The German film production company ‘Story House Pictures GmbH’ is turning Vilnius into the set of its hit-to-be television series ‘Sisi’, telling the life story of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The filming is expected to take place during the summer months across Lithuania. This vast television production has brought huge investments, with the international team also employing almost 100 Lithuanians.

Stunning locations bringing the story to life

The main filming locations of the series are Vilnius and its surroundings, as well as Kaunas, Trakai, Užutrakis, Vievis and Rokiškis. The audience will also recognise places whose similarity to the royal palace of the Habsburg dynasty, also known as the Hofburg, attracted the creators of the series to Lithuania in the first place, including the exterior of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society and the architectural ensemble of Vilnius University, which became the Austrian royal palace. Other locations also include the Church of St. Johns, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, Lithuanian Writers’ Union, Franciscan Monastery, Rokiškis and Užutrakis Manors, Trakai Castle just to name a few.

‘It is no secret that Lithuania has been an attractive choice for many film and television creators for the last few years due to its highly professional staff, convenient logistics, various architectural locations, and tax incentives for cinema. In order for the project to be completed in our region, and to implement the creative ideas of the series, Lithuanians have cooperated with Latvians’, says Jūratė Pazikaitė, director of Vilnius Film Office.

The series will depict Austria in the 19th century

Produced by ‘Story House Pictures GmbH’, the series tells a story of the extraordinary life of the Austrian empress Elizabeth: a young and carefree princess who falls in love with one of the most powerful men in the world, Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph. She must face the dark side of love and evolve to an adult ruler, who eventually becomes an icon.

‘It is a story about emancipation. A story of a woman who comes into a position where she has to fight for her self-esteem, and for her role not only as a politician, but also as a woman’, says Sven Bohse, a famous German filmmaker and director of the series.

‘It is not the first time I have collaborated with ‘Story House Pictures’, but the production of these series is undoubtedly the largest. How many times it is larger than others I cannot say. Such things are sometimes not measured or seen, but the biggest and most interesting challenges are due to the fact that series are historical and this requires solutions that create the appropriate atmosphere’, voices Algirdas Garbačiauskas, a well-known film artist.

International team of over 200

An international team of esteemed film industry professionals from Germany, Latvia and Lithuania works on the series in Vilnius. In this multi-ethnic team of more than 200, almost 100 are locals – from film artists, light and sound technicians, costume painters, tailors, make-up artists, stunt performers, special effects technicians.

‘I feel totally fine here. It is a very nice country, with nice cities and people. I think there were two reasons why we have made a decision to shoot the series here. One of them was film fundings, also, here in Lithuania you have very experienced production companies and crews, stunning old buildings, and… horses. Everything that you need for shooting a historic movie’, declares Sven Bohse.

In Lithuania, filming is organized by film production company UAB ‘Nordic Productions’. The company also worked on the film ‘Siberian upbringing’, with John Malkovich, Eleanor Tomlinson, Peter Stormare, and on the popular Italian series ‘Anna Karenina’.

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