Poland

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World of Locations Screen International

Overview and productions

Poland has been growing in popularity as a filming location over the past year, helped in large part by a 30% cash rebate for productions, administered by the Polish Film Institute.

Recent arrivals in the country include Netflix series The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill, which used the striking ruins of the medieval Ogrodzieniec Castle in Rabsztyn as the backdrop for the show’s Battle of Sodden Hill; and US-Canada drama Warning, starring Patrick Schwarzenegger and Rupert Everett, which filmed in Warsaw. Producer Cybill Lui Eppich of Los Angeles-based Anova Pictures says she was “thrilled to shoot in Poland with its rich filmmaking history and wonderful crew”.

Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 7 also shot scenes in the country last year, including at a historic suspension bridge spanning 495 feet near the town of Jelenia Gora over Lake Pilchowickie.

Further projects to shoot in the country include Netflix series The Woods, based on Harlan Coben’s bestseller about a prosecutor haunted by memories of his missing sister, which filmed just outside Warsaw and the surrounding towns of the Masovian district, and Dustin Loose’s German drama Ein Sommer, which shot in and around Leba for 23 days in late 2019 for producer Provobis Film and broadcaster ARD Degeto.

The Polish Film Institute has made an effort to attract more international co-productions during the pandemic by touting a qualifying local spend for fictional features of just $815,000 (pln3m).

Last year, 14 international co-productions were supported by the incentive, including the first India-Poland co-production No Means No, produced by G7 Films Poland and directed by Vikash Verma. The film took in the Zywiecczyzna region, Bielsko-Biala, Szczyrk and Zwardon.

Verma was particularly impressed by the locations. “When I came to Bielsko-Biala, I discovered it is a beautiful city,” he says. “I decided a love story must be made here.”

Locations

Poland offers a wide variety of landscapes, from sandy beaches in the north to rocky mountains in the south, from bustling cities to wild and primeval nature. Forests cover about 30% of Polish territory, which left the producers of The Woods spoilt for choice when picking a backdrop for their drama.

Warsaw was rebuilt after the Second World War, making for an unusual mix of architecture in the downtown area. It includes the ‘new-old’ Royal Castle in Warsaw and a colourful old town, which contrasts with Soviet-era buildings such as the Palace of Culture and Science and the modern architecture of Zlote Tarasy shopping centre.

The Polish Film Institute has an extensive locations database that covers everything from university buildings to mine shafts in the southern city of Zabrze.

Infrastructure and crews

Crews are flexible, hardworking, generally speak English and are less expensive than in most western countries. International producers need a Polish co-producer and Polish creative elements to receive money back from the Polish Film Institute. 

The main studios are found in Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow. These include ATM, which is spread across two sites with 10 state-of-the-art soundstages, the largest of which — in Warsaw — is 1,500 square metres. At its site in Wroclaw, the stages are high enough (12 metres) for HGVs to access the studios directly.

Alvernia Studios offers two soundstages that include a 3D bluescreen and artificial skydome. All are within easy reach of each other by air or road, and are close to the German border.

Travel

Poland is situated at the very centre of Europe and can be reached by air from every major European city in two to three hours. It also has the fourth-largest road network in Europe.

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