Archive for May, 2009

TV Star Wars Filming NOw

Jango Fett - Attack of the Clones
20th Century Fox, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Lucas wants to film the live action series covering the “dark times” period of Star Wars lore between Episode 3 and Episode 4, in Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic. He hopes to get a tax break from the government there. The series is intended to elaborate on the rebellion against the Empire whose head is Palpatine, a Sith Lord, (the Jedi’s greatest enemy, an anti-Jedi), but supposedly will not feature either the emperor or Darth Vader. However, there is always the possibility the series will focus on Vader’s hunt for the remaining Jedi that survived the purge in Revenge of the Sith. In any case, the primary characters will not be Jedi but ordinary beings from the Star Wars universe whose roles are usually overshadowed by the pivotal Jedi characters in all of the six movies.

There will be appearances by Obi Wan Kenobi and at least one other Jedi – Quinlan Vos, who never made an appearance in any of the prequels, but is a well known character in Star Wars universe graphic novels. It is unknown if Ewan McGregor will be the one to don the beard and cloak again to reprise his role of Obi Wan from the Prequel movies, but it seems unlikely since he has not been contacted to play the part. Boba Fett will also be a recurring character and Daniel Logan who played the young Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones is being considered to play the adult Boba.

Lucas plans on writing the first season and will then hand it off to a worthy successor, at this time it is unclear who that will be. Not only will there be one Star Wars television show for fans to relish, but eventually there will be several with plots that connect all of them together and tell the story of the dark times mentioned by Obi Wan in the first Star Wars movie ever made, A New Hope.

Rumors abound about whether or not they have started casting calls since George Lucas said he wouldn’t start casting until the script had been written, and it is unclear whether principal filming will take place in Prague or Sydney. However, the series will debut in 2010, a year earlier than planned, so it is likely the script is done and the casting is underway.

Scouting for a location to film a lavish new “Star Wars” live-action television series, filmmaker George Lucas says the Czech Republic probably won’t get his business.

A few years ago, it might have, thanks to a well-established reputation as a low-cost, high-quality Central European film production haven. But now neighboring countries, particularly Hungary, are offering superior tax incentives along with workers of comparable quality.

[George Lucas]George Lucas

“As a producer, I will always go to the country that has the best crew coupled with the most tax incentives,” Mr. Lucas said in an interview conducted via email.

It’s a blow to the Czech Republic, as it scrambles to climb out of an economic downturn, that a domestic film industry that gave birth to “Amadeus” and “A Knight’s Tale” among other movies is being sidelined as Mr. Lucas and other film industry moguls who had worked there in the past opt for locations in other European countries.

The Czech Republic began losing film-industry business in 2004, when scrappy Hungary seized the moment to jump-start a film industry virtually from scratch by creating tax breaks to attract moviemakers; some other European countries, including France, which had previously focused on domestic movie-making, followed suit.

Czechs have been known for movie-making since film’s early days, and the country’s film schools have churned out a steady stream of highly skilled professionals, including Milos Forman, who won Academy Awards for best director of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus.”

By 2008, money spent by foreign film producers in the Czech Republic had fallen a stunning 85% to $40 million from $270 million in the peak year of 2003, according to financial consultancy EEIP. Back then, U.S. and U.K. producers channeled about 5% of their annual spending on English-language films and TV shows to the Czech film industry; this fell to barely 1% last year, according to the Czech Audiovisual Producer’s Association.

If 2008 was bad, this year looks dire.

“No major Hollywood or any other big international production has come here yet this year,” said Jasmina Torbati, a producer at Centralscope, a film company, based at the well-known Prague Barrandov film studios.

The rapid evolution of Hungary’s film industry is a lesson in shrewd tax and industrial planning: In 2004, when the local incentive plan was launched, foreign filmmakers spent $21 million in Hungary, compared with nothing a year earlier. By 2005, Hungary had caught up with the Czech Republic: Foreign producers spent $85 million in each country, according to an EEIP study commissioned by the Czech Ministry of Culture. It was in 2007 that Home Box Office Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc., chose to film the Tom Hanks-produced TV miniseries, “John Adams” in Hungary.

Last year, filmmakers spent about $250 million in Hungary, including about $150 million by foreign companies, according to the country’s Motion Picture Public Foundation. The government returned about $20 million in the form of rebates to foreign and domestic filmmakers alike.

Hungary recently upped the ante: Under new rules, the government now reimburses filmmakers for 25% of spending outside the country on a given movie. For example, spending on postproduction work carried out in London or Los Angeles on a film originally shot in Hungary can be offset. Hungary’s local incentive program originally centered only on cash rebates of 20% of all local expenditure by filmmakers.

“The legislation aims to enable the Hungarian film industry to succeed amid the rise in economic and cultural competition,” said Judit Bor Varadi, an official at Hungary’s Ministry of Culture and Education. “It’s an appropriate answer to the challenges Hungary faces because of its geography and language constraints, and small audiovisual market.”

The incentive program has helped to lure such productions to the country as Miramax’s “The Debt,” with Helen Mirren, Universal’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and Atlas Entertainment’s “Season of the Witch,” with Nicolas Cage.

“The dynamics have changed: productions used to look at Prague first and then at Hungary; now they look at Hungary first and then at Prague,” said Howard Ellis, owner and managing director of Budapest-based Mid Atlantic Films, which served as a local production partner for HBO on “John Adams.”

Over the years, spending by foreign filmmakers — measured on a per-production basis — at Mid Atlantic “ranged between as little as $8 million and as high as $30 million,” Mr. Ellis said. “And I can say that all our clients, ever since 2005, have received the full 20% of the value spent.”

Czech Star Wars TV Show

“Lucas denied previous reports that he had decided to film the Star Wars TV series in Australia. He said if he brought the production to the Czech Republic, it would last four to seven years, creating up to 700 jobs.
“[Czech] politicians should remember that it’s not just film productions they’re losing: We also pay for hotels, locations, cars and other services. As much as 70 percent of the budget stays in the country where we shoot,” Lucas said.”
Now what I hope is that there are some politicians in the Czech Republic that are being jerks and Lucas is playing hard ball with them. Not that I care where they make it. It’s that I have some Star Wars friends in Australia and none in Czech Republic.
Found at TFN