Vilnius: The Lithuanian capital a spot for foreign productions
The biggest project in Lithuania this year – Netflix feature film “Paradise” is currently being filmed in the capital city.
Vilnius as well as other Lithuanian locations are bringing to life a futuristic love story “Paradise” produced by The German Company Neuesuper. The film tells a story of never ageing love that spans through generations. The lead characters are faced with numerous challenges, which they can conquer only through trust in one another.
The production is led by German line producer Stephan Barth, who is already well familiar with our capital city: “it’s good to be back working in Vilnius. It’s always been a production friendly city and you can always trust that the process will run smoothly here.”
Local “Ahil” is providing service production for the feature. The international team consists of about 200 people with most of the crew being locals. Meanwhile, a few hundred people will also join the process as extras and background actors. Project’s line producer Monika Sakalauskaite says that Covid-19 threat did not threaten the process anymore:” When you have 200 people working on a set every day, Covid safety is the main priority. Fortunately, there is a lot of experience gained in that field over the last couple years.” More so, since the beginning of May the country has lifted its last Covid-19 restrictions due to a well-managed situation and a sweeping 81,6% percent of the population being vaccinated or immunised.
According to Jūratė Pazikaitė, Head of the Vilnius Film Office, the high number of productions continues to grow each year and production teams come from Scandinavia, Germany, UK as well as the US. “Vilnius is ready to accommodate the needs of foreign film crews. Smooth permitting process, professional and dedicated crew members as well as easy logistics ensure that everything goes according to the plan,” commented Pazikaitė.
Supervising location manager and a member of LMGI – Location Managers Guild International – Jonas Špokas believes that Vilnius will look and feel very different in this movie: “The German team has found many interesting and alternative angles of our city. Vilnius can have many faces. One of the scenes will be shot in Fabijoniskes district. It’s interesting that a few years ago this neighbourhood was filmed as the Soviet Union in the 1980s, last year Fabijoniskes became Malmo of the current days and this time it will feature in a futuristic story.”
The German production team collaborated with the local Baltic Locations that successfully scouted numerous suitable filming spots. One of them is Palanga, the seacoast resort is less than four hours away from Vilnius – and is well famed for its beautiful white sandy beaches with dune scapes that are a unique sight across the coast of the Baltic Sea. The sandy coast that stretches for 10 km surrounded by a pine forest hosted a production team of more than 200 people, who spent over two weeks rehearsing and shooting main scenes for the feature film. The producers exhibited creativity spotting an abandoned pool in the city that was a perfect fit for futuristic action scenes. “The team loved Palanga as a location due to its great views, well developed infrastructure and friendly people” – shared the filmmakers.
Vilnius is also doubling as Sweden for “Evil” and as Norway in a dystopian drama series. Since March the city has been hosting the Swedish production company “SF Studios” working with the director Erik Leijonborg to bring to life an acclaimed Swedish novel “Evil”. The story takes place in 1959’s Sweden, when a14 year old boy is expelled from a public school and sent to a boarding school where students have to fend for themselves.
Another Scandinavian production team came to Vilnius in April. Norwegian filmmakers are shooting a TV series about their country’s dystopian future, where Norway is surrounded by a thick wall to protect itself from pandemics and riots. Yet, a mysterious disease spreading between the walls renders the country its own prisoner.
Besides doubling for its Scandinavian neighbours, Vilnius has recently hosted another successful project “Sisi” – the winner of the Jupiter award 2022 for the best German TV Series. Based on the real-life 19th century royal romance between Elizabeth “Sisi” of Bavaria and her husband, Austrian-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, the series was filmed in Lithuania in 2021. “Sisi” just got a green light for the second season and Vilnius is eagerly waiting to welcome back its international crew.
Vilnius gained even more royal attention as the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania recently starred as the English home of Anna Boleyn for Netflix’s three-part historical film. The production team turned the palace museum into Anna’s bedroom, royal hall and the work cabinet of Henrick VIII. The film depicts the final months of Boleyn’s life and her struggle with Tudor England’s patriarchal society.
Diverse historical backgrounds are imprinted in the city’s surroundings, making Vilnius a go-to location for shooting different cities of the world. BBC2 came back to Vilnius this spring to shoot third season of its TV series “The Rise of Nazi’s”. The city’s inhabitants were warned not to fear for Nazi or soviet symbolics as they are only part of the shooting. This precaution was taken keeping in mind that the country is a big supporter of Ukraine with Ukrainian flags seen hanging from almost every house or cafe while people are actively donating and hosting solidarity gatherings.
Vilnius as well as other locations in Lithuania, which in previous years hosted such productions as Netflix’s “Stranger Things”, “Young Wallander”, BBC’s “War and Peace” and HBO/Sky’s “Chernobyl” and “Catherine the Great”, is continuing to attract big names due to its vibrant talents, great locations and an attractive 30% Lithuanian tax incentive. To better represent the country’s capabilities and make the planning process even smoother, the new platform “Film in Lithuania” is being launched and will be presented in Cannes Film Market (Marché du film de Cannes).
Credits: A. Solominas. Production company Dansu. A shot from Netflix’s Clark shooting in Vilnius.