Spotlight on Croatia

One of the world's hottest filming territories is bursting with films, TV series and commercials from the likes of Amazon, Lionsgate and ITV.

By Chris Evans 6 Dec 2021

Spotlight on Croatia
Hotel Portofino filming in Bale, Croatia. Credit: Drugi Plan

Croatia is one of the most popular filming locations, constantly featuring high on the wish lists of Hollywood studios thanks to a generous filming incentive worth up to 30%, reliable local crews and dramatic and varied backdrops.

A total of 16 projects filmed in Croatia in 2021 and accessed the local incentive. Among these was Brandon Cronenberg’s sci-fi thriller Infinity Pool, a Canada-Croatia-Hungary co-production starring Alexander Skarsgard, and backed by Neon, Topic Studios, Film Forge, Hero Squared and 4 Film, among others.

“We knew Canada would not be suitable, despite our beautiful scenery. It’s a bit too chilly for a story about a tropical vacation,” says producer Karen Harnisch of Toronto-based Film Forge. “It was clear as soon as we arrived that Croatia would provide the perfect setting. We filmed in the Sibenik area with the support of 4 Film and the Croatian Audiovisual Centre.”

Another visitor was ITV Studios and Altitude Television’s spy series The Ipcress File, written by John Hodge, which filmed in Zagreb, Rijeka and Split in spring 2021.

“After our great experience with McMafia, with James Watkins directing, we returned to Croatia for the production of The Ipcress File with the same director,” says producer Paul Ritchie. “We once more took advantage of Croatian locations, which stood in for seven different countries.”

Further international projects filming in Croatia this year include the Netflix crime series Clark, Sweden’s Dramacorp series Hamilton, and UK outfit Eagle Eye’s six-part Hotel Portofino, which filmed in Opatija (where the titular hotel is located), Rovinj and Lovran, with the support of local outfit Drugi Plan.

“We found Croatia extraordinarily versatile in terms of locations, geographical variety and architectural range,” says Walter Iuzzolino, executive producer for Eagle Eye. “The expertise of the crew and local creatives proved invaluable.”

Pre-Covid, there were several big projects in the country too, including Lionsgate’s The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage, which filmed in the walled city of Dubrovnik with a crew of just over 400; Amazon Studios and Endgame Entertainment’s romantic drama Bliss, starring Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson and Lionsgate’s action sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, starring Hayek, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson.

“Croatia is a wonderful place to shoot. The crew are fantastic, no nonsense, talented technicians and nothing seemed to be a problem – there were only solutions,” says Matt O’Toole, producer of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

Tanja Ladovic Blazevic, head of the Filming In Croatia department at the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, expects the industry to continue working at full capacity. “There is pent-up global demand for high-end content and we intend to help meet it.”

This feature is a condensed version of the Croatia profile that will appear in our next issue of the Production Guide, which will come out at the end of this month.

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