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Inside the Industry

Inside the Industry

New president of Serbian Society of Cinematographers – interview with Predrag Jočić

Snimanje dokumentarene serije "Mitski Junaci"Predrag Jočić is newly elected president of Serbian Society of Cinematographers. Working as DP on many films and TV series, he is also a co-founder of Contrast Studios production company. This election was a great opportunity to talk with Predrag about future plans of the Society.

You have been a member of the Serbian Society of Cinematographers (SSC) Executive Board for many years. Can you single out Society’s most important achievement and what will be the priorities in your presidential mandate?

Serbian Society of Cinematographers was established eleven years ago, and one of its main goals is to preserve and protect artistic and creative identity of its members as well as all cinematographers in Serbia. In order to achieve that, we founded the festival of cinematographic achievements "Slika u pokretu” five years ago. With each year festival attracts more and more attention not only from the domestic and professional audience, but also from regional and international film makers.

One of the most important events we hosted previously was the annual IMAGO awards ceremony, held in 2019 in Belgrade that gathered most eminent DPs and dear guests from every corner of the world.

Society’s goals in the upcoming period will be to protect and maintain the reputation of our profession and to raise attention to the work of directors of photography and its importance. To further strengthen our festival and the Society by making valuable contacts in the region and wider Europe. Every year we are hosting the most respectable directors of photography and will continue to share their experience with our colleagues and students. We are also devoted to keeping the memory of the legends in our profession, but also opening the door to the new generations of DPs and helping their affirmation in the industry.

What do you think about creative potential of the new generations of SSC members?

When it comes to visual arts, technological development as well as globalism, enable us, and especially young generations, to have an insight into many different contents, ideas and concepts around the planet. On the one hand, it is difficult to be radically innovative today, but on the other hand, this multitude of content allows us to filter in our eye, brain and mind the ones that are most interesting. From those impulses, new creative ideas are born. There are many young directors of photography who stand out with their projects and whose work draws our attention. That is greatly enabled by the boom of film and television productions that is taking place in Serbia in recent years. We hope that this trend will continue and that the energy, creativity and quality of the new generation of our colleagues will follow the footsteps of the most prominent cinematographers and continue their work and legacy.

Film "LED", snimanje filmaWhat is your opinion on the international position that Serbian directors of photography have? What is the cooperation of SSC with IMAGO or other professional associations?

Today, Serbian Society of Cinematographers is highly ranked among international film institutions. Our DPs and other filmmakers are well recognized and respected both in Europe and in the region. That is the reason Serbia has two representatives in the world's most prestigious association of cameramen – IMAGO. Predrag Bambić has been a member of the IMAGO Board of Governors for years, and last year, Bojana Andric became a member of the technical committee for the creative application of technology at IMAGO. Thanks to that, we got the opportunity to host some of the most eminent names in cinema world in 2019, which was an important event for Serbian film profession.

For sure, we have to work to further improve in that regard, and to provide best possible ways to increase visibility and respect of our individual directors of photography, as well as the entire profession and the association itself.

What is the greatest importance of professional associations and their activities within the film industry?

Serbian film industry has been in a very bad situation for years, it was almost struggling to survive. To our great content we could say that circumstances are changing. There are more and more broadcasters, financial means and opportunities. Existence and continuous work of professional associations is of key importance. They represent the line of defense of the profession, artistic integrity, unity and harmony, not just for the DPs, but also to all other creative guilds in Serbia. Film Center Serbia has also recognized current association issues and they are trying to actively support film guilds.

How many new members does SSC receive each year and when do you open admissions for new members?

According to the statute of the Society, we don’t have obligation or limit on how many new members we must or should accept annually. For the past few years, eleven new members have been admitted to the membership, so now we have total of 47 members. Every year, we establish the admission committee for new members. Then, at the Assembly of the Society, that is held every March, the voting takes place with all members participating, and candidates who receive the required number of votes become full members of the Society.

With Bojana Andrić as the new vice president of SSC, do you plan any projects aimed at professional empowerment of women? How many female members does Society have?

Since joining the association in 2018, Bojana Andrić has become one of the most active and strong members involved in the work of the Executive Board. Bojana was recently elected as full member of the IMAGO Technical Committee, together with thirty other cameramen and colorists from all over the world, together with thirty representatives of the most prominent technical equipment producers, which is also very important for SSC. When it comes to the female empowerment, it is already happening, with more and more girls enrolling at camera department, so faculties are actually the first institutions where this process starts. SSC is ready to stand behind every activity that strengthens the position of our female colleagues, and we plan to apply for project funding in that regard. Along with Bojana Andrić, within the membership there are also Jelena Stanković, Tatjana Krstevski and Maja Radošević, all of them are very actively working and in demand, representing the examples of the new generation I mentioned earlier.

Film LedAccording to the technological development and revolution of virtual production, how do you see the role of DPs?

Cinematographers have to constantly advance their craft, study new processes and technologies and keep up with their development. Virtual production is just one segment, and its future application is without a doubt, just as it is the role of DPs crucial for visual identity of every project, even in virtual production. The only thing changing is the process, requiring more work more in pre-production, all assets have to be prepared in advance, so in order to get what they want DPs are necessary to actively participate in that process. New career opportunities arise – like unreal engineers and specialists, environment designers...and the entire film crews are adapting to that process. Mixed reality is a rapidly evolving segment, as well as working with LED walls and game engines, so there are many new skills, which people working behind the camera will have to acquire. CGA Belgrade conference, organized by SFC, is one of excellent opportunities for future collaboration. 

Snimanje dokumentarene serije "Mitski Junaci"

New president of Serbian Society of Cinematographers – interview with Predrag Jočić

Predrag Jočić is newly elected president of Serbian Society of Cinematographers. Working as DP on many films and TV series, he is also a co-founder of  MORE

Flying over Serbia – interview with Dragan Trifunović, Helivideo

DCIM100GOPROThere is no location in Serbia where Helivideo hasn’t touched down. Credits for that go to Dragan Trifunović, one of the pioneers of drone sequences on screen. If an air shot left you speechless or discovered a totally different angle of our country, it was most probably shot by Helivideo. To become true professional behind the drone camera, love for aeronautics, expensive equipment and enthusiasm are not enough, but as Dragan points out, hard work, knowledge of cinema language, editing and respect towards all crew members and clients.

Drone sequences have become more and more common in movies and TV series, but also in music and advertising videos. That is the reason audience got completely different perspective of Serbian locations and enjoyed many attractive shots. Which project would you single out as the most demanding and what are the recent productions you are most proud of?

I work with same intensity on commercials, movies, series, music videos, and even promo videos for various industrial purposes and corporate videos. One of the most complicated projects I worked on was the remake of the Papillon, with Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek. For that movie I had to take off with a large drone from a very small deck of a boat that was shaking a lot, and there were also few shots that required me to fly very close to the actor who was running.

TV commercial for the German supermarket chain Penny is definitely one of the most exciting projects I have worked on in the last couple of years. The whole process took 5 days, and we worked as a team of two. The shooting required high level of precision due to the fact that all scenes took place around downtown, to be more precise in Terazije, Uzun Mirkova and Gospodar Jovanova streets. Hundreds of extras were there, as well as other team members so we both had to take care of their safety when piloting for the best shot. In the end, the clients were very satisfied and we wrapped one of the most outstanding commercials ever made in our country. It was nominated for the LMGI award as outstanding location in a commercial and I believe that partly credits for that nomination go to our drone shots.

What is the most important aspect of a drone pilot's job - flying or working with a camera? What is your drone fleet consisted of? What cameras and drones do you like working with the most?

For a good shot, it is necessary that both actions are well coordinated and done creatively, competently and of course, safely. When the drone is operated by one person and the camera by another one, it is crucial that they are in tune and well-coordinated.

My "fleet" consists of drones of various sizes and weights. Smaller drones have cameras inside with fixed lenses (DJI Mavic, Phantom 4), then there is DJI Inspire 2 with X5s and X7 cameras and exchangeable lenses and a large drone carrying RED and Alexa mini cameras. Besides, there is a drone that carries strong LED lighting for special effects during night shootings, as well as drones with special thermal cameras for industrial purposes.

I prefer working with small and medium drones, because they are easier to transport when you change the location, their batteries last longer, they have various sensors so they are safer for people and objects on the set. Large drones with large camera are more complicated for transport and handling, they require a lot of large batteries and chargers and sometimes it can be stressful to work with them if production is not ready to accommodate all prep work and certainly they are more costly.

20150907_173253What is your relation, as a drone operator, with film directors and directors of the photography? How do you prepare in order to get the final result?

Before each shooting, we do scouting and location selection, as well as the selection of appropriate equipment and the size of the drone and cameras which are suitable for those locations. In pre-production, my job is to estimate the possibility of making the shots and to anticipate possible risks for people and equipment, following the vision and requirements of the director and director of the photography. Many years of experience in photography and video production allow me to analyze each location and many different ways of making the shot and therefore sometimes I am able to suggest to the director and DOP additional options to make some unexpected sequences.

Is there any difference between working on film and working on commercials? Do you have any colleagues that you work on a regular basis on these team flights?

As I already mentioned, usually there are two people when larger drones are involved. One operates the drone, the other controls the camera. I’ve learned and got used to doing it myself, and so far clients liked the final result. It’s more complicated, but it’s somehow easier for me to align my 2 eyes and 2 arms than flying and operating the camera separately. When two operators are working, they have to be ideally coordinated, but in some situations it is definitely easier to shoot in pair. I try to treat every client professionally and give my best, whether it's a Hollywood movie, an expensive commercial or some low-budget shooting for a small local factory.

Have you had the opportunity to collaborate or meet drone pilots from other countries? How does that community work internationally? Are there any trends or new ways of shooting?

I have many colleagues from abroad and we have a very nice collaboration. We always recommend jobs to each other, share equipment or parts of the drones, even during the shootings or in case something goes wrong or breaks etc. Before this pandemic, various gatherings and equipment exhibitions were organized quite often and that is something I enjoy about our community. There are some local and international associations that bring together people who deal with drones, both amateur and professional. In Serbia and neighboring countries, there were various competitions and gatherings organized for fans of RC aircraft and modeling. Unfortunately, since last year, due to the pandemic, all events were canceled.

20150727_075450Having in mind that drones gather an increasing number of enthusiasts and hobbyists, what would be your advice for someone who wants to dedicate their career seriously and enter professional world of film drone pilots?

The answer to this question is not simple. Good equipment and desire are not the only things important for success in any business. To become a drone pilot, in addition to good flying, it is necessary to have a solid knowledge of shooting techniques, selection of adequate equipment for each shooting (drones, cameras and lenses), as well as framing and video editing.

In order to have a successful career, you have to maintain the relationship and respect for clients and all members of the production crew, and also to have willingness and self-confidence to suggest different technical and creative possibilities for getting the perfect shot.

What is your favorite location that you filmed on or would you like to film in Serbia or abroad?

I suppose that there is no part of Serbia that I haven't already filmed. One of my favorite locations is definitely Stara planina (Old Mountain). As a drone pilot, I had the opportunity to work a lot abroad, but my favorite locations are Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Iceland, the Maldives and more closer to our region the Una River in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Flying over Serbia – interview with Dragan Trifunović, Helivideo

There is no location in Serbia where Helivideo hasn’t touched down. Credits for that go to Dragan Trifu...

NEW NAME IN THE GAME – interview with Minja Jovanović, She Films

unnamed 6Bold and exciting interview with Minja Jovanović from She Films is a story that anyone who wants to become a producer or start their own production company should read. Minja told us how she got her first job and entered the advertising industry, how her company got its first project and how in just a few years she managed to wrap dozens of commercials, position the company in French market, and built not only reputation but also a specific style of work.

What was your entry ticket into the advertising production?

I usually say that my entire career, which lasts for 10 years now, has happened accidentally. Those who know me well would disagree with such statement because they know how unquenchable my passion for this job was. For me, nothing else was acceptable, literally nothing.

On the first year of my studies I worked on 7 student films at the same time, and one of the directors has recommended me to the producer of the film Parade, where I volunteered. My first task was holding an umbrella for actor Nikola Kojo, every time he goes out on/in the sun. When my university colleagues heard that, they were laughing, but I was happy just for being there, on the set. After that movie, costume designer has recommended me to colleagues in Red Production, which at that moment was one of the largest regional production companies. We wrapped one project, but I kept coming to the production offices waiting for another assignment or in case they need some help. After few weeks, at the age of 19, I started working for Red Production, and stayed there for the next 6 years.

How do you perceive the job of a producer and his/hers role in international advertising production? What kind of skills did you learn while working?

Working with international productions is something I have always been good at, much more than working with local productions. Somehow, it turned out to be my focus. I became a producer when I was less than 21, and on local projects I felt very prejudiced because of my age, which was never an issue with foreign projects. Foreign projects were always more demanding and for me it was so natural to work only on them.

I always point out that one of the most obvious problems of local productions is that every good organizer thinks he/she is a producer, and in my opinion the difference between these two is huge. A producer is a person who creates all the emotional and technical preconditions for a project to be realized in its full capacity. He or she must creatively understand the project, be able to encourage the director when his spirit is weakened and remind him of what is important for the project and what he does not have to spend energy on. Producer should create a comfortable working atmosphere so that everyone give their best, recognize potentially bad communication and energy between its members, fix it and direct it to the right path, for the benefit of the project.

As you gain the experience, your skill of predicting the upcoming events develops, at least two or three steps ahead. And I have to mention the proper delegation of tasks, because a producer can reach a higher level of his development only if he/she knows how to distribute the job to people whom he has learned to trust.

What was the last thing you’ve learned that was useful for your job?

I’ve thought a lot about this. The advice of my older, more experienced, and above all friendly colleagues was that I shouldn’t show emotions that much and that the producer must have some kind of a "poker face". I tried to apply it, although for a short period. I realized that this is not my way of doing things - for me it is completely okay that everything can be read from my face and I do not have to build the self-confidence by hiding my emotions.

Is that fact liked to the name of your company - She Films? Introducing the female principle in  your business?

I don't think this has anything to do with the name She Films, rather with a new approach to modern business. I won't say it's a female principle of business, but it is a principle that women can present to the world. I think that boys are also quite emotional, but no one told them that they can go through the world like that.

When I started She Films, I really wanted to shake a little bit our market, to enable some new directors to enter the advertising production, to encourage clients to be be brave and to take risks if they like the idea, without a fear that it will not be good just because they are working with debutante. Now, three years after starting my own job, I can proudly conclude that, at the beginning, we had 80% of debut projects including directors like Đorđe Stanimirović, Sara Marković, Leonard Finstner and Lazar Bodroža. I think this high success rate is very much related to showing that emotion, which increases the trust of our clients because it is real and evident.

unnamed 5Aside from pandemic, what are the biggest challenges of producing in advertising? What does it look like to be the head of a production house?

When I started my own production company, I knew I was a pretty good producer, but I didn’t know what kind of business owner I was, because it’s something totally different. Suddenly everyone is consulting with you, and you have no one to consult with. You have to accept that as a role and make a lot of decisions on a daily basis, from some simple ones like choosing the right espresso coffee in the office, to some really big ones like strategic or financial decisions. Personally, I believe in power of details and the impression it leaves on the clients. I think that every decision is important, and believe it or not, what kind of coffee you serve in the office is also very important.

She Films is a production company that is very much into details. This is really one of the basic mantras by which I measure the success of a project. I included that principle in a mathematical formula. In that sense, She Films is mostly dedicated to the returning clients. It’s definitely a bigger challenge to fascinate those who already know you, than someone you recently met. She Films really wants to show the opposite, to focus on maintaining regular clients, and to look forward to them as if they come for the first time. I believe that is the thing which makes us special, or at least that is the most common compliment I get.

What are the biggest challenges on a daily basis, and what are the biggest satisfactions of this job?

We were lucky to get our first project 7 days after starting the company, and soon it was followed by others, much more than we had planned. So, I didn't even have time to think too much about each step, which is good as otherwise I would over think. We know how much a quick response is important in this business as well as keeping the right working temperature among the team. On a daily basis, the biggest challenge is not to leave anything for tomorrow, even those things that you actually can do tomorrow.

The greatest pleasure is when you make a decision and it turns out to be the right one. Butterflies in the stomach are generally a good thing in work, and I feel them often. They are very important to me and I do my best to keep them alive.

What was the first project you worked on under She Films?

The first project was a worldwide campaign for Renault. We had 5 days of filming, and immediately after that we did same for Dacia worldwide - 4 days of filming, which is really big thing for a new company, not just because of contacts, but more for the positioning of the company at the very beginning.

When I opened my production company I didn’t know how to reach new clients. I just knew I didn’t want to work with clients of the production I worked for. I sent a dozen of "blind emails" to the productions I found on the Internet, and no one answered. I complained to my friend who works at JP Morgan in London. He told me there was nothing to complain about since I sent 10 emails and that I have to send 330 to get 10 back. In the end, that is what I literally did and got about fifteen answers. One of them was from the Renault. I went to Paris and had 7-8 meetings, and each of them resulted with a project. The last job we did a month ago dates back from one of those meetings. Most of our clients come from France, which is quite good for us considering that France has significant influence in visual and creative expression.

What is the biggest project you have done so far?

It was shooting for Honda or to be precise, it was a commercial for new models of four types of their engines. We filmed for 15 days all over Croatia, in Zagreb, Istria and Dalmatia. It was very demanding logistically, and at that time I was still a young producer with not so much experience. The most demanding thing was their style of organization and producing, with 3 producers working in turns. I was the only one from our side on that position. It is one of the few projects that really went flawlessly, and the whole team learned a lot.

What does it mean for you to be part of a larger network or professional association?

I think it is very important to be part of a larger network or professional association. This is crucial for the advancement of film industry on the national level, and the network itself is as strong as its weakest link is. The professional association enables the standardization of the work, which is very important in order to progress. I don't like when I hear that a project of my colleagues went badly, because it's bad for the reputation of our country, and professional associations, such as SFC, are dedicated to building the reputation.


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NEW NAME IN THE GAME – interview with Minja Jovanović, She Films

Bold and exciting interview with Minja Jovanović from She Films is a story that anyone who wants to beco...

Film friendly locations in practice – interview with Miljan Gogić, location manager

f8f86710-1265-4a90-8599-4934f739847fIn most of the countries, due to covid-19 prevention measures, the audience is spending more time at home so the demands for various types of content have increased. Production companies in Serbia were allowed to shoot their projects in accordance with the health and safety measures and recommendations. Thanks to that, many productions could finish shootings they’ve planned, although under the new circumstances, and continued their work beside specific conditions. This, as well as the rising role of location managers in Serbian productions, were the main topic we discussed with location manager Miljan Gogić. Before starting the career of a location manager, Miljan gained vast experience as a manager, producer and director he was also an advisor of the vice president of the National Assembly of Serbia. Three years ago he founded GM Locations & Scouting.

How much did the pandemic affect the scope of your work and did you work more on domestic or foreign projects? What is the latest project you worked on that audience will be able to watch in the upcoming period?

Last year was completely new experience for everyone, but for me it was very interesting because I was part of the production team of the feature film "Christmas ball", which is an American production, as well as of the UK feature film "The Ledge". Both films were serviced by Red Production, production company I work a lot with.

Another recent project, which will certainly provoke great interest among the local audience, is the adaptation of notable work of Serbian literature into TV series "Vreme zla", directed by Ivan Živković and produced by Eye to Eye production company. The shooting lasted 112 days over a period of 6 months. A great production team led by Goran Šušljik and Nikola Pantelić managed to provide all safety measures, as well as frequent testing throughout the shooting period. We are especially proud of the fact that the shooting was successfully completed without a single case of infection.

In addition to feature films and TV series, I did a number of commercials. I would like to single out the cooperation with the production company from Israel, on the campaign for HUAWEI APP. From all the above, I can only conclude that 2020 was not so bad in my case. I have to admit that during the pandemic, the number of international projects even increased to certain extent due to the fact that Serbia was one of the few places during the pandemic where it was possible to work under the following guidelines

IMG_0239It has become more common to see location managers listed in closing credits of domestic TV series. What is the difference between domestic and foreign projects when it comes to position of the location manager? How would you describe the process of location selection for Serbian projects now and the rising importance of the location managers on set?

Having a location manager on set is extremely important, because we take care of logistics, which is necessary for the project to be successfully completed. At the same time it provides assurance to location owner that everything will be returned to its original condition as soon as crew leaves the location.

I think the biggest difference between domestic and foreign production is that working with domestic productions is simpler and faster, because you usually know what each location can offer and it is easier to choose the right one. On the other hand, many domestic productions, due to local budgets, don’t have the opportunity to hire location managers, but I still think that our market is changing and many productions already understand they need location managers in their team.

When working with foreign productions, preparations last much longer since there are many options to take into consideration. But when it comes to understanding the environment of the location and other aspects concerning the logistics, international productions are ready to respect and follow local advice in order to make the best choice.

Also, the level of freedom during scouting for foreign productions inspires you to fully explore your own creativity in order to find the perfect location. In the last couple of years, our crews earned the trust of international productions, and they are now aware that Serbia offers good location managers who follow same professional approach as elsewhere to find locations in accordance with the script. Technology has helped us a lot, because we are now able to show locations even via video call.

How would you describe the shooting of the series Vreme zla? How much of it was shoton authentic locations? What was the process of research and making the final decisions like?

In my opinion, the series "Vreme zla" will bring many innovations to our home screens, especially in terms of production. It was shot on over 300 locations, much more than any other domestic projects ever had. We filmed in Belgrade, Pančevo, Valjevo, Knjaževac, Pirot, Jagodina, Mokra Gora, Tara, Stara planina, and just a couple of scenes were shot in the studio. It is the level that only foreign series and films had up until now. The locations are mostly realistic. We tried to choose locations that have not been used so far, and I think we did a good job. I am very proud of the fact that we created the series that will definitely attract the audience. Our creative team was led by Ivan Živković and Goran Šušljik, while production sector was held by Nikola Pantelić, so I think it is the guarantee that the series will be a success.

ae4c6ad9-feab-4b04-a8ad-5b73ce8223d3Do you think that the rising trend of TV series in the local market represents an opportunity for the profession of location managers to be more appreciated and for audience to enjoy some new locations?

It is always interesting to discover new locations both in Serbia and neighboring countries  as the attractiveness of the Balkans as filming destination increases. As a location manager, I had the opportunity to travel a lot in the previous year and get to know parts of our country that I did not have the opportunity to visit before. I always try to discover new hidden gems, and additional satisfaction is when they are revealed on the screen for the first time.

Your colleagues constantly emphasize good cooperation they have with local authorities in Serbia and their positive attitude towards film crews. What is your experience? What are the most important benefits that cities and municipalities have of the film friendly concept?

It is crucial to maintain good relations with local authorities. They make our job much easier, so it is important to have good communication and build the mutual trust.

In October, during the shooting of the film "The Ledge", I introduced part of the crew to the mayor of Niš, who welcomed us warmly understanding the importance of this kind of activities, especially when it comes to representation of our country globally. She helped us  organize the shooting under best possible conditions, in a beautiful part of Jelašnička gorge. I am pointing this out as one of the great examples, which illustrates the hospitality Serbia and the Balkans is well known for. Here, I also have to mention people from Pančevo, Pirot, Zaječar, Knjaževac, Subotica, Zrenjanin, Zemun, Valjevo, Zlatibor and Novi Pazar who completely understand the film friendly concept, but I shouldn’t forget Belgrade public offices, such as the Secretariat for Traffic of the City of Belgrade, PE Roads of Belgrade, City Greenery, Srbijašume, but also our ministries and state institutions. Cooperation with the National Assembly is precious, too.

Many state companies understand our work and react quickly, and with some companies we are still looking for the best possible model or a solution so that foreign productions do not feel as they are paying more than they should so this is also one of the tasks of the film friendly concept.

IMG_9099What are your three favorite filming locations in Serbia?

This question is not easy to answer, because there are so many locations I like. I have to say that some villages in Jelašnička and Sićevačka gorges, in south of Serbia, had left a great impression on me. Also, I like Rajačke pimnice and Ram fortress, and I can’t omit Deliblato Sands, Valjevo and Tara Mountain since they are our well-known filming locations.

As a location manager, what part of your job (do) you like the most? What part of the job you find the most interesting?

What still attract me to this job are the curiosity and the constant pursuit for new locations. One day I’m looking for some historical location, and tomorrow some place that’s good for a sci fi movie. It is also exciting when production asks me to find locations that can replace some countries, such as Germany, France, Italy or Spain. I recently made a presentation with Belgrade locations to double for Berlin. It’s a great feeling when you see our cities doubling some foreign destinations and how you can replace almost every city on the screen only if you observe closely. I also enjoy traveling and working with people from different countries and cultures. We, as location managers, always watch, learn and have very open and honest conversations. Each day of the work agenda is different! These are the things I like the most as well as a sense of accomplishment after every completed project.

What does it take to become a Location Manager? How does the scouting process look like? Which skills are crucial?

I have been part of various production companies in which I gained different kind of experience. As a producer, I also spent part of my career in the public sector so I know both sides of the coin and the position of a location manager combines these two professional experiences in the best way. The key thing in this business is your relationship with people. It is very important to build good relations with those who I work with. We must be patient, kind and honest.

d17ea606-9014-4ea8-b2aa-6557fa115a9fWhen you come to a private location with big production team for the first time, it can be quite stressful for the owners, especially in the first days of filming when you have a lot of vehicles on the set, a lot of people, trucks with equipment. Owners need to know that we will treat their home, office, location with respect and make sure that complete property is fully protected, especially things that are sensitive and precious.

Scouting usually takes a lot of time, and perhaps many people will have to visit the location many times before they decide to film. Organizational skills are extremely important, and as a location manager you are always first on the set and usually you leave last. You need to handle all logistical questions about the location. Hours on the set always seem longer and we have to resolve all tasks in order to finish the shooting successfully. In addition to organizational skills communication skills are one of the most important components for location managers during the production.

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Film friendly locations in practice – interview with Miljan Gogić, location manager

In most of the countries, due to covid-19 prevention measures, the audience is spending more time at home so the demands for various types of content have increased. Production companies in Serbia wer...

Four days in a career of drone pilot – interview with Filip Petronijević

DSC04901-2Speaking about first-person view flying, or FPV, drone operator Filip Petronijević says it provides a real feeling of flying. Actually, that you feel as if you were a pilot because you are flying in real time using a drone camera. Since this technique has already become his trademark, Filip explained to us how exciting his life was when this hobby took him to three destinations at the same time, why world drone community is so special and how he manages to fly and control the camera at the same time.

In the last years, drone sequences have become inevitable in film and TV projects, but also in music and advertising videos. That is the reason audience got completely different perspective of Serbian locations and enjoyed many attractive shots. What type of projects do you enjoy working most? What was the most complicated one or the one you are most proud of?

Since I have recently entered the industry I am still not well-known for some specific kind of projects, I mean, people do not recognize me as someone who does only films or music videos and every new job is a specific experience. It doesn’t matter if it is live event, commercial, music video or a film. Audience usually recognize me by my first-person-view style of drone piloting  and this type of drone is becoming increasingly popular in the world; thanks to that I ended up in many different parts of the world, and the most extraordinary experience I had was a live broadcast of Ben Böhmer's performance in Cappadocia. Since these drones are still not so common, I'm trying to find new ways of their use and the most demanding are technical shots like the one where I act as a continuous crane through a large space or when I have to fly close to extras and do crazy acrobatics around them.

screenshot filip 2Thanks to your spectacular works in Serbia, you received an invitation from the Cercle livestream media channel to record a DJ set by Ben Böhmer in Cappadocia. The video reached over 8 million views and the air shots of this exciting destination are spectacular. How did this collaboration look like? What kind of experience was it for you?

The experience was unforgettable because I had a lack of sleep at that time, but that's probably normal in this industry as far as I could see. I had couple of parallel shootings within those four days which was something completely new for me. I started with late night film shooting, then I went to Belgrade to catch a morning flight to Cappadocia to shoot there the whole day. The next day I went back to the south of Serbia on a film set and finally in the evening I came back to Novi Sad to film the Exit Festival.

Cercle livestream are great as a team, everyone is full of positive energy and they are generally completely relaxed. Actually, they are so relaxed that in fact, on the outside they don’t look like a team that keeps everything under control, but they’re really well organized and know their job. One part of the crew was in a balloon with a DJ, while the drone crew was mobile and we were flying from a pickup truck which we used to chase a balloon through the city. Due to the autonomy of my drones, their batteries last two to five minutes depending on the mode and speed of flight, we had to stop often. Luckily at one point the wind slowed down and balloons were more or less in the same position so we filmed them from one parking lot because we had a good range there. After the set was done and our celebration wrapped, we had an organized balloon flight for the rest of the team in the morning, and in the afternoon we returned to Serbia. This was the only project that Circle made “Behind the scenes” for - this is how the project was significant to them, so I am sharing this material with you on LINK.

screenshot filip 5What is the most important aspect of being a drone pilot? Flying or working with camera?

Both are equally important and only together, in symbiosis, they can produce the right effect. So, I initially spent a lot of time creating a memory in my fingers to control camera’s gimbal in order to align it with drone’s movement as I pay attention to it and vice versa. I became really good at it, but as more expensive and better equipment came and offered plenty of opportunities for making more creative shots, I decided to introduce my girlfriend to this hobby (because for me - it is still hobby), so I started teaching her to move the camera so we could make even better shots together. In the end, I realized that even if I am a dual operator, it is still easier when the work is divided and everyone concentrates on their specific position.

What is the difference between your way of working and other colleagues’ style? Is there a big difference when approaching TV commercials from the work on film?

I think that the most important thing is to feel the course/direction of that specific scene you are working on in that moment, and accordingly to that, to adjust the speed of the drone's movement, regardless of whether the commercial is being shot or something else. I think my biggest difference from my colleagues is that I fly both cinema and FPV drones, so the experience from both modes of flying helps me to implement the experience from one style to the other.

What represent a bigger challenge for you - shooting indoors or outdoors? What are the lessons learned?

It is always a bigger challenge to shoot indoors. You are more likely to make a mistake due to all objects nearby, so it is best to suggest the use of other equipment that would be more suitable for shooting in such a space, especially if the risk is too big. I like to push my limits and to act as the crane in every situation, but I am slowly learning that sometimes it is better to slow down and let other people finish the job. The indoor flying technique itself is different, compared to the outdoor one, so the experience in this area is crucial. Inside, your freedom and speed of movement are quite limited - you must not get too close to objects, floor, ceiling because it causes air to stir and thus many other problems. Also, you can’t use some extensions, that most beginners get used to when they start this hobby, so you can easily get into trouble. That’s why it is best to learn everything manually.

screenshot filipDid you have the opportunity to collaborate or meet drone pilots from other countries? How does that community work? Are there any trends or new ways of shooting?

I had the opportunity to work on a commercial, shot in Serbia, together with the most famous pilot of the FPV style, known as JohnnyFPV, which still seems like a dream to me because I followed him at the very beginning of my drone story and he was always my role model. Another totally crazy situation from that shooting was getting in touch with another great pilot who contacted me while doing some other shooting in Los Angeles, because the same team was filming a new commercial for Adidas in Serbia, so they recommended me to him. In general, the entire FPV community is in contact through various world groups and everyone is happy to help and respond to messages because we are all currently entering a hobby together, in order to make each member progress with some new knowledge.

What is your favorite shooting location and where would you like to film next, both in Serbia and abroad?

At the end of 2020 I had an invitation to film in Mexico and then in the Bahamas, but unfortunately due to a visa that I failed to complete on time I missed that invitation so I hope there will be some similar calls again. Iceland is my wish, as for mostly of my colleagues I assume, because I think my creativity would bloom there thanks to the beautiful nature all around you. Also I would like to fly over the Great Wall of China or over the top of the Alps. And Thailand wouldn’t be bad, either. I would like to make a documentary for the BBC or National Geography in such locations. In Serbia, I like Stara planina the most.


Four days in a career of drone pilot – interview with Filip Petronijević

Speaking about first-person view flying, or FPV, drone operator Filip Petronijević says it provides a real feeling of flying....


We assist international productions discover the experience of shooting in Serbia and working with local film professionals. To address this issue in pandemic era becomes an even larger task and reason why we believe that examples of recent projects speak better than anything about the production infrastructure. Tuna+Icon delivered together with Biscuit Filmworks a beautiful piece of work for iShares campaign, a US financial service owned by BlackRock. We took their experience and trust in the project to be production serviced in a new territory. New client and award-winning creative team arrived to Belgrade last August. Ivana Antić, Managing Director of Tuna+Icon recaps the experience.


Being bold is what defines creative industry and this project shows it on all levels. What were the benefits of this project of coming and shooting in Serbia?

No one expected a year to unfold the way it did. The volume of international bids decreased significantly and it for sure wasn’t easy to “convince” potential clients that Serbia is the safe shooting destination and that you are that reliable partner to take on the challenge, especially if they have never been here before. We have been bidding with Biscuit Filmworks LA on couple of occasions and director Isaiah Seret was aware of the production potentials as well as locations Serbia has to offer. We were very excited that the decision swayed our way at the time to bring two extraordinary projects to Belgrade. It certainly went to our favour that Serbia was not under lockdown in that point in time and did not impose strict quarantine and testing laws.

iShares BTS 2What were the challenges when you started, and how they were resolved?

The challenges were obvious from the start and they concerned safety precautions to maintain a safe working environment for the crew and cast despite the raging pandemic at that moment. It presented a new layer of challenges for us and all productions that had to be overcome in order to produce a high end commercial such as this one.

Fortunately, we’ve have done two service productions (one with Stink Prague and one with Direct Media) beforehand and were already well versed with the new dynamics of remote shoots. For the commercial we did for Adrenaline Rush we have had only the producer and director of photography on  theground, while director Marco Prestini was in LA and in remote communication with both the crew on set and clients and agency in Russia, so this was a good oeuvre and practice run for what was to come.

“Despite the intensity of these projects, we felt very much cared for by everyone in such genuine and sincere ways. The films will so much of what we wanted them to be and we all feel that coming to Serbia was the best decision we could have made.  And now that we’ve developed a relationship, we really do look forward to coming back again.” 

Jeff McDougall, Producer / Biscuit Films

What was the Covid protocol you followed?

We have created our own protocol that is in line with all WHO recommendations for a situation such as this one. It was of utmost importance to make the set a safe working environment for the crew and talents, therefore we delved into all recommendations for preserving a healthy environment. On the production side we minimized crew on set as much as possible,we introduced distancing between people on set,multiple checkpoints on set with disinfectants, masks and other PPE supported with additional Covid19 Coordinator on set that was making sure everyone was following the protocol.

Each crew member signed health and safety declaration form acknowledging safety protocols in place as well as stating that they have not travelled or been in contact with someone who tested positive to Covid19 in the last 14 days. On top of that frequent Covid19 testing of the key crew was essential. The medical tent with medical team in front was checking temperature of the crew upon arrival and issuing wristbands for each shooting days, so that only people with wristbands were allowed on set. This protocol has proven to be successful for all our projects as we have managed to go through all shoots unhindered by the virus.

Screenshot 2021-02-02 23.08.46You successfully incorporated locations into extensive studio sets with highly visual yet minimalistic design of Fiona Crombie. How does it feel to have an Oscar nominee on a set for a TVC shooting in Serbia?

Yes, for this one we had 2 shooting days on stage and 1 shooting day on location. The set design and set construction were both long, creative, filtering processes that were coordinated by Fiona Crombie. We also have to say that the local construction team headed by Rade Mihajlović was more than up to the task. Working with Fiona on two projects in a row was a riveting experience as her devotion to each aspect of the shoot was inspiring and her attention to detail was remarkable. So even though the circumstances were challenging and deadlines rather tight, the creative processes of set build and dressing on this one were truly absorbing. We had 6 different sets on stage and 2 locations for iShares and each set was meticulously thought through and therefore magically fits into the story that our director Isaiah Seret was trying to convey.

Shooting in studio environment has become in higher demand in pandemic. How much of the project was shot on an actual film set and how much CG was added? Who was in charge of VFX and the final look?

The majority of scenes were shot on set or on location, however some of the scenes required the use of chroma key as the idea was to create a couple of visually stunning virtual environments. Naturally, to create these, our sets were extended with a magic touch from the Jamm VFX team from Los Angeles.

Was there anyone from the Biscuit Filmsor DDB present during the shooting or you managed to have hybrid/remote video village?

We did have a “hybrid” video village, as you would put it, with the Biscuit Filmworks producer on set, along with his PM and, of course, director Isaiah Seret and director of photography Rina Yang. The agency and client were both present remotelyand following the shoot via the live stream feed.

iShares BTS 3Finally, who is Eleanor T. Fitzsimmons? How many concepts you developed during the process and was there safety issue that influenced the narration of having one main character alone in a shot?

Acquire a new perspective on your portfolio and find out. There were no adaptations of the initial script. The story was always revolving around the exceptional main girl Eleanor and therefore, there was no need to adapt it further for health and safety reasons.

Screenshot 2021-02-02 23.09.27


We assist international productions discover the experience of shooting in Serbia and working with local film professionals. To address this issue in pandemic era becomes an even larger task and reaso...

360-degree view of Serbian Film Industry with Marko Jocić

c05_4900Viktorija Film is a successful film company which develops its own projects for decades. At the same time, they are relentlessly doing service production covering entire palette of film genres and other contents. At the end of this challenging year, Marko Jocić was a perfect person to give us the complete insight of the situation in Serbian film industry in the era of the global pandemic.

How would you describe the current production situation Serbia? How much did the pandemic change preproduction processes and planning?

 Overall, the situation with development of projects and shooting is quite satisfying, having in mind we are in the pandemic period. TV production is blooming in Serbia, and this crisis hasn’t affected it at all - in fact it gave a certain stimulus to all TV projects globally. People don’t go out as much as before, so they spend more time in front of their screens and on the streaming platforms. On the other hand, some parts of the industry, such cinemas and distributors, are probably experiencing the hardest times in their history. It will have an effect in the near future as there are so many new titles that still haven’t reached cinemas, in order to be launched in some better times with pandemic under control or mass vaccination being available. And this is the issue of the whole world, not just of our country.

Pre-production and planning have changed and became more complex due to challenges that covid-19 brought to us. Now, our Health and Safety coordinators have additional tasks during the set, we are testing our complete crew on a regular basis and we use protection equipment constantly. Also there is a complete new shooting procedure, in which we pay attention to finding the best logistics models and ways of applying the H&S measurements – and that depends on the type of shooting. We are faced with inability to film in certain locations – which are not suitable according to the covid-19 protocol, and we are forced to avoid, or have restriction on hiring older actors and crew members who are risk groups. Insurance companies had limited their services, but it was expected since this situation was something completely new for them. Unfortunately, any covid-19 positive crew member is not only the health risk for every person on the set, but it produces delay and going over budget. Protection measures are planned and applied in advance, following the world praxis and recommendations, in order to reduce the risk as much as possible.  

img_2479What is the interest in film productions at the moment, or have TV series taken the dominant role? Are you, as Viktorija Film, considering to make that kind of shift? 

The interest in making movies still exists. There are also contracts signed with Film Center Serbia, which finances most of the Serbian film production, that follow certain deadlines and obligations. The fact that there is no distribution now, additionally complicates everything, also release dates are unknown, so we have to be cautious with approach to film projects. As I already mentioned, TV series production reached its historical peak, here and globally, and it doesn’t depend on cinemas. In Serbia, that trend lasts for several years and TV production has overtaken the production of film in the number of projects released annually. 

Viktorija Film, of course, won’t quit making films as they are and will be our main focus, although it is more risky than TV series production. In producing a film we depend on box offices while TV producers get their profit in the production itself. However, we do work on TV series in parallel to our film projects. We follow the trends and enjoy creative challenges and that is the only way to stay relevant in any business. At the same time, it is our model for reducing the investment risks.

How would you describe the projects that are currently service produced? From which countries are projects coming in Serbia? What is our biggest advantage and opportunity in these times?

At this moment, Serbian production companies service both TV series and films. There are many reasons why pandemic reduced the number of projects. Some of them are logistic, such as travelling, testing procedures, possibility of being in quarantine, availability of locations. Others are related to production risks and insurance. We are getting inquiries for projects from USA and Italy mainly. Serbia had good situation after spring this year, and during that period my company was actively working on many requests, which is not the case now.

Government incentives, professional and experienced crews and strict application of international measures for film productions during covid-19 are key in remaining one of the most desirable destinations for filming – there is nothing more I can suggest since the situation is quite unpredictable.

c05_4909You’ve recently added an animated film to your list of co-produced projects. Have you found producing computer generated projects - for which the audience is getting more and more interested, easier than doing live action contents?

That’s right! Together with great and talented team from Blink Studio I am co-producing the animated feature Twice upon a Time. My company, more than any other in Serbia, has done most different kinds of titles. From art-house projects, dramas, thrillers and biographical to SF and horror films. We have tested every possible model of film financing, which is really unusual, because in Europe majority of projects are produced following the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production. I personally, find diversity of projects exciting and it keeps us fresh, so over the years it became signature mark of Viktorija Film.

Computer generated content in film and TV is more and more present and their use will continue to rise. I am following the situation in China really carefully, and in the other countries, too – they are doing a lot of films made in studios completely, without shooting on locations at all. It is interesting that a company like Disney, alongside working with classical CG, is developing its own version of deepfake AI for movies. But, there will always be place for live action, not just until the computer generated work becomes more cost effective, but because of the creative and artistic level of expression.

Can you imagine some of your next projects being done in that way?

Sure! We’ve already done films whose postproduction included CG, in amount unusual for Serbian productions. We are now working on a short film, which will be done mostly in the virtual environment such as Unity. Some of our future projects are planned to be made using classical, but also innovative CG models. We are lucky that Serbian VFX studios have great knowledge and expertise, looking up to the world standards and trends. The fact they can do almost everything in CG and that they are more affordable than foreign studios is are certainly one of the most important pillars of our service production. Also, they are more resistant to crisis like pandemics and their future is definitely bright.

doctor-ray-and-the-devils-2What are the projects Viktorija film is working on at the moment? How far can you plan in these circumstances?

Viktorija Film is currently developing two feature films, which are supported by Film Center Serbia. One is a psychological thriller with working title Isolation, and the other one is a comedy titled Blue Sapphire. Short dancing film The Isotopes of Soul is in the final postproduction phase, and we are doing co-production of animated feature film, above mentioned. There are two other films, where we serve as executive producers for other companies. And those are just the projects we started doing before the pandemic. Besides that, we are developing four TV series for Serbian market, and two in cooperation with companies from the region. Viktorija Film is constantly in touch with different foreign partners for service productions and we are waiting for circumstances to get better to initiate our collaboration.   

Planning is necessary, independently of circumstances, especially during the crisis. Of course, we now live the life full of unknown, but doing the smart analysis can help you in preventing potential mistakes. Also, in the regular circumstances, it is quite common that films are being developed for years before the shooting starts. Pandemic will come to its end eventually, according to the predictions of health experts in a year or two from now, so the project development shouldn’t be stopped, and all the shootings should be done carefully and wisely, while following the health measurements.

Mostly, the whole industry is hoping that in the near future the situation will become better and that we will again work under the usual conditions we used to. Until that, we have to be brave and try to hold on, like all other industries do.


360-degree view of Serbian Film Industry with Marko Jocić

Viktorija Film is a successful film company which develops its own projects for decades. At the...


syeraa005One of the most successful names of Serbian VFX industry, Crater Studio is already well known in the international arena. Working on Hollywood and Bollywood titles have motivated them to always strive for improvement. Following the latest trends in technology they recently became the first studio in Southeastern Europe to receive TPN certificate. Milovan Mladenović, executive producer and partner in Crater Studio is sharing with us all their fresh achievements.

Firstly, how are you managing the lock down and pandemic in the studio? Remote work is nothing new in the world of postproduction and visual effects. Were you affected with postponed releases or start of productions?

First reaction was to quickly and efficiently adapt to the pandemic so we adjusted our existing workflow and switched whole our operation to work from home, seamlessly. In a way remote work is inherit in our business as we have been working for US and international markets since studios inception and it’s important not to skip a beat in our line of work. So the ongoing projects were not affected in any way. However, communication with clients on ongoing projects was a bit slow during the first few weeks so the deadlines were also extended, and starts of productions were postponed. Since June, we started getting new inquiries and took on new projects.

sye-raa-narasimha-reddy-movie-super-hd-stillTell us more about the most recent projects you were working on? What is you line of work and markets that clients come from?

As a company, we are lucky to have clients and projects coming from various parts of the globe. After working on Hollywood titles like Point Break, Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Shallows we have, likewise, developed great relations with Chinese and Indian production companies and filmmakers on blockbuster titles like Airpocalypse, Lost In Russia, Thugs of Hindustan, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Saaho, and are currently working on VFX for upcoming Indian films Shamshera and Jaan. With the team we have we are capable to take on feature film, commercials and new media content including AR/VR and even theme park rides content. While exploring new markets and new technologies, we believe in long lasting relations we built over the years and acquire some new ones and to work with animations and other exciting works. We stepped up our partnership and co-produced an award winning animated short Pig on the Hill, narrated by Pierce Brosnan with Ignite Animation from California.

The sequel of Don’t Breathe that recently wrapped shooting in Serbia is a successful example of a film that combined location and VFX services in Serbia. What do you think of that offer, now with upgraded security protocols, what is a profile of projects that can benefit the most from this package?

Don’t Breath 2 is a great example. Many other types of projects can benefit from services offered in Serbia, now and in the near future. We are aiming at low to mid-level budgeted films, TV series and other content that can benefit from a combination of affordable yet high-end services in Serbia–world class visual effects, highly professional and skilled on-set supervision, highest security standards like TPN and ISO. It won’t take long for new technology including Virtual Production, LED walls to be available in Serbia.

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The pandemic coincided with launch of your first R&D project with Faculty of Dramatic Arts and exploration of the virtual production. Without sharing too much, as project is still in development, where do you see yourself with this new project?

The pandemic has gotten us rethinking the utilization of our current and future resources, including the mentioned VP. We believe that the content will have to adjust to the situation-this is where VP comes in handy. Traditional shooting and set time is not really necessary in order to create new content. Movies and series have started to be shot in VP studios with LED walls and VP technology. We joined forces with a team of researchers from academy and our studio veterans in developing VP solution that would be able to respond to less ambitious budgets and save time in long postproduction months. We are combining real-time rendering and game engines and hope to be able to demonstrate soon what have developed.

You also used these challenging times to invest in upgrading your security protocols and acquiring TPN. What kind of project do you plan to focus on now that you are part of Trusted Partner Network. What services and capacities will be expanded?

TPN was introduced as a security standard in 2018 and quickly became requirement without which a VFX or any other content handling facility cannot be entered into majors’ vendor list. We already had ISO 27000 and decided to level up in order to demonstrate our dedication to high end service quality and continue working on titles coming from major studios. Crater Studio is the only TPN certified studio in Southeast Europe. We’ve already worked with Columbia and WB, and constantly pitch for projects looking out for a right project to come our way. The first response from clients when we got TPN was great, and we expect to establish new ones as TPN is being adopted by more and more film production companies, MPAA members. We anticipate that TPN will enable us to attract more work on feature films and in return that will enable us to invest in our team development, grow in our capacities and services.

What is the next release that you are looking forward to?

It will definitely be DB2.




One of the most successful names of Serbian VFX industry, Crater Studio is already well known in th...


protaPandemic couldn’t slow down one of the most wanted sound supervisors in the Balkans. During the lockdown he daily supervised two running TV shows, and currently is working on four. Aleksandar Protić Prota is equally successful in sound post-production and as he is as a producer of internationally awarded "AI Rising". Versatile projects under Mir Media portfolio opened the doors for moving into post-producing American TV series, leading to achieving the final stamp of approval with membership in the Academy for Television Arts and Science. We used the post EMMY week to talk to Prota about achievements and future plans.

You are known as serial entrepreneur with a broad range of creative business endeavors and now you are first Serbian to be admitted in the Television Academy, that requires 20 hours of broadcasted program per two years in the US territories. What was the process and motivation behind becoming an Emmy voter?

First of all, it is a great honor being recognized as a National Active Member of the Television Academy. I see that as one of many examples that the creative boundaries of the past are narrowed and almost do not exist anymore. In the peak of the TV era, being a member of EMMY, to me personally, has a greater value than any other academies or societies, with all due respect to the lot of them. The process itself is fairly easy if you have experience and high-quality material that speaks for itself. I hope that in the upcoming years I will not be only a voter but a nominee as well.

All major feature films and TV projects have been sound designed under your supervision. What is the scope of projects and services you are handling in the last two years?

Mir Media Sound Studio covers all areas of sound post-production, from foley to sound design, and all the way to 5.1 mixing. In the last two years we went from a regional front runner, to working on TV shows for US networks, with the help of two production companies including Electric Entertainment from LA led by producer and director Dean Devlin, and Balkanic Media from Belgrade led by Jonathan English.

For TV projects our team consists of 5 core people, with each person dedicated to one part of sound post-production. If we speak about feature films, the number of people engaged is even greater, and for years we have been working on various international, regional and local films in all genres.

ee-slateHow did the pandemic affect your side of the business? Do you see some changes or market disturbances that will influence your future planning?

The pandemic brought the same problem for all, and that is halted or postponed productions. But thanks to the dynamic mobile work space organization, we adapted quickly to the challenges that COVID-19 brought. The principle of our work in the last several years has been similar, meaning that I, as the sound supervisor, am unbothered by where the team is working from, as long as it doesn't affect the safety and the creative aspect.

During the complete (world) lockdown, we have worked daily on two projects. A regional TV show titled "The Tycoon" as well as a show for WGN America titled "Almost Paradise". Other than the challenges brought by the virus and the lockdown, another endeavor was that both of the shows have been broadcasted simultaneously while we were in post-production for them.

Currently we are working on a few regional fiction and documentary programs, as well as the new season of "The Outpost" for CW. In the following weeks, we will start working on the revival of a highly popular show titled "Leverage 2.0", the first big original IMDb TV show produced by Dean Devlin's Electric Entertainment.

How would you describe the talent pool in Serbia? What is your team like?

After almost 20 years of experience the best asset is our well-coordinated team, as well as new members that join and fit the already established workflow well. It is important for our younger colleagues to understand that sound post-production is not a one-person job, but rather a coordinated teamwork. This year, for the first time, we are opening our doors to interns (students) for our internship program.

project-swearing-photoBeyond taking care of sound, Mir Media has a slate of feature films and TV series in development. You are very proactive in taking on debutant projects like "AI Rising" that took local industry and public by surprise. What is your take on that? How do you see the combination of servicing films and creating original content?

We are all aware of the boom of film servicing in Serbia. I salute the business approach, as it is beneficial for development of local talents and film professionals. But, unfortunately, in my opinion, there is not enough original content that could be competitive on the international market.

When it comes to Mir Media's slate of projects, the most recent accomplishment is a sales deal with an acclaimed XYZ Films for the debut feature film of young and promising film director Nikola Petrović, titled "Mudbrick", which will be shot in early spring of 2021. In the same period we will start shooting a 20 episode TV show acquired by Telekom Srbija titled "Poseta" ("The Visit"), with a young and renowned theatre director Veljko Mićunović, directing for the first time for the screen.

My passion project which I am a producer and showrunner for, is a docu-series titled "Project Swearing", which is in late development stage, with a young but eminent ex-YU USA based director Maria Juranić.

With the team of Lazar Bodroža and Dimitrije Vojnov (the duo behind the award winning "A.I. Rising") we are in permanent development of several projects, that will surely be in production soon. More announcements are yet to be revealed.



Pandemic couldn’t slow down one of the most wanted sound supervisors in the Balkans. During the lockdown he daily supervised two running TV shows, and currently is working on four. Aleksandar...

All That Acting – interview with Sav taj glumac casting agency team

In order to help their colleagues to find the perfect role and present themselves in a best way in front of the cameras, actresses Anđela Stamenković and Aleksandra Sirkić established casting agency Sav taj glumac whose talent pool gathers not just Serbian actors, but from the region, too. With plenty of enthusiasm, knowing how gifted our artists are, they talked us about online casting processes revealing do they see virtual environment as a threat or a chance for the acting profession.

Can you tell us more about your team? What services do you offer as a casting agency?

The core of Sav taj glumac are two of us and then number of dear associates and colleagues we partnered on number of projects and who are our first choice or people to call when we need external help. Since we positioned ourselves as a casting service, there is enough room in our database for everyone–from A-list actors to newcomers, as well as for all other talents film industry is looking for. We provide complete casting service, which means finding the right actor for certain film, TV series, performance, TV commercial. Extras and models are signed up from colleagues who run fashion agencies or agencies for extras.With each new assignment our data base grows, especially the pool of natural talents in music, dance, sports is constantly expanding and our email inbox is always active no matter if there is an open casting call or not.

Because of the lack of agents, we are expected to mediate between productions and actors until the first day of filming. On our last project we were even asked to assist the director during the preparation and shooting and sort of replaced a 2nd AD, which was unusual but gratifying as we really enjoy the process of working with actors

You did casting for Bollywood blockbusters, European and US feature and short films, but advertising agencies, too. What kind of talent does Serbia or the Balkans have to offer?

We find Serbia and the whole region as everlasting source of different looks, eyes, hair and skin types, features that can represent almost entire world. Our experience in casting covers a wide range –from advertising, that is not always as attractive for casting directors, but it is important in gaining experience how to find quick solution in unexpected situations.We participated in casting for RTL’s remake of TV series "Winetu" (original was also shot in former Yugoslav territories) and latest film by the great Terence Malik "A Hidden Life". We feel so lucky for having the opportunity to work with respectable artists from both West and East, such as Vicky Sadhana, leading Bollywood casting director who shot "Uri: A Surgical Strike" in Serbia. Bollywood has a special place on our casting agency’s map because their requirements are usually very challenging and provide us with the opportunity to promote many different talents from our data base, both from the region and international

Each year there is one hundred new actors graduating in Serbia, which means there is great inflow of new talents and we already spotted some who have the potential to build world class careers. Zooming out from Serbia to the region, the situation becomes even more exciting. We think that we are a very talented part of the planet,but every talent needs support and chance to get visible,maybe by establishing certain union and specialized legal representation offices.

img_9521What do you enjoy more: working with established actors or be the ones to discover new talents?

When an actor embodies the professional attitude, it is completely irrelevant in what point of his/her career he/she is at the moment. Since our famous actors are usually busy with ongoing project or belong to theater groups with constant rehearsals, it seems that finding new talents is what we enjoy more. Again, we are extremely happy when there are opportunity to work with some of our famous actors like Branka Katić or Darko Perić (Helsinki from "Money Heist").

How does a casting's process look like in the times of pandemic? Did actors manage to get used to online castings, self-tape etc?

Pandemic has definitely forced us to switch the casting process to online which usually includes self-tape and video calls as means of communication and presentation. It is nothing new and is already a common practice when it comes to international cast coming to shoot here, or international project in general. Our actors use self-tapes and participate in online castings when they are out of the country but when they are here, it feels like they appreciate our assistance and prefer coming directly to our office. Obviously that will have to change in these circumstances and actors should master the technique of self-tape presentation as well as online casting in order to stay on the map and catch up with the changes that are coming.

Which  foreign productions you worked with and what are their impressions about our talents? 

We have worked with productions in region and around the world. Our impression is that in the end they are always very satisfied with the choice of actors. For example, the project we have been working on last months, actually during the pandemics, is short film "Tête de brique" by French actor Alexis Manenti that will be shot in Belgrade in the fall. We did almost the entire casting process online and then the director came to see the short listed candidates live. He was very satisfied with the selection and the choice of talents, especially because we were looking for younger actors in age between 12 and 18. Our collaboration will last during the preps, as well as the shooting.

img_3413Are you in touch with other casting directors abroad? How do they deal with these complicated times when covid-19 virus seriously changes filming process?

We are in touch with many colleagues abroad and follow their work through social media. We noticed their commitment during the pandemics while trying to make each casting less difficult,as it was possible in those tense circumstances. They were all trying to encourage actors to improve and develop their online expression skills and teach them how to present their talent better. Some have developed digital casting platforms so that the whole process takes place online, others are encouraging actors to record self-tape monologues about isolation and pandemics and shared it on their Instagram profiles in order to promote those actors. This is also important to encourage actors and creatives to stay positive even when they can’t do the essential part of their being–perform on the stage or in front of the cameras.

You have organized trainings for actors on self presentation, online casting and how to excel at casting in general. Do you plan something similar with the current pandemics that have increased the demand for online presence?

Our “Acting in front of the camera” workshops are something we hold so dear. In fact, the idea of starting casting agency was born during one of the workshops organized by Serbia Film Commission with Beatrice Kruger who ran the workshop. We realized that our actors need to learn more and improve acting in front of the camera and on-line self presentation, and so we created one and two-day program for groups of up to 15 people, including young actors or some still in drama school. After a while they come back to us telling how workshop helped them and skills they got were crucial for them to be successful at castings and to have better self-presentation in general.

In times like these actors need help, guidance and encouragement more than ever to continue with their careers and Sav taj glumac will try to provide them all assistance necessary to sustain. There is so much going on via zoom lectures and online workshops. And although we believe live energy and presence are indispensable, the advantage of such workshops is the possibility of connecting lecturers and participants from different parts of the world when physical contact is not recommended, so knowledge exchange is perhaps more accessible than ever.

At the moment we aspire to digitalize our casting data base and create software which will allow actors to post content on their profiles directly and for the producers and directors to see and contact desired actors on-line. We’ve also become more aware that industry is shifting to virtual production and new type of content production, where we see the opportunity for many colleagues who are currently out of the work to advance their skills and discover new talents.



All That Acting – interview with Sav taj glumac casting agency team

In order to help their colleagues to find the perfect role and present themselves in a best way in front of the cameras, actresses Anđela Stamenković and Aleksandra Sirkić established casting ag...

When Art of Filmmaking Meets Video Games – interview with Ana Uzelac

Ana Uzelac considers her job to be the perfect combination of filmmaking and video games. She is the supervisor and co-founder of the Bunker VFX studio - specialized in the production of cinematics. We had an amazing opportunity to hear more about this studio and get familiar with all creative processes which stand behind the titles such as Phageborn, Pagan Online, Heroic Magic Duel, Crusader Kings 3 at the previous editions of CGA Belgrade Conference. Their latest trailer for the Outlast game got great reviews and certainly announces another successful project of this studio. Since many Serbia Film Commission members are entering the world of gaming, bringing the knowledge they collected in film production, we asked Ana to share with us her experience and enthusiasm in merging these two industries and explain how the pandemics emphasized creativity in creating CG content.   

What was your switch to remote work like? How much the organizational structure was challenged by WFH in delegating tasks and your internal communication? Can you describe this shift in your work routine and if you encountered any challenges? 

Switching to remote production was certainly a challenge, having in mind the fact that our complete production is 3D, organized through a very clear system and studio pipeline. The first week was especially hard. I really have to give credits to all our artists who dealt with their own challenges in one hand and succeeded in making significant improvements themselves on the other, so that after that first critical week we went back to our “well-oiled machine” spirit. Communication was good and clear; we daily controlled each other’s  tasks and helped if there were problems, difficulties and doubts. During the first week we made separate communication channels for chat, calls, creative decisions for each project so nobody was overwhelmed with unnecessary information.

Work from home, as we all now know is not easy, but it taught us to be better organized and skills we got we plan to apply generally in our job, no matter if it is remote or not. We are still working remote, so the whole team can be safe.

Speaking of external factors, we’ve always worked remotely with our clients, so in that aspect there was no change. And again, we turned the whole situation into a nice experience, as always. 

Was it hard to maintain a team spirit during the pandemic? We know that Bunker crew has its own Instagram channel. Have you made some personal top lists of best movies, games, tutorials or similar?

I wish, but we didn't have time for that. We worked a lot, and that was the thing that maintained high team spirit. Using Discord channels for chatting, sharing tutorials and even frustrations – when we had them helped. That's also part of our team story and makes us family.

img_3411Over the last period, most of live action productions had to be stopped and productions have been returning to film sets only now and under restricted rules. What is the future of the CG industry in your opinion and have you noticed any new trend in content production? Has the pandemic changed the number of projects you’ve been hired on?

I believe that a lot of the production will be switching more and more to full CG content. When it comes to Bunker VFX Studio, the pandemics hasn't changed the amount of work we have, as full CG is what we mainly do, be it game trailers or videos, but I did notice we got more requests for projects that needed a quick solution for switching from live action to CG, thus bridging the impossibility of real on set filming when they hadn’t had another option.

During the quarantine, Bunker produced a trailer for The Outlast Trials that you released a breakdown recently and included remote motion capture. Can you tell us more about the process. What was the hardest part? What have you learned? There are lots of talks about remote shooting, do you have some advice or insight to share?

That’s true. Working on the Outlast Trials was great pleasure and we enjoyed during the process of working on it. The premiere was couple of weeks ago and it has already achieved great results. We feel much satisfaction knowing that our work is appreciated and warmly accepted among gaming audiences which usually have high expectations.

In this case, the biggest challenge was organizing motion capture shooting with only one man in the studio, during the most rigorous time of lock-down. I have to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to our friends from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and their Laboratory of Interactive Arts Branko Sujić and Pavle Dinulović, who performed many different characters using Wi-Fi mocap suit, and since we previously made quite precise preparations, watching them remotely on cameras and monitors was easy. The next thing that could become a little bit harder was assembling scenes in light, meaning we could have problems while making animations, final assets, simulations and rendering preps. By that time we got so well organized working remotely, that we finished everything and continued working remotely even when lock-down was lifted.

We are planning to develop our own small mocap studio, which will be set for remote production, in case we can’t gather in the studio. With the experience we had I believe we will be able to set it up soon and produce complete remote mocap shooting within the studio with the option for clients to take part remotely in the shooting. We learned how important good preparation is and it always brings great results – having precise measurements and actors' mise-en-scene set up precisely as per the animatic, with enough rehearsals that can be even done remotely – as a result we get the shooting where we can just enjoy and let the process roll. We can’t wait to start the in-house system, but until it happens, we continue working with our great colleagues who are already experienced in remote production and did it well so far.

img_3585The number of projects that connect film and gaming industry is growing. You are primarily known as studio that focuses on high end full CG production in video games and now you are embarking on the production of your first animated short film. What knowledge from games you plan to include in this?

For us gaming trailers are perfect match of the art of filmmaking and video games. In these short formats we use classical cinematic language to tell the story a video game. Even if it is fully computer generated we go through all film processes for a short format of just few minutes. In fact, this is the most beautiful challenge in producing a gaming trailers.

To create an animation film was our wish for a long time since we started. A film that would offer modern and educational content for kids, speaking the language of their generation and teaching these things we believe they are interested in. This is a new challenge that we look forward with excitement. It is directed by Lazar Bodroža and written by Mihailo Tešić with working title “Someone”. The short teaser that precedes the feature-length film will be finished very soon and we can’t wait to share it with the world.

Our experience in CG production of gaming trailers has taught us how to successfully operate CG production in general, and how to design a pipeline that will now also serve for the animated short film. We are not always in a position to impact creative decisions in game trailer, so I think animated film is a great opportunity for all our artists to give their bests kills and ideas. On the other hand making feature length of high quality is something we’ve never done before, but step by step – we have the will, the plan and we strongly believe in our capacities to do it. There will be tears occasionally, I am sure. To get somewhere, we need to do things we are not certain of how they will turn out, otherwise they won’t be called challenges, but when you have a plan and strong motive, you are more likely to succeed.

img_3494A lot of people used quarantine for learning new skills. Have you acquired any new skills, software or tools? Is there an educational channel, podcast or anything you find inspirational to recommend to your younger colleagues?

The production itself and our job motivate us to constantly learn new softwares, tools and gain new skills. We believe that it is essential in order to be successful in what we do and make progress professionally. In that sense, the quarantine hasn’t changed anything that we were not doing before. Each of our artists continuously develops himself/herself and his/her knowledge through various online courses and conferences, excellent books and websites dedicated to cinematography, light, anatomy-of course depending on his/her specific interest. I noticed that many young colleagues have made great progress in completing the variety of their skills, many of them have moved to an advanced level. That is not depend on software, but on someone’s personal motivation in self-improvement.

On the other hand, I am very glad if this situation left some space for people to discover which area they are interested in, to study more or learn some new skills. That's how you should always do, regardless of whether you are in quarantine or not, and I  advice our younger colleagues to be curious and to investigate! Even, when times are hard, which in Serbia we often had, if you are interested in something – dive into it.

Outlast 3 Breakdown by Bunker VFX animation

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When Art of Filmmaking Meets Video Games – interview with Ana Uzelac

Ana Uzelac considers her job to be the perfect combination of filmmaking and video games. She is the supervisor and co-founder of the  MORE

Behind the scenes of The Revelation with Tuna+Icon

salomon-spotOne of the latest inspiring works coming out from locations in Serbia is "The Revelation" a short film directed by Salomon Ligthelm and featuring music of Scottish band Young Fathers. It stands out for its aesthetics and energy so well visualized through peculiar socialism manner. It came to life as a bi-product of director's visit to Serbia during his work on Lexus RX commercial that Stink Films produced in collaboration with TUNA + ICON. Tuna Fish Studio is led by veterans of high end creative works in advertising and through merger with Icon Romania established one of the leading production service companies in Serbia, also part of the Global Production Network. Together, they’ve continued to provide high quality service production in Serbia and Balkan region.

This project inspired us to dive behind the scenes with their production team.

While shooting TVC for Lexus RX, Salomon Ligthelm got inspiration for his short film "The Revelation". How did it happen? In the credits, he made special thanks to different photographers, one of them being Vladimir Milivojević Boogie.

Generally speaking, directors are always feverishly looking for some new locations to inspire them. For Belgrade and Serbia, it is the perfect chance to attract various projects and offer lively spots, which have never been shown on screen.

Since the moment it was decided to shoot the Lexus RX project in Belgrade, Salomon asked us to present to him locations, not only intended for the project we’ve been working on, but also our own selection of authentic places that can be inspiring in different ways. In addition to the desire to realize his project in one of the East European countries, we think that the locations presented were crucial for his decision to shoot "The Revelation" in Belgrade. Nevertheless, the cooperation we had with the production house Stink from London and the trust that was built thanks to it, allowed us to execute the project as a joint effort, bypassing the traditional production-service production relationship. We were especially happy that a large part of our creative team, not only the production crew, was also engaged in the project.

The film was shot on 35mm and 16mm film in just 16 hours. What was the prep like? How demanding was for the production to complete the whole process in just one day?

The answer to this question depends on the generation asked. Until recently, all TVCs in Serbia were shot on film. In that sense, besides the budgeting and challenging logistics, we were glad to be reminded how working in that format looked like, on the other hand it was asked of us to follow the creative directive. Knowing that they only had one day of shooting, Salomon and DP Guillermo Garza from the very start depended on the second camera and our DP Aleksandar Košutić for support.

What inspired you most to work on this project?

Our production is mostly focused on the advertising industry which usually follows already established criteria. Music videos give you a certain liberty, thereby the creator’s passion is strongly felt, which further elevates and transpires. Salomon`s determination to shoot in Belgrade together with the local creative crew were more than enough to motivate everyone in the production team to work devotedly. Costume designer Suna Kažić, production designer Tamara Tričković and Milica Jokić as line producer gave huge contributions to this project.

It is part of our mentality to respond emotionally to others’ emotions and as a result we give even more than our best.

We are constantly putting the light on Serbia’s locations, infrastructure, film crews… How do you, as a production company, perceive this kind of creative work which exceeds service production?

Most of our team members have gotten involved in service production just recently. We all have a creative production background and this kind of collaboration is, in fact, an ideal circumstance for us.



Behind the scenes of The Revelation with Tuna+Icon

One of the latest inspiring works coming out from locations in Serbia is "The Revelation" a short film directed by Salomon Ligthelm and featuring music of Scottish band Young Fathers. It stands out fo...


img_1658The most wanted Serbian stuntman Slaviša Ivanović has done more than 150 international and domestic productions, working not only with the biggest names of Serbian film industry, but also the world’s most famous cinema stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Ralph Fiennes, Salma Hayek… Slaviša and the entire team of Serbian Stuntmen Agency are among the best stuntmen in the world, gold medal winners at every international competition and even absolute winners in every category at the 2014 world championship. He was so kind to share with us his exciting career story where we discovered if he ever feels scared while doing dangerous scenes and what you should do in case you decide to become a stuntman.

How did your career start and why did you decide to work as a stuntman? What was your first film?

My stunt career began when I started training aikido with legendary Serbian trainer Željko Božić, who was already working as a stuntman with one of the best established stuntman Sljavoljub Petrović Zvonce. Soon enough, Željko recommended me to train with Zvonce and he introduced me to the world of action and stunts. My first job was on a student movie, and after that I worked on a project that was never completed, but as soon I wrapped my first feature film ‘Premeditated Murder’, everything that followed is now a part of  a beautiful journey that is my filmography.

Are there any specific skills, virtues or characteristics someone has to have in order to become a stuntman? Have you ever felt scared while doing a scene or refused to do it? Was there anything you couldn’t do?

The criteria Zvonce established in the Yugoslav Stunt Association referenced  the way stunt work was done in  the US and is still being nurtured by the Serbian Stuntmen Association today, who is in charge of accepting and training new candidates. Each candidate must have a master degree in martial arts or hold a gold medal at the international competition in sports which have no ranking system. After the candidate passes the three day recruiting, there is a trial period of four months, after which the candidate becomes a student of  an official stunt training for the next  three years. Without this, no one can obtain the title of a professional stuntman . We chose stuntmen who are not attracted by danger, but skill, trained to perfection that goes beyond sporting requirements.

When it comes to fear, I am actually most afraid of the fact that I am not afraid of anything, unfortunately. That’s why I’ve never refused to shoot any scene. There were stunt scenes that weren’t realized due to the lack of budget needed for the performance, usually specific equipment or materials that were necessary to perform a stunt in a way that is safe.


How big is the team of Serbian Stuntmen Agency Team and how can someone  become a member? What is the difference between Serbian Stuntmen Association and Serbia Stuntmen Agency?

Currently, there are 30 active stuntmen in Serbian Stuntmen Association. Twenty of them are universal stuntmen with skills in at least 12 specialties, and ten specialists. There are one coordinator and three assistant coordinators. To become a member of SSA, it is necessary to complete the training organized by the Association through its professional department. All our members are multidisciplinary athletes, European and world championships medalists, sometimes even participants in medieval tournaments. The entrance exam is always in September and we would like to expand the membership to other cities in Serbia. The difference between the Association and the Agency is the same as between the football federation and a football club. The Agency recommends stuntmen to production companies and organizes trainings, while the Association is in charge of training new stuntmen, advancing skills of existing stunt teams, in the country and as well as abroad. Association also promotes and protects the stunt craft in Serbia, in addition to cooperating  with other national stunt associations and international organizations.

While working in pre-production on the third season of ‘Seal Team, Mike Massa paid us a compliment, stating ’that stunt in Serbia is the most beautiful combination of American detailed preparation and Russian daring stunt.

Can you describe to us from start to finish your stunt preparation process, from coming up with an idea to the final performance?

Like any other crew member, I start by reading the script, then I  talk to a director, and the production in order to agree upon  material and technical resources, and the budget. When our stunt plan is approved, we work on the choreography and equipment preparation in coordination with other departments that are necessary for the scene. We do our rehearsals in the stunt exercise hall and later on the set. Sometimes we even film the rehearsed stunt sequence with a proposed camera movement, which is followed by the  real performance with the necessary protection measures.

What was the most dangerous scene you’ve ever done?

Driving a Lada cabriolet at the 2014 World Competition in Russia with an explosive placed under my seat, which I was supposed to activate during the ride and blow myself up in the mid-air–which I did. The explosion threw me about three meters up in the air, burning As I landed and started to get up, I was still burning, nevertheless I quickly reached the extinguishing point. I walked away without a single scratch, but the sound of the explosion rang in my ears for three days. We won in all categories that year.

International Stunt Academy in Russia has honored you with the special academic title,  which put you in the company with the likes of Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal and Arnold Schwarzenegger. What does that title mean to a stuntman?

The honorary recognition and the title is the highest ranking position a stuntman can have, and it means that I am allowed to train or “produce” internationally recognized stunt coordinators. Prior to it, I trained stuntmen who worked in the positions of universal stuntmen. Furthermore, not only did the title enable me to become a member of the Russian Prometheus Academy, but it also helped me  raise my membership to the highest level in the Hollywood Stunt Academy, where I am one of the voting members for the Taurus Awards.

2020-05-20_093412_1 2020-05-20_093412_4 2020-05-20_093412_3

Did it change something in your carrier?

Immense benefits, as well as the opportunity to establish an internationally recognized stunt academy, as up until that point we have only had an internationally recognized stunt school. Thanks to it, all current and future students of the Serbian Stuntmen Association can acquire world-class skills.

You worked on the most successful Serbian productions, but on Hollywood and Bollywood films, too. Can you compare the work with colleagues from the US to stuntmen from Russia?

Work experiences are different. American colleagues prepare detailed and elaborate preparation of a stunt sequence, and do a risk-averse type of stunt. The Russians have basic preparation while performance is the so-called “hard” (or daring) stunt. Stuntmen from different countries come to Serbia and perform stunts, but unlike some of them we are regular participants in the world stunt competitions. Among SKA members there are a dozen medal winners. There are teams doing risk-averse stunts, despite not being  stuntmen. They shouldn’t be mixed up with professional stuntmen as global standards in stunt training and its safety measures are widely acknowledged among industry circles.

img_4652How did you organize your activities during COVID-19 pandemic?

After the outbreak, we replaced the film set with volunteer work in the municipal center for the assistance to vulnerable groups, working on the distribution of humanitarian aid. In general, the SKA team is known for being involved in various charity activities. In my professional career, I have never had more than four days off, and the situation hasn’t changed even in a time of pandemic. As many crews are out of work at the moment, we’ve also established a stunt fund in order to provide certain support and income to the members of our community. As measurements loosened by the end of April, we‘ve returned to training, and now we are ready to continue with previously halted projects.



The most wanted Serbian stuntman Slaviša Ivanović has done more than 150 international and domestic productions, working not only with the biggest names of Serbian film industry, but also the world...


We are launching Inside the Industry section to share experience and offer insight into the production development and chance to hear it from people who worked on biggest project filmed here, both foreign and domestic. To start the story, we chose to speak to professionals most relevant for locations in Serbia – scouts and production designers. The location department is still carving within production teams in Serbia as productions grow, so we chose two of our members Stefan Todorović, location manager and Nenad Ždero, production designer for joint interview. To jumpstart the conversation, we asked them the obvious question - what are their 5 favorite locations in Serbia.


Stefan: For this occasion, I choose locations which are attractive for filming, interesting and challenging for me in a certain way. Those are: Old Mountain (Stara planina) - since I prefer shooting in nature to city conditions, I always get thrilled with its landscapes and beauties of its nature - mountain tops, abandoned villages, lakes, waterfalls and forests. Speaking about villages, there is another location at Old Mountain I really love - the stone village of Gostuša, very cinematic place with unique architecture. Most of the houses have preserved the authentic look from a few decades ago, which can be quite interesting, especially for filming; Tara Mountain - its famous lookouts, stunning Perućac and Zaovine Lake, interesting roads and tunnels, meadows ...; New Belgrade "Blocks" - an authentic part of the city that offers dozens of possibilities but also eternal complications during filming, and Vratna Gates in Eastern Serbia.

Nenad: Scouting combines two things I love most - photography and being outdoor exploring hidden places and new locations. My choice for 5 best filming locations in Serbia are: Old Mountain (Stara planina), because its nature is so vivid, providing many different unpredictable experiences; Royal Complex (Stari i Beli dvor) – luxurious buildings in which each room tells new story from our history; Turkish Bath – oriental heritage, so exotic, surprisingly placed in Belgrade Downtown; Deliblato Sands – full of diverse landscapes and at the same time mystical; all abandoned factories – places always ready for new adaptations where I can let my creativity spread around.

Which project was your biggest challenge? Which location was hardest to adapt to your creative ideas?

Nenad: Certainly, most challenging for me was working on the Bollywood production Baaghi III, mostly due to the size of the project and its complexity. Ambitious goals were set at the beginning, as well as high expectations based on the previous major successes of the first two parts. Preparations were done remotely - Indian crew had already started filming there, while here, we were at the beginning of prepping in Pančevo. The biggest challenge for me as a production designer was the adaptation and transformation of the Pančevo Glass factory into a Syrian village with streets, squares, interiors on the 4000m2 lot. It took a lot of creative work and ideas to make it as an authentic place in Syria, but with the support of the local production company Clockwork Film Production, already experienced in working with Indian productions, and the incredible dedication and professionalism of the construction team Mega decor, everything was easier to accomplish.

Baaghi 3 turned out as another in a series of extremely successful Bollywood blockbusters shot in Serbia. You had quite a big playground there. What was the size of your team and tasks that you achieved for this project?

Nenad: That's right, Baaghi III has made tremendous success in India, and I am personally very proud of that, although it was hard to work on such a big project and co-ordinate different units and their tasks. My production design team was quite large, sometimes counting up to 70-80 people on set. During prep, three production design studios were working in parallel and succeeded to build Syrian village on a total area of 4000 m2 in just three months.

Stefan, how was it placing the new season of the Seal Team into Belgrade streets? Were Belgrade authorities ready to support production team in every aspect, and which requirement was hardest to supply?

The whole process was really interesting, considering that the requirements of the production were quite complex from the very beginning. We participated in the realization of four episodes and the fact that the first episode and the story is actually taking place in Belgrade, was supposed to "open" the third season, got as all very excited with a fair amount of pressure and organizational challenges. At first location scouting with production team, we heard so many ideas that sounded like nobody from the city government will ever let us bring them to the screen. The craziest among them was the idea to land a helicopter on Nikola Pašić Square in front of the National Assembly and shoot some sequences of chases and turning cars there, too. Indeed, Belgrade City authorities had so much understanding for what we wanted to achieve and during shooting provided us all necessary logistical support and coordination.

How many people were in the Location Department of the Seal Team crew?

Location department consisted of four people, but we had huge help from people who worked in other production departments.


Nenad, how would you describe Serbian production design and art department and why they are jewel in our crown? Is there something new in the department that world should know?

Serbian film industry, thanks to our glorious production history, as well as great success of local production companies working on foreign projects filmed in Serbia, is becoming recognized worldwide. I certainly think that apart from the VFX, our biggest asset is the production design sector. It is a sector with decades of knowledge and craftsmanship and experience on the domestic and international scene.

Are we ready for some big Hollywood project? What would you like to do next?

Nenad: We are well on our way to bringing some huge project to happen, thanks to our capabilities and capacities, but I feel we don’t have enough resources yet to bring out some Hollywood blockbuster. Maybe this is something I would love to do next, but before that I would very much enjoy taking part in some SF project.

Stefan: I think that our crews could handle serious Hollywood projects, considering the experience of a large number of domestic film workers. It is quite common situation for foreigners who come to film in Serbia for the first time to be surprised by the attitude towards work and professionalism of our teams. I guess it has something to do with the prejudices they have for many reasons, unrelated to our work. Speaking from the position of location manager, I would like to work on an action movie because of the challenges such projects offer.



We are launching Inside the Industry section to share experience and offer insight into the production development and chance to hear it from people who worked on biggest project filmed here, both for...


ana-ilicSenior Advisor to the Prime Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism says that thanks to the Incentive programme, production in Serbia increased 162% in 15 months!


How do you evaluate the results achieved after three years of introduction of incentive programs for film and audiovisual production? Your former role as film commissioner was the strongest voice for introduction of cash rebate for filmmaking.

As Film Commissioner, I began lobbying for Film Incentives in 2009 and since it was finally introduced in 2016, I’m delighted to report that the Serbia Film Incentive programme has proved more successful than even I could have hoped.  In just the first fifteen months, from April 2016 to June 2017, the total value of inbound production in all genres was € 23,1 million. The total amount of qualifying production Serbian expenditure (i.e. qualifying for the incentive) was € 18,9 million and the Serbian Incentive rebated RSD 467.509.098 (€ 3.8 million).

Feature film production alone increased over previous year total productions by 54%. Eleven TV commercials also qualified for the programme – and the Serbia Film Incentive remains one of the only programmes to include TVCs globally.

Importantly for government, our research showed that 61% of production expenditure in Serbia is spent with small business suppliers in the value chain. 39% was spent on direct labour (independent crew). The incentive program created 2254 project-based work opportunities, equivalent to 104 full time jobs.  The whole programme has offered such strong ROI, and has been so efficiently managed, that the rebate was increased to 25% for the 2019 year and the available budget doubled.

How closely do you collaborate with film industry now? What are usual demands that foreign film producers have for Serbian Government? What can they expect from you in the future? 

The Serbian film sector receives unprecedented levels of support from our Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who has been an enthusiastic champion of the Creative Sector, and has made the creative and digital industries, as well as education, her main policy focus. Therefore, I remain very much involved in the industry, and attuned to its needs. Having said that, the very success of the Serbia Film Commission means that most international enquiries are handled and dealt with before they ever come to me, but unusual locations remain a key request, since we have the experience and opportunity to facilitate access to some of the most important government owned properties in the country. Beyond immediate production requirements, there’s obviously growing demand for post-production services and also for film studios, and from the Prime Minister’s cabinet we continue to meet with investors and interested parties to find ways to attract investment in these areas. And we are constantly alert to opportunities to fine-tune the film incentive programme so that more films can spend more money in Serbia.

Are there any auxiliary legislation that you have put in place or plan to introduce in order to facilitate filmmaking environment?

From January 1st of this year, there is a so-called "IP Box” incentive, which is a lower taxation regime that applies to revenues from any intellectual property created in Serbia. The new tax regime covers not only patents but the works of authors such as movies, music, games, books etc. Tax on those revenues is just 3%, which is 80% lower than the regular 15% corporate income tax (CIT).  Any companies earning revenues in Serbia from feature film sales are therefore subject to an extremely low CIT regime, and the profits can be used for new projects. Additional recent changes to the CIT law provide a much better treatment of investments into culture and promotion which should incentivise the private sector to invest more in art, films and other creative endeavours through sponsorships and donations. 

The budget for film industry is constantly increasing together with the budget for incentive program. Do you expect higher demand in the near future? What are next steps and plans of this Government regarding investments and support to film industry?

Under this government, we have seen the total budget for film production increased 50 times from what it was six or seven years ago. This includes the fund for Serbian content production as well as the incentive program that’s applicable to both local and international productions. It is especially gratifying to see that the program also hugely benefits local content production. We’ve seen amazing expansion of Serbian film and TV series production in the past couple of years - not only because the government funds are significantly higher but also because production standards have grown and crews are more sophisticated. The ultimate goal really is to give Serbian film and TV industry much bigger visibility globally, to enhance international co-productions for Serbian stories and to enable our actors and filmmakers to be recognised and work around the world.

But in spite of our increased financial support, we’re not interested in competing in a race to the bottom with incentives; there will always be competing destinations willing to offer more. So instead of simply continuing to raise the percentage of rebate, or cutting the qualifying threshold, our main priority has been to ensure the ongoing improvement of the quality of the programme. By that I mean focusing on internal operational issues so that rebate applications are assessed and paid out swiftly, or by fine tuning the thresholds to target business where we as a country want it. 

Additionally, we’ve been keen to ensure that there are sufficient goods and services and depth of crew available in the country that film budgets can be spent on. We now need to train more people to work in film crews to cater to the demand. That’s why we supported the Serbia Film Commission and its Film Skills Academy which provided training for cameramen, production managers, film accounting, budgeting and planning in Movie Media Software, VFX producers and the like, resulting in more than 120 additional trained crew. 

We are also keen to support the development of post- production facilities and production studios since what is on the ground now is often occupied and there is definite need for more capacity. For these kinds of investments, the Government can provide a combination of incentives, depending on the potential investor’s concrete plan. 

The newly established platform “Serbia Creates” aims to globally represent Serbia as a country of innovations and creative people. How did you recognize film industry in that concept? Which segment of our film industry is now recognizable in the world?

We are aware that Serbia’s international reputation is unfortunately sometimes linked to events of the past. We realized that there needed to be a new narrative, a new way of talking about Serbia that recognised both the country’s cultural heritage and its ingenuity, innovativeness and creativity. Serbia Creates allows us to do that in a flexible, transparent and open way. And therefore Serbia Creates Film obviously sits comfortably alongside Music, Contemporary and Performing Arts, Technology, Gaming, Fashion, Design, Architecture and a whole range of other creative sectors, where Serbians themselves are doing great things and earning recognition all around the world. I believe we’ve succeeded in changing awareness of Serbia from just a little known destination to a viable, exciting creative partner for the production of films. And through our Serbia Creates Ambassadors programme we’ve also placed an additional spotlight on Serbian actors who’ve reached the very top of their fields, like Stefan Kapičić in Hollywood or Miloš Biković, who’s a superstar in Russia. We will continue to do that with a number of other filmmakers.

What is the position of film industry in Serbian creative industry? Can good example of incentive program in film industry affect or even apply somehow to other creative industries?

The film industry, and in particular the film incentive programme, is a shining example of good policy, implemented well. The results speak for themselves and the job creation and small business development all along the value chain provides concrete benefits for the Serbian economy and society. The two key organizations – the Serbia Film Centre and the Serbia Film Commission work very well together and with the supportive Ministry of Economy that provides the incentives, the President and Prime Minister personally, the industry is very well established and has great potential for further development.

But it’s also true that the lessons from the film sector are replicable in other creative industry subsectors. From an economic perspective, incentives can help remove some of the more contentious issues of funding, such as complaints of favouritism and nepotism, and they allow for a very simple relationship between funder and fundee: if you spend this, we will refund that. It allows partners to plan and cashflow better, and ensures that money is spent and documented ever before government refunds a cent. And while there is obviously a need for a cultural funding programme, the parts of the Creative Industries that don’t have a historic heritage value – gaming, VR and AR, or major events for instance – can be readily supported through such methods. We are constantly looking for models that will allow us to provide incentives to other subsectors.



Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism says that thanks to the Incentive programme, production in Serbia increased 162% in 15 months! How do you evaluate the result...

91 days at the Outpost 2 – interview with Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment

outpost-photo-credits-aleksandar-letic-for-balkanic-media-2Dean Devlin from Electric Entertainment explains how Serbia quickly became the obvious home for Season Two of The Outpost because they provided world class facilities at PFI Studios, low costs of production and most importantly a competitive rebate on production spend.

When was the first time you heard of Serbia as a possible filming location and what was your motivation to come here? What was the key factor in deciding to move “Outpost” from US to Serbia?

We relocated the show from the US for Season Two and had scouted a few other countries before deciding on Serbia. When we met with producer Jonathan English from Balkanic Media, who is based in Serbia we quickly saw the benefits of bringing the show there.

The entire season of 10 episodes was shot in Serbia, including the postproduction. What was your experience with Serbian crew and local companies so far?

All of Season Two has been shot in Serbia which comprises of 13 episodes in total. The majority of post-production took place here. We were working with a team of four editors, a post production supervisor and several assistant editors in Belgrade. In addition, the entire Editorial staff were all local Serbians. We were doing sound editing and visual effects with Fried Pictures in Belgrade, who were handling about half the entire VFX on the show. There were many more people on the crew who are Serbian as well. We’ve also hired two local directors to do four episodes plus another Hungarian director. We were truly impressed by the talent and experience of local people we met in Belgrade. There is an established film industry and people really know their craft there. We’ve ended up being a large production with about 150 people in the technical shooting unit plus cast and another 50 – 100 extras per day. The whole production was based at PFI Studios which is a great facility and also had a backlot available for us to build a large exterior set. We were based at the studios for approximately 8 months and also shooting on location in and around Belgrade. The production has been shot for just over 18 weeks, 91 days.

What is the biggest advantage of filming THE OUTPOST in Serbia? Has it influenced the creative process and looks of the new season in any way?

Shooting in Serbia had a tremendous impact on the production value and entire look of the show. We were thrilled with the results we have seen since early cuts of some episodes. In Serbia, we’ve been able to achieve a level of production scale and polish that made The Outpost look like a new show. Everything form the sets, costumes, props, cinematography, and lighting made the whole production look fantastic.

outpost-photo-credits-aleksandar-letic-for-balkanic-mediaDo you see area in which Serbia film industry can improve its performances or how local governments can support film industry more?

So far we were very satisfied with all the support we’ve received. The process of applying for the rebate was straightforward with all the companies involved from Balkanic, to Crow RS who was handling the rebate, to yourselves at the Commission and even support from the Prime Minister’s office has been instrumental in helping us to establish and run a very smooth production. Training continues to be a key area that we would like to help more with, as more and more projects come to Serbia, creating more skilled labor is key. With Balkanic we established a trainee program for the production and have in total about 25 trainees employed on the show across different departments. Otherwise the overall support has been extremely good.


91 days at the Outpost 2 – interview with Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment

Dean Devlin from Electric Entertainment explains how Serbia quickly became the obvious home for Season Two of The Outpost because they provided world class facilities at PFI Studios, low costs of pro...


You worked as a VFX Supervisor with Crater Studio on the project The Invisible Boy: Second Generation. What was your experience in working with Serbian VFX artists? How do you rate the creative and organizational cooperation with them?

I am going to say it was kind a flawless. I don`t find truly any difference between working with Serbian, US or UK artists... They are up to the level of any other studio in the world. It was really pleasant because they were delivering what I was asking in the timing I was asking. Could that be better? The communication was really fluid and easy, even when I was working from the distance and I never experienced that doing the production, it was really easy. Totally approved, I would like to work with the team again in the near future.

How do you see VFX industry in Serbia? Is it developed enough and what we can do better? What can be the biggest advantage of Serbian VFX artists and studios that could motivate international production companies to hire them?

I worked only with Crater, and since I went to CGA Conference I learned few things.Government should push towards making the national VFX industry to be known because it is a very good industry and you guys have clearly very good professionals. Maybe I`m naive with that, but instead of searching from companies to work outsourcing from them you should invest into searching of new directors, a new production companies which are maybe starting to create interesting projects, so you have to hunt projects.

You were a key note speaker at CGA Belgrade Conference 2018. What was your main impression of the event and community? Have you had a chance to meet with new interesting talents?

I wasn`t expecting that well organized festival since it`s the second year, but it was very well organized,with amazing speakers, so it was actually–unexpected. I saw an amazing group of young people very willing to learn and to get in touch with international panorama of visual effects so that is great. I think you have the talents and the interest, you just need to cultivate it. That`s obvious,let`s say, to grow the industry. This kind of events are really important to the community of VFX  industry because you`re going to put in touch people. Many guys there asked me about my work and pitches and I met plenty of talents. 

You gave talk on the most debated issue in the industry –“VFX in independent films: Low Budgets and Big Ideas”. Is there an easy way to it? Have you discovered some new recipe since November 2018?

There is never an easy way. If yes, everybody would do that, and thank God it`s not like that. It depends on project and director. You need to educate your directors when you are working on independent project. If you work with Steven Spielberg he will educate you.So the easiest way is to work with them from the early days. I think that independent films are really interesting as a market because they are going to constrain you to focus on the story since you don`t have money to spend on anything that is not useful for the story. I like that but there is no easy way to do that. VFX supervisors need to best storytellers, that is the main thing. In the end of the day everybody that is working on the film is a storyteller and we can`t limit ourselves to work on pixels.



You worked as a VFX Supervisor with Crater Studio on the project The Invisible Boy: Second Generation. What was your experience in working with Serbian VFX artists? How do you rate the creative and o...


With the introduction of no-visa regime for stays of up to 30 days, Serbia has become the new go-to destination for Indian filmmakers in Europe. But not just for that! Shiva Ananth, Bollywood film producer (Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Soorma...), explained us in this interview that locations, crews and good prices, are also playing key rolls for his colleagues while deciding to shoot in Serbia.


What was the key factor in deciding to film in Serbia? What is the biggest advantage of filming here?

In each of the three films we've shoot in Serbia we had special requirements. For one we needed to film in an airbase with active fighter jets. For another we needed to cast paraplegic athletics. We wanted untouched natural locations for the third. We could find them all in Serbia and the biggest advantage was all of it was affordable. We're not Hollywood you see. So the numbers matter a lot. And Serbia was perfect for our budgets without compromising on quality.

What was your favorite production department while making your film? Can you share some certain impression about working with Serbian crews and production company (Clockwork Film Production)?

Both the production and art teams from Clockwork were excellent. The locations, day to day planning, vehicle and food management, equipment rental... Everything was planned ahead and the plans were executed as promised.


How did you cooperate with Serbian production designers?

The art team always matched our expectations whether in terms of creating new sets or to match what we had already filmed in India. Over the course of the three films I've earned the trust and friendship of the Serbian crew which I'm am very proud of.

Did you have good cooperation with local companies and institutions?

Yes. Through Clockwork we had access to all local companies and institutions right up to the very top; including the army and various City councils.

What is your favorite location you filmed in Serbia and why?

Novi Sad. The city and the people are so lovely. I'll always remember Serbia and Serbians this way –warm, friendly, beautiful and accessible. Like Novi Sad.



With the introduction of no-visa regime for stays of up to 30 days, Serbia has become the new go-to destination for Indian filmmakers in Europe. But not just for that! Shiva Ananth, Bollywood film pro...


Location manager Georgette Turner visited Belgrade last year when she was tutor of SFC Training for Location Managers and Scouts. On this occasion she succeeded to explore Belgrade quite good, so we asked her to tell us which locations she loved most and which project would she place on the bustling streets and forgotten buildings of Serbian capital.


Can you share your impression while scouting in Serbia?

My scouting was very concentrated around the Belgrade area. What I didn’t expect to find just outside the city were the most incredible farms and factories set on hillside which were very cinematic. The undulating hills just outside the city would work very well for a movie with multi country locations. Belgrade itself could double for most European cities and there are also locations with American influence so there is a lot of variety here.

Any particular location that you would like to come back and shoot?

For the Brutalist and Art Deco locations were my favourite. A lot of our sites here in the UK have been developed so it was really satisfying so see such history.  The Guard House in Topčider were of particular interest to me. You could certainly see a big car chase or stunt sequence take place here. 

What are the two most important tasks that a site has to have to be a successful filming location?

It was really important to see the infrastructure in Belgrade. The crew being so accessible especially with Budapest being just a few hours away manning if you had a huge picture you could easily crew, the hotel facilities within the city are excellent so I was assured there would be enough local accommodation to put up crew, the studio being so close helps so that there is weather cover if needed and the lighting stores on site - knowing that plant is already there is good. 

What is your experience working with young location managers during Film Skills Academy? What are three personal or professional characteristics you appreciate the most?

The young location managers on the course were so talented and well rounded. I was so thrilled to have such a strong and intelligent bunch of young people. They really wanted to learn new skills but there understanding of all departments was impeccable. There was even a production manager on my course who wanted to understand more about location managing and techniques that are applied. Everyone turned up every day, no one was late and as a class they were so concentrated- I also learnt a lot from the experience. 

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Location manager Georgette Turner visited Belgrade last year when she was tutor of SFC Training for Location Managers and Scouts. On this occasion she succeeded to explore Belgrade quite good, so we...