TV blockbuster setback following Barrandov fire

Photo: CTK

A fire at Prague’s Barrandov film studios has destroyed the set for a blockbuster television series around the Knights Templar in the 14th century which was set to pump over a billion crowns into the local economy. Shooting of Knightfall, a ten part series produced by Hollywood star Jeremy Renner, was due to start last weekend. I spoke to David Minkowski of Stillking film production, which co-produces the series, about the extent of the damage:

Photo: CTK
“The damage in physical loss is somewhere around 75 million crowns. We are still estimating the costs of what was lost because it is not just the set constructions and the props. It is also different equipment that was on the set at the time.”

Do you have any idea what was the cause of the fire?

“Not officially. The fire investigators are still working on it and they are going to let us know officially when they issue a report. So we are waiting just like everybody else.”

Have you considered moving the shooting out of Prague due to the incident?

“No, the American producers and the studio producing the project A&E studios and the History Channel in the US are 100 percent committed to staying in Prague and completing the series here.

“We filmed a small piece of the story in Croatia but the main part of the story and the majority of the filming is for Prague and that’s where everybody is committed to stay.”

David Minkowski,  photo: archive of Stillking Films
The shooting was scheduled to start at the weekend. Will it have to be postponed and will it be affected in any way?

“It would definitely be affected but we are trying to film other sets and other locations as much as possible. We have to be able to change our schedule and keep shooting and at the same time start to rebuild the set and come back once it is finished to complete the filming.

“It is our hope that while there may be some delays, that overall we’ll be able to complete the film and rebuild the backload.”

How long do you expect it will take to rebuild the set?

“The set is Paris in the 14th century, so there are lots of streets, exteriors, a royal palace and other areas. It took about 14 weeks to build the whole thing from start to finish so we have to do that all over again.”

And how long do you plan to shoot in the Czech Republic?

Photo: CTK
“Originally we planned to finish in November. We started at the beginning of July so we are going to try to stick to that schedule as much as we can but it is quite probable we will end up shooting a little bit longer as we wait for this set to be rebuilt.”

Are incidents such as this one common? I guess you must have been insured.

“Yes of course. Every movie has to have insurance for all possible events and according to our insurers it is actually fairly common. It may have never happened to me or to us in Prague but unfortunately it happens from time to time.”