Exclusive: Scripted production to return to Ukraine as HRT, HBO Max & ZDF drama heads for Kiev

The Silence

Ukraine’s embattled production sector is showing green shoots after it emerged that The Silence, a drama picked up by companies including HBO Max, Topic, HRT, ZDF and Arte, is planning to film scenes in Kiev early next year, TBI has learned.

The Silence debuted on HRT in Croatia last year and is based on Drago Hedl’s books, which explore how a police detective, a reporter and the wife of a politician are sucked into an underage human trafficking ring crossing Eastern Europe borders.

Ryta Grebenchikova

The show, which is produced by Croatia’s Drugi Plan, has seen its first season travel widely through distributor Beta Film, with sales to HBO Max in CEE, Topic in the US, ZDF and Arte in Europe. A second season is now in the works, with HRT already onboard.

The first season was partly shot in Ukraine prior to the invasion by Russia and despite considerable logistical challenges, there are now several days of filming being scheduled to take place in Kiev for the second season.

Nebojsa Taraba, founder & director at Drugi Plan, told TBI here at NEM Zagreb: “For the first season, we shot 35 days there and for season two, as part of the story goes to Belgrade in Serbia, we will shoot there as well – but we will also be [filming] physically in Ukraine.”

Ryta Grebenchikova, head of production at Ukrainian Producers Hub, is overseeing the Kiev-based shoot and said that around two days of fillmg are planned.

“We need to shoot somewhere recognisable, so people can see it is Kiev, and we will arrange that and we will adjust as required. Right now, we are talking about two days but we will see, it changes very day. At the end of September, the situation was more peaceful and we were talking about six days.”

Grebenchikova added that the shoot was symbolic and gave hope to thousands of Ukrainians working in the TV and related sectors, which is reeling from the conflict. Earlier this summer, Media Group Ukraine collapsed, leaving thousands of people without work.

“This is about jobs, TV is a big industry in Ukraine. TV Channel Ukraine and [streamer] OLL.TV were part of Media Group Ukraine and that organisation employed 4,000 people. Now, with it collapsed, there are lots of people who need jobs to feed their children.”

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