Earlier this week, Prague Town Hall approved new conditions for filming in the capital, particularly in the old centre of the city. While until now, Prague seemed to be a cheap paradise for foreign film crews, in the near future it might become as expensive as Western European cities. Alena Skodova reports:
The fees for filming in the city's protected historical core - which is on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage sites - have increased five-fold. Up to now, a square meter per day has cost 10 crowns - just around 30 cents - but now it is set to rise to 50 crowns. But even filming in parks outside the centre will cost more. The Town Hall will now ask 100,000 crowns per day for making a promotion shot and 50,000 crowns for TV or feature films. The price for using one of the most precious historical monuments - the 14th century Charles Bridge - will be 250,000 crowns, that's some 8,000 US dollars, per day.
I spoke with Tomas Krejci from the Milk and Honey production company and asked him for his reaction to the new fees:
"The Town Hall now stands - so to speak - on the other side of the barricade, in terms that from the point of view of its own economic prospects it wants to gain more money for itself and for the city of Prague as well. In my view such tendencies are to be found in all spheres of life in the Czech Republic. But now it is up to our side to tell the Town Hall quite resolutely what is and what is not possible to swallow, how far they can go."
Prague has become a Mecca for foreign film-makers, who use the city for making both feature films and promotion shots, and as Mr. Krejci fears the increased prices might push them out of the city:
"Foreign companies are naturally well aware of the fact, that prices for both locations and local personnel have been on the rise. This tendency cannot be stopped, but we as producers must stress the fact, that if Prague becomes non-competitive, then foreign film crews will turn their back on the Czech capital and start looking for other locations - because it is not a question of loyalty to the Czech Republic, the main aspect is whether filming here is lucrative or not."
Mr. Krejci went on to say that the situation in the neighbouring East-European countries - such as Poland and Hungary - is more or less the same. But what's happening now is that more remote Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria have been trying to attract foreign film-makers, and from the economic point of view they might be successful, despite the fact that there is no established film tradition as there is in the Czech Republic.
Prague Town Hall seems determined to put through the higher prices, but the Czech film production companies are set to put up a fight, and this may not be the end of Hollywood superheroes with a backdrop of gothic towers.
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