A consortium of privateinvestors will break ground in January on a new production facility in Sofia for low-cost Hollywood film and television productions.

Financed through privateequity and bank capital, the Bulgarian Film and Television Center will offer four sound stages totalling 5,000 square meters, developerand producer Phillip Roth told ScreenDaily.com.With backlot, post-production and offices the facility will cover a total areaof 35,000 square-meters.

The total investment is inthe neighbourhood of $4.4m (Euros 3.5m), Roth said. Investors hope the facilitywill be operational next summer.

Roth is managing director ofUFO LLC, which has serviced 36 Bulgarian shoots since 2000, including Behind Enemy Lines: Axis of Evil forTwentieth Century Fox. The Bulgarian Unified Film Organization (BUFO), UFO'sBulgarian operation, has reserved 25 percent of the capacity at the newfacilities.

BUFO is in the midst of aslate of productions for Universal and has 12 films slated for the near future,primarily for Universal Television and the Sci-Fi Channel. "They're allnegative pick-ups," Roth said. "We're doing a lot of shows in the under-$5m range,which are primarily straight-to-television or straight-to-video."

"We're seeing a lot moremovies which are straight-to-video sequels. They're all looking to raise thestandard, not to damage the franchise, and to do that they come out here to Bulgaria, shoot much longer schedules and do much moreelaborate sets," Roth added.

Bulgaria is emerging as an attractive location for Hollywood productions. Brian de Palma's TheBlack Dahlia filmed in Sofialast year, Steve Miner recently wrapped production on Day Of The Dead, and Nu Image is to beginshooting Brandhauser, starring JohnCusack, later this month.