Poland’s beautiful and varied landscape, its alternating big-city feel and medieval charm, and recent cash rebate makes it hard to resist as a filming destination
Situated in Central Europe, Poland shares its borders with seven countries – Russia, Germany, the Ukraine, Slovakia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Czech Republic. Its beautiful cities, medieval and global culture, old attractive towns, huge castles and churches, snow-capped mountains, lush forests, lakes and sandy beaches, and many other such temptations make the country suitable for filming.
One of the first Bollywood films shot in Poland was Aamir Khan and Kajol-starrer Fanaa, which released in 2006. Later, Bollywood films like Kick (2014), Shaandaar (2015) and Fitoor (2016) followed. Bollywood has not returned to this European country to shoot after that.
Film Commission Poland works within the structure of the Polish Film Institute and Anna E Dziedzic (Film Commissioner, Film Commission Poland / Polish Film Institute) talks to Bhavi Gathani about what makes Poland a suitable destination for Indian filmmakers, the new cash rebate scheme and much more.
What makes Poland a suitable filming destination for Indian filmmakers?
Variety of easily reachable locations, a well-developed home market, English-speaking crews, a long tradition and great achievements in filmmaking makes Poland a go-to destination that can satisfy the most demanding filmmakers. I believe we also have some credits already – Poland has hosted crews of such Indian films as Fanaa, Kick, Mersal, 24 and Shandaar, and is definitely ready for more.
What are the most popular locations in Poland that can be used as film backdrops?
Warsaw is a vigorous European capital, famous for its skyscrapers and big-city rhythm. Cities like Gdansk, Wroclaw, Krakow or Poznan charm with their old towns, colorful tenant houses and cobbled medieval streets. Also, there are ravishingly decorated palaces and lordly castles scattered across the country, majestic, Alpine-looking mountains in the south and large and sandy beaches in the north. Poland truly has it all.
How can a filmmaker approach you with a project to be shot in your region?
The first contact point for filmmakers interested in making films in Poland is Film Commission Poland, which works within the structure of the Polish Film Institute, the main film funding body in the country. We closely cooperate with seven regional film commissions and Polish producers so we can help search for partners and service providers. We also assist in preliminary location scouting so that producers can reach us when seeking advice about locations. The best way to reach us is via email or setting up a meeting at the international film markets that we attend.
How cost-effective is it to shoot in Poland compared to other countries?
The prices in Poland are very competitive, especially compared to Western Europe. Now shooting in Poland has become even more cost-effective as there is a 30 per cent cash rebate on Polish eligible expenses introduced since the beginning of this year. Producing films in Poland gives a chance of saving up around one-fourth of the budget.
What are the financial incentives provided by the government of Poland?
As for our incentive system, in a nutshell, since February we have a 30 per cent cash rebate in Poland. The system is operated by the Polish Film Institute. Reimbursement of production costs incurred in Poland in the amount of 30 per cent of Polish eligible expenditures is available for feature films, animations, animated series and documentary series. The return is available for the production of Polish and international co-productions and services provided for foreign productions. The cultural qualification test and minimum spending thresholds apply. There are also limits per project and applicant per year.
To apply for support, a Polish partner or company registered in Poland is required. There are no deadlines; applications are processed in order of submission until the funds for a given year are depleted so it works on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis. Financial support is paid after the presentation and positive verification of the final report on production or the stage of work covered by the support. More information can be found on the Polish Film Institute website: http://en.pisf.pl/incentives
What is the eligibility criterion to qualify for the incentives as well as the tax benefits?
The production can count on a 30 per cent refund if it passes the cultural qualification test and a certain amount of money is spent in Poland. The minimum spending thresholds depend on the type of production. For example, for a feature film made with a Polish line producer, it is PLN 1 million (approx. USD 260,000). A Polish partner or company registered in Poland is required to apply for support. There are no deadlines; applications are processed in order of submission until the funds for a given year are depleted. Limits per project (15 million PLN, approx USD 4 million) and per applicant per year (20 million PLN, approx USD 5.2 million) apply.
How easy or difficult is it to get a permit for Indian filmmakers to shoot there?
It really depends on where the shooting is taking place, how big the crew is, and what kind of equipment the crew uses. For example, a small crew with a hand-held camera only filming in public places does not need a permit but if the crew is going to occupy a traffic lane or pavement, a permit is required. Also, it will be required if the crew wants to shoot on private grounds. Foreign crews can count on help from local fixers, location managers and regional film commissions. More information can be found in our Location
What is the criterion to get visas for the production crew?
Poland belongs to the Schengen Area, so in order to enter the area, citizens of third countries must hold a valid travel document and, if required, a visa. Travellers should also state the purpose of their journey. Artists can legally work in Poland up to 30 days within 12 calendar months, without any additional permits. If they would like to increase this period of time, they would need to apply for a working visa.
Is it possible for foreign filmmakers to rent equipment, and if so, what is the process?
There are many rental companies offering world-class equipment, and foreign producers can use their services directly or cooperate with Polish line producers or fixers. The main production hub is in Warsaw, but rental houses and sound stages are also located in central and southern Poland, in the cities like Lodz, Krakow and Wroclaw.
How easily is manpower available in Poland?
The Polish audiovisual market is relatively big. About 50 feature films are produced every year, and, in addition, numerous TV shows and series are made and all this creates stable working conditions for professionals. In recent years, Poland has hosted many productions from the US, Europe and Asia, like the American film Bridge Of Spies by Steven Spielberg or the Indian film Kick by Sajid Nadiadwala. So our crews are experienced in working in an international environment.
Is there any co-production potential for Indian film producers?
There is a bilateral treaty between Poland and India, so the gate for making co-productions has already been opened. Poland can offer its exquisite landscapes, admirable architecture, and talents and skills of Polish filmmakers and producers. Polish history and tradition can be an inspiration for Indian filmmakers. Likewise, the Indian contribution could introduce new challenges and quality to Polish cinema.
How convenient and viable is transportation for a film crew in Poland?
Poland can be reached by air from every major city in Europe in a mere two to three hours; the journey from India takes about 10 hours. Warsaw, the centrally located capital, has direct fight connections with all the major cities in Poland. The condition of Polish roads is good, and there are highways enabling fast and comfortable transportation between locations.