The name of Vilnius is getting louder and louder in the international film industry. Millions of viewers around the globe of TV shows like Sisi, Stranger Things, Hilma, Young Wallander, Clark, Chernobyl and others, have already seen various places of the capital. A study commissioned by the Vilnius Film Office showed that the volume of national and international film projects has grown rapidly in Lithuania over the past five years, and as much as 90-95% of the film industry is concentrated in the capital.
Although films, TV series and commercials filmed in Vilnius bring in millions of Euros annually, detailed studies on the economic benefits of film projects for the city have not been conducted so far. However, such research is conducted quite often in the world – it is a common practice for popular movie locations. The first analysis of the economic benefits of city film economy conducted by Ekonominės konsultacijos ir tyrimai (En. Economic Consulting and Research) in Lithuania revealed that the volume of the film industry in 2017-2021 grew rapidly during the period – the total production costs of film projects reached 202.2 million Euros.
According to Jūratė Pazikaitė, head of the Vilnius Film Office, the growth of the film industry is determined by professionals working in the industry, a friendly regulatory and tax system, and ubiquitous filming locations.
“Over the past decade, Vilnius has played host to many cities in the world – Washington, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, London, Oslo, Malmö or even Rome. We can rejoice that the professionals working here and the architectural heritage – the Old Town of Vilnius reflecting various architectural styles, Soviet-style residential areas and existing mansions – attract filmmakers. The corporate tax relief, which from 2019 is extremely relevant for them, reaches up to 30% of the film’s production budget. All these things allow Vilnius to be competitive in the Baltic countries,” says J. Pazikaitė.
19 thousand jobs and indirect benefits for the city
According to the analysis of evaluation of the economic benefits of film projects, in 2017-2021 thanks to the film industry, as many as 19 thousand long-term and short-term jobs were created in the city and employees were paid 51.7 million Euros in salaries.
Meanwhile, the part of Personal Income Tax (PIT) included in the budget of Vilnius city municipality, paid from the salary of people working in film projects, grew steadily during the mentioned period. According to the analysis, in 2021 alone, about 1.5 million Euros of PIT was credited to the budget of Vilnius city municipality.
The film industry professionals working in the city also bring great indirect economic benefits to Vilnius. The city’s budget was supplemented by more than 281 000 Euros over the period of five years from the fees for paid parking spaces alone. If filmmakers come from abroad, they need locations and to hire production equipment, transport, accommodation, catering, insurance services, which also create added value for the city.
2017-2021 was particularly pleasing with the growth of national film projects and the number of Lithuanian films presented at major film festivals – Venice, Cannes, Amsterdam, Sundance, and others, as well as awards received, which contribute to the successful improvement of the country’s image. The number of animation film projects also grew during the mentioned period.
The study revealed that although the volume of the film industry has increased, it also faces several challenges. To maintain competitiveness, it is important to pay attention to the specialised training of film industry professionals, to increase the marketing volume of Vilnius as an attractive filming location, and to develop new tourism products in the city. A new film studio/pavilion investment project would make a particularly big difference.
In 2022, the number of economic entities registered in Vilnius and operating in the film industry reached 174, most of which were film production companies.
Among the most popular filming locations in Vilnius are the Trakų Vokė Manor, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, Vilnius University, Franciscan Monastery, Verkiai Manor and the cosy and cinematic streets of the old town: St. Casimir’s, Bernardines’, The Gates of Dawn, Holy Spirit, Dominicans’, and many others. It is hoped that these locations will also attract film tourists in the future – the travellers who get to know the city by following film-inspired routes.