Slovakia has started up local and international productions again, with minimal test requirements and non compulsory health and safety guidelines for filming.
"We have a list of 19 countries where you do not need to show negative COVID 19 test results when entering the country. But if you are travelling from other countries, like the UK or US, a person can enter with a negative COVID-19 test and stay isolated and then [earliest] on the fifth day of his/hers stay, they have to do another test. If this test shows they are negative, the isolation is over," Zuzana Bielikova, head of the Slovakia Film Commission, explains to KFTV. "It is also possible to request an exception from the Public Health Office based on a business reason, such as the filming of commercials."
The country has protocols and self-regulatory guidelines, but these are not obligatory. There are no specific restrictions from the Public Health Office, except for the film crew to wear face-masks (excluding performing actors).
Slovakia made a bold statement at the end of last year by increasing its cash rebate from 20% to 33%, effective from 1 January 2020, in an effort to attract more international productions.
The move seems to be paying off. NBC Universal/Nomadic Pictures decided to film part of the fifth and final season of their dark, fantasy horror TV series Van Helsing in Slovakia in February this year, just before the coronavirus struck, and applied for the incentive through local outfit Spectral at the end of last year. They requested support of €560,000, representing almost 2% of the expected €31m budget.
“Working with the local cast and crew from Slovakia has been an absolute pleasure,“ enthuses Morris Chapdelaine, producer of Van Helsing. “The skill set, talent, experience, and dedication to the craft is second to none. Equipment rentals, facilities, locations, transportation services, and the incredible food are all things that stand out, but more than anything, it's the wonderful people that really made our show work here - on time and on budget. We'd be delighted to return, and in fact, we're planning to.“
Other major international projects to have shot in Slovakia recently include Francis Lawrence’s action film Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton, which filmed in Bratislava; Amazon’s series Hanna; and the BBC/Netflix series Dracula, created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, which filmed at the turreted Orava Castle in northern Slovakia, and registered for the incentive.
Slovakia offers culturally rich and diverse locations, including the popular capital Bratislav, the High Tatras, Košice, forests, modern industrial and socialist era architecture and medieval towns with over 100 castles, including Oravský hrad, Spišský hrad, castle ruins Strečno, and Červený Kameň.
For more information read our forthcoming issue of World of Locations magazine.