Cannes: Romanian Studio Facilities to Combine Under Moniker 'Solar Studios'

Bobby Paunescu - P

Bobby Paunescu and partners want to make Bucharest a production hub, touting skilled crews and the ability to produce "at a fraction of a typical North American budget.”

CANNES - Entrepreneurs are looking to put Romania's capital Bucharest on the map as a production center in Eastern Europe.

Bobby Paunescu and Jared Underwood’s Solar Entertainment Group has struck a partnership with real estate entrepreneur Dragos Savulescu to form production studio operator Solar Studios. The group will combine a film facility formerly known as Kentauros Studios, which Savulescu recently acquired, and Paunescu’s Mandragora Studios, the partners said in making the announcement in Cannes on Monday.

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Viorel Sergovici, a veteran cinematographer and producer and member of the European Film Academy, will run the day-to-day operations of the stage operator. “Solar Studios will take advantage of the highly skilled Romanian crews, locations, labor and impressive set constructions at a fraction of a typical North American budget,” he said, signaling an interest in drawing foreign productions.

The deal "creates a world-class studio for the production of feature films, television series, commercials and music videos, providing customers with the highest quality production services in state-of-the-art facilities, including sound stages and expansive back-lots," the partners said. Among the services provided by the studio are location scouting, local casting, local crew hiring, coordination with all local agencies, budgeting and scheduling, set design and construction, prop and wardrobe design. It also offers camera, lighting, grip and sound equipment services, special effects, catering and permit handling.

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The former Kentauros complex has five soundstages and three support buildings. Mandragora consists of two outdoor sets. One is a replica of a contemporary European street, the other is a 1960s street set. Both also have small interior sets. 
Financial details of the Solar Studios deal weren't disclosed.

Solar's entertainment operations include film production and finance company Solar Pictures, which looks to make four to five movies a year with budgets up to $40 million. Its current slate includes the thriller Samarkand, developed by and starring Tom Hardy.

The Solar Studios partners will try to drive productions with the help of Solar Pictures and other Solar Entertainment Group operations.
“The formation of Solar Studios represents an important milestone in the development of our company,” said Paunescu.
With the formation of Solar Studios, Savulescu becomes an SEG stakeholder. Other investors and stakeholders include Edward Lawson Johnston, founder of a London-based merchant bank, the New York-based Shu family, Paunescu and Underwood, who served as group manager at Comerica Entertainment Group.
Savulescu is a prominent Romanian businessman with businesses in the real estate, tourism, sports and publishing fields.

Twitter: @georgszalai