19. February 2024

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The success of Czech glassworks in the global film industry: Pačinek Glass, Klimchi, Novotný Glass

Three Czech glassworks – each very different in their approach to design and marketing, production capacity, and size. What do they have in common? Success in the global film industry. Pačinek Glass created 64 original crystal sculptures for the film Glass Onion, directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig. Klimchi stocked the set of the Hollywood box office blockbuster Barbie with handmade table glass from its original Rosaline collection. Novotný Glass created glass objects for the fantasy series Carnival Row and Wheel of Time, the Stephen Williams film Chevalier, and historical replicas of period lighting fixtures for the popular German World War II series Submarine. How did they do it?

Pačinek Glass

The company’s film success is due in part to the worldwide reputation of Czech glass, the glassworks’ website, and an internet search engine. The senior art director of the film Glass Onion, John Dexter, was intrigued by the glassworks’ website and contacted the company on impulse, says Jiří Pačinek, an artistic glassmaker and founder and owner of Pačinek Glass

The producers expanded the commission from 12 to 64 sculptures

The film production was looking for luxurious artifacts for the director, whose task was to make a strong impression and thus raise the visual aspect of the selected scenes to a higher level. That’s precisely what Pačinek Glass did with their creations. So well that production expanded their original order from 12 units to a final order of 64 pieces.  

First, the glassworks received designs for three sculptures by e-mail. Jiří Pačinek created the first sample based on the designs, and the company manager, David Sobotka, recorded its production on video. The reaction of the film producers was enthusiastic - two days later, John Dexter arrived in person with more proposals. 

The biggest challenge was precision

The brief was to create the most accurate objects possible based on detailed drawings by various artists. The biggest challenge for Jiří Pačinek was to transform these “paper” designs into three-dimensional glass objects. The glassmaker’s level of imagination and talent played a crucial role. 

Pačinek confirms that the sculptures’ proportions were carefully measured during the work. Production was carried out in close collaboration with John Dexter, who stayed in the glassworks for a week and continuously refined the details he wanted to emphasize. 

This is how the first batch of crystal objects for the film was created. Jiří Pačinek then flew off on vacation, where he received a phone call from David Sobotka saying that the production liked the pieces so much that they wanted to order more. 

The filmmaker’s trust in the glassmaker paid off

Jiří Pačinek and John Dexter met again in the glassworks in Kunratice u Cvikova and continued their collaboration. Dexter invested complete confidence in the glassmaker’s talent and essentially gave him a free hand. This gave Pačinko the necessary peace of mind to work, which was reflected in the result. “I think we remade only two pieces. One broke during production, and John wanted to modify one. Otherwise, everything went well on the first try. That’s a miracle,” says Pačinek. 

The entire glass factory - five or six glassblowers - worked only on the film for one month. Before they got the commission, the company found itself in a difficult situation - it didn’t have much work, except for a few orders from friends and supporters who wanted to help the company. The glassworks agreed with friendly customers to temporarily suspend orders to focus on production for the film and to deliver the order on time. 

Freehand modeling 

“90% of it was solid glass, unblown. But we had to blow some things to make it easier for us. And some parts were attached later. We created some things with freehand modeling hot glass, our know-how,” explains Pačinek. 

Typical customers: artists, designers

The glassworks’ typical customers include artists, designers, and architects, many of whom are returning clients. Based on their designs and in their presence, glassmakers produce objects that are then sold in galleries. The objects are either unique one-off pieces, or the artists have prototypes made and then order, for example, ten pieces of each. 

Other customers of Pačinek Glass are design companies producing light fixtures, such as Preciosa and Lasvit. Among their clients are also art collectors who are interested in the original work of the glassworks’ founder. Their wide range of products includes glasses, chandeliers, and sculptures. 

“It was challenging, but I enjoyed it.”

When asked whether he learned anything new from the film commission, Jiří Pačinek replies that it differed in the use of specific techniques and was more demanding in that each piece was different - including figures, animals, and abstract objects

John Dexter got everything that I ever learned out of me, all my art and skill. It was physically demanding, requiring a lot of concentration. It was precise work, but I enjoyed it. I had a blast,” Pačinek sums up.  

Of importance are speed of delivery and quality packaging

However, he also points out that these commissions for films put a great deal of pressure on the delivery deadline, as the shooting schedule depends on it. The job was completed on time thanks to everything going well on the first attempt, and almost no waste was generated. It also helped that Pačinek Glass operates in its own glassworks, where glassmakers could work longer hours and later into the night. 

Also crucial for this order was the careful packaging, which was managed by David Sobotka. The glass sculptures needed to survive loading and unloading at the airport and the plane journey so that nothing would break. A special box was made to measure for each piece

Film commissions as creative inspiration

Filmmakers work with different materials and can do incredible things. They are experts in their craft and know exactly what they want. And I consider that a challenge. I look forward to more commissions like this because I know it won’t be easy, but it will inspire me and push me further,” says Pačinek. 

The film contract also positively impacted the glassworks’ sales in the Czech and foreign markets. “We made money, we did a beautiful job, and it worked as advertising for us. They respected us as people and professionals. And it’s also an advertisement for other Czech glassmakers, which also makes me proud,” concluded Pačinek.  

Collaboration on the film opens doors

In addition to the Glass Onion project, the glassworks collaborated on Gladiator 2 and worked on smaller commissions for Czech films and fairy tales. The company has been approached by the producers of another project for Apple TV and is in talks to work with a foreign film production company. 

The glassworks is planning a joint exhibition in New York with a friendly Czech-American artist. “Thanks to the cooperation on the film, everyone is friendly to us,” confirms Pačinek. 

Do your job well

When asked what advice he would give to other suppliers looking to win a film contract, the glass artist answers simply: “Do your job well. We do things our way; we try to do them well and make beautiful glass. That’s the only way.”


Lukáš Klimčák, founder of Klimchi, gives similar advice to other companies: “Above all, do things your own way, develop your own distinctive products.” 

Emphasis on marketing

However, Klimchi differs from Pačinek Glass in its strong emphasis on quality marketing. The company is, in essence, a retail design brand that produces its designs within the family-owned Jílek glassworks in Kamenický Šenov. It specializes in small-scale handmade table glass in a variety of colors and textures. 

It has a team of employees who specialize in sales, marketing, and design, a marketing manager, an in-house photographer, an external PR agency, and a creative director, František Jungvirt, who is responsible for the creative umbrella of the brand. 

Klimčák founded the company in the UK, where it has also built up its largest presence. It now sells to 70 countries around the world. According to Klimčák, a strong presence in the UK helped the company win the contract for the Barbie film. 

Original design and top-notch customer service

The producers chose an existing product for the Barbie film. Thus, the company did not produce a bespoke product - the products in Barbie are Klimchi’s original designs

“We are basically a marketing and service company. In short, we must be visible and deliver perfect service,” explains Lukáš Klimčák about the company’s philosophy and emphasis on first-class customer service

“We’re the perfect partners for film productions, which cost a huge amount of money every day. They must have everything quickly and know they can rely on a partner.” Klimcak, like Pačinek, knows from experience that speed of delivery plays a significant role in filmmaking. 

Unexpected complications at customs

The lesson, however, nearly cost the company its entire film contract. The product shipment for the film was selected for random inspection at customs in the UK, and the delivery was delayed, says Klimčák. The company came up with a quick alternative solution to the crisis and asked for help from a wholesale partner directly in England, from where it was able to deliver the shipment on time. If the company had not been able to resolve the unexpected complications, its products would not have been in the film. The shipment from customs arrived the day after filming the scene for which the production needed the glass. 

70% increase in e-shop sales

The order was for 16 pieces of glass, which may seem small. However, Klimčák soon realized the media power of the film

“The collaboration on the Barbie film had a huge PR effect on the company and reflected in sales. The Czech e-shop has seen an increase in sales of 70%,” confirms Klimčák. “It has helped us abroad regarding our wholesale customers and establishing the brand in people’s minds.” In connection with the film, a German radio station asked to interview company representatives, for example. 

When he considers that the company could have lost such an increase in sales due to a transport complication, Klimčák admits that he would have handled it differently if he had known. “Next time, I would just put it in someone’s car and tell them to take it there. When I was doing this, I had no idea what kind of response it would generate and what kind of power it might have. We managed it, but I would have given it even more priority had I realized.”    

Flexibility and large warehouse capacity

A member of the production team approached Klimchi to collaborate on Barbie. After the arrangements were made, they paid, and the company shipped the products the next day for filming the following week. 

“We have quite a large stock of products, especially our most popular ones. You can equip a set very quickly that way. If they were filming here [in the Czech Republic], we can transport it quickly - we’re flexible because we’re a smaller team. And we can also agree on a lease - it doesn’t have to be an outright purchase,” says Klimčák on other possibilities for cooperation. 

The advantage of foreign representation

When it comes to filming abroad, as was the case with Barbie, because Klimchi sells to 70 countries around the world and has cultivated good relationships with wholesale partners, the company can contact them and ask them for fast delivery at the filming location.  

“For bespoke objects that need to be done quickly,” says the young entrepreneur, “we can prioritize it, assign a project manager to it, and they make sure everything goes from A to Z correctly and quickly.” 

Klimchi’s founder emphasizes that “the company is also interested in longer-term cooperation with filmmakers and in developing products tailored to a project, as Mr. Pačinek did for Glass Onion.”

Novotný Glass

The Novotný glassworks in Nový Bor draws on decades of experience with replicas of historic, especially green, or forest, glass. When they were approached to work on the American series Wheel of Time and Carnival Row for Amazon, film Chevalier produced by Searchlite Pictures or the popular series Das Boot for German Sky TV, they had already produced items for numerous Czech historical films, series, and fairy tales. 

Replicas of historical glass

The history of the family company dates back to the 1980s, when its founder, Petr Novotný, bought a forge for his home and started to produce “pucnas,” round window fillings, and later also other historical replicas as a hobby. 

Archaeologists began visiting Petr Novotný, and his original hobby grew into a company with its own employees in the early 1990s. “Every other person here in Nový Bor is a glassmaker, so it was easy,” says Viktor Novotný, the founder’s son, who now runs the company and brings the region’s glassmaking tradition to life.

Crystal Valley

It is “the last glassmaking region in the world where traditional technologies are still preserved. And no matter which glassmaking profession I think of, I can always find someone within 10 kilometers of here who can do it,” Novotný explains. 

Although the founder of the glassworks has already passed the company on to the next generation of the Novotný family, he has been making glass for over 50 years and still works every day. He makes replicas of parts of historical chandeliers or Venetian lamps and other unique pieces, which their owners need repaired, but no other glassworks would produce them in such small numbers.

Such demand comes from several countries worldwide, where the glassworks has contacts because it is considered an expert in historical replicas

Small series of unique pieces

Another group of customers is artists who visit the glassworks during the creation process and further modify the object’s final form during the production process. “In film, it’s similar; it can be a process, a small series, it’s all unique,” says Novotný on the similarity between working for film and being an artist.

The family company, like Pačinek Glass, focuses exclusively on production. “We don’t do any big advertising - clients always find us somehow, whether through the references of others or through artists who have been on internships with us or have produced something with us,” Novotný explains. 

Filmmakers pay reliably and know what they want

“Sometimes it is difficult to get a technical drawing or an idea of what they want from customers without experience in the glass industry. But filmmakers usually have it drawn up by a film architect, and they know what they want visually. Quite often, they come with a sketch. And we can immediately see what it will require,” Novotný says.

At the beginning of the collaboration, film producers usually contact the glassworks and send a brief in the form of a photograph or a proposal by a film architect.

Speed of delivery plays a role

A film order is usually a rush order. “We’ll get a call: ‘We’re filming, and we need it in 14 days,’” laughs Novotný as he recounts the negotiations with the producers. “The delivery times are much longer for normal orders, and there are things that need a mold, so first the mold is made, and then it has to be blown, sanded down, cooled, polished, and then painted or sprayed with paint. All these processes take time,” he explains.  

Each product is slowly cooled overnight in an annealing kiln because there are stresses inside the glass, making it likely to break at any time. Slow cooling reduces the stresses, and there is no risk of cracking. 

The cooling phase is often omitted in film jobs

“The length of commissions for a film is very individual,” says Novotný. “It may happen that a producer needs, for example, an ‘icicle,’ so we give it to him in 2 hours still uncooled, and he can leave with it, knowing that it will crack in a week or a month, but he will probably be able to shoot with it. Or he’ll want something more complicated that takes a month. It depends on how complex the brief is and what technology needs to be used.” 

Similarly to Pačinek Glass, Novotný Glass has commissions that can be put on hold by agreement, allowing them to focus on a rush job, for example, for a film. But then some orders require a container and a ship and must be completed on time. The glassworks then always decides what order it can still manage. 

Quality crystal glass up to 30 cm

Novotný Glass has six teams, each with two glassblowers. Each team has a different specialization and works on the jobs assigned to it by the head of production, who prepares the order for the glassmaker and arranges for the mold to be made. The glassblowers blow the glass, and the furnace operator takes it out of the annealing kiln in the morning, from where it goes to the grinding room. Packing and shipping follow. 

“If someone wants a smaller quality crystal glass piece, up to 30 cm, they come to us because they know we will do it right. Our specialty is historical glass, now often used in the popular fantasy genre. We have decades of experience with replicas of historic glass,” says the owner of the glassworks.

Economic benefits of filming

When asked if the film contracts have impacted the company’s sales, the owner replies: “I think they would definitely have a positive impact on sales; it’s rewarding from an advertising point of view. We might put things on Instagram at some point, and that’s about all we’ll do with it. That’s all we’re doing. We hope you’ll do it for us now,” Novotný smiles as he reflects on the film industry.

“I am aware that films bring economic benefit. Adding it all up, you can see it helps some people make a living, having a place to live and food to eat, right down to paying taxes. It includes the work of architects and the production of props. That’s billions [of Czech crowns]. When film crews come, and they advertise that the film or show was filmed here, the benefit is great, and it’s clearly working.”