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Expert Location Managers on Why Poland is a Dream Destination for Productions


LBB speaks with OTO Film’s expert location managers about why Poland is such a versatile location for productions of all sizes, and share the helpful tips for those heading there soon

Expert Location Managers on Why Poland is a Dream Destination for Productions

Photo credit: Hashtagalek (Aleksander Malachowski)

In recent years Poland has become one of the go-to destinations for productions for those in the know. OTO Film, the globally minded and Poland-based production partner that opened its doors in 1992, knows this all too well and has helped some of the world's biggest brands create memorable ads in Poland’s premiere locations.

From dreamy castles, unspoilt nature, tropical-looking beaches and snow-covered mountains to sleek cityscapes and Brutalist architectural wonders, Poland has it all. Coupled with experienced and highly trained professional crews, the country can help creative ideas - big and small - come to life.

All the photos in this feature have been captured by photographer Aleksander Malachowski, known under the pseudonym Hashtagalek, who showcases Poland’s beauty in his minimalist and unconventional images that often channel Wes Anderson’s aesthetic. An architecture photographer from Warsaw, he says he seeks the “intersection between photography and the organised, physical world by means of geometry and symmetry shaped in a minimalist kind of way.”

“Recently, I mainly love two types of locations: the city contrasts - places where two worlds, the old and the new, meet, and which provoke reflection, and second one, colourful buildings full of symmetry. I would like to believe that my photos encourage people from outside Poland to visit our country and that they show how unusual places are hidden there. Moreover, I often encounter reactions from followers that my photos have changed their point of view on their surroundings, cities, architecture. I love that!” Aleksander adds.

Below, LBB asked OTO Film’s top production managers - Patryk Byc, Kamila Trzaskowska, Agnieszka Wende, Pawel Chrzastek, and Kinga Oktabska - about Poland’s expansive production potential, favourite secret spots more people need to know about, and a few key tips everyone should keep in mind before they decide to shoot there.

Photo credit: Hashtagalek (Aleksander Malachowski)

LBB> What drew you to becoming a location manager? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do or did you fall into this career by chance? 

Patryk> Twist of fate. There was a rock festival in Poland where I worked as a volunteer. There I met my boss who offered me a job as a scout three days a week. After half a year she sent me to a meeting telling me to go take notes and look for solutions to everything I hear - "I don't have time,” was her reason. This is how I made my first project, over 13 years ago.

Kamila> Our team of four at Locollective share passion for storytelling, architecture, nature, logistics, and photography. This led us to a career we didn't initially anticipate - location management. Our experience in production houses ignited a thrill in discovering perfect backdrops for narratives, a thrill that still drives us. Each unique perspective within our team accelerates our ability to find exceptional locations, enhancing the vision of each project.

Agnieszka> During my vacation between my third and fourth year of law school, I met a film crew by the seaside and became inspired by the work of a production manager. After a year, I decided to get involved in my first film production with director Filip Bajon. Since then, I have been working as a location manager. Combining the role of a manager with working closely with the art directors brings me great satisfaction. 

Pawel> My business partner Michal and myself used to work as location scouts and our careers naturally evolved from there.  We met each other working on the same project and decided to set up a company together.

Kinga> I always wanted to work in film production however, originally, I was trained to be a production manager. Soon, though, I realised that being in a production office for many long hours was not a place for me. I always like to be in motion. Moreover, I missed the creative side of filmmaking and being a location scout gave me that since it is always about close cooperation with the director and production designer. 

LBB> Tell us about the shooting potential in Poland. What makes it a great place to shoot? What variety do you have in types of location and climate?

Kamila> Poland offers a vast variety of shooting locations from the modern aesthetics of cities to rustic countryside, historic castles, serene lakes, dense forests, and snowy mountains. Our diverse climate adds further variety, presenting different aesthetics throughout the year. The rich history and cultural heritage of Poland make it a versatile choice for any project.

Photo credit: Hashtagalek (Aleksander Malachowski)

Pawel> We think that Poland has a huge shooting potential. We have very experienced and talented film crews and a vast choice of locations. Warsaw has doubled for NYC, Paris, Berlin, Milan, etc. hundreds of times. We have 600 kms of the coast of the Baltic Sea, thousands of lakes in Masuria, meadows, magic forests, plus beautiful and diverse mountains in the South make that country really a place worth visiting. 

Kinga> Poland has it all: mountains, seaside, lake districts, plus all the seasons. 

Agnieszka> Poland offers great shooting potential for filmmakers. It is a wonderful place to shoot due to its diverse locations and climates. The country boasts picturesque cities, historic centres, charming villages, beautiful mountain landscapes, and coastal beaches. Additionally, the country offers a range of climates, from coastal to continental and mountainous, allowing filmmakers to capture different seasonal settings. Overall, Poland's variety of locations and climates make it an attractive destination for shooting films and ads. 

Photo credit: Hashtagalek (Aleksander Malachowski)

LBB> What are some of the challenges that come with shooting in Poland? What advice do you have to work around these challenges?

Kamila> While challenges include unpredictable weather and language barriers, we mitigate these issues by adapting to the conditions and enlisting the help of local crews. Additionally, while Poland's bureaucracy has improved over the years, obtaining permits and dealing with paperwork can be time-consuming. However, engaging a well-connected local location manager can certainly make this process smoother.

Agnieszka> Bureaucracy and formalities: Polish administrative procedures can be time-consuming and complex. It is important to plan ahead and consult with local authorities to obtain the necessary permits and authorisations.

Pawel> As everywhere, sometimes proceeding with the permits can be hard but if you engage proper, experienced people it won’t be problematic! I think the biggest challenge is the red tape, for example shooting in Warsaw comes with a long period for processing permits. Other cities in Poland give much more opportunity to get permits quickly. 

LBB> What’s your personal favourite less well-known location to shoot in Poland?

Patryk> The PKiN: Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, known to everyone while  different and revealing a new face each time.

Kamila> Our personal favourite lesser-known location in Poland is the Podlasie region. It's an underrated gem, raw and unspoilt, showcasing beautiful examples of traditional wooden architecture. The untouched beauty of Podlasie, coupled with its authenticity, offers a unique backdrop for all kinds of narratives.

Agnieszka> In my opinion it’s the Mazury region with its stunning lakes, rivers and forests. These hidden gems can provide a fresh and distinctive backdrop for film and advertisements productions. 

Pawel> Lower Silesia and is a region where you can find literally hundreds of beautiful palaces located in breathtaking mountainous sceneries. That’s the place where some scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia were shot, but in our opinion this area is still not yet discovered. 

Kinga> My favourite hidden gem is the whole area south in Wrocław with fantastic derelict palaces and old mansions. Nature there is also fantastic and magical. Take for example the Stołowe mountains (in English ‘Table Mountains’), the name comes from the flat tips and strange shapes. This location can be seen in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  

Photo credit: Hashtagalek (Aleksander Malachowski); left: PKiN: Palace of Culture and Science, in Warsaw

LBB> As an outsider, what would you say are the biggest dos and don’ts in the region? For example: religious sites, language, attire to be worn, how to speak to the locals etc.

Kamila> Always seek necessary permissions and respect public and private spaces during shoots to maintain professionalism and you’ll be fine. Polish people, especially in the rural areas, are incredibly hospitable, so openness towards smaller cities can lead to rewarding interactions and experiences.

Agnieszka> When planning to shoot outside Warsaw, it's important to consider that people may not be accustomed to film crews. You should allocate time to explain the process to authorities and location owners. It's unrealistic to expect that people will have any prior knowledge of how a film production operates or what to expect from a film crew.

Kinga> Don’t film controversial scenes in a church - haha! Poland is still very conservative when it comes to religion. 

Pawel> Well, Polish people are very open, hospitable, and easy to cooperate with. Just remember to eat something before you try our famous vodka..!

See more work by Aleksander Malachowski , Hashtagalek, at 
view more - Location Spotlight
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OTO Film, Tue, 25 Jul 2023 13:44:54 GMT