24. October 2018

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Location expeditions in the autumn usually present a pleasant challenge for both organizers and participants alike. The sun sets sooner, and temperatures are not as warm as for example in May. But the Vysočina region brought us welcome surprises, from the glow of an Indian summer to the unique locations ideal for shooting films, series, commercials or still photography. A group of location scouts, film architects and photographers explored the beauties of the Bohemian-Moravian highlands on a trip from 17-18 October. The organization was led by Michaela Králová, the newest member of the Vysočina film Office.
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The ornate Chateau Herálec, replete with an English garden, dates back to the 16th Century, and over the years has undergone many reconstructions, had many owners, and served various purposes. Nowadays, the chateau is in a quite refined and stylish form. The Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque interiors naturally blend together, complemented by the delicately reconstructed elaborate façade and Gothic exterior, not to mention the courtyard.

The rustic Michal Farm open-air museum in the village of Pohleď has a completely different atmosphere. This cultural monument offers filmmakers a sense of what life was like before serfdom was abolished in 1848. The farmhouse offers authentically furnished residential rooms with earthenware floors, cellars and a stable with a shed. And it wouldn't be a proper village without a local pub. The nearby Franz Joseph Inn is cozy, authentic and above all film-friendly!

The Žďár nad Sázavou chateau, the Baroque pearl of the UNESCO-listed Czech monuments, is an impressive work by the architect Jan Blažej Santini. Although we lacked the time to explore every nook of the abbey, we did not leave out the Baroque stables, ponds in the vast park or the view of the beautifully preserved and hitherto unrestored ceiling painting in the main hall of Prelature. The nearby pilgrimage church on the Green Mountain dominates the Santini gems in Vysočina, with a five-pointed star plan and a ceiling sculpture that depicts, according to legend, the language of John of Nepomuk.

On the first day of our location tour, we ended up on a slightly spooky location that was all the more charming for it – the Renaissance chateau of Brtnice, which was once a stopover destination for nobility on the road from Prague to Vienna. The large expanse of the chateau with three courtyards is complemented by a surrounding fairytale-like forest park. We didn’t encounter any goblins or fairies this time, and filmmakers may rather prefer to count on hiring extras for such roles. In any case, film crews will certainly be more than welcome since the building is not currently being put to permanent use.

Třebíč is simply a town full of treasures. We experienced many for ourselves, like when we sampled the sublime local whiskey Trebitsch in the brand new film-friendly bar of the same name, strolled through the charming Jewish cemetery, awash in autumn colors, or explored the head-turning Basilica of St. Prokop, which has featured in several films and Czech fairytales. Perhaps most impressive, though, are the winding cobbled alleyways of the old Jewish quarter, with historical details on every corner. No production crew will lack for period artifacts, preserved portals, or dark passageways leading to picturesque little courtyards.

After a quick visit to the Jihlava underground, with its network of corridors stretching 25 kilometers directly under the ancient city center, we arrived at the final place on our meandering Vysočina journey, the Želiv monastery. Still an active center of Premonstratensian spiritual life, it is also home to a convent, gradually renovated in the Baroque style, and the adjacent Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, restored under Santini’s architectural direction. The monastery also offers pleasant accommodation, a restaurant, facilities in the farm buildings, ponds and even a small brewery. In short, it’s the perfect place for finding peace of mind or depicting on the silver screen – as were all the locations on our way to the Highlands.