You come home after a long day at work, you jump into bed and want to watch any entertaining movie. Then, while falling asleep, you see Ethan Hawke racing a pimped up Ford Mustang through your hometown. That is when you know Nu Boyana Film Studios are involved. Or, when you walk through the park next to Sofia University, and you see Swedish police cars chasing some hot shot, they are part of this too. When Morgan Freeman posts pictures of himself, enjoying a nice dinner in Sofia, you can bet he did not come here for the rose oil or the feta cheese either.
Nu Boyana Film Studios are owned by Nu Image and Millennium Films. Anyone who enters movie theaters, now and then, has read these names and remembers their logos. Since the studios, up there in Boyana, were founded 50 years ago, there is no way those production companies could have owned the place from day one, since communism collapsed only 27 years ago. That’s right: The communist regime in Sofia had the studios built and movies shot. Some excellent film makers were at work back then as well. Not all of them agreed with the regime. But that was back then, and a completely different ball game, in many ways.
It is easy to get lost on the premises. Walking into any of the countless buildings and asking a costumes expert for the way to the PR department after bypassing the security checkpoint accidentally, does not help much either. Every few meters, you would find yourself in a different world. At one point, you are standing in front of an Anglican cathedral, then you would feel like you are somewhere in the “real America”, maybe Georgia, with a broken pick-up truck parked in front of a typical wooden house. Then, you would be in a London street, which you had mistaken for Brooklyn, during your video shoot. Even the details seem real. In one of the London streets, there is a store with a sign saying “licensed in Delaware and Virginia”, which does sound very American.
The next thing you see? An amphitheater, which looks so real you can almost smell the flesh of those poor people who were eaten by lions, in order to entertain some Roman ruler. The kind PR lady also presents yet another highlight: A medieval town, located next to the most impressive Roman town, some buildings of which even have statues and other fascinating details. If it hadn’t rained like hell, a much longer walk would have revealed more secrets.
In the corridors of the administration building, people like Mel Gibson or Morgan Freeman look at you, from the walls, wearing the most professional costumes. A classic movie camera, standing in the staircase, reminds visitors of the history this place has. Behind the next door, a director is editing the audio channels for a horror movie.
Nu Boyana Film Studios are not exactly a tourist attraction, meaning there are only very few tours for groups which are persistent. They definitely have a lot of work to do up there. Two tourist buses every five minutes, like at Niagara Falls, would be just what they need. But, they started hosting events recently. There is nothing better than a concert performed on a Roman film set. They mainly do this during the warm and dry months. The studios also have a brand new film school.
The studio is attractive to many, but especially to film directors. When they fly in from Western Europe or the Trumped States of America, they know they are cooperating with professionals. They know Nu Boyana has a million sets. And they know they will be close to “natural” sets. If they need a chaotic city, Sofia is just around the corner. They want stunning landscapes, mountains, beaches or villages? No problem. Not down here. Also, the accountants, hired to watch those tiny green paper sheets, will be satisfied, knowing they will save up to 40% per shoot.
At Nu Boyana, everyone is happy, including the online magazine editor, even though his feet got wet in the Roman mud.
By Imanuel Marcus
Click any picture for the photo tour.