Poland is growing in popularity as a filming location, helped in large part by a new 30% cash rebate for productions including features, TV series and documentaries. The programme is administered by the Polish Film Institute, which is now led by marketing expert Justyna Strzelecka.
The institute’s focus on promoting the rebate and enticing more international productions to the country appears to be working with a slew of international projects heading to Poland, including US-Canada drama Warning, starring Patrick Schwarzenegger and Rupert Everett, which filmed in the capital Warsaw. Producer Cybill Lui of Los Angeles- based outfit Anova Pictures says she was “thrilled to shoot in Poland with its rich filmmaking history and wonderful crew”.
Netflix series The Woods, based on Harlan Coben’s bestseller about a prosecutor haunted by the memories of his missing sister, shot just outside Warsaw, including in the surrounding towns of the Masovian district.
Canada-Hungary drama The Song Of The Names, starring Clive Owen and Tim Roth, also chose Warsaw and its surrounding region as a filming location.
Dustin Loose’s German drama Ein Sommer shot in and around Leba for 23 days in late 2019 for producer Provobis Film and broadcaster ARD Degeto. It tells the story of a woman who leaves behind her marriage to wear a bear costume in a circus travelling across the Polish coast. The majority of the 65 crew were local.
Poland offers a wide variety of landscapes, from sandy beaches in the north to the rocky mountains in the south, from bustling cities to wild and primeval nature. Forests cover around 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’ Warsaw castle and a colourful old town, which contrasts with Soviet-era buildings such as the Palace of Culture and Science and more modern architecture including 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.
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.