After seeing major political and economic changes over the past decade, Poland has taken a major leap forward in virtually every sphere of life - including the media. The country has become a popular destination for foreign documentary film crews and feature film producers.
The year 2005 saw the introduction of the Act on Cinematography in Poland and the launch of the Polish Film Institute. The new film law determines the extent of State involvement in film production industry. A year later this resulted in a rapid increase in the number of films being produced in Poland both foreign and national.
Film production in Poland is much easier and more convenient when cooperating with a Polish business partner. Such cooperation can take two forms, either a service order or co-production, but this is on the condition that the foreign producer does not lay claim to exclusive distribution rights.
A Polish partner is needed to obtain funding from various public and private sources, obtaining written contracts and ease communications with other production elements, however, more and more people have a good command of the English language.
Steven Spielberg came to Poland to film scenes for his Cold War drama Bridge of Spies and Jim Carrey shot True Crimes. Director Anne Fontaine finished shooting feature film Agnus Dei – with Ida star Agata Kulesza – in north-east Poland, in Orneta (a small town near Olsztyn) in early March 2015.
Other international productions have included David Hare's Denial and Gérard Pautonnier's Les Affairs Reprennent (originally Grand Froid), both in Krakow, and the US-Polish co-production Music, War and Love. Agnieszka Holland shot the German-Czech-Swedish-Polish co-production Game Count in Lower Silesia.
Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski returned to his homeland to film Ida in 2014, set in Poland in 1962 and has since shot Cold War. Other productions include the acclaimed documentary Loving Vincent, Clair Denis' High Life with Robert Pattinson and Juliette Bincoche, and spy thriller The Coldest Game.
Generally it is possible to film on any location although some things take time. Exceptions include locations particularly important for state defense and security. The most comprehensive location database and information concerning film permits can be found on the Film Commission Poland website.
The most common solution for filming on location is to sign fixed-term lease agreements with clearly stated conditions of use. Unless specified in a fixed tariff, rent is negotiable. Permission often has to be obtained from property owners or local authorities before filming can commence (and they have the right to refuse). It is highly recommended to apply for any permits well in advance, as certain procedures need to be finalised 30 days prior to shooting.
Official procedures may be time consuming, for instance for permission to film in the street. When applying, the producer must attach a plan for traffic reorganisation and cordoning off the area. When planning to shoot in decrepit buildings or in ruins, a positive safety report must be commissioned for persons accessing the area in order to obtain a permit to film.
Regardless of who gives permission, the Polish Film Institute states (from Film Commission Poland's Production Guide) that it is always a good idea to prepare documents stating:
- the title of the film, the name of the director and the producer,
- the budget of the film,
- production insurance,
- type of production (feature film, documentary, television, etc.)
- date of filming and number of filming days,
- a description of the scene or scenes to be filmed,
- list of crew members (people, identity cards numbers, the number of vehicles),
- description of the equipment (lights, generators, cranes, dollies, etc.).
No work permit is required from EU or EEA citizens. Professionals including musicians, actors and crew are allowed to work in Poland for up to 30 days without any additional permits.
Film studios in Poland are located primarily in Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw and Lodz.
In recent years, many companies are said to have focussed on specialising their offering. There are companies focusing on co-operation with foreign entities (for instance Opus Film, Apple Film, Lava Films, No Sugar Films, MediaBrigade, Pokromski Studio), documentary films (Contra Studio, Eureka Media, Kalejdoskop, Otter Films) and popular cinema (MTL MaxFilm, TVN, Scorpio Studio). Among the leading animation studios are Platige Image, Human Ark, WJTeam, Badi Badi and Studio Miniatur Filmowych.
Aside from the more famous locations such as the old town of Krakow and the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau, Poland also has some great outdoor locations.
Additional locations include the Tatra Mountains, while Polish castles and palaces are growing more popular as well. Recent filming locations have included Ksiaz Castle; a palace in Kozlowka near Lublin; Poznanski Palace in Lodz and Goetz Palace in Brzesko.
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