Shooting back to Europe - Kinomoto's welcome to four great destinations

Promonews - 23rd Aug 2021

As life opens up again and restrictions are finally lifted, filming in Europe looks feasible once again. So it's time to re-aquaint yourself with the opportunities, possibilities, and hidden pleasures to be found in some great European destinations - courtesy of Kinomoto.

The production company and service company have offices and directors in four of those cities - Budapest, Kiev, Sofia and Barcelona - and has the knowledge and knowhow at its fingertips. 

So we talked to four key personnel in the Kinomoto team - two EPs, and two members of the Kinopravda directing collective - to give us a lowdown on these beautiful and versatile cities, and their surrounding areas. Photography: Balázs Glódi and András Zombori.

ANNA SZIJARTO on BUDAPEST

Although I grew up there, when I'm scouting the city it always surprises me.

What are the things you love most about the city – work-related and otherwise?
The Danube. Many great things come with a river in a city: bridges (13 of them), islands (the best ones are the eerie ones in the outskirts), scenic bike lanes, even a standing boat that’s a concert venue.

The river divides the city into two parts: Buda is green, lazy, clean, and posh; Pest is chaotic and loud, the place to spend a night out. 

What I like about scouting in Budapest is that although I grew up there, it always surprises me. [You can find] a hidden courtyard in the middle of the concrete jungle with a 100 year old chestnut tree growing in it, or a clubhouse from the socialist era that looks like a set from Blade Runner.

Also there are a lot of accidentally Wes Anderson reminiscent scenes of course. It’s also pretty easy to sell the city as any other European city. It can be Paris, Moscow, Berlin... some tiny corners can even mimic New York.

Name two locations in and around the city where you really like to shoot – one location within the city, and one near the city – and why do you like filming in those places?
New York backlot. This fake street was built for the shoot of Hellboy 2, it’s pretty rusty now but it’s still perfect to shoot riots, zombie attacks, or anything that requires an urban location under perfect control. The Liam Gallagher video for Shockwave was filmed there.

Buda is green, lazy, clean, and posh; Pest is chaotic and loud.

Kisoroszi Island. My favourite place to be in the Hungarian countryside. It’s a half island created by the bending Danube, with sandy beaches surrounded by mountains, and views to castle ruins from the 14th century. It’s a place with a very unique vibe, that is relatively easy to permit too.

When you’re not working, where do you like to spend your time in the city, and what are you likely to be doing?
Arthouse cinemas. It’s an alternative exhibition chain to the multiplex cinemas. They can be small and uncomfortable (except Uránia, it’s like a classic theater), but they normally have a bar where you can get a beer and hang out after the movie, they organise festivals, one of them even parties.

Above: Team Kino in Budapest - Sári Herrer (PA), Zsófi Barna (prod coordinator), Fanni Verbovszki (PM), Anna Szijártó (producer), Kriszta Tóth (prod coordinator)

• Anna Szijártó is executive producer of Kinomoto

DAPHNE SAMARAS on KIEV

We tried wake-surfing on the Dnieper river. Can't wait to do that again!

What are the things you love most about the city – work-related and otherwise?
The best thing about Kiev are the people there. Even though I got to know them through productions, I feel like I have genuine connections with them, which is super important to feel comfortable. The honesty, the humour and the vocation feels very familiar to me.

Another amazing thing is the food. I can go on about this, the cuisines from all over the world are represented in an amazing quality and the places have great style.

The guys there always have a plan about where to eat and where to go, which help us have the best time possible, regardless of the long working hours bringing crazy sets to life!

One of the huge advantages in Kiev is the art department’s craftsmanship 

Name two locations in and around the city where you really like to shoot – one location within the city, and one near the city – and why do you like filming in those places? 
Normally when we’re shooting in Kiev we build sets in studios. One of the huge advantages in Kiev is the art department’s craftsmanship and engagement in finding solutions and executing them in great quality.

The city also has amazing locations to offer. I love the diversity - you can find beautiful Brutalist buildings as well as amazing nature not far from the city centre.

When you’re not working, where do you like to spend your time in the city, and what are you likely to be doing?
Once we had a day off and we tried wake-surfing on the Dnieper river. Can't wait to do that again!

There is also an enormous flea market where you can find amazing things. I have travelled around a bit in Ukraine, but I would love to explore more, see more mountains and nature and go down all the way to the Black Sea! I can't wait to be back.

Above: Daphne and co. - Virág Tyekvicska (junior head of art), Fanni Verbovszki (PM), Daphne Samaras (director), Bori Tóth (prod coordinator), Juan Amin (producer), Sári Herrer (prod coordinator)

• Daphne Samaras is a member of Kinopravda directing collective

GEORGI ABRASHEV on SOFIA

It feels a little like a hideaway, where you can develop your ideas, your vision, in peace.

What are the things you love most about the city – work-related and otherwise?
I love how compact yet diverse everything in Sofia is. The architecture - you can shoot dystopian, apocalyptic narratives like in this Years and Years music video, to modern European or even sometimes American-looking architecture - all within the boundaries of Sofia.

I also love how everything else that you might need – seaside, picturesque mountains or country roads - can be found within 3-5 hours drive from Sofia.

I’m still surprised how green the centre is! I enjoy it's many small bars and the few beautiful old buildings left standing, reminiscent of Vienna.

There is a vibe of displacement and contradiction, that feel somehow comfortable, which is invaluable when searching for locations. It feels a little like a hideaway, where you can develop your ideas, your vision, in peace.

Name two locations in and around the city where you really like to shoot – one location within the city, and one near the city – and why do you like filming in those places?
One of my favourite locations ever is the Shamot industrial estate near Sofia, which used to manufacture fire repellent materials like fireproof soil and bricks. It's got such a Tarkovsky-esque feel to it, long straight paths connecting its giant hollowed interiors, glass and weeds framing the exterior, all concrete and dilapidation. It's calming.

Another one is a small empty pool on a rooftop right in the middle of Sofia, from which you can see the entire city, with the golden coupoles of the nearby cathedral glistening in the sun.

The old central area is full of markets, trams, and small shops selling anything you can imagine.

When you’re not working, where do you like to spend your time in the city, and what are you likely to be doing?
I love spending time in the old central area, where our Sofia office is located. It's full of markets, trams, and small shops selling anything you can imagine. 

When I have some free time we'd most likely be having sunset drinks on a rooftop or terrace somewhere before heading to dinner - and then some beloved seedy bar or a house party, which are epic in Sofia.

You can also jump in a car to go hiking/skiing and exploring Sofia’s home mountain Vitosha.

• Georgi Abrashev is executive producer of Kinomoto Sofia

DANILA KOSTIL on BARCELONA

When I’m not working I want to sit on the terraces of bars I love.

What are the things you love most about the city – work-related and otherwise? 
My personal favourite places are spots where I shot memorable films, which resulted in our first success as Kinopravda and Kinomoto.

My first favourite thing I shot in Barcelona was the Round Round Song music video for Swiss artist Adrian Sieber.

The film was full of indoor and outdoor locations we mostly picked by just living in the city. We shot in places we found by accident in our everyday lives, and through friends.

For example the art studio location was owned by my landlord, a famous Catalan painter Robert Llimós who owned the whole house I lived in. He had stopped painting in his usual style some time before, and now exclusively painted UFOs because of his experience in Brazil, where he encountered a UFO couple looking at him from their spaceship.

The second film on my list was also shot in Barcelona for my favourite Russian post-punk band Motorama.  The special touch was that we needed to mix Spanish locations with Russian ones to result in the look I needed.

A timeless, geographically unknown, culturally surprising mix is what we needed location-wise, and Viladrau and Barcelona were perfect for that.

Name two locations in and around the city where you really like to shoot – one location within the city, and one near the city – and why do you like filming in those places?
One of my favourite places to shoot outside of Barcelona was Girona’s airport, for a TVC for Seat, directed by Kinopravda. We were able to close the whole runway and turn the lights on or off during the magic hour.

Within Barcelona my favourite location is Poblenou district where we shot a Pornhub campaign. The whole area looks like the US, particularly LA. The music video we shot for Yvein Monq there (and partly in Budapest) is another great example of the location.

When you’re not working, where do you like to spend your time in the city, and what are you likely to be doing?
When I’m not working I prefer to hang out in Born - sitting on the terraces of bars I love. My favourites are Flax&Kale, Federal and Peti Bo. Great drinks and amazing food, perfect views, this is bliss to me.

• Danila Kostil is a founding partner of Kinomoto, and member of Kinopravda directing collective

• Kinomoto is a boutique production house network with headquarters in Budapest, Kiev, Sofia and Barcelona. More about Kinomoto here, their directors here, and more location ideas here

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    Promonews - 23rd Aug 2021

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