Amazon Prime series Marisa Romanov will shoot in LA and the country of Georgia
Marisa Romanov starts production at the beginning of September and the shoot will span between two locations, basing itself between Tbilisi in Georgia and LA. The series has been developed out of an award-winning short film by the series’ writer, showrunner and executive producer Miranda Spigener-Sapon and will be produced by Noirtainment and SPT France for Amazon Prime Video.
Sat at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains and as at crossroads of a number of empires over the centuries, Tbilisi has an incredibly rich and varied style. From classical European and Asian influenced buildings through to brutalist soviet structures and modern architecture, the nation's capital offers filmmakers a versatile backdrop. Speigner-Sapon wanted to incorporate a sense of the city’s past in the series, because ‘some of the history of Tbilisi, the buildings really tell a story, especially the monasteries which we will be shooting a number of scenes in not far from Tbilisi’.
The Georgian setting is central to the plot and character development in the series. Spigener-Sapon elaborates that “originally the character was of Russian birth, but the story grew and then in 2008 when Russia invaded South Ossetia, I didn’t like how Georgia was treated so I incorporated a layer of that in my story”. The location adjustment was fortuitous as the production is one of the first American series to make use of the Georgian tax incentives which were introduced in 2016.
The production was keen to locate parts of the shoot in Georgia even before the incentives were introduced, and their interest in filming in the country spurred on the creation of the incentive. Spigener-Sapon reveals that “when we started the early development of the series, Georgia did not have any tax incentives. I had started talking to Gela Andrew Suli, a Georgian producer and businessman and he is now one of our key Executive Producers on the show and it was Gela who really lobbied with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in Georgia to get the tax incentives started and passed”. Having already managed the restructuring of the nationally owned Georgian-Film Studios, Suli was well positioned to advocate for the incentives which made Georgia the first former soviet republic outside of the Baltic area to introduce production incentives. Estonia announced a 30% cash rebate shortly after.
While Marisa Romanov is one of the first American productions to access the incentive, Indian film Gautamiputra Satakarni was the first film to use the Georgian incentive scheme in 2016, and two more Indian films have done so since. Film and Music Entertainment’s (IRE) upcoming feature film How to Sell a War also shot in Georgia this summer in co-production with Georgia’s 20 Steps Productions. Spigener-Sapon is confident that the national infrastructure will be able to support the production and notes that “I have a really strong, good team both here in Los Angeles and my Executive Producer’s team in Georgia and so far, things have been smooth. We may encounter some obstacles, but I have good faith in my team, so I think we will be prepared to tackle any challenges head on and with moxie”.
The Georgia Cash Rebate offers a 20-25% rebate on feature films and documentaries, TV films or series, commercials, music videos, short films and Reality TV. The base rebate of the incentive is 20% and productions that meet elements designed to promote Georgia as a destination will receive an additional 2-5% rebate. The minimum spend of a project varies between production types, from USD250,000 for feature films and TV series to USD150,000 for all other projects. GEL1,000,000 is automatically approved and projects requesting a higher rebate need special approval of the Government of Georgia.
Enterprise Georgia will be exhibiting at FOCUS the meeting place for international production in London on the 4th & 5th of December. Click here to register your interest in the event so you can find out more about filming in Georgia.
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