Filming on location in Poland with Location Manager Karolina Zielonka
Karolina moved to Warsaw after studying film production in Łódź and started her industry career about seven years ago. She has been a Location Manager from the start of her career but also has experience as a Production Manager in TV and features.
What can you tell me about the region that you cover?
Most of the time I’m based in central Poland, but I cover the whole country. Poland is one of the most interesting and varied country in Europe in terms of the different kinds of landscape, climate and architecture.
We have some of the most amazing wild natural environments, with sand beaches and dunes on the Baltic Sea that are great in the summer, amazing lakes in the Mazury area and untouched forests and rivers near Białowieża. We have different kinds of mountains like the high rocky Tatry, the wide-open Bieszczady and the ruins of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains. Poland is green in spring, red and gold in autumn and white in winter. You will find delightful little towns and villages where time seems to have stopped, and amazing cities like Warsaw, Cracow and Łódź where I come from.
The film industry is well organised and equipped. The main city is Warsaw where you will find the headquarters’ of the main companies, warehouses, film studios and post-production facilities. This is where most features, TV shows and commercial productions are filmed, but you’ll find the same modern infrastructure in Cracow in the south and in Wrocław in the south-west.
What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews?
There are more European historical films and TV series shooting in Poland. They choose Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw and other places near these cities. We also shoot in some of the more open museums and in the beautiful national parks.
What are the more unusual locations that our readers would not necessarily associate with the region?
I think that you would never believe that the mountains of Kashmir, the sands of Afghanistan and French-looking palaces could all be located in Poland.
What has been your most difficult location assignment to date?
The most difficult location assignment was to prepare shooting in the real sewers in the system of underground rivers for Agnieszka Holland’s Oscar-nominated feature In Darkness. We were filming in Łodz where the underground tunnels were surprisingly wild and spacious, but it took a lot of time and money to make them safe and to set up communications and an energy supply for all the personnel. We were the first real film crew filming there. In the finished film the sequence showing the big escape from the Jewish Ghetto are really amazing.
What types of production do you work on most?
I mostly work on feature films and TV, but of course I am open to commercial projects as well. Recently I finished shooting the BBC TV series Spies of Warsaw. This was directed by Coky Giedroyc, produced by Fresh Pictures Limited and starred David Tennant. It is a story that takes place in Warsaw in 1938/39 just before World War II started.
Are there any tips that you would like to share audience about filming in Poland?
The Polish people are very film-friendly, especially outside the big cities. Of course when you want to film in public places like streets and museums you need to have time to get all the necessary permissions – it usually takes two weeks. We are in the EU so we have the same regulations as every other member state.
You can expect heavy winters with temperatures falling as low as -20 Degrees Celsius, while hot summers like the July we just had can reach 30 Degrees Celsius.
Which are the best airports to use?
Warsaw is a main hub in Poland, but at the height of the tourist season – like in the July just gone - a second airport next to Warsaw in Modlin opens to accommodate the influx of cheap flights. There are also airports in most of the main cities with the regular domestic connections. As an EU state travelling with crew and equipment is very easy.
What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels and where is your favourite wrap party venue?
I would highly recommend a stay in one of the many palaces and castles that have been restored and turned into hotels. These are in different parts of the country, like the so-called Valley of Palaces and Gardens near Jelenia Góra in the south-west. As for the wrap party this year it would be great to have it on the bank of the Vistula River in Warsaw, either on the beach or one of the many popular bars.
There are usually set costs for Public Liability cover for film units and costs for insuring locations. Can you tell us about location insurance and possibly examples of costs in your region?
Signing the general film insurance contract is standard. It covers Public Liability both for film units and locations. You also have to sign a general insurance contract for crews.
What would you recommend crew and cast do to have fun and relax in your region?
In Warsaw there are many ‘must see’ sights. The Old Town was – believe it or not - built from scratch after World War II. The viewing terrace on the 30th floor of the Palace of Culture and Science looks like a Moscow skyscraper in Moscow. If you have a free weekend I recommend Cracow, Wieliczka, with the unique salt mine, Gdansk at the seaside or Mazury if you would like to sail, canoe or just be close to nature.
What do you do to relax after a full-on location shoot?
The first thing is to get some rest. I like going to the cinema and travelling.
Where did you last go on holiday?
This year I spent three days at the Baltic Sea with friends, but my last real holiday was six weeks in India. I love Asia and a long vacation without schedules and bookings!
To contact Karolina please click here.
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