been contributing to something good!”