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Location Spotlight

Location Spotlight: Slovenia and Croatia's Many Varied Jewels

Kinomotel’s Rok Klec takes us through the production potential of these compact but diverse countries, from the snowy alps to the azure Adriatic coast and everything in between

Location Spotlight: Slovenia and Croatia's Many Varied Jewels

For many people involved in shooting video for advertising, this spring has been a shock as all the great location shoots have been out of the question. As lockdown eases in many countries, production is slowly making its return to all those stunning locations filmmakers have been missing. So what better time than to indulge in what we’ve gone without for so long?

Today, Kinomotel line producer Rok Klec takes us on a guided tour of the production delights Slovenia has to offer.

Why Shoot Here?

LBB> How would you pitch Slovenia to any production companies looking to shoot in your area? 

Rok> This is the only place where you can find a variety of natural jewels so closely together: remote beaches, high snowy peaks, waterfalls, lakes, and the clear wild rivers of the alps. All together on the really small area, you can find historic vineyards, karst caves, plateaus, flat lands, and the meadow fields of Pannonia, all close to the production centre Ljubljana which is in the centre of Slovenia. 

The position of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is perfect for logistics, in a one to two hour drive by car you can choose to climb the Alps or sail the Adriatic sea. Our neighbouring country Croatia is just hours away and boasts more than 5500km of Adriatic coastline featuring breathtaking islets and cliffs and more than 1100 islands, most of them easily reached by ferry.

The Slovenian region offers amazing architecture, from the classic Roman architecture of the Mediterranean coast, to the continental Austrian-Hungarian influence in the cities and towns. A temperate continental climate and a pleasant Mediterranean climate along the Adriatic coast, offer an overwhelming number of sunny days, dry and hot summers, mild and humid winters, making for pleasant shooting conditions year round.

Ljubljana is the production capital of Slovenia, movie industry professionals can be hired from Ljubljana, also technical equipment such as cameras and lights, special equipment etc.

Teams are highly  professional and are well trained, quick and used to working long hours. Slovenia has a 12-hour work day with a one-hour lunch break included, and over-hours are charged by hour.

There are no royalties on architecture if you have a permit for shooting.

Kinomotel is leading local production taking care of domestic creative agencies and clients and over borders reaching service production.

LBB> What would you say are the top locations in your region? 

Rok> Slovenia is best known for its unspoiled nature locations, from pine forests, snowy mountains, majestic waterfalls, grassy and rocky hills, green meadows, and crystal clear lakes and rivers.

Our small capital city, Ljubljana is known for its cobblestone streets, bridges, city squares, museums, galleries, castle, and cathedral. As the time passes, we are getting more and more modern architecture also. So big glass surfaces of skyscrapers with fresh paved streets and roads near by are also part of Ljubljana now. 

An hour drive from Ljubljana you can get to the Mediterranean coast. The city of Trieste is known for its beaches, “bourgeois” streets and buildings. Piran is another beautiful Adriatic coast city known for its narrow alleyways built in medieval, Gothic architecture style.

Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are spectacular locations worthy of attention. 

Towards the Alps, Slovenia offers many beautiful locations…Triglav National Park is the country’s only national park. The Solkan Bridge, on the way to Nova Gorica, is a great place for car drives over the bridge with its turquoise Soča River beneath. The beautiful Soča Valley just close by, where The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was shot. Our production team was part of that huge production service. Within Soča Valley Savica Waterfall drops 78 metres into a spectacular gorge. Planica Nordic Center is home to one of the largest ski jumping hills in the world. Lake Bohinj - a green oasis in the hearth of the Triglav National Park covering 318 hectares, is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia.

Our capital city Ljubljana can act as a substitute for some of Central Europe’s cities, all the way from Vienna to Prague. It also offers solutions for almost all the cities in the world, except for maybe Asia. Everything in Ljubljana is in close proximity and there are no heavy traffic peaks, so company-moves can be very fast. 

The city centre is closed for traffic, leaving it free for pedestrians and cyclists. Lock-off is possible as long as we don’t block any emergency exits, emergency roads, or public institutes during work time. Location permits are quick and easy to obtain. Road blockage and other lock-offs are possible but charged separately.

LBB> What specific location would you say is most popular? Why?

Rok> Mangart is a mountain in the Julian Alps, located on the border between Italy and Slovenia and is with its 2679m the third-highest peak in Slovenia. It is located 125km from Ljubljana.

The road to the Mangart Saddle is the highest road in Slovenia and is very interesting for filming car commercials due to its rocky scenery and extremely convenient access. The Mangart road will take you to above 2000m altitude just below Mangart's rocky summit pyramid. Two routes run across it: the Slovene route is rather steep and demanding, and the Italian is somewhat easier. This is a relatively short tour to the most magnificent mountain views you will ever see.

The Italian side is easily accessible by car; the Slovene side is a bit harder. From the highway Villach-Udine you turn eastwards towards Slovenia. Arriving in Fusine you follow the road to Mangart. An attractive site nearby is the stunning Laghi di Fusine, also called the Mangart Lakes, consisting of two lakes. The lower lake is situated at 924m altitude, and has a beautiful backdrop of the Julian Alps, ideal for filming travel and tourism commercials, lifestyle and beauty shots, etc. The superior lake is located at 929m altitude and is harder to access.

The base camp for crew and equipment can be placed in Bovec and it takes approx. 1 hour to get to the Mangart Saddle.  Please see some accommodation info below:
Hotel Mangart (26km)  
The best periods for shooting are winter and spring.

This location offers numerous sites for filming extreme sports shots, car advertisements, lifestyle and beauty scenes, travel and tourism videos, etc.

LBB> Explain the climate and the best/worst times to shoot in your region.

Rok> Regardless of its small surface area, Slovenia has a variety of climates. A continental climate in the northeast, a severe Alpine climate in the high mountain regions and a sub-Mediterranean climate in the coastal region. 

The temperatures in the southwest are very pleasant throughout the year.  If you go further inland the temperatures are lower and during winter the chance of snow rises. Summers in Slovenia are very pleasant too, with lots of sun and not to hot temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures can also rise above 30 degrees Celsius in the summer, especially at the coastline. In the spring the temperatures are lower than in the summer, temperature in this season is around 20 degrees Celsius with less precipitation than during summertime. 

Slovenia is a relatively wet country due to the position of the country. The northwest of Slovenia is one of the wettest regions in Europe. Due to the relatively large amount of precipitation you will find beautiful, green nature reserves in Slovenia.

The longest daylight duration in the beginning of Summer is around 16 hours and the shortest is around 8 hours in November. Based on those facts and combined with mild climates let’s say there are no best and worst periods to shoot around here.

LBB? Are there any locations that you think are underrated / underused in your region?

Rok> Due to short distances between areas most of the parts and locations had a chance to shine. If we need to point out something, I would say shooting in the studio. We have quite a new, modern and well equipped sound studio with two studios, a big studio with 665m2 and a small studio of 475m2 useful surface. Filming studio is located just off the Ljubljana ring, easily accessible from anywhere and also an excellent starting point to any location of your choosing.

We also provide really good and professional set design and art department teams, coping with any size of studio, or on location construction and set dressing, with or without SFX add-ons, making Slovenia/Ljubljana a great place for studio shoots.

LBB>What has been your biggest/most successful production to date?

Rok> It would not be fair to point out just one single project, as every job is unique and brings a bit of success and most important new knowledge.

Therefore I will point out a few that we think are biggest...
Good to Go (as our first feature film made by our content producing team)

LBB> Can any locations in your region ‘double’ for other locations? 

Rok> As mentioned above our capital city Ljubljana can act as a substitute for some of Central Europe’s cities, all the way from Vienna to Prague. It also offers solutions for almost all the cities in the world, except for maybe Asia. Many of Finland productions come to Slovenia, as we offer really close look-a-like locations and talents looking Scandinavian.

Istria, the largest peninsula in the north part of Adriatic Sea can provide nature and architecture acting as Tuscany. The whole Adriatic Sea shore and islands with their architecture can act as an medieval Roman city, like Dubrovnik acted as a part of a world in Lord of the Rings. 

Last but not least, the island Pag can provide parts acting like the Moon or even the planet Mars.

LBB> What are the most popular kinds of productions and why do you think this is?

Rok> Service productions coming to Slovenia vary a lot in their needs and expectations, standing out are car commercials. Maybe due to the fact automotive companies are one of the biggest advertisers. I think it might be connected with the already mentioned fact that different types of nature and architectures are close by. Meaning fewer shooting days can be spent to show diversity of roads and surroundings that a specific car can drive on and past.

DOs and DON’Ts in the Region

LBB> As an outsider, what would you say are the biggest Dos and Don’ts in the region? 

Rok> Do contact us and don’t hesitate to send us any kind of production challenge that drops on your table, we are here, close to everything, ready to help.

LBB> What would be your number one tip to any coming to the region to shoot a campaign/film?

Rok> Come with an open heart and a smile on your face, ready to taste exquisite food and wine, see outstanding locations and meet dedicated professionals.  

Insider Recommendations

LBB> Where would you suggest a foreign production stay while they are in your region?

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is also Slovenia’s main production centre, therefore it is the best starting point to come to and stay during the production period. It is one of Europe's greenest cities offering a wide variety of exquisite filming locations. The banks of the emerald green Ljubljanica river flowing through the city's heart, are recently renovated to offer seating and views of historic buildings from various eras. With all the coffees setting up their terraces along the river all the way from spring to autumn, it almost feels like a street party; however, winter is a special treat with snowy rooftops and sparkling lights everywhere.

All over the city, the famous architect Jože Plečnik’s beautiful buildings, bridges, arcades, and churches are strewn; the description 'jewel box' comes to mind. Also, an attractive cultural scene offers numerous sites for filming, i.e. the historic Ljubljana Castle sitting on a hill overlooking the city; the Prešeren Square with The Three Bridges built by the famous architect Jože Plečnik; the old city center; the Congress Square with a park in the form of a star; the historic Dragon Bridge.

Please see the following links for some accommodation Ljubljana has to offer:

Ljubljana is easy accessible from all nearby airports:
- Trieste (100km),
- and Venice (240km), if arriving from Italy,
- Vienna (383km), 
- Graz (194km),
- Klagenfurt (85km), if arriving from Austria,
- Zagreb (124km),
- and Pula (202km), if arriving from Croatia.

LBB> Where are the best restaurants/entertainment? Any hidden gems you could suggest?

Rok> As Ljubljana is quickly developing its touristic potential, it needs to also build its food offering. I must say it has done its job really well in the past few years and these are our top few suggestions from fine dining to bistro style budget options…

…and of course one of the best in the world, with famous Ana Roš as a chef, but a drive out of Ljubljana…

LBB> And finally, if you could only ever go to one place in the region where would you go?

Rok> I would stay right here in Ljubljana. As in one to two hour drive by car, you can choose to climb the Alps or sail the Adriatic Sea.
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