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Overview and productions

Hungary backed up a stellar 2021 with an equally impressive 2022, attracting high-profile productions including Netflix series All The Light We Cannot See and Legendary/Warner Bros sci-fi epic Dune: Part Two. The first episode of Denis Villeneuve’s blockbuster was shot partly in Hungary, and the Canadian filmmaker returned to shoot the follow-up at Origo Studios in Budapest.

Netflix series All The Light We Cannot See is an adaptation of Anthony Doerr’s epic Second World War novel, produced by Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment with Levy directing. The adaptation is written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) with Aria Mia Loberti in the lead.

Other big projects to visit Hungary in 2022 include Netflix and Carnival Films’ The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die, a feature version of the popular TV series; season four of Amazon and Paramount’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan; season two of Netflix’s Shadow And Bone; season four of Netflix and Yes Studios’ Fauda; and CBS/Wolf Entertainment/Universal Tele­vision series FBI: International.

These follow a record-breaking $530m (huf227bn) production spend in Hungary in 2021, according to the National Film Institute of Hungary. Major projects to shoot here last year include Marvel series Moon Knight; Lionsgate and Starz project The Continental, an event series expanding the John Wick universe; Mikael Hafstrom’s sci-fi Slingshot, produced by Astral Pictures and Bluestone Entertainment; Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool, a co‑production between Canada’s Film Forge Productions, France’s Celluloid Dreams and Hungary’s Hero Squared; and Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, backed by Searchlight Pictures, Film4 and Element Pictures.

“It is electrifying to witness the post-Covid boom in our screen industry,” says Hungary film commissioner Csaba Kael. “Local expertise is growing, and the country is completely safe for international filmmakers.” This was due partly to the industry enacting strict Covid-19 protocols quickly to create a climate of confidence.

Another to choose Hungary was Sky thriller The Fear Index, produced by UK outfit Left Bank Pictures. “We were looking for somewhere to double for Geneva [where the show is set]. Budapest felt like a great option because a lot of the architecture was a good match,” says Sharon Hughff, former executive producer at Left Bank Pictures. “The Hungarian crew are fantastic. They are very adaptable and experienced, and are used to being very busy with international productions, so they are never phased by our needs.”


A stunning variety of locations is also a plus point, with plenty of historical architecture, forests and smaller villages within easy reach of capital — and production hub — Budapest. The city can also double for London, New York, Buenos Aires and Bangkok.

Hungary’s National Castle and Forts Program will also see more than 30 historical sites reconstructed and available for filming, including the country’s striking baroque Esterhazy Palace.

In recent years, Hungary has attracted filmmakers from all around the world with its "world-famous filmmaking tradition of 123 years, unique shooting locations, exceptionally talented and creative crews, high-profile studios and 30% tax-rebate (introduced first in the region)," notes Head of NFI Studios' Ildikó Kovács.

The NFI Studios in Fót welcomed major productions such as: Rise of the Raven (Serendipity Point Films, Beta Film, Hg Media starring Laurence Rupp, Murathan Muslu, Cornelius Obonya, Gellért Kádár L., Vivien Rujder, Shardlake (The Forge, Runaway Fridge for Disney+, starring Arthur Hughes, Sean Bean, Anthony Boyle), The King (Plan B Ent. for Netflix, Porchlight Films, starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp, The Witcher (Cinesite, Hivemind for Netflix, starring Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan, Joey Batey), and  The Last Kingdom (Carnival Television for Netflix, starring Alexander Dreymon, Arnas Fedaravicius, Millie Brady, Eliza Butterworth, Ian Hart, Emily Cox).

Due to the studio expansion in the works, NFI Studios capacity is limited for the coming months, adds Kovács. NFI's neighbouring studios, however, are currently working on the following projects: The Brutalist (Protagonist Pictures, Proton Cinema, starring Joel Edgerton, Mark Rylance, Marion Cotillard, Sebastian Stan and Vanessa Kirby), Hidden Hand (working title Dune: The Sisterhood, HBO Max series, Legendary TV, Pioneer Pictures, starring Emily Watson), and Dusty Bunny (Hero Squared, Thunder Road Pictures, Livingdeadguy, Entertainment One, and Sierra/Affinity, directed by Bryan Fuller starring Mads Mikkelsen).

Overview and productions

Locations and permits

You are spoilt for choice in Hungary. The variety of landscapes is incredible. In popular Budapest alone you will find everything from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters, opera houses and sports stadiums.

All location palettes are on offer in the capital city, from classical to modern, industrial to upscale, hipster to retro, with castles and rural landscapes.  

”The locations are varied and offer many look-a-like locations to most European cities making it an attractive place to shoot your next production. Budapest is often called Little Paris for good reason, but you may find a lot of London look-a-like locations as well. The city has stunning bridges over the river Danube,” says Attila Horvath, founder and managing director at Abroad Films.



“There are also abandoned old buildings, factories and army barracks that can be used as locations,” says Gergely Varga at Shooteasy Production Services. “And the seaside of Croatia, mountains of Transylvania and the Alps are just a few hours drive away from Budapest.” 

“You can find several variations of Europe within Budapest city centre,” says Cait Collins, a producer on The Last Kingdom. “Location wise on the street, you pay per square footage, which they have down to a fine art. This is great because you can adjust it according to your budget.”

Hungary’s countryside attractions include Lake Balaton, the largest in Central Europe, where The Last Kingdom was partly shot; Lake Héviz, the second largest thermal lake in the world; and Hortobágy, the largest natural grassland in Europe.

All locations are within a few hours of each other, and thanks to a mild four-season climate, the country can host productions all year round.

Permits to shoot are generally easy to obtain. You contact the person or institution owning/operating the actual location to gain permission. If it is a street or public space, you contact the local government,” says Juan Amin, a producer at Filmreaktor, which assisted with the Emmy nominated Documentary Now! series, starring Cate Blanchett, that shot across Budapest, from the Opera House to classical apartments. “Process times vary from three to five days, or up to three weeks for full closure permits.

Ildikó Kovács, Head of NFI Studios adds that Hungary is a beautiful country with versatile locations. Because of its rich history, there are interesting locations both in the country as well as in the cities.

"After London, Budapest is the most popular place to shoot films in Europe. The cosmopolitan past and present of the capital are reflected in the vast diversity of its fabulous historical, contemporary and industrial architecture, enabling Budapest to stand in for cities such Paris, London or any other city in Europe at any point in history, from classical times to 2023 and beyond, even the future. Additionally, Hungary has stunning natural environments, including amazing forests, ‘Balaton’ the biggest lake in Central Europe, mountains and you can even shoot the desert here.


"NFI Studios in Fót have always been very popular and in 2021 the development of the studio began, establishing one of the most modern film production complex in Hungary. With four new studios totaling 10,000 square meters, the development will increase studio capacity fivefold. Two new studios are scheduled to be completed by mid 2024, and filming in the other two studios may start by the end of 2024."

NFI Studios now offer continental Europe’s largest outdoor water tank which was built for filming
Blade Runner 2049 and Terminator: Dark Fate recently. Additionally, there is a Medieval backlot, a Western village, an American suburb street and a 19th century city centre backlot, a costume warehouse, an armoury and two of the country’s biggest set construction service companies – MovieSet and BK Filmstudio – are also based at NFI Studios.

"We are also very proud of Hungarian film professionals working in international productions. National Film Institute Hungary places great emphasis on the development of the Hungarian film industry and film culture, and the training of future film professionals and has initiated various training and educational programs both for the professionals as well as for the youth."


Doubling potential 


While Hungary offers broad historical heritage (there are plenty of castles of different styles – medieval, English, Hungarian, French, etc), Kovács also notes that the

industrial buildings, abandoned factories, and brutalist villas from the socialist era are also spectacular as they can stand in for 20th century’s historical films as well as for futuristic sci-fis and action movies.


There are also plenty of historical baths in the country and in Hévíz filmmakers can find the world’s largest thermal lake. "Our biggest lake, Lake Balaton, with the uplands and vineyards is also a very beautiful and interesting location."

Infrastructure and crews

Korda Studios offers six soundstages and 10 hectares of pre-existing backlot sets, including New York, renaissance and medieval. There is also a water tank facility. Origo Studios (formerly Raleigh Studios) is among the largest in Europe, with nine soundstages and a greenbox stage for filming, VFX or still photoshoots. Mafilm Studios, just outside Budapest, has the largest outdoor water tank in continental Europe.

An expansion currently underway (and set to be completed by the end of 2023) will see four new 2,500 square metre soundstages built. The complex already has three soundstages, the largest of which is 1,800 square metres. It also has a medieval town and Second World War barracks backlots, 100,000 pieces of wardrobe and accessories, and a large inventory of weapons. Crews speak English and are highly rated. Camera rental company Arri has a base in Budapest.

Kovács notes that Hungary has an extensive road system, centred in Budapest. Overall, the main traffic and transport routes are well developed and in comparatively good condition. It is exceptionally safe to travel and stay in Hungary both in the cities as well as in the country. Studios are located on the outskirts of Budapest, with max. 20 minutes’ drive from the city or int’l airport ‘Franz Liszt’. 

Transport and logistics

Flights from most major US cities have a connecting stop to Budapest. New York can connect via Amsterdam or London.

Public transport is well developed in Hungary, there are plenty of ports, and ferry systems available in Budapest and at Lake Balaton. Plus taxis are plentiful on the streets of most Hungarian cities.

If international productions are planning on bringing equipment in from outside the EU, the ATA carnet system would be the best approach.

First person to contact 

Csaba Kael, Hungary film commissioner @ 

Size matters

Flights from most major US cities have a connecting stop to Budapest. New York can connect via Amsterdam or London.

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