Romania's growing attraction as a location for film production could increase still further with the arrival of a new studio complex next year.
The project is the brainchild of British property developer Andrew Stear, who has been based in Romanian capital Bucharest for the last seven years. His company BPD Management has received planning permission to convert a derelict building on the IRIDE business park that he operates into a new film hub.
The studios will boast two small sound stages (one of 1,200m2, the other 800m2) and two green screen stages. They will be surrounded by dubbing studios, production lodges, dressing rooms and a food court.
"The size of our operations means we will not be competing with [Romania's main studios] Castel or MediaPro, and we will be chiefly focused on video and commercials production. But we anticipate that our town-centre location will be an advantage, especially with actors," said Stear. "We should be a good overflow location for Castel, MediaPro, the [Czech Republic's] Prague Studios and Stillking."
Stear, who will be investing some Euros4m in the refurbishment, estimates that the studios will be operational from autumn 2004. Having branched into music and TV production, Stear also expects to relocate his animation company onto the new site. The 18-month old 3D-CGI company is now in production on the second series of the pre-school Tractor Tom programme for Contender Entertainment and first run of New York-set adult comic Helter Skelter.
Romania is seeking to expand and improve on the facilities it can offer to film-makers, who have until now largely been drawn in by its low operating costs. The country has been home to an increasing number of US and West European productions, including Miramax's Cold Mountain, and Bauer Martinez' Dennis Hopper-Gina Gershon vehicle Out Of Season and Samantha's Child produced by Brad Wyman, Donald Kushner and Andrew Stevens with Heather Graham, Andy Serkis, James Purefoy and the late David Hemmings.