Turbocharged Czech film industry gets extra boost with additional funding

The Czech film industry is flying high with a host of major international productions being shot in Prague. What's shooting now?

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 21.09.2021 18:00 (updated on 21.09.2021)

The Czech Republic is renowned the world over for its filmmaking expertise. The country’s film industry is riding the crest of a wave with major international producers choosing to film in the country during the pandemic.

Now, the industry is set to receive an additional boost as the government releases an additional CZK 300 million from state budget reserves for filmmaking incentives.

Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) negotiated an increase in budget funds for film industry incentives with Finance Minister Alena Schillerová in July, and now the additional money is being transferred to the Czech Film Fund. Zaorálek said the funds would help attract film projects worth CZK 2 billion to the Czech Republic.

High international demand to film in the Czech Republic this year meant the Czech Film Fund had already run out of funds to support incentives. Zaorálek noted that foreign filmmakers working in the Czech Republic are a key source of income for the country at present and that the budget increase was needed to keep accepting applications.

The Czech Republic has become increasingly popular with international filmmakers in recent years. 2019 was a record year thanks in large part to a generous system of incentives, with CZK 9 billion coming to the country from foreign investments. While the Covid pandemic had a severe impact on film production for cinematic release, it accelerated the trend of series and movies being produced for distribution on online streaming platforms.

Netflix’s most expensive ever film, "The Gray Man," was shot in Prague this summer. The project saw large parts of the city shut down and locals straining to catch a glimpse of Hollywood stars such as Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. Amazon’s “The Wheel of Time,” starring Rosamund Pike was also recently lensed in the Czech lands.

A new film starring Kelvin Harrison Jr., as the famed 18th-century Black composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was slated to begin filming in Prague from early September 7.

Since then there have been announcements about other major productions choosing the Czech Republic as a filming location, including the action movie “Extraction 2”, starring Chris Hemsworth and a new thriller series called "Last Light," starring "Lost’s" Matthew Fox and "Downton Abbey’s" Joanne Froggatt which is set to begin filming in Prague.

The five-episode series, by Peacock and MGM International Productions, will be directed and executive produced by Dennie Gordon. Based on a novel of the same name by Alex Scarrow, the drama’s filming location in Prague is further confirmation of the city’s appeal for international filmmakers.

Czech officials have been determined to keep productions running during the pandemic, an attitude praised by foreign filmmakers.

“The pandemic created ‘go to’ countries where governments saw the benefits of keeping productions running with exemptions to border shutdowns, quarantines and other restrictions,” David Minkowski, head of production at Stillking Films, told Reuters.

“This year none of the productions were halted or interrupted, they all continued filming under the strictest Covid protocols and safety rules. There is a huge demand,” Pavlína Žipková, head of the Czech Film Commission, told the news agency.

Along with a determination to keep things running during the Covid crisis, the Czech Republic has also benefited from its experienced film crews and relatively low labor costs for investors.

With a combination of local expertise, government support and stunning scenery, the Czech Republic has carved out a position as one of the world’s most attractive filming locations. With many predicting that foreign film investments could this year surpass the record set in 2019, the Czech film industry keeps going from strength to strength.

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