Ever since director Anthony Minghella finished his shoot of Cold Mountain, he's been asked one question repeatedly by fellow directors: what's it like to shoot in Romania.
The $80m Civil War epic starring Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Jude Law shot late last year in the Carpathian mountains of Romania's Transylvania.
Speaking to Screen Internationalin Berlin, Minghella said that from an artisitic standpoint, it was an extremely good place to shoot. "It's a truly unspoiled landscape, where its possible to go and create a world - particularly a period world, where you can rotate a camera for 360 degrees and not have any impediment whatsoever to the world your are creating."
Minghella said that despite Romania being a young country in terms of the disciplines of filmmaking, the more films that shoot there, the more professional the crews.
"It's always a problem to go into country where the scale of project is new to the film workforce. I'm a demanding director, working with an international crew and their expectations are high, and there is always a very steep learning curve. There was clearly a very great willingness to go on an adventrure with us, and I'd certainly recommend Romania to anybody contemplating a movie there if the reasons for going are driven first by what it has to offer and not by the financial incentives."
His reasons for shooting in Romania were twofold. First, he said, that Romania's Carpathian mountatins have a very similar look and topography to the Smoky Mountains of Carolina. - the setting of the film. They could also guarantee snow cover - which was vital for the film's final scenes.
Secondly, he added that the financial incentives were very strong to shoot there. Because the crew and cast were made up largely of UK and Italian nationalities, the film could access sale and leaseback deals. Costs were also cheaper in Romania. In all, he estimates that 10% of the budget was saved.