As a unique collaboration of three countries, the North Star Film Alliance has been promoting Estonia, Finland, and Latvia as single filmmaking territory where professional bonds cross-national and country borders seamlessly. This enables the goods, services, and diversely spectacular locations of the three countries to offer a rich smorgasbord for adventurous filmmakers. After promoting the region to the leading studios of North America and Japan for the past three years, the project wraps as a successful experiment to hand the mic over to the representatives of the three countries. The following article is a final introduction to all filmmakers interested in the region.
We also recommend watching the NSFA mood video made during the project’s only FAM tour:
Shooting in Estonia
Representing the Estonian industry and the gateway to the country’s film production is the Estonian Film Institute that also handles the country’s largest incentive: the Film Estonia Cash Rebate. Expect maximum transparency, decision-making speed, fast direct rebate payments to foreign applicants and minimum red tape from one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. Estonia lures producers with up to a 30% cash rebate with the possibility for extra support from three regional film funds: Tartu, Viru and the Estonian Islands.
Ready for high-end production
As proven by the success of Tenet, the country and its producers can offer support to projects of any sizes, including providing services to large-scale, technically complex Hollywood productions and can muster the political support to extend its official cash rebate or close down major urban locations for extensive urban sets. Holding the country’s innovative spirit high is Digital Sputnik, a trailblazing Estonian set lights company that is lighting up major Hollywood productions now – Dune, Rogue One, Batman, to name a few. The regional industry is very much looking forward to the opening of the state-of-the-art sound stage studio Tallinn Film Wonderland that is set to open in 2022.
The second wave COVID that is rampaging in Europe hasn’t stopped most of the productions so far, as even foreign productions continue to shoot with health protocols in place.
Estonia offers a rich palette of both natural locations as one of the least densely populated countries of Europe and urban environments that can be dated to anything from the 12th century up. The locations can stand in for both – the Eastern and Western European countries as was recently exemplified with Tenet, with Tallinn featuring as three cities: itself, Oslo and Kiev. As an added bonus the Soviet architectural peculiarities are providing exotic perks for genre filmmakers.
Shooting in Finland
Audiovisual Producers Finland – APFI acts as the primary nationwide link to Finland’s industry. As a producers’ association, we represent all the key production, service, and VFX/post-production companies in the country. APFI is there to answer any questions you have, tell you about the opportunities in Finland and eventually connect you with the right partners, whether you are looking for cooperation partners, exciting shooting locations or are hoping to benefit from Business Finland’s 25% cash rebate and regional funds.
Finnish companies and crews are highly skilled professionals, who are often trained and experienced in a variety of technical and production-related tasks, ensuring a competent and timely workflow on sets. Working to an international standard and with international partners is the norm, so collaboration and speaking the same language comes naturally.
Health and safety protocols
Finland has shown itself to be one of the best places to be and realize production during a global pandemic. Both the country’s infection rates are the lowest in Europe, and the nation hasn’t had to undergo a full lockdown at all. Since late-August of 2020, Finland has also been open to international productions, since we are able to offer a safe environment to shoot in, have clear health and safety guidelines in place, and our highly skilled professionals are able to smoothly adapt international guidelines to work with the ones in place in Finland. Find out more about entry permits and guidelines here.
Shooting in Latvia
The National Film Centre of Latvia is the place to start discovering the country’s two production incentives – the cash rebates of the Latvian Co-financing Fund and Riga Film Fund – and discover the country’s audiovisual talent. Period productions should pay notice to the Cinevilla Studio with a 150-hectare backlot, that serves productions set from the middle ages up to the 20th century.
Rising international reputation
Represented by the Film Producers Association of Latvia and the Film Service Producers Association of Latvia, Latvia has achieved remarkable success in both providing original content that is selected to top film festivals around the world, and providing production services to foreign productions, with filmmakers like Werner Herzog, Sergei Loznitsa and Yoon Je Kyoon praising their experiences there.
Small but diverse
Latvia should beguile filmmakers with its diversity, whether they are looking for luxurious historical manors and castles, endless sandy beaches, mysterious boglands, Soviet obscurities, or urban environments – the metropolitan capital Riga is said to be able to stand in for basically any other city in Europe, having featured as Paris, Berlin or even Vladivostok.