Azerbaijan offers great filming potential with a diversity of locations in close proximity to each other including ancient cities, mountain towns, white sand beaches, forests, rivers, waterfalls, and lush green valleys.
Locations of interest in the capital Baku include Icheri Seher (Old City), oil-boom era mansions, shiny glass towers, modern architecture such as the Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid, Ateshgah Fire Temple, Soviet-era apartment blocks, a modern subway system, shipping container port, and the Caspian Sea.
Outside of Baku you can find Yanar Dağ (Fire Mountain), mud volcanoes, Gobustan National Park, Absheron National Park, Shirvan National Park, the lush green valleys of the Karabakh, Palace of the Shaki Khans, Krasnaya Sloboda Jewish town, on and off-shore oil facilities, Neft Daşları (Oil Rocks), and the Naftalan Clinic where people bathe in oil. Azerbaijan has unique mountain towns including Sheki, Lahic and Xinaliq.
Cost & Rebates
Azerbaijan is an oil based economy and as such goods are generally on the more expensive side. Film crew labour is comparatively inexpensive. Currently Azerbaijan is offering 20% and 5% of cash rebate on eligible production expenses, where extra 5% can be paid only if project passed cultural test with 12 points and production test with more than 20 points. There is a cap of minimum expenses kept 20,00,00.00 Usd.
When To Shoot
Despite its small size Azerbaijan has 9 out of 11 of the world’s climate zones. Generally speaking, summers are hot and winters are mild and wet, with snow on the mountains. The best time to film for warm and dry weather is between April and October. Baku in the summer is very hot and humid. Ramadan is observed by the majority Muslim population with some services closed during this period.
Technically, Azerbaijan requires work permits for film and photography crews. This entails first arriving on a regular visa and then having a local company apply to hire you. Getting this approval is very difficult and the process can take up to a month. There are of course alternatives and ways to expedite this. Crew entering as tourists can apply for an E-Visa. Processing time is usually around 3 days. Visas are valid for stays of up to 30 days.
Cast, Crew & Equipment
Azerbaijan has a small pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. All other standard key crew is available in Azerbaijan. Specialist crews need to be brought in from abroad. Day rates and buyouts are negotiated on a personal basis. Azerbaijan offers mainly Azerbaijani talent with other ethnicities from the Caucasus’s and Slavic looks also common. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad. Standard camera, lighting and grip equipment is available locally including Red Epic camera, a Panther dolly, GFM crane. More specialised equipment needs to be brought in from abroad. Azerbaijan is not an ATA carnet country. Crews looking to bring in their own equipment will need to clear customs which can be tricky and very expensive.