20. June 2016

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The former Hlubina coal mine in Ostrava’s Lower Vítkovice area is not only a valuable industrial heritage site; it is also redolent with a powerful and inspirational industrial atmosphere. The Hlubina site possesses a truly unique visual quality, making it a fascinating and highly versatile filming location – where film-makers can also take advantage of the excellent professional infrastructure in the newly reconstructed historic buildings. The site of the former Hlubina coal mine comprises both buildings and technical equipment once used in the mining industry. It forms part of a larger industrial complex (the Lower Vítkovice area) which is globally unique because it concentrated the three key elements in the production process – coal mining, coke production and iron production in blast furnaces – on one single site. This “technological flow” cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Vítkovice complex also remained active for a long period, producing iron without interruption from the 1820s to almost the end of the 20th century.
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One film-maker who has used Lower Vítkovice as a location is Rhea Scott – the producer of the film Ghost Recon: Alpha (based on the Ghost Recon video game series). She talked about her team’s experience of location-shooting in Ostrava several years ago: “We chose Ostrava because it had this very unusual ironworks, and we decided to use the entire site as a location. It offered a wide variety of possibilities for filming, and it had a wonderfully mysterious and secretive atmosphere, so we were able to film almost everything there.” Today the Hlubina colliery is run by the civic association Hlásím se k továrně (Proud of the Factory), whose cultural and educational centre Provoz (Culture Factory) has found an ideal home at the site. The association gained EU funding to undertake a complete reconstruction which was completed in 2015, and now the site’s five buildings offer an inspirational setting for a wide range of educational, cultural and social events. The historic industrial structures have been converted into studios, clubs, rehearsal rooms, teaching and presentation rooms, and large multipurpose halls. The former transformer station has been divided into seventeen separate studios which offer a wide variety of different uses. Besides regular events held at Hlubina – including the Colours of Ostrava music festival, the Dream Factory festival of drama and alternative theatre, the Kamera Oko (Camera Eye) film festival and a month-long literary festival featuring authors reading their own works – the management of the site also offers it to film-makers for use as a unique location. One of the buildings at Hlubina – the Cineport – is used by the Provoz centre as a film and audiovisual centre. Formerly the coal mine’s workshop and machinery depot, it is now equipped with the latest audiovisual technologies for experimental audiovisual projections and it has become a popular venue for premieres of Czech art-house movies, documentaries and student films. Besides its unique atmosphere and vibrant creative team, the Cineport offers a range of facilities: a small screening room (capacity 22 people, 64 m²), a large screening room (60 people, 187 m²), open office premises (368 m²) that are ideal as a production or post-production facility, plus music rehearsal rooms and a recording studio.

The Hlubina coal mine underwent a constant process of change and evolution throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, as old buildings were extended, new ones built, and machinery modernized. Thanks to this history, the site now incorporates a wide variety of buildings from different periods and in different styles, with a unique atmosphere to suit a range of genres – from documentaries or historical films to sci-fi and horror. Alongside the untouched, authentic vestiges of the industrial past you will find fully reconstructed and modernized buildings offering all essential facilities for actors and film crews – dressing rooms, showers, editing suites, catering facilities, etc. The oldest and most architecturally valuable building at the Hlubina site – the old bathroom block built in 1899 and formerly used by the miners after their shift – offers several potential film locations, including a room featuring industrial modernist pillars and a hall containing the original mine engines and machine components. Other interesting locations include the former canteen (built in the 1950s in the modernist ‘Brussels style’), the former workshop and machinery depot (in an industrial Functionalist style), and the former winding tower (still including its original huge mechanical compressors that are now legally protected as part of the heritage site).

Hana Vítková from the City of Ostrava’s film office Film Ostrava!!! sums up the advantages of Ostrava: “It’s great that Ostrava can offer film-makers top-class professional facilities in these unique spaces – which are also ideal for use as film locations. With a range of other outstanding locations and a superb support network, Ostrava represents an excellent choice for making movies.” For more information and inquiries on filming at the Hlubina site, contact Marta Pilařová from the civic association Hlásím se k továrně, +420 736 515 481, marta@provoz.net.