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Bewitching Bulgaria

Bulgaria is no stranger to Indian filmmakers and is a great fit for Hindi cinema. What’s more, it’s inexpensive too 

Mention Bulgaria as a filming location and you are reminded of the striking scenery in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale and snow-clad mountains and roads from Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay. But these are not the first Indian films to be shot in Bulgaria. Baahubali: The Beginning, was also shot in this beautiful European country, in its vast maize fields and snow-covered peaks. Bulgaria was the only foreign location used to shoot this magnum opus created by director SS Rajamouli.

Located in the south-eastern Europe, Bulgaria is one of the oldest and most cost-friendly countries in Europe. It is a gateway to European and Turkish culture. The country shares its international borders with Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey and is most popular for its dazzling Black Sea beaches. Besides that, Bulgaria is also known for its eccentric history, nightlife, the medieval cities and the locations like mountains, plains, lush green fields, crystal clear rivers and lakes and even a small desert. All these destinations are located within short distances of each other.

Another benefit of filming in Bulgaria is that you have a variety of beautiful locations available to shoot in every season. The country is mostly known to have a moderate continental climate with four seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn. However, if you do not want to attract too many people while filming, avoid visiting the place in summers, i.e. June to August, as it is the peak tourist season. The best time to film in a pleasant atmosphere in Bulgaria is April-May and September-October with fewer tourist and cheap prices.

 

 

CEO of Nu Boyana Film Studios Yariv Lerner tells Bhavi Gathani why filmmaking is Bulgaria is beneficial

Picture Credit : Thomas Lecomte

What according to you makes the destination perfect for filming an Indian film?

In Bulgaria, there is a colorful palette of natural and urban locations. Indian films usually are searching for interesting new places, and with its variety of looks, our country is becoming more and more attractive to your producers and directors.

We have long experience in filmmaking, having worked with so many Hollywood professionals over the years. We have world-class technical crews, amazing stuntmen, skillful art department specialists, SFX experts, etc.  We have an efficiently constructed film infrastructure. One of the leading studios in Europe, Nu Boyana Film Studios is based in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. We deliver full service starting from your initial idea to adding the finishing touches in post-production. We are a one-stop-shop for your project offering crews and equipment, sound stages, standing sets – London, New York, Ancient Rome, the Middle East, Water Tank in Europe (20x20m wide/6m deep), motion capture stage, and video and sound post-production facilities. We have more than 150 VFX artists on the lot as well as an in-house production company which specialises in commercials, short films and music videos.

Indian producers can use all that with a package price which is more cost-effective compared to the other good locations in Europe that Indian movies are used to using. Bulgaria is a great choice for Indian movies which have higher requirements and are ready to invest money to achieve great production values.

We believe that movie-making is a collaborative effort. In order to achieve greatness, you need great people with a common vision. When you come to our studio, we guide you through the filmmaking process with experienced unit production managers. They will assist your producers in choosing the right crew, staying on budget and keeping your production running smoothly.

In the past 12 years, we have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry - from Oscar-winning directors and cinematographers to some of the best actors in the history of cinema. We have serviced more than 300 international movies and TV series.

Is there a film commission to help foreign filmmakers logistically?

We don’t have a governmental structure that does that, so we decided to create the BulgariaFilmCommission.com website, which will be an instrument for foreign filmmakers to use.

What benefits does the government offer foreign film producers? Are there any incentives or cash rebates that are provided by the Bulgarian government? What are the tax benefits?

There is a fixed 10 per cent, flat rate tax for personal and corporate income in Bulgaria which is one of the lowest in Europe. We offer competitive package prices and high production values – you see on screen every Euro spent. We also guarantee local 20 per cent VAT refund within 30 days. All this makes our service/price ratio the best you will get.

If there is any tax benefit/subsidy, what is the process an Indian filmmaker has to go through to be eligible for this subsidy? Is there any co-production potential for Indian film producers?

For this, you could approach the Bulgarian National Film Centre – https://www.nfc.bg/

How can a filmmaker approach you with a project to be shot in your region?

They can write to us at [email protected] and we will connect them with local line producers to help them plan their shoot.

How easy is it to get the permissions to shoot in different locations?

Our location managers have all the right connections and know all procedures involved so permits are obtained easily.

Is it possible for foreign filmmakers to rent equipment and, if so, what is the process?

Absolutely. We offer complete camera and lens packages for your production. Lightwear and affordable, the latest digital cameras redefine the limits of motion picture capture with ultra-fast workflows and image quality that’s every bit as good as 35mm film.

How easily is manpower available in Bulgaria?

Professional crews are ready to work to their best on projects. We have enough people to service several big and medium projects at once. We also keep internship programmes running and constantly prepare the next aspiring crew members.

How convenient and viable is transportation for a film crew in Bulgaria?

Pretty convenient. All the services you get here are very good. You can look at examples of recent Indian projects filmed in our country – Dilwale, Brahmastra etc.

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