Bulgaria Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Bulgaria? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in Bulgaria
For an introduction to shooting in Bulgaria see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
Bulgaria Film Locations
Bulgaria offers a wealth of unique looks as well as a depth of locations that easily double for other places. The country is known for its lush green forests, rugged mountains, pristine sandy beaches, caves, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, Soviet-era architecture, Orthodox monasteries, and Roman ruins. The Central Balkan National Park passes through the centre of the country.
Agricultural film locations include wheat, corn, barley, sunflower, and lavender fields, as well as apple orchards and vineyards. Bulgaria mines coal, copper, gold, and lignite. Factories produce iron, steel, machinery, and apparel. Energy locations include nuclear power plants, thermal power stations, hydroelectric dams, and wind power plants.
Bulgaria’s forests, rivers and valleys have doubled for Northern California. Its rugged mountains can film for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Swiss Alps, or Scottish Highlands. The coastline resembles the French Riviera. Bulgaria doubled for Afghanistan in The Outpost (2020).
Its well developed studio backlot infrastructure makes Bulgaria an ideal and inexpensive alternative to filming in London, New York, Rome, or the Middle East.
Bulgaria has hosted international productions including Ghosts of War (2020), The Outpost (2020), Rambo: Last Blood (2019), Hellboy (2019), Kung Fury 2 (2019) 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), The Expendables 3 (2014), The Expendables 2: Back for War (2012), Conan the Barbarian (2011), The Way Back (2010), and Rome (2005-2007).
Film locations can be divided into the following regions:
This southwestern region includes the provinces of Sofia City, Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Pernik, and Kyustendil.
Sofia is the capital, the largest city, and Bulgaria’s main film production centre. The city’s architecture has influences of Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Turkish styles. Urban areas of Sofia have doubled for Moscow. Film locations of note include the National Palace of Culture, National Historical Museum, Earth and Man National Museum, Ivan Vazov National Theatre, and Central Mineral Baths. Religious locations include the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Boyana Church, Saint Sofia Church, The Synagogue, and Banya Bashi Mosque. Vertigo Business Tower featured in The Expendables 3 (2014). Military Academy Hospital is a Soviet-Era structure that featured in The Expendables 3 (2014).
Vrana Palace doubled for France in Ghosts of War (2020).
Bebresh Viaduct featured in The Expendables 3 (2014).
Ognyanovo Reservoir featured in The Expendables 2: Back for War (2012).
Koprivshtitsa is a historic mountain town home to Lutova’s House Museum.
The Seven Rila Lakes are a spectacular film location in Rila National Park.
Pirin National Park is known for its glacial lakes.
Orthodox monasteries of note include Rila Monastery, and Rozhen Monastery.
Ski resorts in this region include Borovets, and Bansko.
This northwestern region includes the provinces of Vidin, Montana, Vratsa, Pleven, and Lovech.
Belogradchik Fortress could easily be a Game of Thrones film location.
Baba Vida is a medieval fortress in Vidin.
Troyan Monastery, and Glozhene Monastery are located in this region.
The Magura Cave is known for its prehistoric wall paintings. Devetashka cave, Prohodna cave, and Saeva dupka cave are other interesting cave locations.
Prohodna Cave features in The Way Back (2010).
Chiprovtsi waterfall is a beautiful location.
Saint George the Conqueror Chapel Mausoleum is located in Pleven.
The town of Lovech is known for its covered bridge.
Krushuna waterfalls are a beautiful location.
Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant is located in this region.
This northern central region includes the provinces of Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Ruse, Razgrad, and Silistra.
Rusenski Lom Nature Park is a protected area known for its caves and rock-hewn churches.
The town of Veliko Tarnovo is known for Tsarevets Fortress, Trapezitsa Fortress, and Transfiguration Monastery.
Dryanovo Monastery is located near the town of Dryanovo.
Hotnishki waterfall and Hristovski waterfall are located in this region.
Ibrahim Pasha Mosque is located in Razgrad.
This northeastern region includes the provinces of Varna, Dobrich, Shumen, and Targovishte.
The Black Sea’s gold sand beaches, rugged coastal looks and resorts resemble parts of the Mediterranean coast.
Varna is a Black Sea resort town known for Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral, Sea Garden, Archaeological Museum of Varna, Euxinograd Palace, Roman Thermae archaeological site, Monument of the Bulgarian-Soviet, and Varna shipping container port. Varna doubled as the port of Mogadishu in The Expendables 3 (2014).
Beaches of note include Varna beach, Nirvana beach, Albena beach, Asparuhovo beach, and Rusalka Beach.
Balchik is a picturesque coastal village.
Cape Kaliakra is a rugged coastal location.
Shabla lighthouse is an interesting film location.
The city of Shumen is known for the Founders of the Bulgarian State Monument, Tombul Mosque, and Shumen fortress archaeological site.
This southeastern region includes the provinces of Burgas, Sliven, Yambol, and Stara Zagora.
Burgas is a Black Sea city known for Saint Anastasia Island, the Sea Garden, Lake Burgas, Lake Atanasovsko, Lake Pomorie, and the Burgas saltworks.
Sunny Beach is a popular tourist resort and film destination.
Picturesque coastal villages of note include Nessebar, and Sozopol.
Thracian Tumulus is an ancient burial mound located near Shipka.
The Castle of Ravadinovo is a fairytale location.
Strandzha Nature Park and Ropotamo Nature Reserve are located in this region.
Silistar Beach and Veleka Beach are beautiful white sand beaches.
Dokuzak waterfall is a pretty film location.
Shipka Pass is a scenic mountain pass through the Balkan Mountains. Atop one of its peaks you can find the Soviet-era Buzludzha Monument.
Shipka Memorial Church is an impressive Orthodox location.
The Monument to Freedom is located on Stoletov peak.
The Kazanlâk’s Valley blooms with roses in May / June.
Zheravna is a restored traditional village with wooden cottages and cobblestone streets.
This southern cental region includes the provinces of Plovdiv, Haskovo, Pazardzhik, Smolyan and Kardzhali.
Plovdiv is an ancient city known for the Roman Stadium, Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, Dzhumaya Mosque, Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum, Tsar Simeon’s Garden, Chifte Ottoman baths, and Hisar Kapia medieval gate. Plovdiv Airport featured in The Expendables 2: Back for War (2012).
Trigrad Gorge is a spectacular location to film a car commercial.
Bachkovo Monastery is a beautiful location.
Asen’s Fortress is a medieval mountaintop fortress.
Pamporovo ski resort is located in this region.
Raiskoto Praskalo is Bulgaria’s largest waterfall.
Mustafa Pasha Bridge is an Ottoman-era bridge.
Dyavolski Most is a stone arch bridge.
Bulgaria Film Location Permits
Bulgaria has a very film friendly permitting process with public locations requiring usually no more than two to three days to permit. Please contact us for location specific information.
When To Shoot?
Bulgaria has a four-season climate. Winter (December to March) is cold with snow on the mountains. Spring (April to May) sees green fields and flowers in bloom. Summer (June to September) is hot and sunny. Fall (October to November) sees leaves changing colour. April to October are the best months to film for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
• Kukeri, a Pagan festival held on January 1st in the town of Razlog.
• Epiphany Day on January 6th sees men performing the traditional Bulgarian “horo” dance in the icy waters of the Tundzha River.
• Fire Dancing Festival in Bulgari held in February.
• Festival Of Roses in Kazanlak held in June.
Bulgaria is a predominately Orthodox Christian country, so those holidays are observed.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Bulgaria.
Unique Local Stories
Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.
If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.
If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.
Costs & Tax Incentives
Costs. Bulgaria continues to attract visiting productions with one of the best per shoot day costs in Europe. Local costs are low and the exchange rate is favorable for most major currencies. Many visiting US and European productions have shot in Bulgaria for as little as a third of the cost of doing it at home. See here for the current VAT rate. Our Bulgarian fixer / service producer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Bulgaria.
Film Crew & Talent
Crews. Bulgaria has a small pool of locally based directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Local crews are non-union. Bulgaria has a small pool of internationally experienced key and supporting crews. Its close proximity to major European production centres allows easy access to those crews should you ever need to look further.
Contact us if you are looking for a Sofia 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 Bulgaria.
Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable.
Bulgarian is the official language.
Bulgaria offers mainly ethnic Bulgarian looks with some Turkish and Russian looks available too. Bulgaria also has a sizable Roma population. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.
Bulgaria Film Equipment
Equipment. There are a couple of companies offering state of the art camera, lighting and grip equipment. More specialised equipment such Technocranes or camera mounts need to be brought in from larger European film production centres. For productions looking to bring in film equipment Bulgaria is an ATA carnet country.
Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Bulgaria is well set up to service international productions.
UFO studios has 4 large studios as well as a number of backlot standing sets.
The Nu Boyana Film Studios has 13 sound stages, a heated underwater stage, post production facilities, and several standing sets in the backlot. Nu Boyana has hosted many visiting productions including Rambo: Last Blood (2019), Hellboy (2019), Kung Fury 2 (2019) 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), The Expendables 3 (2014), The Expendables 2: Back for War (2012), Conan the Barbarian (2011), The Way Back (2010), and Rome (2005–2007). Standing sets include:
• London. A London city street that can be used to recreate working class East London or luxurious West London. The set has two bars, an art gallery, more than a dozen office entries, several luxury stores, operational traffic lights and a subway entrance. The set also has a 1:1 replica replica of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral including a statue of Queen Anne.
• New York City. A New York City Street that can easily double for Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, or Brooklyn. Some interiors can be transformed into galleries, pubs, restaurants, cafés, and shops. The set also comes with a fully operational traffic light and subway entrance.
• Ancient Rome. One of the world’s largest Roman sets complete with 2 colosseums, one of which can seat 5000 extras. The set includes a Roman street, open Thermae with fountains, central city square, garden, baths, villas, temples, narrow streets and alleys, open market, and training quarters.
• Ancient Village. Located in a forest, next to a river the building exteriors can easily be adapted to become a Middle Ages, Roman, or Greek period village.
• Middle East. An easily adaptable Middle Eastern street with rows of buildings complete with arches, authentic ornaments and some interior sets.
• American Villas. Two beautiful American villas, complete with wall shingles, sit on opposite sides of a little alley. Both have accessible and easily convertible interiors and the set includes a delightful gazebo and green area.
• Forest. A deep forest at the foot of a mountain including a Gulag Camp.
Visas & Work Permits
Although Bulgaria is not a Schengen Area country, its visa policy is based on Schengen requirements. Visiting crews travelling on Western passports can enter Bulgaria visa-free for stays of up to 90 days and work permits are not required.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation Infrastructure. Roads are up to international standards. Several international and budget airlines service direct flights to Bulgaria.
Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Sofia. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments. Hotels of note include:
Safety. See here for up to date travel advice.
Down Time. Try some local dishes such as Banitsa, Tarator, Meshana Skara and Sarmi.
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 Bulgaria, please see below:
Hire Bulgaria Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Bulgaria, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Bulgaria, 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.