A film set is what filmmakers all over the world seek. Unusual film sets attract filmmakers to Malta and Iceland as well as to Estonia. According to Nele Paves, Head of Film Estonia, just a film set is not enough though. Something else is also necessary. And Saaremaa has quite a lot of that ‘something’.
You say Saaremaa, but you mean…
The island air and the island life
Everyone knows that islands have diff erent air, a special feeling, character and beauty. There is simply something in the air. The low junipers, the proud lighthouses, the inviting beaches, the historical places and the cordial people. And, of course, the windmills and manors.
It doesn’t always have to be beautiful
What if we sought horror instead of beauty? Or more precisely, some kind of a peculiar ugliness to balance the beauty. In recent years, horror films have been the greatest trend in the world of film. When we talk about our beautiful nature, we often hear in response: “Yes, it’s just perfect for a horror film.” Err, beg your pardon? Filmmakers are most interested in the derelict military buildings, the eerie primeval forests and the prime examples of ugly architecture that we still have plenty of on the island and that are perfect for shooting horror films.
Time travel is possible
People often ask whether we have internet on the island? We have – it’s fast and everywhere. Even in the forest and by the sea. But besides that, Kuressaare is also home to one of Estonia’s best preserved medieval castles from the 14th century and boasts a baroque-style town hall and a weigh house from the 17th century and a charming Old Town from the 18th century. This makes time travel between the 14th and the 21st centuries possible for everyone. And not every country in the world offers that.
Ruudi and Roukli
Both the children’s film ‘Ruudi’ and Veiko Õunpuu’s feature film ‘Roukli’ were partly filmed in Saaremaa. As were ‘Somnambulance ’ by Sulev Keedus, and ‘Kertu’ by Ilmar Raag. The list of amazing film sets in Saaremaa is long and diverse, just like the films. Saaremaa is equally suitable for a cute children’s film and a dark drama. Rather, we should ask: what can we not find here? Skyscrapers? True, but we have everything else.
You don’t have to get all the jokes
People often ask what languages we speak here. We speak several languages fluently with our guests and our own language with each other. And we have our own jokes. Our greatest treasure is our people. With their own quirks and character in every corner of Estonia. The island people are tough, with a hearty sense of humour while focusing on solutions. And, they speak English!
Magic on film sets
As we have already said, the islands are magical. Film sets are also often considered magical. Filmmakers love the islands and Saaremaa. Over 60 years, more than 20 Estonian feature films have been shot on the islands.
The Apothecary Melchior trilogy, which will soon hit the cinemas, was also partly shot in the medieval setting of the beautiful one-of-a-kind castle in Saaremaa.
Oysters and eel soup
Is there good food to fill your stomach? One thing that filmmakers hope to find near their film set is good food. And our food is good. There are restaurants to suit every taste on Saaremaa and Muhu, as can be seen by the abundance of White Guide recognitions. Saaremaa people proudly off er local produce to their guests both in the markets and in stores.
Tip – look for products marked ‘Ehtne Saaremaa’ “(Authentic Saaremaa)”.
Always good weather. Or nearly always
And we cannot get past the weather. Most often, people ask whether we can guarantee there’ll be snow in Estonia. No one can guarantee snow anywhere. Saaremaa, however, has the most sunny days in the whole of Estonia. The climate on the islands is defi nitely special and the sun does shine extraordinarily often. And in summer, the nights are so light that we hardly believe it ourselves.
But the best thing is to ask a true Saaremaa islander why a fi lmmaker or, for that matter, any other person should come here?
Mikk Rand: An Islander, initiator of the Film Fund of Estonian Islands
“The best things for visualising the char- acteristic island scenery are naturally the islets and sandbanks with their low junipers or reed banks. Filmmakers could even stage grand and magnifi cent spectacles in the model testing pool at the Small Craft Com- petence Centre in Kuressaare.
Dead-end villages surrounded by stone walls can provide a quaint island back- ground or, in places, the feeling of a British fi lm set, contrasted by the rather apoca- lyptic technical industrial yards spread out at the edge of Kuressaare. For those who love something romantic, the singing sand on the beaches here in the middle of sum- mer are far better than those of the Medi- terranean. And last but not least – to convey the glo- bal potential, the swamps of Central Siberia could also be fi lmed here, as we have many swamps and bogs, as well as Nordic tundra during winter. In the end, it’s a matter of adopting a creative approach.”
Find out more: https://minusaaremaa.ee/projektid/saarte-filmifond
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