For film buffs, a guide to Prague on the silver screen

The Prague Post

New map details shooting sites of Hollywood movies

Trivia time: In the movie The Bourne Identity, where does Matt Damon’s character attempt to spend his first night in Zurich? Correct answer: Kampa Island in Prague. Kampa is also where a car explodes, supposedly outside the U.S. Embassy, in Mission: Impossible.

Prague’s scenic architecture, cobblestone streets and sprawling soundstages at Barrandov Studios have been the setting for many well-known films over the past decade. Now you can see exactly where, courtesy of a new map produced by the Czech Film Commission and the City of Prague. Titled Lights! Camera! Prague!, it’s the brainchild of Ludmila Claussová, head of the Czech Film Commission.

“The aim wasn’t to be big and educational,” she explains. “The map is geared toward people who haven’t been here before. We tried to write descriptions, but we didn’t go too far; it’s a guide.”

As filmmaking has moved to cheaper points east, the number of productions in the city has dropped dramatically. Some cities and countries offer financial incentives to attract films, but the Czech Republic does not. “Governments want to attract filmmakers and the industry to their region — it brings jobs, money and the added value of publicity and image,” Claussová explains. “But [the Czech government] thinks the film industry does well by itself and doesn’t need funding.”

Founded in 1994, the Czech Film Commission was started in 1994, and financed for the first year or so by producers. It’s now supported in part by grants from the Culture Ministry. But there’s always a need for additional funding, which is what prompted Claussová to approach City Hall with her map proposal.

“I explained my idea, they said they would finance it, and printed 5,000 copies,” she says. “I gave some copies to production companies, who are giving it to new clients so they can see what’s been done here. It gives a good idea of the quality of the films.”

While the map itself is nothing special — a basic city map with numbered locations showing where specific scenes were shot — it also includes a chronological list of selected movies filmed in Prague, three suggested walks for touring the sites and locations further afield. There’s also a section on the stages and backlots of Prague.

“Some of these aren’t open to the public, but we wanted to show how movies are shot in the city,” Claussová says. “It’s one of the big advantages of Prague that you can combine stages and architecture.”

Another fun aspect of the map is interesting movie tidbits — like James Bond’s Venetian hotel in Casino Royale, which is actually the lobby of the National Museum in Prague.

Claussová says the map took about three months to put together. She spoke with location managers to pinpoint which scenes were shot where, and reviewed her lists by watching the films.

The map was printed in English, and doesn’t show any Czech movies. Claussová says there are a variety of reasons for this.

“It’s geared toward foreign tourists, people who haven’t been here before,” she explains. “If it were in Czech, it would have to be a different map, as some of the movies included haven’t been shown here. We want people to take the map and discover other parts of the city.”

The city of Prague is distributing the maps through its Prague Information Services outlets. Claussová says it will also serve as a good promotional tool for city officials to take to tourism markets.

“Most of the films, people know them but don’t know they were shot in Prague,” she says. “In 90 percent of the films, Prague is not [portrayed as] Prague. For people who don’t know it, now they’ll see how many big movies were made and what stars have worked in the city.”