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The Czech Republic is very versatile in terms of locations but the good news is that shooting has also been incentivised by the government. Pavlina Zipkova, Head, Czech Republic Film Commission, tells Bhavi Gathani how you can get the best value for money here

The Czech Republic, located in the heart of Europe, is known for its medieval culture, history and rich heritage. It is populated by hundreds of castles and chateaux, and offers breathtaking attractions, landscapes, national parks and conservation areas.

When it comes to cinema, the country celebrates a long history that dates back to 1896, when the first feature film was shot in Bohemia. It is one of the most popular destinations of Europe with Hollywood as well as Bollywood filmmakers. Films like Rockstar, Bang Bang! and Jab Harry Met Sejal have been shot here. Hollywood films like XXX and Mission: Impossible were also shot with the Czech Republic as their backdrop. Pavlina Zipkova, Head, Czech Republic Film Commission, tells us more:

What makes Czech Republic a suitable filming destination for Indian filmmakers?

First, the Czech Republic has been busy shooting films since filmmaking began. Thanks to the large amount of film work done here, the Czech film industry has integrated the most up-to-date production technologies and standards. Plus, international film and TV productions can qualify for cash rebates of 20 per cent of local spend and also  for additional rebates for international cast and crew.

Along with the fact that Czech locations, facilities and crews offer outstanding production values, local crews are committed, creative film professionals who never hold back. They’re good with languages too – English, French and German are frequently spoken on the set. The biggest USP for Indian filmmakers is the variety of locations. Once a filmmaker comes to the Czech Republic to shoot, he or she doesn’t have to travel anywhere else.

Filming locations offer broad diversity, easy accessibility and the ability to shoot four distinct seasons. The country’s historic buildings present an urbanscape that can double for Paris, London and almost any other European city. And 11 centuries of architecture complement a lyrical countryside and all manner of natural settings. Last but not least, according to the World Peace Index, the Czech Republic is one of the most secure places on the planet.

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

Our expert team has years of experience in providing information and advice to producers. You can get in touch with us via email giving as much information about your project as possible. We are the most comprehensive resource for information about filmmaking locally, from legal requirements and permits to locations and talent, and we will connect filmmakers with the right partners to make the project a success. We use a database containing the contact details for every type of crew member in the Czech Republic as well as our regional film offices that help filmmakers more closely with the shooting in Czech regions.

How cost-effective is it to shoot a film in the Czech Republic compared to other countries?

The cost-effectiveness is unique for every single project. It depends on how the project´s budget is set up, and how long they are filming in the Czech Republic compared to other countries. You can get an idea by reading this study:

- https://www.o-spi.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/A-Comparison-of-Featu...

What benefits does the government offer Indian film producers? Are there any tax benefits?

The major benefit for all filmmakers is our incentives programme. The cash rebate is divided according to the two different expenditures – Czech and international. Goods and services provided and paid to companies or individuals registered to pay income tax in the Czech Republic are eligible for a rebate of 20 per cent. And international costs paid to foreign cast and crew who pay withholding tax in the Czech Republic are eligible for a rebate of 66 per cent on the withholding tax actually paid.

The other benefit is the Czech minority co-production funding operated by the Czech Film Fund, although 50 per cent of the grant must be spent on Czech services, cast and crew. Some of the Czech regions offer regional film funding under the condition of presenting the region in the project or filming in the region, etc. Plus, we have a wide network of regional film offices in the Czech Republic ready to help any filmmaker.

To avail any tax benefit/subsidy, what is the process an Indian filmmaker has to follow to be eligible for this subsidy?

The applicant must be a tax resident in the Czech Republic with a place of business or permanent establishment in the Czech Republic. Also, the project must pass a simple test for European cultural and production criteria. There is a minimum runtime and expenditure criteria (please refer to table below). Applicants must submit the application for project registration along with the cultural test, a synopsis and a Czech version of the script. The application fee is `93,300.

The advantage is that the registration can be submitted at any time of the year. Costs incurred after the date of the submission of registration papers (the ‘definitive day’) are eligible for the rebate; costs paid before that date are not eligible. The fund issues a registration certificate within 30 days of receiving the application for project registration. The certificate is valid for four years, during which time the applicant must request the payment of the incentive.

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

Yes, it is very easy because we have a lot of rentals, not only for renting the technical equipment, but also for props, costumes, vehicles or weapons for all historical periods. All of these advantages offer your production limitless options and considerable savings. The process is also very easy. When one has decided to film the project here, the best thing to do is to contact a local production company or a service production company who assures delivery on all necessary steps including fixing locations, equipment or hiring the crew members or managing the castings. 

How easily is manpower available in Czech Republic?

Fortunately, it is easy. Professional filmmakers and crew members are very skilled and they understand the director’s or producer’s vision very well. They are busy with international filming during the whole year and the best thing is that the international productions are coming back to work with them again or they are included in the main film crew abroad to finish the project.

Is there any co-production potential for Indian film producers?

It is very probable that an Indian production finds its partner for co-producing the project. As you may read in the article that follows, the Indian director, Imtiaz Ali, whose last Indian movie, a romantic comedy, Jab Harry Met Sejal, was filmed in Prague, is a proof that Indian filmmakers find Prague interesting. The Czech Republic, and Prague in particular, is a popular filming destination for Indian filmmakers, a fact that’s confirmed by the number of requests that come to us every week from India. There are a lot of production companies focusing just on projects of international co-production. For further information you can read these articles:

- https://www.filmcommission.cz/around-town-the-personality-of-prague/

- https://www.filmcommission.cz/prague-film-fund-announces-second-call/

- https://www.filmcommission.cz/the-beauty-of-prague-in-a-bollywood-film/

- https://www.filmcommission.cz/bollywood-stars-shooting-in-prague/

How convenient and viable is transport and travel for a film crew in the Czech Republic?

The benefit of a small country like the Czech Republic is that its rich spectrum of monuments and interesting locations is within a short distance. The most convenient way of travelling around the country is by train, but obviously the highways are better for the transportation of a film crew. The length between the most western and eastern point of the country is 306 miles, which makes it a six hour and 39 minutes long drive. The infrastructure is well-developed and car-rental services are of a high standard in Prague or in other Czech cities.

How does the film commission in the Czech Republic help foreign filmmakers logistically?

We provide consultation, guidance and contacts to incoming filmmakers and we are the most comprehensive resource for information about filmmaking locally.

- Bhavi Gathani

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