Keeping It Reel in Bucharest: tour of Bucharest Film Studios
(photo courtesy of Bucharest Film Studios)
In my mind, I imagined one soundstage and some exteriors when I pictured the production of “Octave”, the Romanian film coming out next year which marks the feature-length debut of writer/director Serge Ioan Celebidachi. But that is, of course, before I visited in person and experienced a tour of Bucharest Film Studios, where the drama is primarily shot, located on an immense compound in Buftea, just outside of downtown Bucharest. Its size and capabilities rival any of the major studios here in the States.
After myself and other journalists/critics took part in a foreign press junket for “Octave”, which took place in the beautifully constructed set for the film, we were shown around the studios and I left feeling quite impressed with not only their professionalism, but their vast resources and top-notch talent.
Lacramioara Nastase (right) guiding foreign journalists/critics on a tour of Bucharest Film Studios.
Our informative tour was led by Lacramioara Nastase, brand manager at Bucharest Film Studios. She explained that Bucharest Film Studios is the largest and most advanced film studio in Romania, having produced movies since the 1950s. We also learned that there are 19 ventilated and sound-proofed stages (which can be custom fit for any needs) as well as 4 water tanks than can be used for underwater filming and a 100 acre backlot. All of which can be used for any international feature films, television shows or music videos and other projects in the entertainment industry.
One of the indoor water tanks we were shown is massive – recognized as the largest of the kind in that part of the world (19,490 sq ft. and 18 ft. deep) and was used in “The Wave“, the catastrophe drama from Norway, directed by Roar Uthaug. Some of the other water tanks on the premise were used by Terry Gilliam for “The Zero Theorem” and Bruce Hunt’s “The Cave” which is set in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania during the Cold War. These tanks (located in Stages 4, 5, 8 and 9) can be used for a variety of needs, such as underwater shooting (obviously), special structures and/or special effects.
It’s rare (for me, at least) to walk around the actual location where a film I’ve reviewed has been made.
(photos courtesy of Bucharest Film Studios)
Some other recent films that have used the services of Bucharest Film Studios: “Charlie Countryman” and “The Keeping Room” from 2013, “The Whistleblower” with Rachel Weisz from 2009 a couple Jean Claude Van Damme action flicks, 2011’s “Assassination Games” and 2012’s “6 Bullets”.
Bucharest Film Studios is also where 2007’s “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising” was filmed as well. The film, directed by David Cunningham, utilized several soundstages and outdoor sets, where an English village, a country home, a medieval church, and a mysterious ruin was built.
That film was one of many that also utilized another asset of the studio, which is the costume design department. Lacramioara took us there and showed us where the costumes were made as well as the many different elaborate and creative costumes used in films and television in recent years.
Below are some photos I snapped of the costume department at Bucharest Film Studios, where they create, display and store thousands of costumes. How does a movie in production work with this particular department? Basically, a design team attached to the movie approaches this department, presents them with conceptual art for costume ideas and the crew get to work – bringing the design team and the director’s vision to fruition.
Below is the unique outfit Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz wore in “The Zero Theorem” (if you’ve seen the film, you may recall how the suit lit up) ….
We turned the corner and there were multiple rooms and with shelves of clothing for war movies and aisles of period clothing. Need a complete Polish Legion outfit from World War I complete with weapons? Check. Need a fluffy blouse from the Victorian Age? Court jester? Check. Village peasant? Check. Check it out….
Of course, I was compelled to model this fashionable coat – Wampa hide, perhaps?
Bucharest Film Studios have also built entire towns and villages on the property for the film and television projects they’ve worked on. We experienced that firsthand on our next stop, when we walked around the streets of Boston, Massachusetts circa 1775-1776 for the mini-series “Sons of Liberty”, which aired on the History Channel last year.
If I was blindfolded and dropped into this set, I probably would’ve thought I was in a “Twilight Zone” episode and would expect to drink ale with John Hancock, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere and Sam Adams (maybe even a drink a Sam Adams). Took a look….
Just from this short tour (which was clearly just a fraction of the property), I can see why more and more studios outside Romania are approaching Bucharest Film Studios to get their movies made there. I can see the success of “Octave” earning them an even greater reputation, building their notoriety further within the industry.