Romania has a lot to offer as a filming location thanks to an incentive worth up to 45%, striking landscapes, good studios, and an increasingly experienced crew base, which are all helping to attract big productions.
Recent projects to shoot in the country include Lionsgate’s sci-fi thriller Voyagers, starring Colin Farrell, Universal’s action adventure film Dragonheart Vengeance, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Netflix’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, BBC America’s popular series Killing Eve, Sony Television’s series Alex Rider, and Millennium Films’ The Asset, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
“Thanks to its beautiful landscapes, experienced crew and high standard equipment and also due to its attractive production costs, Romania is one of the favourite locations chosen by foreign directors and producers,” says Iuliana Tarnovetchi, managing director and founder of local outfit Alien Films, which provided production services for Killing Eve and Alex Rider, among others.
Killing Eve filmed in the capital city, Bucharest, dubbed ‘the Paris of the East’, doubling it for Moscow and indeed Paris. “Bucharest is not exactly a hidden gem because everyone knows it’s there, but it’s definitely under exploited,” says Lee Morris, managing director of Sid Gentle and executive producer of Killing Eve. “We’ve found it easy to film there and had a lot of help from the authorities, particularly the mayor’s office who have smoothed the way for us in all the things you need, in terms of parking in the city centre, closing a road if you need to and generally helping us with permissions of locations.”
For season three they also shot in a village called Viscri, about three and a half hours from Bucharest, which doubled for Poland. “It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a really magical, special flavour to it,” says Morris. “Romania is a very versatile location.”
The striking variety of locations is often what appeals to international producers. Universals Dragonheart Vengeance filmed at the Râșnov Fortress, the volcanic crater in Racoș, and Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s castle. While The Asset filmed in the beautiful capital city of Bucharest, dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’.
“There are amazing architectural masterpieces across Romania, like Hunedoara Castle, Sinaia Casino, Snagov Palace, and the Palace of Culture Iași,” Giuliano Doman, executive producer at local production service providers Family Film, tells KFTV. “Nature has also given us some of the most beautiful roads, like Transfăgărășan, Transalpina, Transrarău and Transbucegi. These are amongst the best-known places internationally, but our fields, mountains, rural landscapes are truly inspiring and rare, in every season.”
These locations can also double for other countries, adds Doman. “For example, the mountains resemble the Swiss Alps, the Eastern side of Romania can simulate Wild West landscapes, the forests are similar to the ones from Germany, and the Transfăgărășan road resembles St Gotthard Pass in Switzerland, Stelvio Pass in Italy or the Trollstigen in Norway.
“The cities in the Transylvania region in the north have been strongly developed with Austrian/German influence, so they can double easily for these countries,” Andrei Loghin, owner at local outfit Digital Spirit, tells KFTV.
Producers can expect to have permits arranged within about 48 hours for most locations, while shutting streets in Bucharest can take a few days longer.
There are two main production facilities….
Castel Film Studios – 45km outside Bucharest has 10 soundstages, water tanks and an expansive backlot stretching 65 acres. There are multiple standing sets, including an urban street, a Western village, American suburbia and gothic church. The studio also has in-house workshops for construction, costumes and props.
Buftea Film Studios – Situated 35km outside Bucharest, this is Eastern Europe’s largest and longest established film studio covering almost 100 acres with 21,500 square meters of sound stages. The largest of these 19 stages is 4,300 sq m, and four of them come with indoor water tanks.
“You will find here experienced crews that are always up for something new and exciting, always ready for work and up-to-date with the latest technologies and techniques,” enthuses Doman.
“It is always good to use a local production company that knows all the details needed for a smooth production,” adds Loghin. “[It’s also worth noting] that sometimes the film market can get crowded and the crew availability can be a problem. Plus, Bucharest is a busy city and so you need time and good planning for difficult shoots.”
It is cheap and easy to travel within Romania by plane. There are 3 low-cost companies (WizzAir, RyanAir and BlueAir) and the national airline Tarom that operate internal flights in Romania connecting major cities around the country.
Infrastructure is generally pretty good and has been upgraded. The road network is very extensive and there are very few places that can’t be reached by car.