New Riga Film Fund drive boom in foreign productions shooting in Latvia

By Anna Franklin

    TALLINN: The Riga Film Fund has fueled a boom in foreign productions in Latvia with nine foreign productions shooting in this Baltic state in 2011. Surprisingly producers from Asia including Japan, India and Korea have discovered Latvia as a location for Normandy on D-Day and other European locations.

    Uldis Dimisevskis head of production and development at the Latvian National Film Center said : "Before the Riga Film Fund we had one or two productions a year. This year we will have nine."

    The Riga Film Fund supported 12 foreign projects in 2010 and 2011 with seven of them shooting in 2011. The total was about 2.4m EUR in support as a tax rebate. On average the productions got 10 - 13 % of their budget from the tax rebate. .

    Guntis Trekteris of Ego Media (www.egomedia.lv) serviced the Bollywood production Maatraan directed by K. V. Anand which shot in Latvia in March and again in December.

    Trekteris said: "Flexibility is one of the key requirements for meeting the demands of an Indian production. Indian producers have to shoot according to the availability of Bollywood stars so they often give us only a week or two notice before arriving to shoot. It is a different way of working but we were able to deliver what they needed and they plan to come back and shoot with us again."

    Other Asian productions shooting in Latvia included the Japanese Clouds Above the Slope and the Korean My Way.

    Servicing of foreign productions has come at a good time filling the gap in local productions which went into a tailspin after the financial crisis of 2008. Latvia was one of the hardest hit of any country in the EU and its audiovisual sector is only now recovering the lost ground.