Czech film industry's talent attracts big budget projects

James Bond

British agent 007 is on his way to the Czech Republic - the 21st film in the Bond series - Casino Royale - will be filmed in and around Prague next year. It is the latest in a long line of big budget movies to be produced in this country over the last decade or so. For a deep insight into the Czech film industry's talent for attracting the big budget projects, Radio Prague spoke to Theo Schwinke, the editorial director of Monitor CE, which publishes the Prague Daily Monitor, publisher of the online Daily Monitor.

"The Czech Republic is known for its local home-grown film industry. A number of film auteurs have come from the Czech Republic, including, of course, Milos Forman and Jiri Menzel. In recent years the Czech Republic has emerged as an international film hub because of the state of the Czech film industry infrastructure. The talent is here, the studios are here. International filmmakers, filmmakers from Hollywood and elsewhere have realised that this is a great place to make films.

"You will be hard pressed to find better crews, better cameramen, better set designers and constructors any place outside of maybe Los Angeles. The real advantage here is an economic one, however, because an international filmmaker just realises so many cost savings by shooting here as opposed to in Los Angeles."

RP: Can you see the situation continuing for the next five or ten years or do you think the Czech Republic will become a victim of its own success in a way, that prices will start going up and possibly work will go even further east?

"That's a really good question and it's a question that the industry is asking itself here in the Czech Republic. Obviously, prices are going to be going up here but they have not been outpacing inflation so far. As you pointed out, there is a concern that films will be going further east, to Hungary, to Ukraine even. It is cheaper to make films there but the local industry boosters will tell you that they don't fear losing that much business to countries further east because those countries' industries and those countries' film infrastructure is not to the level of the Czech Republic is."

RP: There is a bit of a knock-on effect for the domestic film industry, isn't there, for a Czech director who might want to get a film made because he may be dealing with people who are now used to working on much higher salaries?

"You are right. The positive side of that is that a cameraman or a soundman is going to be a little bit more inclined to work with a Czech auteur who doesn't have very much money if he's already got a full wallet from having worked on a big budget Hollywood picture. A lot of dedicated filmmakers are like that. They will delay payment or they will accept payment on the back end of the film rather than requiring money to live on up front. And they can do that because they just earned a big pay check from a big budget production."

James Bond
RP: In 2006, the big thing happening is the Bond film "Casino Royale" which is coming to the Czech Republic. Is this generating a lot of unprecedented excitement, do you think?

"I think everyone is very excited about it. Unprecedented? I think we were just as excited when we got 'Mission Impossible' back in 1996. This is a huge vote of confidence in the local industry and the ability of the crews and the people here to make a film. And it will bring a lot of money to the local film industry as well. It's going to be a very large-budget film."