Yariv Lerner and all the action at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Bulgaria

Written by on December 23, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Yariv Lerner and all the action at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Bulgaria

Yariv Lerner is an Israeli-American expatriate in Bulgaria, who runs a huge business. He is the director of Nu Boyana Film Studios. In this position, he takes all big decisions he has to take. This includes the expansion of the services, the setting up of divisions abroad and all of that. But Lerner is also “Mr. Attention to Detail”.

If he had time, he would probably travel a lot more than he already does. A month ago, he came back from Santa Monica, where he attended the American Film Market and Conferences event, an important one in the industry. On Thursday, he returned from London.

Hanukkah was basically cancelled for Yariv Lerner, since a lot of work was waiting at the studios. So was The Sofia Globe’s Imanuel Marcus, who wanted an interview.

The Sofia Globe: The year is basically over and it was obviously a big one. Some 130 small movies and 27 big ones were serviced right here, at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia. On top of that, B2Y Productions did 59 commercials up here. Which of all of these projects is the central one, your labour of love?

Yariv Lerner: The one we just released, “Bullet Head”, which is in the theatres now, is one of those. It’s with Adrian Brody, John Malkovich, Rory Culkin and Antonio Banderas. We filmed it last year in November, did all the post production here and released it this year. Actually, my dog is in the movie. His name is DeNiro. He was a puppy then.

Yariv Lerner is the man running Nu Boyana Film Studios. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

The Sofia Globe: Regarding the biggest narcotrafficker of all time, Pablo Escobar, quite a few movies have been made, including “Blow”, which included Penelope Cruz, and that series “Narcos”. Now you did another one entitled “Loving Pablo”, which looks at the story from a different angle. Penelope Cruz is in this one too. Was it shot right here in Sofia?

Yariv Lerner: Parts of it were short here, parts of it were shot in Colombia. There was quite a lot of footage from Colombia as well, for that authentic Medellin look. Yes, this story is told through the eyes of Virginia Vallejo, the reporter who wrote the book entitled “Loving Pablo”. It was her version of the events, so it’s a different take. We have done a few screenings of “Loving Pablo”, in Venice and Toronto, and we are releasing it in February.

The Sofia Globe: You are said to be extremely involved in everything. On a typical day, when there might be one movie shooting, one TV series shooting and a commercial shooting, what would your day look like? Do you usually go from one location to the next, contributing to all of them?

Yariv Lerner: I deal with whatever issues there are, while trying to do my best to plan for the next couple of days. That’s a way of not having to deal with a lot of issues later. I also work with all the heads of departments to keep moving the projects forward.

Antonio Banderas with Yariv’s doggy DeNiro. Photo by Nu Boyana.

The Sofia Globe: We are in Bulgaria, a small country which builds on its tourists, including those from abroad. The Bulgarians keep on making their country more attractive, as a tourist destination. We have this very active Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Angelkova. How do you cooperate with her?

Yariv Lerner: We cooperate really well. She is super smart. She has only been in that position for a few years, since they just created it. Previously, it was under the Ministry of Economy. I think the government saw a need for a Ministry of Tourism. She has done really well, and now we have trouble booking hotels for all the actors that come in, who did a good job too, by pointing towards Bulgaria. When the actors come here, everyone wants to know where they are. Gerard Butler came here for a holiday recently, since he liked it so much.

The Sofia Globe: Bulgaria’s EU Presidency is coming up in just a few days. What about all of these EU officials and other guests who are expected in Sofia? Will they see Nu Boyana?

Yariv Lerner: We are planning on doing a tour. My colleague Alexandra is in charge of that. We’re gonna try to organise a set visit, and hopefully show them some exciting projects.

The Sofia Globe: What in the hell is going on in Hollywood? All of these sexual harassment cases are surfacing. Does this wave hit you? Does it influence you at all?

Yariv Lerner: Well, not so much. I feel like we are a little insulated from all of that. But yes, the last couple of months have been crazy. Everything kind of came to a header. The anger that has been bubbling for years just exploded. I think this actually started with the President. But I think some of the accused have been judged before they had their day in court. If they broke the law they should be arrested and punished. But if they did not, they should be treated fairly too.

Yariv Lerner with Adrien Brody at a shoot. Photo by Nu Boyana.

The Sofia Globe: What about this business in London? You seem to be flying back and forth a lot.

Yariv Lerner: We just set up a branch in London. We had done so a couple of years back, for “London has Fallen”. That was a temporary solution. But now we decided to go there with a more permanent office. It’s a rather small office, considering we have 174 people here, and we’ll have up to 20 there. I’ve been hand-selecting some top quality artists from all over the place. For instance, we are doing “Hellboy” and we need a special artists. It’s like organic visual effects versus inorganic ones. We need some really talented people.

The Sofia Globe: Technology-wise, you are on top of things as well. Hollywood does not offer more than you do, right? Motion Capture Stage is the latest gimmick. And it’s right here.

Yariv Lerner: They used it a lot on “Planet of the Apes” and we built our own Motion Capture Stage for “Hellboy”. It’s purpose is to save time. You know, the animation that you can get done in a short amount of time through natural human movements saves you three or four months on the project, which is obviously very useful. The material does look more natural. First, you build a model, you rig it, so you build in the skeleton, the joint and all of that. Then you skin it, and then you put a Motion Capture in top, which is an actual actor, and it will just match his movement through infrared light.

The Sofia Globe: What about that new water tank?

Yariv Lerner: We will open it on January 16th. It’s one of the largest water tanks in Europe now. We already have a commercial that is going to drop a car in it. It will be shot on January 20th. We have a lot of projects planned and we always use water tanks. It is very tough to book them, because there are few of them in the world.

The Sofia Globe: You are a Yoga person and you organised a big Yoga event this year. Will there be another one in 2018?

Yariv Lerner: We are doing another event this year in Pravets. We are really happy with the hotel down there. A lot of people are booking now. There is an “Early Bird Discount” until the end of 2017.

The website of New Boyana Film Studios can be accessed here, the one for the Udaya Live Yoga event (August 2018) can be reached here.


In Bulgaria: The city that does not exist




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