Slovenia has been developing its global production profile since launching a 25% cash rebate in 2017, with a string of big projects arriving at the Central European country. These include Amazon and Sony Pictures Television’s The Wheel Of Time, which filmed across the Czech Republic, Croatia and Slovenia; Left Bank Pictures’ spy series Strike Back for UK broadcaster Sky; and Davide Del Degan’s indie feature Paradise. Several Bollywood projects have also shot in the country.
At the end of last year and into 2021, the Luxembourg-Slovakia-Slovenia-Croatia co-production Beanie filmed in Zagreb and Viba Film Studio in capital Ljubljana.
“The co-production between four countries meant the structure of the team — authors, actors, as well as the technical crew — was international,” says Ida Weiss of Slovenian outfit Bela Film, a producer alongside Luxembourg’s Wady Films, Objectif from Slovakia and Croatia’s Studio Dim. “During the pandemic, it was challenging to organise an extensive and diverse team. Fortunately, it all ended well, also because we strictly observed the Covid-19 prevention measures.”
Although the filming incentive’s annual fund totals only a relatively low $1.2m (€1m), international filmmakers talk of a film-friendly attitude in the country and permits that can be secured through a straightforward process. Special permission is required to film in national parks.
Indeed, much of Slovenia’s international appeal is built on its pristine natural environments and historic architecture — all found across a small geographic area. Ljubljana is the main production centre and it is relatively easy to move crew and equipment from there to the coast or the mountains.
The Julian Alps can be reached in a couple of hours from Ljubljana, offering easy access to the spectacular Lake Bled, with its island, castle and mountain backdrops. A large part of the alpine scenery is within Triglav national park, where it is possible to find glacial lakes such as Bohinj. The country also offers lush meadows, rolling hills, forests, rivers, vineyards and beaches. Filmmakers head south to find Mediterranean vistas and climate along the Adriatic coastline.
“It is possible to shoot at various locations during the same day, as one can be surrounded by the rolling hills of Pomurje in the morning, while enjoying the sea or looking down from an Alpine summit in the afternoon,” says Mojca Plansak at the Slovenia Film Commission. “Slovenia boasts two climate zones — the continental and the coastal. This is extremely convenient for filming, especially during the winter.”
The wide variety of locations can “double for Italian coastal towns and Tuscany, Swiss and Austrian Alps and old metropolises thanks to the Austrian-Hungarian empire influence”, says Jernej Krivic, head of production at Ljubljana-based outfit Bas Production.
The capital has some eye-catching historic buildings including a castle, town hall and cathedral. Koper on the coast also has spectacular scenery. Founded by the Romans and later ruled by the Venetians, it has a striking medieval town centre. Ljubljana is home to experienced English-speaking crews and a good range of equipment. Anything not available can be brought in from neighbouring Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia.
The Slovenian Film Centre and Film Commission offer logistical and technical support. There are few restrictions when shooting in public spaces, and it takes up to five working days to secure permits in the cities. The best-known studio facility is Viba Film Studio, which also rents out equipment, has post-production facilities and owns a large collection of costumes and props.
Main image: Amazon and Sony Pictures Television's The Wheel of Time filmed in the mountains of Slovenia