Strict testing procedures and Covid-safe protocols on set have meant international productions are able to shoot safely in the Czech Republic during the pandemic.
Marvel’s Disney+ series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, based at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Georgia, visited Prague for three weeks in October, doubling it for Middle Eastern and Latvian locations. It had planned to shoot for just nine days in March — the additional days were added to implement the protocols.
Further big titles in the territory in recent months include Netflix’s Haunted, Amazon Studios’ The Wheel Of Time, Bavaria and Sky Deutschland’s Das Boot and SF Studios’ Scandinavian co-production Margrete — Queen Of The North.
The second season of Amazon Studios and Legendary Television’s Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, returned in August, based at Barrandov Studios. According to the Czech Film Commission, the production has employed around 900 people, 90% of whom were local.
“The craftsmanship of our Czech crew is second to none,” said showrunner Erik Oleson. “What would be prohibitively expensive to construct and film elsewhere is not only possible in the Czech Republic, the locals make it happen for a reasonable price and with a smile.”
All crew members on Czech sets must be tested regularly for coronavirus: body temperature is recorded daily and testing takes place at least once a week.
The Czech Republic has long been a popular place to film, particularly with productions looking for a cost-effective location to double for elsewhere. Wiedemann & Berg’s German sci-fi series Tribes Of Europa shot in several Czech locations for Netflix in late 2019 including at Barrandov Studios. “When I come to the Czech Republic, I always find reliable partners, skilled crews, interesting locations and a very handy production incentive structure,” says Udo Happel, the series’ line producer.
Canada-Germany post-Second World War series Shadowplay, produced by Bron Studios and Tandem Productions, also shot at various Czech locations in 2019, including Prague, Slany and Karlovy Vary.
“The Czech people are hard workers, very friendly, will go above and beyond to help you achieve your production goals,” says David Davoli, chief content officer at Bron Studios. “They are some of the most experienced and reliable crews working in the industry today.”
The Czech Republic offers a huge variety of locations, from castles and chateaus to waterfalls and forests, as well as mountains, caves, rivers, sandstone cliffs and fields of wheat.
The capital city is divided into numbered administrative districts, with Prague 1, Prague 2 and Prague 3 being the most central. Producers need a permit from each district in which they plan to shoot. Most productions also require a permit from Technicka Sprava Komunikaci (TSK), Prague’s road and street authority. Some locations in Prague — such as Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and the city parks — are subject to special conditions and fees.
Barrandov Studios is one of Europe’s biggest, with 13 soundstages. Its vast 160,000 square metre backlot has an artificial embankment and natural horizon. Prague Studios has six stages and a 10-hectare backlot. Crews are usually fluent in English, German or French. Producers can bring heads of department, but more and more international productions are hiring heads of department locally. There is enough studio space, equipment and crew to handle multiple productions of various sizes at the same time.
The Czech Republic is in the heart of Europe and has direct flights to major European cities as well as Toronto, Montreal, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai and Doha. The studios are located close to Prague city centre.