Sofia Echo

Bulgaria abroad


Author: Rene Beekman Date: Tue, Dec 04 2007 2318 Views
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The construction site was about eight km south of central Sofia, but the facades of the new structures would fit in easily in SoHo, Chinatown and Little Italy. Two cars carrying the New York City Police Department logo were parked on the street and copies of several New York publications cluttered the windows of a street corner newsstand.

"We're creating a new New York," David Varod, chairperson of Nu Boyana Film Studios, was quoted as saying by the New York Sun newspaper.

Nu Boyana Film Studios was building a film set, designed to mimic the architectural style and layout of New York's Lower Manhattan neighbourhoods. When the set would be ready in April 2008, movie makers whose scripts were set in New York City would be able to shoot their films in Bulgaria for a fraction of the cost, the New York Sun said.

Shooting in Sofia would cost of fifth of what it costs to shoot on location in Manhattan, Varod said.
His goal was to shoot 10 American feature films at Nu Boyana's New York set in 2008.

"It's impossible to truly fake New York City," Katherine Oliver, commissioner of New York's mayor's office of film, theatre and broadcasting, said.

New York City provided film makers with free permits, locations and police assistance, Oliver said. In 2004, New York City initiated a Made in NY initiative that would offer 15 per cent tax credits to productions that would complete at least 75 per cent of their stage work within New York.

Even with tax credits and discounts, location shooting in New York would be more expensive than the Bulgarian back lot, the New York Sun said.

New York's film office counted 34 718 location shooting days in 2006, up 49 per cent compared to 2004. While New York's film and television industry generated 100 000 jobs, Boyana employs 700.

The New York back lot was the studio's most ambitious project to date, the New York Sun said. Though it did have some drawback. Buildings would be no taller than about 20 meters, so movie makers would have to use computer animation so simulate skyscrapers.

Also, the back lot would not include landmark buildings, but archetypal rather than iconic buildings.

"The light in Sofia is different than New York City light," Kenneth Dancyger, who teaches at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts was quoted by the New York Sun as saying. "Sofia could work in a coarse sense as a stand-in," according to Dancyger.

Varod said the Boyana site was well suited for complicated action scenes, but "I still believe that you should do a one-camera shoot for one or two days in New York to open up the movie and get some wide shots," the New York Sun quoted him as saying.

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