Thanks to extremely easy permit facilities, unparalleled beauty within a small radius and several other cost-effective means for filming, Bulgaria is fast gaining popularity as a preferred shooting location.
When both Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgn choose the same foreign locale to shoot their respective films, rest assured the place has something exquisite to offer. Khan and the rest of the cast of Dilwale were in Bulgaria along with director Rohit Shetty to shoot the film. As for Devgn, he has decided on Bulgaria for his next directorial, Shivaay. From wild, wooded mountain ranges speckled with remote villages and enchanting monasteries to vibrant modern cities and long, sandy beaches hugging the Black Sea coast, Bulgaria is definitely worth exploring.
Bulgaria is a fairly small country located in South-Eastern Europe and in the North-East part of the Balkan Peninsula. The country offers a wealth of unique looks. It has a long-standing tradition of religious art, and wherever you go, you can’t fail to notice the beautiful, timeless icons appearing in museums and, of course, countless churches and monasteries. With no fewer than seven diverse mountain ranges criss-crossing the country, Bulgaria is a true haven for a natural and wildlife setting.
Sofia is the capital and Bulgaria’s main film production centre. The city’s architecture has influences of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Turkish styles. Bulgaria’s rugged mountains can easily be mistaken for the landmark Rocky Mountains, the Alps and also the Scottish Highlands. Bulgaria also has a huge variety of urban settings and locations with buildings ranging from the grand and ancient to the extremely modern, all within or near Sofia. This sheer diversity, coupled with the country’s experience in granting filming permissions, gives it a competitive edge.
Streets and cities can be built on sets but mountains and forests are much more cost-effective if they occur naturally. The wooded mountainside of Vitosha rise up to a spectacular 2,895 metres and it also has crystal-clear rivers and lakes, lush green fields stretching across the midlands and spectacular sandy beaches merging with idyllic views of the picturesque Black Sea. The golden beaches here, and rugged coastal look with resorts resemble the French Riviera and parts of the Mediterranean coast. Of particular interest are the picturesque coastal villages of Balchik and Nessebar. All this beauty is within a relatively small area, nothing more than a five-hour drive away, helping to keep logistics simple and costs down.
Bulgaria has a continental climate in the interiors – cold, damp winters with snow at higher elevations; hot and humid summers with temperature on the coast getting mild in autumn, cool in winters, mild in spring and warm and breezy summers. Bulgaria has a four-season climate. Winter (December to March) is cold with snow on the mountains; spring (April to May) sees green fields and flowers in bloom; summer (June to September) is hot and sunny and fall (October to November) sees leaves changing colour. As for the weather, April to October are the best months to film.
Bulgaria has low film production costs – as much as 30 per cent lower than Central European countries and significantly below those in Western Europe, the US and Canada. It has a flat rate of just 10 per cent for
personal and corporate income tax, the lowest in Europe, and a local VAT refund is guaranteed.
The VAT rate is 20 per cent and applies to all purchases, rentals and services, that is construction materials, equipment rentals, site rentals, offices and transportation. All VAT paid on materials, rentals, services and crew is refundable with the exception of VAT on hotels and some fuel. There is no VAT on air fares
Incentives have been voted for by the Bulgarian Parliament in December 2012 but the mechanism is still in the process of adoption. The government will introduce a 15 per cent cash rebate to help budgets go even further. The rebate will take effect soon, making Bulgaria an even more cost-effective centre of movie making excellence.
Bulgaria has a very film friendly permitting process with public locations requiring usually no more than two to three days to permit. The country continues to attract visiting productions with one of the best per shoot day costs in Europe. Local costs are low and the exchange rate is favourable for most major currencies. Many visiting US and European productions have shot in Bulgaria for as little as a third of the cost of doing it at home.