Czech film production companies finally have a chance to fill the gap left by the exodus of Hollywood film projects. Indian Bollywood studios are showing an interest in Czech studios and exterior filming locations. Several Bollywood movies have already been shot in Prague, and more could follow suit.
“Bollywood is looking for fresh locations. Until recently Indian studios hardly ever filmed in Europe. But Prague is very appealing to them,” says producer Jakub Drocár from the company Punk Film.
Between 2007 and 2008, for example, the fairy tale Drona, called by some “the Indian Harry Potter” was shot in Prague. The production company Milk & Honey Films worked on the project. The film entered Indian cinemas in October 2008, but didn’t generate much interest. According to the monitoring online site boxofficemojo, it made only USD 5.5 million around the world.
According to Drocár, Punk Film is now working on two Bollywood projects for the companies Studio 18 and Illuminati Films. The shooting should take place in the summer.
Besides that, there is a number of smaller Indian production companies, such as Blink Pictures, Classic Films and Kailash Pictures, shot TV ads in Prague for Indian consumers. The only disadvantage? Indian companies are spending significantly less in the Czech Republic than American or western European film crews. “The budgets are significantly lower, usually tens of millions of crowns,” says Drocár. Just to compare: The filming of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian in 2007 brought Barrandov Studio CZK 166 million. The production of Babylon A.D. Brought CZK 42 million.
“The Indian film crews work differently than the American ones. They bring along a large team with dozens of people, including chefs. They don’t spend very much here,” says Ludmila Clauss from the Czech Film Centre.
For now, Czech laws are preventing a massive influx of Indian projects. Unlike Germany and Hungary, the Czech Republic does not offer financial incentives for producers. “The lack of these incentives is why there have been so few Indian films shot in the Czech Republic, even though every year, Czech productions have worked on dozens a year,” says Drocár. That was also the reason why American productions have left for countries that do offer incentives. An amendment to a law about cinematography should change that. If it is passed, film producers could count on 20% expense deductions of expenditures made in the Czech Republic. But it will take a while before the proposed amendment even makes it to the lower house.