Lithuania, situated in northern Europe along the southeast shore of the Baltic, is increasing in appeal as a shooting location, boosted by a new Film In Lithuania platform set up to attract and support international productions.
“We can provide support and information about projects filming here, the tax incentive [worth up to 30%], locations, local services and more,” says Ruta Jekentaite, who heads Film In Lithuania, part of the Baltic Film & Creative Tech Cluster. “Producers and all local service providers will be able to communicate directly on the platform.”
The territory attracted 19 international productions and 12 co-productions last year, according to the Lithuanian Film Centre, including Lasse Hallström’s Hilma, about artist Hilma af Klint, which doubled Vilnius for Stockholm. The project is backed by Viaplay Studios. “The crew is so talented, skilled and experienced,” says Hallström. “We were recreating Stockholm of the late 1800s, and there was a lot of Old Town imagery that looked good for our purposes.”
“Everything in Vilnius is so nearby,” adds Hilma producer Helena Danielsson from Viaplay Studios. “Even if I stay in the Old Town, I can walk to locations as they are only a stone’s throw away. In Vilnius you don’t feel the stress of a gigantic city with all its transportation and long hours in queues.”
Other projects to shoot in Vilnius include season four of Netflix’s Stranger Things and season two of Young Wallander, which received $1.75m (€1.61m) from the rebate. “It was a pleasure to be back,” says Young Wallander’s line producer Marshall Leviten. “Everyone works so hard to ensure everything runs smoothly. The locations work well, the crews are so professional, and the hospitality at work and everywhere else is fantastic.”
Another production to shoot in the Lithuanian capital was Camelot Films’ drama Prizefighter: The Life Of Jem Belcher, which relocated from Wales to Vilnius in summer 2021, doubling the city for 19th-century England and using mostly locals. “The crew and hospitality were world class,” says producer Matthew E Chausse, who previously worked on Vertical Entertainment’s 2020 sci-fi feature Skylines in the city.
Others include Netflix’s six-part Swedish crime drama Clark starring Bill Skarsgard; Story House Pictures’ German TV series Sisi, which filmed in and around Vilnius; and Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) series Max Anger, co-produced by UK outfit Twelve Town, which doubled Vilnius for Saint Petersburg and received $1.5m (€1.4m) from the incentive.
Vilnius Film Office works closely with filmmakers, helping to organise shoots in public spaces and institutions and issuing permits quickly. The capital is the key focal point for many of the productions that come to Lithuania. Its multifaceted history offers gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical architecture, alongside a skilled industry workforce.
Elsewhere, the country has an appealing variety of landscapes, from national parks with vast oak and pine forests, to fresh and salt waters. The western Neringa municipality has rolling sand dunes and evergreen forests. “Klaipeda, in the western part of Lithuania, also offers beautiful beaches and is currently hosting a big project,” adds Jekentaite.
First person to contact
Jurate Pazikaite, film commissioner, Vilnius Film Office firstname.lastname@example.org
Vilnius Film Cluster and Nebula Cluster have merged to create the Baltic Film & Creative Tech Cluster, which works with and supports more than 80 local companies to provide production services, equipment rental and studio space, including a soundstage of 1,100 square metres and a 350 square metre greenscreen.
Kino Studija (colloquially referred to as Martynas Studio) is situated just outside Vilnius. It was used for HBO’s Chernobyl and is a viable studio space. Lithuania’s crew base is growing in size and experience. “I have worked with crews of many different nationalities over the years,” says line producer Marshall Leviten, “but the Lithuanian crew most closely resembles the work ethic I am used to in the UK.”
There is a good level of basic equipment available, with further hardware easily sourced from neighbouring countries. Lithuania’s art and set construction departments are of a high standard and cost-effective.
Vilnius Film Office has worked closely with filmmakers, helping to organise shoots in public spaces and public institutions and issuing permits quickly. The capital city is the key focal point for many of the productions that come to Lithuania. Its multifaceted history offers gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical architecture, alongside a highly skilled film-industry workforce.
Elsewhere, the country has an appealing variety of landscapes, from national parks with vast oak and pine forests, to fresh and salt waters and sand dunes. The western Neringa municipality is particularly stunning, with its rolling dunes and evergreen forests.
Lithuania is a small country with good road and rail links. There are direct flights to Vilnius from other European capitals.
Lithuania is a member of the European Union and a participant in the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.