24-10-2019

Baltics Compete for International Film Production

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RIGA: Baltic film companies stressed a need for experienced crews and film stages at the Magnetic Latvia film conference held during the Riga IFF, which runs through 27 October 2019.

Film producers working on international productions from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania shared a common story: not enough crews and not enough studios.

“There’s a desperate need for studio space in the Baltics,” said Gary Tuck, producer at Baltic Film Services. Baltic Film Services worked on two of the most important productions to film in Lithuania last year, Chernobyl and Catherine the Great, both for HBO. Tuck said that there are now six productions shooting in Lithuania, including Netflix’s Young Wallander. Lithuania‘s Ahil is providing services.

Sergei Serpuhov, managing director at Latvia’s Baltic Pine Films, echoed Tuck’s comments, noting that Latvian stages are not big enough for the big international productions. He estimated that Latvia could provide services for up to five film productions simultaneously, adding, “In the Baltic region it’s a common practice to combine and mix crews from the region.”

Lithuanian producer Ieva Norviliene from Tremora said that when Chernobyl was filming she had to delay shooting her own production by one and a half month because she couldn’t get crews and equipment. Other Baltic domestic film producers are also feeling the competition from international productions, with young crews just out of school rejecting positions on local films because the pay from the international films is higher.

Janis Kalejs, producer from Latvia’s Film Angels Productions noted that Estonia is working on filling the need for studio space with a new film studio due to open next year. When international productions are unable to find studio capacity in the Baltics, they take their productions to Prague or Budapest.

Jonathan Olsberg, chairman of UK based Olsberg SPI strategic consultancy, painted a broader picture of the situation for the Baltics, saying, “There’s a global production deluge,” particularly for TV scripted content. “Countries are running out of capacity,” both in studio space and equipment, as well as in trained crews. He noted that the lack of studio space is causing producers to lock in studio space as much as a year in advance. But there was also an upside for the domestic industries. “Audiences want local content and local stories, but made at a higher budget level. This is good news for countries like the Baltics,” Olsberg said.