9. May 2018

Alternativní text obrázku
The Ústí Region, in the Czech Republic’s northwestern corner, is full of contrasts and diverse locations, offering settings for stories and genres of all kinds. Filmmakers appreciate working with the Ústí Region Film Office, led by Barbora Hyšková, as evidenced by the fact that it recently received the Film Friendly Region 2017 award, granted each year by the Audiovisual Producers’ Association and the Czech Film Commission.
Image barbora_hyskova_zdroj_denik_autor_karel_pech.jpg
Barbora, what does the Film Friendly 2017 award mean to you? It’s a great recognition and motivation to keep doing the work we enjoy. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s wonderful work. We get to meet interesting people and visit places mere mortals usually aren’t allowed to. What makes the award even more significant is it’s decided on not only by the filmmakers themselves, but also by the national film commission—and they know very well what it takes to do this work. What are some of the more interesting projects your office has helped out with? The projects we’ve worked on so far have been primarily domestic productions: The Czech film The Smiles of Sad Men was filmed here last year at the alcohol rehabilitation center in Petrohrad. We worked with the production team from the Czech Television comedy series Most (a town in the Ústí Region). And for the film Jan Palach we found a “sunny France” location in one of our local vineyards, as well as retro spaces from the 1960s. As far as international productions go, we hosted Keira Knightley in early 2017, when she shot The Aftermath, and we’ve also had crews here from China, Korea, and Germany. What current project is keeping you the most busy? That would be Rapl (Madman), the second season of the very successful Czech Television crime series, which is set in our region. We come up with ideas for locations, communicate with property owners, and sometimes help negotiate conditions. We open the doors to local authorities, we’ve gotten the regional capital Ústí nad Labem involved, who have helped tirelessly, and we’ve sourced various service providers in the region.

Why is your region experiencing such a filmmaking boom? Our region has this incredible mix of both beautiful and not-so-beautiful things. You really can find everything here, and the locations haven’t been overused. There’s also a trend now to film on location rather than in studios. Another one of our advantages is that we’re just an hour from Prague, which is great for the crews, which are mostly based in Prague. Why are locations in your region so attractive? We’ve got an abundance of natural beauty, with our northwest border skirted by the Ore Mountains, replete with canyons and dramatic sandstone formations along the Elbe river. In addition to these unique landscapes, we have a number of historical monuments and architectural sites of interest – castles, chateaus, monasteries, but also industrial and folk architecture. In stark contrast, you can also find socially excluded localities, brownfields, and endless housing estates. What about the locals in your region? Have they noticed the increase in filming? Do you get them involved? It works great and they view filming positively. They’ve begun sending us ideas for interesting locations. We can double or triple the number of potential local extras for projects shooting here thanks to our contacts. For the film Jan Palach, set during the 1960s, we were looking for period chairs and other props. Many people sent us tips, the response was incredible. And we were able to find the chairs we needed right here in our own region. In return, we invited some of these helpers to the filming. It’s important to have the locals on your side.

How do filmmakers find out about you? Word-of-mouth works best. When we show how much easier filming is with us, how we can help grease the wheels of bureaucracy, offer suggestions for atypical locations, make connections with the right people and institutions that help save time, energy, and even money, filmmakers gain confidence, recommend us to others, and gladly come back themselves. We also work with the national film commission, which was behind the founding of all our regional offices and puts us in touch with filmmakers. It’s great that filmmakers can find film offices throughout the Czech Republic. There’s eleven now, two of which opened just this year—in Plzeň and South Bohemia. How well do you get along? Have you noticed any competition between the film offices? We get along very well. I believe that every corner of our country is unique, and the opportunities are different everywhere. We just help filmmakers find what they need. For many projects, we’ve even recommended locations in neighboring regions, because it would be a shame not to use them when I know they’d be perfect. I see the regional offices as one big family, with the members helping each other out. We get together several times a year, along with the Czech Film Commission, to advise each other and exchange experiences. It’s a group of really great people who have something in common: They love their regions. And together we want to show what a great place the entire Czech Republic is. What would you say to foreign filmmakers about filming in the Czech Republic or doing a coproduction with the Czech Republic? They’ll find a concentration of all kinds of locations in a relatively small area. Plenty of high-quality services, good value for money, a rich tradition of filmmaking, great craftspeople, experienced filmmakers. Enthusiasm, creativity, the motto “nothing is impossible,” a friendly filmmaking environment, and of course perfect service from the film offices! It’s clear you enjoy your work. What’s your approach? How do you make your job fun? We always try to do whatever is possible, but never promise anything that’s not in our power to fulfil. We communicate openly and straightforwardly, and I think we’re very accommodating. Sometimes the challenges give us a bit of an adrenalin rush. It can get wild sometimes, but it’s an amazing feeling when we succeed. My colleague Helena Matuščinová and I try to solve issues with a positive attitude and a healthy dash of humor, which is often the key to resolving complications. I think that’s why filmmakers like to come back to us.

by Ludmila Claussová