2. May 2019

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The Czech Film Commission paid a visit to the set of the Norwegian TV series Atlantic Crossing, which has been crisscrossing the Czech Republic since December 3, 2018. One of the most expensive Scandinavian television productions to date involves every public broadcaster in Scandinavia and is produced by Norway’s Cinenord. A big part of the eight-episode series is being shot in the Czech Republic, where 91 shooting days are planned.
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"We caught up with the crew in the former Pragovka factory in Prague, which looks like a normal, modern-day building from the outside, but once inside, you find parts of it have travelled back in time to World War Two for this show. In this historical universe, German troops occupy most of Europe, England and the Allies are on tenterhooks, and the Norwegian resistance has taken up refuge in Scotland. Thanks to Czech set decorators, this Prague location has been transformed into a former Norwegian military base as well as the studio of BBC Radio in London,” says Czech Film Commission head Pavlína Žipková. The series’ protagonist, Norwegian Crown Princess Märtha, along with her three children, departs Europe for America in 1940, leaving her husband behind in occupied territory. After successfully crossing the Atlantic, they initially stay in the White House. During the war years, Märtha cultivates a friendship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is impressed by her and her work. She is fearless, fierce, and determined to change the world, as she sets out to alter the course of her destiny and fight for Norwegian liberation. “Until now, we’ve only heard the stories of successful men—the soldiers, generals, and politicians who strove for peace and the end of the Second World War. But strong women also played significant roles in our history. When I came across a newspaper article about the dramatic journey and life of Crown Princess Märtha, I was so impressed—it immediately caught my attention,” says director Alexander Eik on his motivation, adding that it took seven years of research before the script took shape.

Why did the filmmakers decide to shoot in the Czech Republic? “From the beginning, I liked the variety and variability of the locations. Each is interesting; each one is different and yet similar to those you could find in Scandinavia or England. I was also absolutely entranced by the beautiful nature here. Shots from Czech forests will be edited together with those of Norwegian nature, and I’m sure that in the end, the scene will be perfectly seamless,” says Eik enthusiastically. “Every location feels familiar and comfortable. The castles and châteaus have an almost-Scandinavian atmosphere, which is clear to see in the final results. The very creative crews are a massive help—we understand each other well. There’s nothing they can’t do, and I’m always amazed by their fast, professional, and positive approach,” adds the series’ producer Silje Hopland Eik of Cinenord. Czech locations stand in for Norway, Sweden, London, Scotland, Washington, and other U.S. cities, contributing to the series’ perfect mise–en–scène. The crew films at châteaus and castles in Kačina, Kroměříž, Litomyšl, Opočno, and Hořovice, in the town of Liberec, at the airport in Benešov, and in the Brdy forests. On stage at the Barrandov Studio, filmmakers built sets of twelve rooms of the White House, including the legendary Oval Office.

Responsible for keeping things running smoothly in the Czech Republic is the coproducing company Sirena Film. Producer Pavel Müller can’t speak highly enough of the cooperation. “So far everything’s gone according to plan, which is so important for us. Our crew numbers about 120, and only about 15 of those are from abroad; the rest are locals. Many of them hold senior positions on the creative team. The first AD is Jan Menšík, key makeup is Linda Eisenhamerová, the supervising art director the experienced Jindřich Kočí. In addition, the production designer Jette Lehmann has worked with a number of her Czech colleagues in the past, which is a huge advantage when it comes to communication and mutual understanding,” adds Müller. Although filming will continue until the first days of summer, producer Silje Hopland Eik is already thinking ahead to the next project that could be filmed in the Czech Republic. “Our shooting experience here has been fantastic, and living and working in Prague is a wonderful thing. It’s a beautiful city to live in. I’m already thinking about what project we could bring here next. Because we really want to shoot here again.”