Bulgaria offers a wealth of unique looks as well as a depth of locations that easily double for other places. The country is known for its lush green forests, rugged mountains, pristine sandy beaches, Soviet architecture, Orthodox monasteries, and Roman ruins. Its well developed studio backlot infrastructure makes Bulgaria an ideal and inexpensive alternative to filming in London, New York, Rome, or the Middle East. Bulgaria’s forests, rivers and valleys have doubled for Northern California. Its rugged mountains can film for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Swiss Alps, or Scottish Highlands.
Cost & Rebates
Bulgaria 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 favorable 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.
Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Bulgaria.
When To Shoot
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. Fall (October to November) sees leaves changing colour. April to October are the best months to film for weather. Events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
• Kukeri, a Pagan festival held on January 1st in the town of Razlog.
• Epiphany Day on January 6th sees men performing the traditional Bulgarian “horo” dance in the icy waters of the Tundzha River.
• Fire Dancing Festival in Bulgari held in February.
• Festival Of Roses in Kazanlak held in June.
Although Bulgaria is not a Schengen Area country, visiting crews travelling on Western passports can enter Bulgaria visa-free for stays of up to 90 days and work permits are not required.
Cast, Crew & Equipment
Bulgaria has a small pool of locally based directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Local crews are non-union. Bulgaria has a small pool of internationally experienced key and supporting crews. Its close proximity to major European production centres allows easy access to those crews should you ever need to look further. Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable. Bulgaria offers mainly ethnic Bulgarian looks with some Turkish and Russian looks available too. Bulgaria also has a sizable Roma population. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad. There are a couple of companies offering state of the art camera, lighting and grip equipment. More specialised equipment such Technocranes or camera mounts need to be brought in from larger European film production centres. For productions looking to bring in film equipment Bulgaria is an ATA carnet country.