Situated on the edge of Europe between Scandinavia, Central Europe and Russia, Latvia, and by extension the Baltic States, offers a wide variety of unexploited and easily obtainable locations - man-made and natural, as well as stunningly beautiful and ‘ugly’, softly romantic and harsh. Latvia's beautiful seashore is as close as 25 km to its capital Riga. The country has quality, cost-effective international transport connections - airlines, buses, trains etc - and good infrastructure, hotels and catering in the region around the capital.
Only about 58% of the population is native Latvian. Fortunately, this allows for a much smoother transition when in need of a Russian context, image or just simply communication (more than 90% of all Latvian residents can speak Russian). Latvia can service an almost complete production cycle, except for lab work if using celluloid film, but well-established co-operation links guarantee rushes developed in 24 hours. If working in digital media, a full cycle of production can be covered in the country. Despite the ever-growing production costs on the international market, shooting in Latvia still remains cost-effective and reliable for incoming projects.
Invincible (Germany), Virgins of Riga (Norway), Honeybaby (Finland), Archangel (UK), Kamenska TV series (Russia), Fallen (Germany), Polizairuf 110 TV series (Germany), Red Chapel series (Russia), Midsummer Madness (Austria). Latvia was also one of the three main locations chosen for the BBC and The Weinstein Company's major adapatation of War and Peace, filming from early 2015.
Director Harald Zwart of Another Film Company was at the helm of a charming Ridderost (cheese) commercial shot at a castle in Riga in 2014. It shows a lovestruck knight battling a fearsome dragon and was produced by Motion Blur.
Foreign companies do not need a special permit for filming in Latvia, if they collaborate with a local production company. For filming in the cities or villages it is necessary to contact local authorities. Schengen visas - if you are a resident of countries who need a visa to enter Schengen countries. Work permits - it’s enough to have a contract with a local production service company, for contracting specific cast or crew members and easy to conclude a simple “author’s fee agreement” and pay the income tax.
Cinevillage is a studio backlot unique in the region, with wide range of open air set decorations of architecture ranging from 19th century to mid 20th century, stages, catering and hotel services.
In addition Latvia boasts several palaces e.g. the 18th century Rundale palace by architect Rastrelli, and a large number of manor houses.Riga offers the richest Art Nouveau architecture in Northern Europe, wonderful 19th century wooden buildings, and of course, Soviet architecture - from Stalinist buildings to bleak apartment blocks of the 1960-80's.