Bulgaria capitals

Hollywood is heading to Estonia, Bulgaria and beyond. Insiders tell how it goes

On the set of the Lithuanian series “Troll Farm” in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Berta Tilmantaite / For The Times)

“Jurassic World Dominion” is one of the highest-grossing movies of the summer, the latest in the popular sci-fi franchise about dinosaurs battling humans for control of civilization.

The film was shot in British Columbia, London and Hawaii. But another place increasingly in Hollywood’s sights, Malta, also made the cut.

In one memorable scene, Chris Pratt zooms in on a motorbike on the cobbled streets of an old European town that has been overtaken by dinosaurs as a raptor chases and nearly kills him. That city is Malta’s capital, Valletta, which was chosen in part because filmmakers could get a generous 40% government cost rebate – up from 27% just a few years ago.

In return, Malta hopes more Hollywood blockbusters – and hordes of tourists – will travel to the small archipelago as competition increases for US dollars and crews in the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Baltics.

“Before, there were only a few places that worked successfully with Hollywood, like Hungary, where ‘Dune’ was shot,” says Anna Franklin, London-based editor of Film New Europe. “Now every country is trying to outdo each other by offering more generous incentives to film there and woo Hollywood.”

The work done in Malta, long attractive to filmmakers in search of its water scene reservoirs – which hold millions of gallons – is another indication that Hollywood is expanding its frontiers by launching shoots, studios and multi-million dollar film formations in the most remote corners of Europe. The Apple, HBO and Netflix teams are there too.

The Times addressed those who straddle the relationship between Hollywood and Europe.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

a pair of film and television icons

a pair of film and television icons

Nele paver

Tallinn, Estonia

Film Curator, Film Estonia/Estonian Film Institute

The tax incentive for international productions is capped at 30%.

When Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ chose Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, for major scenes – including an epic car chase where one vehicle speeds forward while another chases it backwards – it was a ‘turning point’ for the nation’s movie scene, Pave said. Since then, the next American horror film “Kill the Child” and productions from Finland, Denmark and elsewhere have traveled to the Baltic nation.

“We didn’t really have much until 2016 when we started our film commission here in Estonia. First it was Finland and Denmark filming here. These are places that are close neighbors. But then more distant companies like Hollywood started coming in. When “Tenet” came here just before the pandemic, it was huge for us. When you have Warner Bros. in your country, it creates this buzz Then everyone is also interested because Hollywood has this great faith in you and believes that you can be a part of high-quality, high-value work.

“The need for staff is so much greater than it was just a few years ago, as the demand for streaming shows and miniseries increases. But our community of professionals is small. “We don’t always have enough staff for filming. . So we work with neighbors who send their workers. We do this a lot with Latvia. And Finns, who are only two hours away by boat.”

a pair of film and television icons

a pair of film and television icons

Yariv Lerner

Sofia, Bulgaria

CEO of Nu Boyana Film Studios

Bulgaria offers a 25% discount for international productions.

Sylvester Stallone poses with a group of people

From left to right: Victor Hadida, Christa Campbell, Avi Lerner, Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega and Yariv Lerner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 for the screening of “Rambo: Last Blood”. (Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

Lerner, an American, has overseen Nu Boyana since 2005. The studio is behind hundreds of action films, including “The Expendables”, “The Protege” (2021) and “Rambo: Last Blood” ( 2019). More recently, Lerner opened a branch of his studio in northern Greece, where Robert De Niro’s next film, “Tin Soldier”, is being filmed. Lerner’s father, Ari Lerner, is the founder of Los Angeles-based Millennium Films.

“What’s on offer in Bulgaria – and many other countries – isn’t just saving money. It’s only part of it. What you get are incredibly talented and dedicated people at every level of creating a film from start to finish. The country itself is beautiful.”

a pair of film and television icons

a pair of film and television icons

Stavroula Geronimaki


Acting Director of the Hellenic Film Commission

Greece grants international filmmakers a 40% discount.

Antonio Banderas (left, background) enters a car, flanked by a crew member.

Antonio Banderas entering the black car performs during the filming of ‘The Enforcer’ on July 3, 2021 in Thessaloniki, Greece. (Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece, which was among the hardest hit European countries during the global recession, is still recovering and has one of the worst unemployment rates on the continent, at almost 13%. In 2018, it began offering generous refunds — first at 35% of costs and now at 40% — to Hollywood productions relocating to Athens and smaller towns. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” settled this summer on the island of Corfu. The “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” sequel to “Knives Out” was filmed on the island of Spetses on the Attica peninsula.

“What we want is for people to come and enjoy our country, learn about the people and see everything we have to offer, from historic sites to an enthusiastic and creative local industry that is growing. Since the start of the Greek cashback program [April 2018] until April 2022, more than 349 million euros have been invested in Greece. This amount includes both domestic and international productions.”

a pair of film and television icons

a pair of film and television icons

Vaidotas Martinaitis

Vilnius, Lithuania

Actor of “Stranger Things”

Lithuania reimburses 30% of production costs to international filmmakers.

In recent years, Lithuania has been the filming site for some of HBO’s (“Chernobyl”) and Netflix’s (“Stranger Things”) biggest hits after launching a movie recruiting office a decade ago. Today, several streaming productions, including those of big players outside the United States such as Viaplay (Sweden), have chosen the capital, Vilnius, to replace Moscow, Paris, Mexico City and Washington, D.C.

“I am 53 years old and I have been doing this job for 30 years. In my career, I have done many roles in plays, films and television. The best known and the one I follow the most I am proud of the Lithuanian film “Nova Lithuania”, in which I created a role for which I received the national film award. Secondly, without a doubt, my role in “Stranger Things”. I found myself in a place I never imagined it would be.

“Vilnius became famous, especially after the ‘Chernobyl’ series, and people started talking about it a lot. Now, with the release of ‘Stranger Things’, people are talking about Vilnius even more. A journalist told me that in India when he asked the locals, “Do you know Lithuania? They said, ‘It’s Vilnius. I saw “Stranger Things”. “

a pair of film and television icons

a pair of film and television icons

Concha Diaz Ferrer

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

General director

Film Commission of Tenerife

The Canary Islands will pay filmmakers up to 50% off.

The Canary Islands, off Morocco, are part of Spain and the European Union. Known for its lush beaches, mountains and valleys, the Canary Islands hosted filming for “The Eternals” (2021), “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020), the upcoming third season of the “Jack Ryan” series (Amazon ) and “Money Heist”, a Spanish crime drama distributed by Netflix. Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands.

“A total of 190 productions were shot on the island [of Tenerife] in 2021, earning the island 58.3 million euros, a figure that includes the hiring of personnel and equipment. There are many aspects of the island that attract foreign productions, but we would highlight the incredible diversity of landscapes. The island can double for almost any other location in the world, which means productions save a lot of time and money as they can recreate many different countries in one location. Our tax incentives of 50-45% for film shoots are among the best in the world.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.