Romania's potential as a location gained momentum with the arrival of Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth last year, but can the territory keep pace with its neighbours' Theodore Schwinke reports
Romania is in a unique position in Eastern Europe in being better known for its homegrown cinema than as a location for footloose productions - Romanian film-makers have emerged onto the international scene via Palme d'Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, 12:08 East Of Bucharest and The Death Of Mr Lazarescu.
However, since Anthony Minghella shot Cold Mountain for Miramax in the territory in 2003, more producers have been realising Romania's potential. Francis Ford Coppola filmed Youth Without Youth in Bucharest for The Weinstein Company last year using mostly local crew, including Romanian DoP Mihai Malaimare Jr. This month, Paul Schrader shot some concentration camp scenes in Hungary as part of his Holocaust film, Adam Resurrected, starring Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe.
'We've had a lot of success with production in Romania,' says Tim Clawson, The Weinstein Company's executive vice-president of physical/post production. 'It's a cost-effective place to shoot, with great facilities and local crews.'
Romania has three main facilities: Castel Film, Kentauros Studios and MediaPro Pictures. Kentauros and Castel service a stream of international features and television productions, while MediaPro focuses on local films.
But as more footloose productions make the trek, resources are becoming stretched. Prices have also risen and 'it can be difficult to find crews in Bucharest', says Cristian Mungiu, director of 4 Months. But, he notes, 'when there's competition, people work better'.
Independent producer Guy Louthan, who recently wrapped production in Bucharest on his low-budget comedy Made In Romania, believes the country is 'an incredibly easy place to work, insofar as saving money is concerned'. But he also points to a shortage of crews. 'You have to be careful how you use Romania. It's not a panacea, it's a tool.'
Although Romania offers no tax incentives, the government is considering the introduction of a 16% rebate for foreign film production.