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Period Drama in Historic City

Spies of WarsawFresh Pictures’ recent period drama Spies of Warsaw was a real ratings hit for BBC Four in the UK as well as being aired internationally over the next few months. The series co-producer/line producer Matthew Patnick sat down with KFTV to talk about his experiences of filming in Warsaw – according to him “one of the best cities” to work in.

Describing the whole experience as “incredible”, Patnick tells us of the level of expertise from technicians in Warsaw, and gives us nothing less than a glowing review for Poland’s capital.

Travelling down from the UK to shoot the series which starred the popular British actor David Tennant, the line producer took with him thirteen people, all key personnel. These included the production’s costume designer, accountant, editor, make-up artist, 1st AD and director. The rest of the crew were local.

Patnick had the ideal situation, Spies of Warsaw’s DoP Wojciech Szepel is Polish, based in Warsaw but is represented by a British agent – this made him ideally placed to liaise between all crew. Executive producers and co-production company Apple Films also sourced a Polish line producer and production co-ordinator to work on the series. These two, alongside the vast majority of Polish crew, were bilingual – which made the multilingual set run like clockwork.

As far as locations go, here too the team hit the jackpot. Warsaw’s old city centre, obviously crucial for a period drama, was decimated during the Second World War, with around 85% of its buildings destroyed. Large parts of the town, however, were painstakingly rebuilt over the following decades, with much attention to historic detail – again, making the shoot much cheaper and adding a historical depth.

With the minimum required for dressing shots, the team used locations that had been rarely seen up until now in UK-made dramas, thereby adding a new dimension to the look of the exteriors. “The shoot was eight weeks long, and very pleasant. Instead of hotels, one and two bedroom apartments were found for the crew, complete with a gym. This kept the crew happy and gave them an opportunity to bond.”

Transport-wise Warsaw also offered quality with taxis for very affordable prices. The only downside to filming in the East European city that Patnick mentions is the standard of facility vehicles and trailers. These, he says, were “not as sumptuous as those in the UK…”

Overall, as said, nothing but praise for Warsaw which made leaving the city (in time for the Euro 2012 championships) a rather sad affair.

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