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Russia

Russia Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Russia? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Russia? See below for an introduction to Russia locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Russia Film Locations

Russia is rich in history and massive in scale. Spanning 10 time zones, it is by far the world’s largest country. Russia offers a wealth of locations ranging from unique imperial splendour to vast frozen wilderness, from Soviet Era apartment blocks to shiny modern architecture. Russia is divided into the following regions:

Central Russia. Located in Central Western Russia, this region includes Moscow which is both the capital and main production centre. Locations of interest include Red Square (with views of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin Mausoleum, State Historical Museum and GUM), Lubyanka ex KGB headquarters, Bolshoi Theatre, Hotel Ukraina, Bunker-42, State Darwin Museum, royal estate of Kolomenskoye, Soviet era metro stations, Red Gates skyscraper, and Moscow State University.

Outside of Moscow you can find Star City cosmonaut training centre, Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, abandoned Soviet-era futuristic Tesla lightning factory, Izmailovo Kremlin, Abandoned Marx Generator, Muromtzevo Castle, Kalyazin Bell Tower. The Trans-Siberian Railroad starts in Moscow and ends in the eastern city of Vladivostok. The journey covers The 9,258km (6,152 miles) and takes seven days. Kursk is the scene of the largest WW2 tank battle. Of note also are the ancient towns of Suzdal and Vladimir.

Russian South. The Caucus region is located in southwest Russia. The area includes several semi-autonomous regions including such as Chechnya, Dagestan, and Tatarstan. Locations of note include the Caspian Sea, City of the Dead in Dargavs North Ossetia, and Mount Elbrus which is one of the Seven Summits. Sochi hosted the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Sochi National Park is also home to the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The Crimean Peninsula (beaches that double for the South of France, unique palaces, Koyashskoye salt lake, and the abandoned underground nuclear submarine base of Balaklava). Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) was the scene of the famous battle that changed the course of WW2.

North West Russia. St Petersburg is the old imperial capital. Locations of interest include the Winter Palace and State Hermitage Museum, Peterhof Palace, Catherine Palace and Amber Room, Church of the Savior on Blood, Mariinsky Theatre, Peter and Paul Fortress, Mikhailovskiy Castle, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, Rasputin Museum at Yusupov Palace, Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology, Fort Zverev ruins, Fort Alexander, as well as St Petersburg’s many canals and waterways.

The region is also home to Solovki former monastery and gulag, Spaso-Kamenny Monastery, the Manpupuner Rock Formations, Church of Andrew the Apostle, Kizhi Island (see Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior), Murmansk, Novgorod, Dancing Forest in Kaliningrad, and the Arctic Circle. Novaya Zemlya is where the Soviets tested Tsar Bomba (the largest nuclear bomb in history).

Russian Far East is the largest region. Vladivostok and Khabarovsk are the major cities. Locations of note include the Kamchatka Peninsula, Kuthiny Baty, Aniva Rock Lighthouse in Sakhalin Island, Diomede Islands, Kondyor Massif, and Lena Stone Pillars. Yakutsk is the coldest city in the world.

Siberia. Known for its extremely cold winters. Lake Baikal is considered to be the deepest lake in the world. Locations of note include the Siberian ghost town of Kadykchan, Tunguska Event Epicenter, Chara Sands, Sayan Mountains, Irkutsk, Mirny Diamond Mine, Altai Mountains, Mushroom Stones of the Altai. Oymyakon is the coldest inhabited place on earth. They city of Norilsk offers bleak industrial film locations.

Urals. Ural Mountains. Magnitogorsk. Yekaterinburg where the Romanov family were killed. Yekaterinburg is home to an interesting gangster cemetery.

Volga. Kazan Kremlin, Kazan Temple of All Religions, Qolşärif Mosque, Suyumbike Tower, Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, Perm-36 labour camp museum, Kungur Ice Cave, Belaya Gora Monastery, and Raifa Monastery.

Russia’s agricultural looks of interest include wheat, barley and rye fields.

Russia has hosted films such as The Bourne Supremacy, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Russia Film Location Permits

You generally don’t need permits for b-roll in and around major cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg unless you are going into parks, palaces, museums, and other government buildings. For larger projects that require shutting down busy city streets or filming in popular public areas, particularly in the business centres of Moscow and St Petersburg, permits are much more difficult and expensive to obtain. Russian authorities are not especially film friendly. Permits to film more sensitive locations or subject matters may not be granted at all. Even if you have permits, our Russian fixer / service producer will often need to allocate additional funds to ensure the project runs smoothly. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Given the size of Russia, the climate varies considerably depending on the region and time of year. Much of Russia only has two seasons, a hot summer (peaking in July) and a harsh, very cold winter (with lows in January). For monthly weather statistics please see here.

The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated in January. Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Russia.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Filming in Russia is quite expensive even when compared to more established service centres in Europe and North America. Moscow, much like New York, is a major business centre and as a result the factors of production are very expensive. Filming outside of Moscow or St Petersburg can add significant travel costs. Our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget. In most cases, it is not advised to film in Russia unless the project absolutely requires it. The Bulgarian capital Sofia is often used to reproduce Moscow suburbs looks at a fraction of the cost.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or feature films shooting in Russia.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Russia has a small but good pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Local crews are non-union. Russia has a good depth of experienced key crew. Some crews speak fluent English.

Contact us if you are looking for a Moscow or St Petersburg based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Russia.

Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable. Russia is home to as many as 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. Talent looks offered consist mainly of people from former Soviet states with the largest groups being the ethnic Russians, Tartars, Ukrainians and Bashkirs. All other international looks need to be brought in from abroad.

Russia Film Equipment

Russia has a range of standard and specialized camera, grip and lighting equipment available locally. For productions looking to bring in film equipment Russia is an ATA carnet country. 

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is of a high standard.

Studios and Backlots. Russia has several studio facilities including Gorky Film Studios which were founded in 1915.

Post Production. Russia has all the standard facilities.

Visas & Work Permits

Entry is subject to regulations from country of origin. Western passport holders who apply to enter as tourists require an invitation letter from a local production company. Allow at least 10 workdays for processing visa applications. Russia also has many closed cities which require special authorisation. Contact your local Russian embassy or representative for more information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Main roads are up to international standard. Rural roads are slower going with many becoming impassable during heavy winter snowfalls. Moscow experiences very congested traffic. If you’re looking to film outside of Moscow or St Petersburg the distances are vast and best reached by air. There are over 100 regional airlines in Russia. Travelling Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway is a popular way of filming the country. Many international airlines service flights to Russia.

Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Moscow and St Petersburg. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments. Hotels of note include:

Rossi Boutique Hotel & SPA

For productions looking to film in remote locations our Russian fixer / producer also organises stays with local communities.

Final Notes

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Bolshoi ballet. Vodka. Solyanka. Russian baths.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Russia, please see below:

Hire Russia Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Russia, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Russia, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.