Lithuania is a place where new ideas become reality in world-class co-productions and art projects. The potential of the country’s creative industries is attracting global names like HBO and Netflix.
Work with global filmmakers. Lithuania is popular among international producers of TV series and movies. Even without a film studio, the country is putting its name on the map as a very attractive place for the international film industry. Among the reasons foreign producers give for choosing Lithuania are tax advantages, local production companies’ professionalism, the picturesque landscape, and the possibilities cities offer to adapt to their scripts. Lithuania’s portfolio speaks for itself: Chernobyl, Stranger Things and War and Peace were all filmed here.
“When we were considering where to go (to film), I talked to Craig Mazin, one of the creators of Chernobyl. His experience in Lithuania was fantastic,” says Shawn Levy, one of the creators of the Netflix series Stranger Things. “I didn’t know much about Lithuania, but while preparing to film here I looked into the country’s history. It’s amazing too,” Levy adds.
While 2020 will go down in the history of cinema as difficult and challenging due to the pandemic, for Lithuania it was a good year: in 2020, film producers made use of tax benefits and attracted investments of €11.3 million from Lithuanian companies. That’s the most since the tax incentive was introduced. Foreign film producers spent nearly €27 million in the country during the year, well above the €15 million spent in 2019. And the number of films financed almost doubled in the year. An impressive 58 new films were funded in 2020, including 37 local ones, 9 co-productions and 12 foreign films. Scandinavian countries showed particular fondness for Lithuania, as 8 of the foreign projects were Scandinavian. Lithuania introduced a profit tax incentive in 2014 to create better conditions for making films here.
Internationally praised filming locations. Vilnius and Kaunas are the most popular locations for filmmakers. Lithuania’s cities have an extremely rich cultural and architectural heritage. The Pažaislis Monastery in Kaunas, for example, is a true Baroque pearl. It was recognised as the best filming location at the 2020 European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN) Awards. In 2018, the four-part HBO and Sky TV mini-series Catherine the Great, starring Oscar-winner Helen Mirren, was filmed here. The Kaunas Film Office provides all-around support for filmmakers in Kaunas and the region, finds and manages filming locations, and arranges all necessary permits.
The HBO series Chernobyl, filmed in Vilnius in 2019, sparked great international interest and revealed another side of the city. It appears in the series not as the modern European city that tourists are used to seeing. Rather, filming in Vilnius’s residential districts along with the professional work of the film crew and carefully chosen costumes helped create the atmosphere of the Soviet-era. The strength of Vilnius is its diversity and multiculturalism, which is often given as one of the reasons for choosing the city for filming. The Vilnius Film Office ensures that Vilnius is a welcoming city for filmmakers.