Spotlight on Czech Republic

KFTV gets the lowdown from international producers shooting in the country about the appeal of the quality crew, locations and infrastructure

By Chris Evans 30 Nov 2021

Spotlight on Czech Republic
Wheel of Time. Credit: Amazon Studios, Sony Pictures Television

The Czech Republic is busier than ever, housing high-budget productions including Netflix’s Extraction 2, starring Chris Hemsworth, which moved from Australia to Prague; the streaming giant’s series All Quiet On The Western Front, starring Daniel Brühl; Starz and Lionsgate’s reimagining of Dangerous Liaisons; Sky’s apocalyptic series Extinction; and another Netflix feature Spaceman Of Bohemia, starring Adam Sandler.

Dangerous Liaisons is set in 1780 Paris, but France and the UK were not an option for us because of the expense. Prague is a more economical place to film,” says series line producer Rob How.

Other projects include Netflix’s CIA thriller The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, Searchlight Pictures’ 18th century drama Chevalier, which has doubled the Czech Republic for Paris, and Amazon and Gaumont’s Operation Totems.

“The Czech Republic is very welcoming, with a high-performing audio­visual industry, renowned film studios and highly skilled technicians,” says Operation Totems producer Arnaud de Crémiers.

Amazon and Sony Pictures Television have also returned to the country to film season two of their series Wheel of Time from July 2021 to March 2022 with 520 local crew members. “The Czech Republic has fantastic crews and great locations set in the heart of Europe,” says Marigo Kehoe, executive producer of the series.

All these projects have also been drawn in by the appealing 20% cash rebate, which was boosted recently by a $14m (czk300m) increase in the annual production incentive budget.

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Alternative and doubling Locations

The Czech Republic is a veritable gold mine of locations for productions looking for cost-effective places to double for elsewhere and form a Covid bubble. There’s everything from old cities, castles, chateaus and reservoirs to forests, mountains, caves and sandstone cliffs.

“The Czech Republic has doubled for many cities – Paris, Moscow, Berlin –and we can cover 11 centuries of architecture here,“ enthuses Pavlina Zipkova, head of the Czech Film Commission.

Highlight: Barrandov Studios

Barrandov Studios is one of Europe’s biggest, with 13 soundstages. Its vast 160,000 square metre backlot has an artificial embankment and natural horizon. Amazon Studios and Legendary Television used the studios to create a medieval set for their series Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Around 900 people worked on the production, of which only about 10% were foreign crew.

Erik Oleson, Carnival Row season 2 showrunner “The craftsmanship of our crew was second to none, among the best I have seen in 30-plus years in the business. The sets of Carnival Row were built in such meticulous detail that you wouldn’t know you’re on a backlot. You can walk its alleys, directly into buildings that are working sets of their own. What would be prohibitively expensive elsewhere is not only possible in the Czech Republic, the locals make it happen for a reasonable price and with a smile.”

Highlight: Liberec, Northern Bohemian City

Dubbed the “Manchester of Bohemia” due to its textiles history, Liberec boasts an impressive array of late 19th century buildings, including the stunning town hall on the main square, which recently hosted the second series of Carnival Row and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. The producer of the latter had planned to shoot in Prague, but moved to Liberec where they could shut off the entire main square.

Pavlína Sacherová, head of the Liberec Film Office “It was donkey work, but fortunately we didn’t have too tight a schedule – everything was done with time to spare – from arranging to close the square to letting residents and businesses know what to expect.”

Highlight: Karlovy Vary

The spa town of Karlovy Vary is known for its hot springs, but it also offers stunning architecture with a run of neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance buildings either side of the Tepla river running through the centre. The town was recently used as a location for Bron Studios and Tandem Productions’ thriller TV series Shadowplay, which also filmed in Prague and Kladno.

Rola Bauer, executive producer, Shadowplay “We always found a wonderful variety of locations and the professional crew makes Czech Republic one of the best places to shoot.“

Alternative shooting location in Karlovy Vary: Valeč Chateau

This Baroque chateau, situated at the edge of the Doupov mountains, is located in a 15-hectare complex together with eight other film-friendly buildings, including a church, smithy, carriage house and theatron. The chateau itself has 80 rooms, including the restored Braun Hall, with an area of 95sqm and a height of 3.6m. Approximately 50 rooms are open for use in other buildings around the complex.

Highlight: Brno underground water reservoirs

These late 19th century water reservoirs, declared cultural monuments in 2019, have been opened up to film makers. The city of Brno owns the site but will soon hand it over to TIC BRNO (Brno Tourist Information Centre). The reservoirs are made of brick and the floor is concrete, solid enough for crew and equipment.

Ivana Košuličová of the Brno Film Office “These interesting brick reservoirs are great for filming action, fantasy or historical films. Over the past year, the city has built secure entrances to allow filming and large crews to access the chambers. A grassy area close to the city centre is ideal for setting up a base camp. The access road is not paved, so this must be considered in bad weather.”

Aviation Museum in Kunovice

This museum houses a huge collection of airplanes from the past 100 years, including a former government TU-154M aircraft, already a veteran of several film shoots. Outside, the museum covers 20,000sqm and there is ample parking for cars, buses, and trucks. Directly behind the museum is the Aeroclub, which has a runway connected to Kunovice Airport (LKKU).

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