Named after the great Alexander Korda, a Hungarian-born pioneer in the shift from silent film to “talkies” in Hollywood and then Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, Korda Studios has been active since 2007 and handles more and more foreign productions each year.

Head of Production and Development Daniel Kresmery walks me through the grounds. First we pass by the “Renaissance” backlot, where the historical show “The Borgias” was filmed between 2011 and 2013.

“Three seasons of the show were filmed in this backlot and it was the first major challenge for us,” Kresmery says. “At 10,000 square metres it is now one of the biggest permanent standing sets in Europe. We adapt our sets for other shows, so after “The Borgias” it was used to film “Emerald City”.

Korda Studios also has a “Medieval” backlot next to a lake, originally built for the Ken Follett miniseries “World Without End” and reused for a more recent big-budget epic series, “The Last Kingdom”.


Real estate investor and banker Sándor Demján is behind Korda Studios. He grew up in Etyek, an area famous for its vineyards. Korda Studios even produces its own wine that it offers visitors.

A major factor drawing foreign productions to Hungary is the attractive tax system. Films produced in the country receive a 25% tax rebate, a major saving when a production runs into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

“After the UK, Hungary has the most favourable tax system in Europe for foreign productions,” says Kresmery. “The current tax system came into place in 2004, and since Korda opened in 2007 we have expanded year by year, except for 2008 and 2009, following the financial crisis.

“’Blade Runner 2’ was filmed here last year – it was a USD200 million film, and that’s as big as it gets. We are lucky in that whichever political party has been in power, they have been supportive of the film industry. The tax incentive is strong, it works well, so if the political will is behind it, that’s what keeps it running.”

Another draw is the diversity of natural scenery and backdrops available in Hungary. The grandeur of Budapest’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture can provide the backdrop for films of any genre, from action to fantasy to historical drama. At the same time, the vineyards around Budapest could easily stand in for the rolling hills of Tuscany.

We pass by the “New York City” street backlot. “This was for our first production in 2007 – ‘Hellboy II’. We literally opened early to get that production done and built that New York street block. It's 10 years old now,” Kresmery tells me.

The studios also have key additional features. Inside one room, a huge water tank dug into the ground can allow scenes to be shot in an authentic way to replicate an underwater setting.

“It’s the only one in Hungary of this size in a film studio with side windows underneath so you don’t have to put equipment in the water – it’s very practical,” says Kresmery. “Our Sound Stage 6 is one of the biggest in Europe, allowing control of sound levels. It’s a major reason why some productions choose to film here.”


Korda Studios currently has six sound stages and will open a seventh, 1400-square-metre one, this year.

“We are always expanding in small increments and we are opening a new office building. Sound stage and storage are always needed and no studio ever has enough, so we are expanding those as well as our backlots. We keep any backlots that we think could be useful for future productions.”

Korda Studios provides several additional services beyond just the space and backdrops. Kresmery runs Korda Productions, the production arm of the company that provides additional branding service, while Korda Finance helps out with tax issues.

But with so many international productions choosing to film in Hungary, I wonder whether it is hard to find the right people to crew the films, specifically English speakers who can work with foreign crews.

“We have great crews and so many people who speak English. More and more productions want to come so you have six or seven productions going at once. This is the perfect time to become a practical filmmaker. Not a dreamy director but like an assistant director or a location manager. By Hungarian standards it’s a well-paid job but they sometimes work 14 or 16 hours a day, so it’s tough on your private life.

“We have a partnership with the Hungarian crew school, which the Hungarian organisation of cinematographers organises. Last summer we had 50 students here for a free workshop.”

While the state studio handles most locally made films, Korda Studios handles far more foreign productions. The main reason is that if the Hungarian Film Fund is giving support to a Hungarian film, they expect that film to go to the state studio.

The Hungarian Film Fund is donating a lot now for training – so that’s great, and they have to take a certain number of Hungarian interns onto each production. Before 2007 the state studios handled most productions in Hungary.

One big show or two small ones can be filmed simultaneously at the studios. International productions are the only ones that fill Korda Studios to capacity. “Last year we were at 86% capacity, including all the offices etc,” says Kresmery. “It’s a question of luck. There are four other studios in Hungary, plus the state studio. We also filmed three commercials last year.”

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