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Poland promotes filming locations to US experts

Poland streetFilm Commission Poland organised a recent familiarisation trip for a group of highly-experienced US location managers to promote Poland for international filming.

The trip encompassed visits across the country from capital city Warsaw to Lodz and Wroclaw further west and the location managers involved were Lori Balton, Becky Brake, Dow Griffith, Robin Citrin, S Todd Christensen and John Hutchinson. 

“Nobody from the group had ever been to Poland before so the main aim of the endeavour was to show Poland as an extraordinary and still fresh film destination combined with knowledge about the infrastructure and meetings with representatives of the Polish film sector,” says Tomasz Dabrowski, head of Film Commission Poland, in comments to KFTV.

Lori Balton is a former president of the Location Managers Guild International whose recent location scouting projects have included Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Paolo Sorrentino’s miniseries The Young Pope with Jude Law. 

“I really knew very little about Poland,” Balton tells KFTV. “The trip laid out an impressive variety of locations within small geographic cores. Lodz impressed me the most with its variety – factories, palaces, a cutting-edge modern hotel [and] an underground river.”

Lodz offers Piotrkowska Street, which is a major tourist attraction and one of the longest commercial streets in the world. The city is also renowned for its National Film School and the 19th century Poznanski Palace (below). 

Lodz palace

Balton was also impressed with ATM Studio, a Warsaw facility that offers seven production stages.

Warsaw itself offers a modern cityscape and broad city boulevards. The Old Town is only minutes away from the contemporary city on the subway and is home to the Market Place, which dates back to the 13th century and was once Warsaw’s centre. Much of the Old Town was destroyed by the Germans in the Second World War, but there was a major post-war rebuild with efforts made to use much of the same brickwork.

Ksiaz Castle

Griffith was also impressed by Warsaw. His recent credits as location manager include the upcoming Ghost in the Shell, M Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi After Earth and action sequel The Bourne Legacy. 

“Poland is an ideal location for features that can make use of the unique architecture – both historic and untouched, as well as renovated and modern,” Griffith tells KFTV. “I was drawn to the Old Towns and both Warsaw and the larger Krakow market squares have a lot to offer. "

Krakow lies in the south of the country and offers architecture dating back to medieval times and spanning the subsequent centuries as the city largely escaped the physical devastation of Poland’s various wartime traumas. The city’s Old Town alone offers Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Rural locations to the west of the city include the 13th century Ksiaz Castle (pictured above). 

Wroclaw

“Poland has a strong film tradition and if it had the help of a sound financial incentive and expanded sound stages, this would be a very attractive film centre,” Griffith says.

Becky Brake agrees with Griffith's assessment. Her recent credits include Star Trek Beyond, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Tomorrowland: A World Beyond.

"I think Poland is a refreshing alternative to some of the major hubs we've seen in so many films," Brake tells KFTV. "As more and more people are exposed to what Poland has to offer and the seeming ease of working there, I think the potential is great. 

She also focuses on the importance of filming incentives: "So many films are tax-incentive-driven these days it's the one major challenge for Poland. However, I might add that some of the locations are incentive enough.

"We had the opportunity to meet with a lot of local filmmakers and the professional local crew base and infrastructure appear to be in place so Poland defintely has that going for it along with the locations."

Modern PolandPoland’s international production profile is rising, with Steven Spielberg having filmed key scenes for his Cold War drama Bridge of Spies on location in Wroclaw. 

The country is already popular for Bollywood productions and earlier this year Film Commission Poland also hosted a visit from producers attached to China Film Group, which is seeking to become a more international production force by investing in global location filming.

“We met a lot of [Polish] location managers and producers,” said Balton.

“They all were knowledgeable and it was fun to exchange production experiences with them. The film commission did an incredible job of flawlessly co-ordinating our schedule.”  

In the next few months the Polish government plans to launch a formal filming incentive that could help the country further boost its international appeal.

“Poland has realised it needs to finally get on the filming incentives train that’s travelled through Europe,” Dabrowski previously told KFTV.

For more on filming in Poland see our production guide.

Street and modern architecture images: Lori Balton. Poznanski Palace image: M Kawczynski. Ksiaz Castle image: K Cielinski. Wroclaw Centennial Hall image: Stanislaw Klimek