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New Facility Firefly Studios Opens With Big Ambitions To Fill The Demand For More Soundstages In Serbia

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Six years ago, producer Ivana Mikovic was sitting with her production designer friend when the two discussed the lack of studio space in Serbia’s growing film and television sector. It was a year after the government had introduced its 25% – 30% cash rebate and Mikovic, a former BBC news producer, saw a gap in the market for such a studio facility. At the time there were only a handful of stages in the surrounding Belgrade area – including PFI Studios and Take 1 – but they consistently ran at capacity.

“We were joking about it at first,” says Mikovic, who runs Serbian production powerhouse Firefly Productions, the outfit behind hit Serbian series such as The Fall and Black Wedding, both of which were selected for Berlinale Series Market Selects in Berlin. “But then I went to a bank with the idea, and this dream of building Firefly Studios quickly became a reality.”

In October, the long-awaited Firefly Studios opened its doors to the industry with much fanfare. The complex, which sits in the town of Pancevo, just 11 miles east of Belgrade (and a 25-minute drive from the capital’s airport) comprises three state-of-the-art sound stages with more than a 50,000 square foot capacity, a water tank, 10 acres of backlot production offices, workshops, a restaurant and horse stables. Two soundstages sit at 21,500 square feet while a third sits at 8,600 square feet. 

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“We really feel the Balkan region needs something like this with the number of projects that are coming into the area and having this facility so close to our capital city will make it much easier to attract projects from studios and streamers and will really cement Serbia as a hub for production,” she says. 

Indeed, Serbia boasts a wealth of solid production crews, a solid rebate system (“it’s not uncommon for productions to get their money back as soon as they finish filming,” she says) and competitive pricing compared to more familiar European filming destinations such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, are bound to make global producers sit up and take notice.

Firefly Studios also provides production services supporting both international and local producers with a complete set of services for film, television and advertising. It’s got access to some of the best suppliers in the region and facilitates production management, accounting, location scouting, acquiring permits and world class construction services. The country is well-known for its high calibre craftsmen ranging from construction, cabinetmakers, carpenters, scaffolders, locksmiths, blacksmiths, plasterers and stuccoers, masons, upholsters, graphic artists, painters, calligraphers and patina artists.

At present, says Mikovic, the studio has been booked with productions just from word of mouth and has had requests from international productions looking to come in in March, June, and July 2024. “We’re currently pretty much booked until May of next year,” she says.

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For Mikovic, she’s particularly proud of the studios’ indoor water tank, something that she was keen to include due to what she considers to be a big lack of water tanks in the European market. Firefly’s water tank is 1,614 square feet and runs 11 feet deep. Having a water tank puts the studio in the mix with more established European production facilities such as the UK’s Pinewood Studios, Germany’s Studio Babelsberg and Malta Film Studios, all of which have water tanks.

“This is a huge asset for us,” says Mikovic. “We are planning to build an outside water tank at some stage that is bigger than the current one because we have an option of expanding the studios at some point should we need to. But for now we’re focusing on bringing in the right projects, whether they be single projects or long-term rentals.”

Source: Deadline

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