The country has been on the radar since the early part of the last decade when movies like Cold Mountain started taking advantage of its lower costs. A subsequent influx of film activity has helped professionalise the business. The studio sector in particular has benefited, with some extremely complex set construction now possible. Leaders in this field are Castel Film and MediaPro Studios.
Among Romania’s biggest assets are its forests. These have been put to good effect in films and series wanting to replicate US woodlands – particularly in period pieces that require an untouched look (ie no modern installations like pylons, cables, roads and houses).
Romania is blessed with all kinds of landscapes, from the seashore (the Black Sea) and alpine environments to forests and the unique conditions of the Danube delta. Romania's architecture is also outstanding. There are vestiges from the pagan days, Roman and Greek ruins from ancient times, castles, fortresses, monasteries, mansions and palaces dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Bucharest and other major cities can stand for several cities in Europe, and some are well suited for the portrayal of certain historical periods, especially the medieval times. Western, Central European and Byzantine styles are well represented.
The biggest recent international production has been the hit horror movie The Nun, which was directed by Corin Hardy and filmed entirely in Romania, where the story is set.
A few years ago The History Channel's epic six-hour mini-series The Hatfields and McCoys was shot in Romania to try and capture the remoteness of 19th Century Appalachia. Despite some reluctance among cast and crew to take such a quintessentially US drama abroad (thus depriving the US of jobs), there was agreement that Romania did a pretty good job.
There are no special rules or restrictions for foreigners other than permission from the owner or authority responsible for the location. No work permits are required. For filming in the street, or where temporary traffic control is needed, it is necessary to inform the local district police and request assistance.
Citizens of EU and NATO member states do not need visas to enter Romania, but a valid passport or ID card is required. Citizens from other countries should check the visa regulations that apply through their nearest Romanian diplomatic office. There is no arrival or departure tax. For additional visa information and a list of Romanian diplomatic offices abroad, contact the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Castel Film Studios has ten sound stages, an expansive back lot, production offices, gated parking, makeup rooms, dressing rooms, wardrobe rooms, storage facilities, and a full-service catering area. Also significant is MediaPro Studios.
Forests are not the only location asset at Romania’s disposal. It also has castles and palaces, classic interiors, old villages, evocative monasteries, mountains, beaches and Communist era eyesores. Famous locations like Cluj and Sighisoara are 4-5 hours north of capital Bucharest but it is possible to get remote and beautiful locations closer to the capital. History’s Hatfields and McCoys was shot about two hours out of Bucharest.
With regard to permits, there are no unusual or onerous restrictions or rules apply. According to Emerge Film Solutions, permitting only requires 48 hours notice for most locations while shutting streets in Bucharest can take up to one week. That said, it’s best to allow as much time as possible.
According to Romanian Film Promotion, all standard camera and lighting equipment can be rented in Romania. Panalight a European leader in equipment rental, established an office in Bucharest in 2008 and can provide a range of modern equipment. Castel Film and MediaPro Studios, cited under studios, also offer a wide range of kit. In terms of specialist services, MediaPro Studios offers SFX services through its Special Effects workshop. Working in partnership with Effects Associates of London, it is “the only studio complex in Romania that has an in-house special effects department” and claims to have created “the best team of SFX experts in Eastern Europe”. MediaPro also has a 25-strong post-production department.
Another key player in film and commercials post-production is Abis Studio. 15 years old, Abis claims to offer the most complete post service in the country. Recent credits include Coca Cola (for Ogilvy Istanbul), LG (for Y&R Dubai) and Nestle (for Publicis Dubai). Many cinematographers, set and costume designers, technicians, animators, stunt performers and location managers are on staff at Castel Film and MediaPro Studios though the freelance community is also growing as the volume of work increases. Casting agencies are able to offer diverse character types though blond men are in short supply.