Shooting in Hungary

Film Facilities in Budapest

Sound Stages & Film Equipment Rental

This article provides an in-depth insight into the largest state-of-the-art film studios in Hungary. Next to a detailed listing of what kind of soundstages, backlots and services do the Korda, the Origo and Mafilm Studios have to offer, a comprehensive comparison is also made among the region’s most significant rivals in the Czech Republic and Romania.

This article provides an in-depth insight into the largest state-of-the-art film studios in Hungary. Next to a detailed listing of what kind of soundstages, backlots and services do the Korda, the Origo and Mafilm Studios have to offer, a comprehensive comparison is also made among the region’s most significant rivals in the Czech Republic and Romania.

The Past and Present of Hungarian Studios

Crew of a film shoot in Hungary in 1955Photo: FORTEPAN

Film production in Hungary has a century-old history and used to be considered as one of Europe’s largest centres for decades. This prominent position was lost after the Russian occupation and during the Socialist-Communist regime (1945-1989), but its good reputation remained. Even during the Cold War some large international productions got shot in Hungary, such as Red Heat starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Throughout this period the film industry strengthened in other Central European countries too, especially after the democratic transformation of the region in the 90s. The Czech Republic underwent a huge development and by the 2000s became the go-to shooting location of the region, but Romania also started to catch up. In the last two decades, Budapest has regained its prominent position, due to its pre-existing infrastructure, cultural background and the support given by the state and private investors.


Hungary is among the countries that provide state incentives, for example with a 30% tax rebate system for international productions. The most outstanding result of private investments are the state-of-the-art soundstages, that were completed by the beginning of the 2010s. These played a key role in the development of the Central European market since they enabled Hungary to be able to accommodate feature films and larger productions. This resulted in many international productions choosing Hungary over other countries that used to be considered the obvious choice for filming locations. The region’s largest rivals are the Czech Barrandov Studio and the Romanian Castle Film Studio, that both have their advantages, as well as their disadvantages compared to the Hungarian studios.

Three Hungarian studio complexes are certainly worth mentioning in comparison to those above, these are the Korda Studios, the Origo Studios and the Mafilm Studio. These have the largest areas and best facilities in the country, but of course, there are other studios as well, that have specialized in commercials and small productions (Lloyd Studio, Studio 4, Stern Studio). The Origo (2011) and the Korda (2007) were newly built specifically with the intention to meet the highest international standards. The Mafilm has more than a century old history and therefore has a different position in the market. The operation of the first two differ from the American studio model, since they generally do not produce films, only rent out their properties for productions, while the Mafilm, on the contrary, was one of the largest film production companies during the Socialism and currently provides various production services, but falls behind the Korda and Origo when it comes to the standards of their stages.

Korda Studios

The Korda Studios in Etyek (which is 30 km (18 miles) from Budapest, approximately an hour’s drive) was undoubtedly one of Hungary’s largest investments in 2007, with building costs of roughly 90 million euros. This sum had its result with 6 soundstages, 2800 square meters (30 138 square feet) for accommodation, 7000 square meters (75 347 sq. ft) of storages and workshops, 15 hectares (37 acres) of empty backlots and 10 hectares (24 acres) of prebuilt outdoor sets.

6 soundstages may not seem that many, as let’s say the largest Czech rival Barrandov Studio’s 13 soundstages, but it is certainly worth taking into account the details of the Czech studio’s facilities. Among its 13 soundstages, 4 are actually in locations outside of the main complex and are currently reserved all year round for local productions. Furthermore, if one would like to use their largest studio (4100 square meters (44 132 sq. ft)), then 3 other studios have to be combined, thereby decreasing the number of studios available simultaneously. In contrast, the Korda Studio’s 6 soundstages are housed in completely detached buildings, among which is one of the world’s largest soundstages, Stage 6 with 6000 square meters (64 583 sq. ft). It has traits worth mentioning, such as its 20 meters (65 ft) floor-to-ceiling height,  a 11 x 8 meters (36 x 26 ft) large elephant door and 10 catwalks. Its suspension system connects the entire studio featuring 150 suspension points with the carrying capacity of 500 kilograms (1102 lbs), and last but not least, Stage 6’s NC35 soundproofing, that required serious planning for a stage of such size.

American productions such as the 2015 sci-fi called The Martian were shot in Korda Studios
Korda’s Stage 1 features a large pool complete with underwater windows for filming

The sizes of Korda Studio’s other five soundstages vary from 1000 to 2400 square meters (10 763 sq. ft to 25 833 sq. ft), all of which were built according to the same standards as Stage 6’s mentioned above. All have a significant amount of catwalks and suspension points, and due to their smaller sizes, they have higher rated soundproofing. Furthermore, Stage 1 provides a 10 x 10 x 4-meter (32 x 32 x 13 ft) pool with underwater windows that enable easy underwater shots. However these kinds of pools are not unique in this area, as the Romanian Castle Film Studios also houses a 20 x 10 x 4-meter pool, while the previously mentioned Czech Barrandov Studio does not provide such services.

Youtube KORDA STUDIOS TOUR

Hellboy 2 was shot in this unique New York streets backlot built specially for the production

The Korda Studios’ New York set was built for the production of Hellboy 2 and has since been altered and expanded to meet further requirements. Currently, it consists of a 120 meters (393 ft) long main road (which is 14,5 meters (47.5 ft) wide, with 3 and 4 meters (9.8 ft and 13.1 ft) wide pavements) and two 60 meters (196.8 ft) long crossroads. The Renaissance set’s 1 hectare (2.4 acres) was designed by Francois Seguin for the TV series The Borgias, since some of its seasons were shot in Hungary. This set consists of 19 named buildings (Central Building, Rome Palace, Brothel, Bell Tower, etc.) and countless additional alleyways and general buildings. Next to a lake and a forest these is also a 13th-14th century village, which is worth mentioning, with its 12 000 square meters (129 166 sq. ft). The majority of these buildings even have finished interiors.

The backlot of a 13th-14th century British village built for the TV series World Without End
The TV series The Borgias was shot in the Renaissance City Backlot as well as other Korda soundstages

Alongside the filming areas, there are also production support spaces located within the studio’s area, with nearly 2800 square meters (30 138 ft) of VIP and normal dressing rooms with personal restrooms, makeup rooms and costume storages, offices, conference rooms, break rooms and communal makeup rooms. If all this would not be enough, an additional 720 square meters (7 750 sq. ft) of container offices can be rented. Of course, storage rooms and workshops can be found in the Korda Studios, as well as catering being provided for 150 people in an area of 1000 square meters (10 763 sq. ft), but there are facilities for 75 people’s catering in another building. A fully equipped post-production studio is also part of the complex, which is ideal for sound and video editing, accompanied by a screening room able to seat 49 people. This is one of the best equipped on-site post-production studios in the region, only paralleled outside of Hungary with the Czech Barrandov Studio.

A well-developed infrastructure accompanies all mentioned above. Internet, telecommunication and 24/7 on-site security are ensured. Moveover, all of the stages enable direct sound recording, have noiseless ventilation and air conditioning, in addition to a remote control fire extinguishing systems, 10 GB/s redundant fiber optics and independent redundant high voltage power network.

Origo Studios

Origo is the other modern Hungarian studio, that successfully provides its services to international productions since it was opened in 2011. Its location is more favourable than the Korda Studio, it is only 20 minutes from the centre of Budapest. This is one of the aspects with which it is similar to the Czech Barrandov Studios, being the same distance from Prague’s centre, while the Romanian Castel Film is like the Korda, due to it being an hour’s drive from the centre of Bucharest.


Origo has 9 sound stages, like the Romanian studio, but while the latter’s total area is only 11 000 square meters (118 403 sq. ft), the Origo has 18 000 square meters (193 750 sq. ft). This consists of a 200 square meters (2 152 sq. ft) VFX and 8 regular stages of various sizes (between 1200 and 4300 square meters (12 916 sq. ft and 46 284 sq. ft)), next to a 100 square meter (1,076 sq. ft) green box and a 23 x 18 x 3-meter (75 x 59 x 9.8 ft) outdoor pool, that is hireable on the site, but in contrast to the Korda’s and the Romanian Castel’s pool, this one does not have underwater windows.

Origo’s soundstages have given home to such World-famous productions as Blade Runner 2049

Since the Origo was also newly built, they too strive to fit modern standards. Let it be heating, acoustics, soundproofing, catwalks or the size of doors, even the layout of the site was developed so that the service buildings surround the sound stages in order to absorb as much exterior noise as possible.

With its 4 hectares (9.8 acres) of backlots, the Origo falls behind the previously mentioned studios in size and in permanent sets too. As mentioned, its location is most similar to Barrandov Studio’s, although the latter has more than four times larger backlots and available sets left over from previous productions (for example the streets of an Italian Renaissance city). However, the Origo’s empty backlot area of 4 hectares (9.8 acres) is perfectly sufficient for a production needing a newly built set. This was the case with the production of the Blade Runner 2049 in 2017, for which a metal waste yard was easily built there.

Youtube Making of 'Blade Runner 2049'

In contrary to the Korda Studios, the Origo provides a wide-ranging rental service. They do not only rent out lighting and grip equipment, but there is also a wide selection of trailers. From VIP artist trailers to production, wardrobe, make-up trailers, one can even find golf cars and catering vehicles among their fleet of options. With this diversity, they are unique among Hungarian studios, but not in the region, since the Romanian Castel Film has more than 100 special vehicles to offer and an even wider range of equipment rental. It is worth mentioning that Budapest’s official ARRI Rental office is located in the same street as the Origo Studios, so the absence of on-site camera rental services can be easily remedied.


As one can see, the equipment rental in Hungary is generally not coordinated at the studios, so Origo’s rental services form an exception. Regardless, the latest technological innovations are always available in Budapest. Since these studios are relatively young and are specialized in renting out their property, the largest rental companies operate independently from the studios in Budapest, providing a broad range of cameras, grips, lights and all other equipment.

On the premises of Origo the buildings supporting the productions are located on 8200 square meters (88 264 sq. ft) altogether, of which 3700 square meters (39 826 sq. ft) houses offices and 4500 square meters (48 437 sq. ft) storage. Among these some buildings are used as carpenter, set builder and ironworker workshops, as well as vehicles, prop, costume, lighting and camera storages. Furthermore, similarly to the Korda, there is also a post-production studio that meets industry standards and a catering room for 200 people. In this case the infrastructure was developed to maximize the quality of conditions provided for the buildings mentioned above. On-site security and high-tech IT support with high bandwidth fiber optics are provided on the studio’s area.

Mafilm

Among the studios listed here, the state-owned Mafilm Studio sticks out of line the most. With its first building having been built in 1911, it is Hungary’s oldest film production hub and has played a large role in establishing the Hungarian film industry’s international fame. It counts as one of the oldest even in the region, since the Barrandov started its business in the 1930s and Castel Films only in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. This long history both has its advantages and disadvantages today. Next to having a memorable past, Mafilm’s age has led it to fall behind in development compared to its Czech rival with more modern studios.


Size is the most visible difference between Mafilm and other competing studios. Mafilm has 2 studios in Budapest, which are 830 and 385 square meters (8 934 and 4 144 sq. ft) large. It also has a site in Fót, about 30 minutes away from the centre of the capital. Here there are two further studios, 1600 and 1070 square meters (17 222 and 11 517 sq. ft) of size, with a 55 x 6-meter (180 x 19.6 ft) outdoor green screen on one’s side. These are more modest numbers compared to the international and local rivals, but in exchange, it has a prop and equipment collection that has been growing throughout the past one hundred years. It is worth mentioning here that this is also true of the Czech Barrandov, which has multiple larger stages as previously mentioned.

Youtube Mafilm backlot tour

Part of their services mentioned above, they have Hungary’s largest costume collection to offer, with more than 100 000 pieces, which are located in the 23 000 square meters (247 569 sq. ft) large site in Fót, although this comes in second after the Czech studio’s impressive 260,000 piece costume selection. On the other hand, Mafilm can boast with Central Europe’s largest weapon deposit with thousands of pieces. One can find here First and Second World War guns, pistols, rifles, revolvers and machine guns from various eras, of different types and brands (for example Mauser, Walter, Thompson, AK-47, etc.).

Mafilm neither has to offer in-house film equipment rental, but the reason for this is that equipment is hired from and handled by the company Visionteam, which is one of the country’s largest rental companies. This connection is advantageous for both partners since Visionteam can also provide all further equipment for productions not needing soundstages, next to those that do.

This 1900s American backlot was built for the 2013 series Houdini starring Adrien Brody
Hungarian, French, English historical films have been made in this Second World War Concentration Camp

Next to its vast costume and prop collection, Mafilm’s largest strength are its backlots located on the site in Fót. Here a permanent home is provided to countless sets, that are unique to the entire region, enabling Mafilm to compete with both Korda Studios and the Romanian Castel Studios. The Medieval settlement is the most significant, used for such successful productions as The Raven (2012), The Cathedral series or NBC’s Dracula series. This 5000 square meters (53 819 sq. ft) area’s popularity is not accidental with its main square, windmill, cloister, prison, castle’s courtyard, throne room, canal with a boat and even its complete castle wall with a drawbridge. Next to these, there are also such exceptional sets as Second World War Concentration Camp, 1800s London or Nazareth in the era of Jesus. Finally, one can find a Western town of the 1900s, although that is not so unique since the Romanian Castel Studio has such to provide. This is completed with 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of green area, which is larger than Origo’s, but not that so significant internationally.


As one can see, not only do soundstages in the various countries differ highly, but even those located within Hungary. It would be complicated and unappropriate to create a general ranking among studios, even when counting with all the aspects collected above. Every production has its specific requirements and conditions, therefore one studio can not be chosen as the best for all projects, but there is a specific perfect choice for each production among the region’s range of studios. Central Europe’s diverse and wide range of options is exactly what makes this region so outstanding in the film industry.

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