While the charms of European locations are widely known, there remain lesser explored corners of the Old Continent where fresh locations welcome filmmakers and photographers working with a wide range of budgets.
If you’ve not yet considered shooting in Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, PSN Baltics Partner Dagmar Mae has more than a few reasons that you’ll want to do so for future film and photography projects. In this recent interview she reveals some of the treasures that await creatives in her homeland.
Q: What do you think brings foreign producers to the Baltic countries?
A: The Baltics are the great secret of Northern Europe; which in the recent years is making a distinct mark as an attractive filming location.
What brings foreign producers here is our capability to provide interesting locations combined with cost effective prices and a ‘straightforward’ attitude.
Estonia launched the most generous incentive program of the region in 2016 - an attractive 30% cash rebate system – which is already attracting more projects to the country.
Q: What type of locations can you provide?
A: Our chequered history is visible in our architecture. It’s easy to find locations matching eras and styles. From the magnificent gothic Old Town of Tallinn (perfect for any historical or medieval piece) through Art Nouveau architecture in Riga (a perfect double for Paris) to a variety of manor houses from different eras, and thrilling run-down ruins (perfect for thrillers). Not to forget modern glass and steel cityscapes spiced up with a hipster vibe (easily doubling for Berlin or London’s Docklands).
And last but not least, there’s the beauty of nature - the virgin forests, vast fields, quiet lakesides, mystic marshlands, and a seemingly endless shoreline.
Q: What is the best season to shoot in The Baltics?
A: The Baltics have four distinct seasons. Snowy winters, flowery springs, warm summers - with 20 + hours of daylight and exceptionally long magic hours –, and colourful, sometimes rainy, autumns.
Each season has its own advantages, and the best time to come entirely depends on the requirements of the project.
Q: Do you have good studio space in The Baltics?
A: Lithuania is well known for its excellent studios and comprehensive art departments. Currently Estonia has a few smaller stages (up to 650m2); however, a new studio complex, the biggest in the Baltic Sea region, is being built and will be open for business in 2018.
What strengths do you have in local crew?
Local crews are highly trained and skilled and are known to be very hardworking and effective. English is widely spoken in all the Baltic countries. You can be sure that everyone on set will have a good command of English.
Q: How about local DPs ?
A: We have a number of talented local DPs with international experience, and we’re always happy to provide our clients with relevant reels.
Q: How about art department?
A: Like with DPs, we also have strong art directors with extensive experience in working with foreign directors and their productions.
Q: What are the strong points of casting?
A: The Baltics is best for casting people with that classic Scandinavian and Slavic look.
The region is known for its internationally recognised supermodels (such as Carmen Kass, Karmen Pedaru, Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov). So the Baltics is a great place to cast models for fashion and beauty spots.
Q: Does your region have any tricky production requirements we need to know about?
A: We are a very film-friendly region, so the answer is “No”.
Q: What might surprise visitors when staying in The Baltics, and what do they enjoy the most?
A: Some people have preconceptions about ex-Soviet countries; however, when they get here they’re always pleasantly surprised by just how developed and modern these three countries are.
Another thing that often surprises – and delights - visitors when they’re here during the summer is the length of daylight – often with up to 20 hours of good light and sunshine.