Is it safe to film in Ukraine?
Ukraine has been through a tumultuous time recently and there is no denying that the events have had an effect on the country's film industry. KFTV spoke to some industry professionals in the capital and asked them whether Kiev was open for business as per usual.
“We’ve had a lot of new campaigns and commissions for Christmas and the New Year. Most of Europe still hires companies here. The local market is fine, however, we are making less revenue," says Anastasia Nesterova, a producer at Kiev-based production services company Adrenalin Brother.
"We have wonderful landscapes and sea shores, Kiev is quiet and beautiful and is situated in the West. Even though there is military action in the Eastern regions, we shot a documentary there this summer, so it’s still possible to film there."
On a different end of the spectrum, in the post-production element of film, Alex Prihodko, a VFX producer for Cinnamon says: “A lot of things are changing, so next year it will either be really good or really bad. The exchange rate could be much better for international productions. We need to be optimistic. Kiev is 99% safe, like New York or any other city, it’s completely peaceful.”
With the conflict over the Crimea ongoing, uncertainty is rash throughout Ukraine on what the situation will be like next year. Executive producer at Lime Lite Studio, Natalia Romanyuk reiterated Nesterova’s opinion on the situation of film, saying: “There are no western projects, 70% of projects shot in Kiev and surrounding areas are all by Ukrainians, and the Russian market is frozen because of the political propaganda. Western markets think there is a war in Ukraine but don’t understand the scope of the country.
"Kiev is safe at the moment and was safe during the whole period of the revolution. Ukraine has access to the Black Sea without Crimea, and the Odessa region has all the attractive sights and is 5 degrees warmer than Kiev normally is.”
Due to the economic situation and fall of the local currency, production in Ukraine has become even more cost effective than before. And though troubled, as Romanyuk points out, only 7% of Ukraine is presently involved in conflict.
The sources we spoke to in December in Ukraine told us how safe Kiev-based locations are. Filmmakers are always advised to seek their own independent advice before travelling, and it’s worth pointing out that many governments provide useful services for people traveling abroad. For example the UK’s Foreign Office offers British travelers advice on its Ukrainian page https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ukraine.