Location Management

Filming Permits in Hungary

The Process of Street Permits for Film Shoots in Budapest

Even though Hungary is a small country, its streets and buildings feature an extremely wide range of styles from the 17th century, all the way to the present day thanks to its rich history. This cultural variety spanning several eras has made it possible for Budapest to become a truly interesting and attractive shooting location. In addition, in the past years there have been significant changes in the law regulating filming on public premises. The government has consolidated and drastically reduced public premise permit fees for filming in order to make Hungary more attractive to foreign productions. Budapest has now truly became a film-friendly city.

Even though Hungary is a small country, its streets and buildings feature an extremely wide range of styles from the 17th century, all the way to the present day thanks to its rich history. This cultural variety spanning several eras has made it possible for Budapest to become a truly interesting and attractive shooting location. In addition, in the past years there have been significant changes in the law regulating filming on public premises. The government has consolidated and drastically reduced public premise permit fees for filming in order to make Hungary more attractive to foreign productions. Budapest has now truly became a film-friendly city.

Thanks to this new system, authorities can issue space reservation permits for filming within a target processing time of 5 days under a very simple one-door permitting process, even for the most prominent and most frequented tourist attractions of the city. In urgent cases, for an extra fee this time can be reduced to 3 days.

THE USE FOR FILM PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC SPACES AND OTHER PROPERTY OWNED BY THE STATE (Act II of 2004 on Motion Picture, Article 12/B)

34. § (1) The public space owned by the settlement’s government as well as the property, that according to the law on national property (further information: Nvt.), is subject to the owner’s rights to practise owner’s rights - with the exception of highlighted national monuments or sites - and can be utilized for the aim of shooting cinematographic work according to this chapter. By applying this chapter

a) even such commercials are considered cinematographic work, that are subject to the law on the basic conditions and specific limitations of economical advertising,

b) *  even the technical natured activities connecting to the film shoot are qualified as public space utilization for the aim of film shooting, such as parking the crew, emptying or ensuring the area’s closure from transport.

(2) The application can be handed in by the film production company (hereinafter referred to as: applicant).

(3) The settlement’s government may ensure the utilization of public space for the aim of film shooting for a fee that’s sum can not surpass the sum set in the 3. Annex. In the case of nighttime shoots on calendar days, the length of which is set to the maximum of six hours, the fee set for fragmented days in the 3. Annex is to be used. The fee established for the use of public space is to due to the holder of the ownership rights. According to the 3. Annex the highest fees per year are to rise in scale of the multiplication of the indexs of consumer prices published in given year’s second year preceding. The rates modified according to the 3. Annex and this paragraph are to be published by the MNF and the settlement’s government on their own websites at the beginning of the given year.

(4) The utilization of public space for the aim of film production can only restrict the use of the property in private ownership bordering with the public space in an unavoidable measure, and this restriction can not create a disproportionate impediment for the owner.

(5)  The specific conditions of the utilization of public spaces for film shooting aims, that are under the ownership of the settlement’s government are to be controlled by the regulations of the board representing the settlement’s government. Thereby it may determine conditions preventing the shoot, but these are not imputable to the applicant, furthermore it determines the special conditions for the case of an exceptional natural event, especially that in such a case they are obliged to yet again ensure the utilization of the public space within a few days. The board representing the settlement’s government may deem them an exemption or a discount according to the regulation in the case that they do not reach the given time-frame or area-size, as well as for the necessary public space fees in connection to the shooting of cinematographic works that serve the public interest (especially those on educational, scientific or informative topics). The settlement governments that possess their own website are to publish there their conditions for the utilization of public space.  *

(6)  The exemption or discount ensured according to the (5) paragraph is recognised as small scale funding, that can be given solely according to the 107. and 108. Annex of the contract on the functioning of the European Union, in which the 18th December 2013. 1407/2013/EU Commission Regulation defines the rules of the application of small scale funding. Regarding the possibility of equal scale funding costs, the small scale (de minimis) funding sum can not be further cumulated with state funding, if cumulation of this nature would conclude in such funding intensity, that exceeds the group exemption regulations or the intensity of funding set in the regulation of conditions of certain cases accepted by the European Commission.

35. § (1) The MNF reaches an agreement on the utilization of public space with the applicant in the magisterial contract. The magisterial contract becomes valid with the approval of the settlement’s representative board. The activities connected to film shooting that are tied to magisterial permission based on legal rules, as well as magisterial declaration, apart from those given in the (3) and (4) paragraph - with the submission of the data and its annexes, that are specified in the legal regulation as the content of the application and declaration - can be exercised if they give notice. In the case, that based on content of the application or the magisterial monitoring, the MNF establishes it to be unlawful, then the activities, conduct and thereby the given situation set in the declaration may be banned.

(2)  Based on this chapter, the application for the utilization of public space for film shooting, as well as the magisterial declarations connecting to the film shooting has to be set in front of the MNF at least 5 working days in advance, or in case of an urgent procedure at least 2 working days before the planned start of the film shoot. According to this paragraph, the deadlines are indicative for modifying the magisterial contract. A declaration connecting to the utilization of public space connecting to the scope of duties of an independent institution of the settlement’s government, can also be directly handed in to the institution set in the government regulation on the execution of this law. The application for utilizing property according to the Nvt. under the ownership rights for practising ownership rights for the aim of film shooting may be set forward to the MNF as well, according to this regulation the MNF is also classified as a collaboratory magistration. The MNF must forward this application immediately or at the latest on the next working day following the submission to practitioner of the ownership rights of the property or to its trustee.

(3)  In the case that a licence is needed from police authorities for the use of applied theatrical weapons, the application has to be set in front of the MNF at least 10 working days in advance, or in case of an urgent procedure at least 5 working days before the planned start of the film shoot. The applicant has to be informed of the decision by the date they planned to start shooting. No appeal may lie from this procedure.

(4) In the case of applying for the utilization of protected natural areas of local significance for film shooting, the administrative deadline for gaining a permission is 15 days. The application is to be set in front of the MNF at least 15 days before the planned date for starting shooting, which the MNF will forward immediately or at the latest on the next working day following the submission to the authority to whom the relevant sphere of administration is assigned. The applicant has to be informed of the decision by the date they planned to start shooting. If the authority does not give a statement within the deadline set for them, then the permit is to be taken as granted.  No appeal may lie from this procedure.

(5) During the procedures set in this chapter, the applicant, the MNF, the police, the settlement’s government, the practitioner of the ownership rights, the authorities in connection to the film shooting, the specialist authorities, furthermore other involved institutions are to keep in contact with each other electronically.

(6) The magisterial contract on the utilization of public space, approved by the settlement’s government is to be signed at such a time that the film shooting may start on the date planned in the application. The detailed procedural rules on the authorization of the utilization of public space and the submission of authority declarations are set by the government regulation made for the execution of this law. If the authority, settlement’s government, other organization or institution collaborating in the authorization of public space utilization does not give a statement within the deadline set for them, then their consent is to be taken as granted according to the regulated content and conditions.

(7) According to this law, the authority declaration and application in connection to the film shooting, the generally acting authority, the specialist authority in this case are entitled under the title of legal service charge to 150% of the sum, and in the case of urgent procedure to fifteen times the sum that is due to the authority, the specialist authority according to the legal service charge based on the provision of law. For the procedure in connection to the authority contract, the MNF is due 12 000 forints and in the case of an urgent procedure 55 000 forints as legal service charges. It is obligatory for the MNF to pay back the legal service charges if they break any of the deadlines set in the government regulation set for the execution of this law or in the case of an urgent procedure if they do not fulfil the given procedural action within 1 working day.

(8) The administrator of public roads in zones with traffic restrictions, in proportion with the public space utilization has to insure the applicant’s vehicles, that are liable for authorization, free-of-charge entrance by examining a separately submitted entrance permission application based on whether the requested public space’s size is sufficient for accommodating the requested vehicles, as well as if there are any further obstacles facing the requested vehicles (oversized, overweight). In the case that the requested public space is available in a sufficient degree and that there are no other obstacles, the entrance permission must be given to the applicant’s vehicles by the beginning of the shoot. If the authority does not give a statement within the deadline set for them, then their consent is to be taken as granted.

(9) According to this law, the MNF organizational unit specified for permitting film shoots is authorized to practise the scope of authority regarding the matters set in this chapter the authority, and its area of competence is extended to the whole country.

Cleaning up Andrassy after filming a scene for "Bel Ami"
Y72A0334_DxO_edited

In some cases the whole permitting process can be more than 5 days if other authorities have to be involved. In case of full road closure before the filming permit a traffic management plan should be made and approved by the local public transportation authorities and the police department. The waiting time of this process depends on the exact street and area, but it can be from 4 days to 10 days.

The permit fees for the requested areas are calculated by square meters. There are there different types of areas with varying fees for a film shooting permits: parking area, technical area and shooting area. Usually for the parking area, Progressive Productions asks to have the permission 24 hours before the shoot date in order to have the possibility to clear the area from other parked cars.

Thanks to this film friendly regulation with its one-door transparent process, Progressive Productions can easily handle all the paperwork and keep eye on the process to make it as smooth as possible. We do the whole location management of the film or photo shoot from the scout session to the last moments of the shoot. As excellent location management is one of the crucial pillars of a successful production, for the last few years Progressive Productions has been putting huge efforts into this area.

The Road Closures Opportunities Budapest Provides

Hungary and especially Budapest has been a hotspot of the international film industry for decades and this tendency is growing, both relying on and developing flexible systems of road closure. A reliable method for gaining an understanding of areas that can easily be utilized for shoots is to study where previous film productions have taken place, on national and international scales alike, as well as for feature films and commercials. By in-depth research and analysis we have created a database of these frequently used areas, that provide us with straightforward overviews of the easily accessible roads around town. Let us give you a taster of our discoveries!

Andrássy Boulevard 

For example, the Andrássy Boulevard is one of the most representational and heavily used historic roads in the center of Budapest, lined with monumental tenement buildings, palaces and villas. Regardless of it having a key role in the life of the Hungarian capital, it is actually surprisingly simple to close down sections of it due to its structure. Among the boulevard’s six car lanes, four of the central ones are framed on both sides with tree-lined pavements for pedestrians, separating them from the two further lanes on each side. These outer two lanes provide all a filmmaker needs if they wish to shoot a scene using atmospheric architecture, pavements, trees and one car lane. In this case, road closure and permits are a simple procedure, since traffic can continue in the inner main lanes undisturbed, minimising the waiting time and costs of gaining permission. Naturally, the inner lanes can also be closed for shoots, but that costs more time and money.

Street from VII. district

Also, if an epic car chase scene connecting multiple roads is needed, vast closures can also be issued. For example for the Hungarian movie The Whisky Robber a 2,5 km long section was closed off affecting large sections of four connecting roads in the VII. district so that they were able to film a heated car chase in one take. The architecture in this area, as well as in the V., VI and VIII. district are very typical of the city’s golden age, full of beautifully designed, large, hundred-year-old tenement houses. Traffic here is often only in one direction and since city planning here was done in a grid structure, diverting traffic here does not cause a large disturbance in the lives of the locals.

Street next to the State Opera

While some streets are chosen for Budapest’s iconic turn of the century atmosphere, other streets are sought for because of their uncanny resemblance to other European capitals, or more often their images decades or even centuries ago. These are generally areas with narrower cobblestone streets and historic architecture of a smaller scale. Although Budapest has been known to double as such like Munich, Moscow and Berlin, undoubtedly its potential to create a Parisian atmosphere is most dominant. Since this is such a strong element for some when choosing Budapest as the location of their shoot, we have created a Location gallery that specialises in these parts of the city. Many of these locations can be found around the State Opera House, among which quite a few areas are pedestrianised enabling simpler road closures.

New York like street in Budapest 

Regardless, some extremely creative film makers have even been able to utilize the traits of this city to depict places that seemingly have not much in common with Central Europe. For example, the American TV series drama called the Alienist used a street in the central Budapest for an establishing shot to situate the story in 1896’s New York. Although this is located downtown, it actually does not have heavy traffic, enabling permit issuing to be a simple process.

Other cities around Hungary are also open to and experienced in large scale road closures for international productions. For multiple scenes of the movie In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie took her crew to shoot in streets and bridges of Esztergom, while the historic center of the city Sopron was featured in Netflix’s The Crown. They closed down the main square and the roads opening from it to shoot the funeral scene of members of the Winson family set in Darmstadt, Germany.

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