The international film industry has been drawn to Eastern Europe in recent years, tempted by cheaper production costs and diversity of its architecture: from towering communist apartment blocks to delicate gold leaf cathedral domes.
Lacking a tax incentive programme of its own, Ukraine has yet to draw in the same international interest as neighbours like Hungary, Prague or Romania, and co-productions so far have largely been limited to its towering Russian neighbour. But as foreign productions venture further into Eastern Europe, the country has started to catch international attention for its very low production costs, relaxed permit arrangements and non-union crews.
From the coastal backdrop of the Crimean, to the forested Carpathian Mountains Ukraine offers a wide range of locations able to stand-in for a variety of European sites.
Parts of Olivier Megaton's Transporter 3 (2008) were shot in Odessa, and the Carpathian Mountains in the west of the country stood in for Chinese forests in Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers (2004).
Ukraine has been particularly popular with advertising agencies in the past few years, and Kiev based commercials production company, Radioaktive Film, has worked on campaigns for Lenovo, Bang & Olufsen, Renault, Grolsch and Heineken.
A permit for shooting in a municipal property area can take 4 to 14 days to obtain, and for shooting in a private are this usually takes 2 to 5 days. For a top security or government area, it is advisable to allow 20 days to secure a permit.
Aerial filming only needs an additional permission if it is taking place near the countries borders.
Ukraine has visa-free entry for the citizens of the USA, European Union and Switzerland.
There are no specific limitations as to talent work conditions for children or animals.
The Ukrainian Film Office can advise further on obtaining permits.
Ukraine boasts three ex-Soviet studios; Dovzhenko Studio in Kiev offers one of the largest sound stages in Ukraine, and Odessa Film Studios on the shores of the Black Sea consists of three stages of 6,500 sq ft, 4,650 sq ft, and 2,600 sq ft.
The more modern FILM.UA studio in Kiev offers six fully equipped soundstages ranging from 2,150 to 12,917. square ft, and a backlot with a lake.
Ukraine offers a diverse range of locations, from the Crimean Sea in the south, which can double up as the Mediterranean, to the snow capped Carpathian Mountains.
Both coniferous and deciduous forests are well represented, alongside wide open steppe, allowing Ukraine to replicate the backdrop of a variety of European locations.
The country has an extensive offering of historical buildings, boasting over 200 castles and palaces, around 40 town halls and over 120 wooden churches as well as several mosques and cave monasteries.
The above sharply contrast with the more recent architectural remains of the ex-Soviet Union seen in Kiev’s towering concrete apartment blocks, and several ex-military bunkers and weapon silos scattered throughout the country.
The Ukrainian Film Office can advise further on available filming locations.
Le Doyen in Kiev has been awarded Dolby Premiere Studio Certification, and offers a Dolby Digital mixing studio, five dubbing studios and sound/video editing rooms.
Kinotur, also in Kiev, offers a range of post-production services, including scanning, digital dailies, assembly, CG VFX integration, color grading and finishing.