This post was submitted by David Kahrmann, USAID’s Development Outreach Communications officer in Belgrade, Serbia.

Film production putting Serbia on the map “For all the right reasons”

USAID Helps Serbia Go Hollywood

USAID Helps Serbia Go Hollywood

Serbia is back. After years of being off the beaten path, the rest of the world is waking up to the fact that Serbia is a pretty hip and trendy place, with Lonely Planet travel guides even recently dubbing its capital Belgrade one of the world’s “Ultimate Party Cities.”  But, few people are probably aware that as recently as the 1980s, Serbia was also one of the world’s leading filming locations.

USAID’s Competiveness Project is now working with production companies in film, TV, post-production and special effects to regain that status by promoting the advantages of Serbia as a film destination. USAID brought local stakeholders together to establish the Serbia Film Commission and helped it become a member of the International Association of Film Commissioners (AFCI). The Commission actively utilizes key industry trade shows, including the Cannes Producers Network and the American Film Location Market, to drum up interest in filming in Serbia.

Proof that these efforts are paying off could be seen in and around Belgrade this spring, with Ralph Fiennes bringing a cast including Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave to film his directorial debut, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

So far, these activities have led to more than $20 million in contracts being signed. With the internationally accepted standard multiplier for film production usually estimated at 2.5 or higher, even conservative estimates would already put total income for Serbia from USAID’s assistance in this sector at approximately $50 million. With USAID help, the Commission has also managed to attract several recent scouting tours that could lead to hundreds of millions in new productions in Serbia.  Through the Film Commission, the Project is also working with the Government of Serbia to take the important step of creating a film incentive program.

To watch a promotional show reel that was produced by USAID project staff and the Film Commission on the advantages of filming in Serbia, visit here and click on the thumbnail on the right side of the page.