Fluctuations in the exchange rate caused problems for a UK production looking for savings in Hungary. Louise Tutt reports.
The $16m UK production of Good headed to Hungary in search of savings but almost lost out as a result of exchange rate fluctuations.
Lured to Budapest by the 20% tax allowance on production spend and low shooting costs, producer Miriam Segal found herself rapidly re-punching numbers into her calculator when the Hungarian forint suddenly made gains against the pound.
'Three months ago, it was huf393 to £1 and now it's huf366 to £1,' she explains. 'I thought it was meant to be cheap! We've lost $400,000 (£200,000) in three months.'
Segal decided to split the financing of the film and pay for some elements of the budget in euros, rather than forints as she had planned. 'The euro is the most consistent shooting currency and as Hungary is joining the euro in three years, it is legal currency right now. Most of the big hotels and camera companies will accept euros,' she explains. '(The euro) is not set at the exchange rate so the bigger companies don't mind taking the risk.'
Directed by Brazil's Vicente Amorim, Good stars Viggo Mortensen as a man seduced by Nazism in pre-war Germany. An earlier incarnation of the production had been set up in Germany with a German crew in 2006.
When the project collapsed, Segal was left with $8m debts, one of the reasons the shoot moved to Hungary. Creatively, it was a good decision. 'Budapest is more like 1930s Berlin than Berlin is now,' she says of the city's classical pre-war architecture.
She is also impressed by Hungary's sophisticated financial infrastructure. 'The tax allowance is very well established,' she says.
Segal is working with local experts Abacus and Budapest production company Laurin Entertainment.
Budapest's popularity has drawn another British project to town - Mark Herman's The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, set in 1940s Berlin.
'Accommodation is very tricky to find in Budapest right now,' says Segal. 'Language is also a huge problem.'