Vilnius on screen: the most popular locations among filmmakers
More and more frequently Vilnius is chosen by the filmmakers from around the world. Various places of the capital were seen by millions watching the series like Sisi, Stranger Things, Hilma, Young Wallander, Clark, Chernobyl. From the Writers Union to Lukiškės Prison – Vilnius Film Office presents seven places in the capital which attract the attention of the filmmakers.
Vilnius University – one of the oldest universities in Central and Eastern Europe. Having played the role of Vatican, Germany, the Russian Empire, Italy and even 19th century Austria in the past decade. The university buildings and courtyards could be seen by the audiences of various costume and historical dramas – Sisi, Hilma, Rise of Nazis, Catherine the Great, War and Peace. During filming of Sisi a greatly popular drama among the viewers of Germany, Italy and the whole of Europe, the great courtyard of Vilnius University, became a part of the Hofburg palace, and the nearby Alumnatas courtyard – the stables of Hofburg.
Authentic environments of Vilnius University were also noticed by the US cable TV network HBO. The oldest academic library in the Baltic states is still in operation at the 16th century spaces, which in the series Catherine the Great briefly became the State Council building of the Russian Empire. Antique maps and documents were transported here, along with historical flags, candle holders. The main character in the series was played a famous British actress, recipient of an Oscar and two Golden Globes, Helen Mirren.
Trakai Vokė Mansion
Trakai Vokė Mansion and the nearby established and preserved garden recalls the period of the House of Tyszkiewicz and in the last decade it more frequently lures not just the visitors, but also the filmmakers. The interior and exterior of the mansion could be seen by the audiences of films and series War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Catherine the Great, Blood in the Snow around the globe. The building and its interior are most reminiscent of the end of 18th beginning of 19th century Eastern European mansions; therefore, costume drama makers are frequently working here. The mansion as a filming location is chosen when spacious apartments and public spaces are required. One of the most impressive projects completed here was the series Catherine the Great (HBO, Sky TV) which was filmed here with interruptions for almost 5 months.
Another corner of Vilnius favoured by the filmmakers – the Umiastowski mansion located on Trakai street, which are the headquarters of Vilnius Club today. The building which had numerous owners reached its peak in the 20th century – gatherings which would attract more than 400 guests would take place here, as well as meetings and secret Lithuanian parties. Neo-classical style interior on screen becomes the spacious apartments, palace rooms, halls and libraries of the 19th and 20th century. The film Kompromat and the series The Rise of Nazis was filmed here, and most recently the mansion could be seen by the audiences of the Lithuanian filmmaker film The Poet.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union
The spaces of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union located in L. Sirvydas street – are one of the most beautiful among the mansions in Vilnius. The walls of this building are the witnesses to the literary history of Vilnius – of Soviet and of independent times: writers lived and worked here, a hotel was in operation, and in the café which was located on the ground floor artists would gather. One of the most beautiful and most impressive neo-baroque interiors still intact in Lithuania can be found here, which also impressed the makers of Young Wallander, Catherine the Great, Sisi, The Oil Fund, and other series and films.
Cinematographic streets of the Old Town
From the middle ages to the future, from Italy to Argentina – the most cinematographic streets of Vilnius Old Town, often become the set of various genre film projects. For example, in the particularly loved streets of Holly Spirit, Saint Casimir, University – protests as well as antique cars driving by, marching soldiers and many other scenes were filmed. The attention of the city’s residents was drawn a few years ago by the horse-drawn-carriages driving and rumbling through the streets of the Old Town whilst filming the series Sisi, as Vilnius had become the 19th century Austria. Interestingly, the horses were being prepared for filming for as many as eight weeks – the animals had to learn to draw the four-in-hand carriage characteristic of the period which required the harnessing of four horses.
In the most recent years Lukiškės prison has received the much-deserved attention, the TV series Stranger Things, Clark, Young Wallander and films Kompromat, I Am Fine, Thanks and many other projects were filmed at Lukiškės prison. The location lures the filmmakers by its flexibility. For example, when filming the series about the infamous Swedish criminal Clark Olofsson, as many as five places of imprisonment were depicted here. Truth to be told, Lukiškės prison can become completely different locations on screen. Whilst filming a season of the Swedish detective series Young Wallander, a large nightclub was established here.
The Office Building of the Lithuanian Cooperatives’ Union
The Office Building of the Lithuanian Cooperatives’ Union established in Gediminas avenue – a noticeable from afar, massive, late modernism architecture example. The waving floors of this building almost reflect the Vilnius baroque buildings. Yet, the filmmakers are mostly attracted by the interior of the building – almost unchanged atmosphere of the 1978, is perfectly suitable for the stories of this period. The film Kompromat and the Scottish series Loss and Return were filmed at the Office Building of the Lithuanian Cooperatives’ Union.