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Filming in Romania

NOTE: This article was published first by me on on Jul 21, 2011. Last updated was in Dec 2014.


As it happens with the IT industry where a lots of jobs gets outsourced, the same happens – to some degree – with the movie industry as well.

Movies, especially those with a lighter budget and not so known stars, are increasingly being produced abroad (reducing the costs).

Besides Canada (Vancouver) and UK (London) looks like Romania (Bucharest) is another destination for Hollywood for making movies (Bulgaria seem to make a dent too).

There are over 100 film companies in Romania, big and small. Some have their own infrastructure (the biggest), some are renting the infrastructure from others.
It depends also on what genre the movies belong, but the biggest studios can pretty much handle every genre.

I will present the biggest and then I will redirect you to a website which shows all those film productions companies (I don’t know how updated is that database though).

I will make an introduction about filmmaking in Romania below then after that I’ll give more details about film studios from Romania.


Some A but mostly B movies were shot in Romania in the last 20 years and here you have some examples:

  • Cold Mountain (A movie)
  • The Zero Theorem (A movie)
  • The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (A movie)
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance  (A movie)
  • Youth Without Youth  (A movie)
  • Modigliani  (A movie)
  • The Concert (A movie – European)
  • Adam Resurrected  (A movie)
  • Amen  (A movie – European)
  • Callas Forever  (A movie – European)
  • The Brothers Bloom  (A movie)
  • Dying of the Light (A movie)
  • Closer to the Moon (A movie – European)
  • The Whistleblower (A movie – European)
  • Hatfields & McCoys (mini-series)
  • One In The Chamber  (B movie)
  • Beowulf  (B movie)
  • BloodRayne (B movie)
  • The Cave  (B movie)
  • Borat (the first)  (B movie)
  • Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles  (B movie)
  • Born To Raise Hell  (B movie)
  • 7 Seconds  (B movie)
  • Them  (B movie – European)
  • Highlander: EndGame  (B movie)
  • Transylmania  (B movie)
  • Anaconda 3  and Anaconda 4  (B Movies)
  • Second in Command  (B movie)
  • The Detonator  (B movie)
  • Seed of Chucky  (B movie)
  • Shadown Man  (B movie)
  • Method  (B movie)
  • Hellraiser Deader  and Hellraiser Hellworld  (B movies)
  • Diplomatic Siege (B movie)
  • Caved In  (B movie)
  • Perkins 14  (B movie)
  • Timber Falls  (B movie)
  • Transylmania (B movie)
  • And many others


By looking at these you will see that most of the movies are B movies with movie stars which once were A (or never were A) but now their time have mostly gone (Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tara Reid, Christopher Lambert, Wesley Snipes, Elizabeth Hurley and so on).

The biggest, in terms of budget, movie made in Romania is still Cold Mountain with about $80 millions (main actors were Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger – directed by Anthony Minghella).


The second one is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with $75 millions (main actors are Nicholas Cage, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert – directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor).

The rest of the movies are low to medium budget, in the action or horror genres (mostly).

Romania has a tradition in making movies, the first film made was The Independence of Romania  (1912), before D.W.Griffith made his The Birth of a Nation.

See here more about the history of moviemaking in Romania.


Romania gave Hollywood a well known director at that time: Jean Negulesco.

He was an A director, having well-known stars in his movies: Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, Lauren Bacall, Robert Wagner, Peter Lorre, John Garfield, Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, Alec Guiness, Clifton Webb, Fred Astaire).

Romania also gave Hollywood a known actor of its time, the former five times Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller  (who can forget his Tarzan movies?).

Petru Popescu is another Romanian-American screenwriter-director in Hollywood.

In the ’70 there was a case when a well known Romanian director at that time was very close to make an historical movie about a period of Romania history but having Hollywood actors as the main cast (Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas).

The movie is Michael The Brave  but because of the communist dictator at that time it was made with Romanian actors instead. Even so, the movie was one of the best historical movies made then (the director in case being Sergiu Nicolaescu ).

There are some other actors in Hollywood which have Romanian origins: Sebastian Stan (“Captain America” – born in Romania) , Edward G. Robinson (many movies – born in Romania), Lauren Bacall (many movies – born in USA from Romanian mother), Adrian Zmed (“T.J. Hooker series” – born in USA from Romanian parents), Harvey Keitel (many movies – born in USA from a Romanian mother), Natalie Portman (many movies – born in USA and her paternal grandmother was Romanian), Dustin Hoffman (many movies – born in USA and has a Romanian parent), Wynona Ryder (many movies – born in USA and part of her father’s family comes from Romania), Brian Unger (“The Daily Show” – born in USA from a Romanian mother).

Nowadays, the Romanian new generation of filmmakers have gone to win the international recognition once again culminating with winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes for the movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days  by Cristian Mungiu (and again with Beyond the Hills), Megatron by Marian Crisan (Palme d’Or at Cannes for short films), Child’s Pose by Calin Peter Netzer (Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival), If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle by Florin Serban (Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival).

(See more acclaimed movies in the last 20 years here Romania: What are some of the best Romanian movies? )


Today there are eight main production houses in Romania (the first 3-4 getting the bulk of the business) and I will present all of them below (with contact details).



One of the biggest seem to be Castel Film (they seem to have most of the foreign movies made in Romania).
Here is their portfolio:

Castel Film one of the largest private film production company from Romania (the first private company if its kind, formed in 1992) and one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe.


Their partners are: Paramount, Miramax, Focus Features, Sony Pictures, Beacon, HBO, Dimension Films, ABC Network, Section Eight, USA Network, Kushner-Locke, Trimark Pictures, Full Moon Entertainment (USA), Granada Media, BOX TV (UK), Esqwad, JLA Production, Les Productions du Tresor, Raphael Films, Noe Productions

They have:
– 9 Modern fully equipped Soundstages – each stage with separate facilities;
– one of the largest soundstage in Continental Europe: 3250 square meters, a 37 hectares backlot including 15 hectares of forest, available for set construction;
– direct access to a large lake – with a 1000 meters waterfront

They don’t shoot just movies but also commercials and music videos.
The location is 20 minutes by car from the Henri Coanda International Airport (near capital Bucharest).


Contact details
Tel: +40-212 225 565
Fax: +40-212 225 559
Address: Bucharest, 25A, Emanoil Porumbaru ST., Sector 1

Vlad Paunescu – Owner and CEO
Tel: +40-212 225 565
Fax: +40-212 225 559

Cristi Bostanescu – Head of Film Production
Tel: +40-212 225 565; / Fax: +40-212 225 559
Mobile: +40-723 212 023

Bogdan Moncea – Marketing Director
Tel: +40-212 225 565
Fax: +40-212 225 559
Mobile: +40-723 230 737

Penny Karlin – The Karlin Connection – US Representative
23480 Park Sorrento, Suite 117A Calabasas – CA 91302
Tel: +1-818 224 3888
Fax: +1-818 224 3869

See on IMDB movies produced by Castel Film:



MediaPro is also one of the biggest private filmmaking company from Romania. It’s part of the MediaPro Group, the largest media consortium in Romania (which has also foreign investors).
It was formed in 1998 when the private media company MediaPro bought the state owned studios Buftea. Buftea studios were established in 1957 and produced over 500 films during this time rivaling any Western European film studio at that time.

Many of their productions seem to be Romanian but they have also international productions like Amen (Costa Gavras), Callas Forever (Franco Zefirelli), Modigliani (Mick Davis), BloodRayne (Uwe Boll).


See their portfolio here:

MediaPro Studios currently boasts 19 soundstages (including one chroma stage), 4 water tanks, one screening room and a 100-acre backlot.

The stages have varying sizes, from 2,020 to 44,900 sq. ft., with heights ranging from 16 to 50 ft. They are fully equipped for film and TV productions.


Contact details

Phone: +4 031 82 51 801/815
Fax: +4 031 82 51 839
Address: 1 Studioului Street, 070000 Buftea, Ilfov, ROMANIA
International Sales
Phone: +4 031 82 51 303
Fax: +4 031 82 51 839

Local Sales
Phone: +4 031 82 51 227
Fax: +4 031 82 51 891

They have also an in-house VFX studio.

See on IMDB movies produced by MediaPro Studios.



(new partnership with Solar Entertainment Group of Bobby Paunescu and became Solar Studios)

Kentauros is one of the newest entrants in the market (established by foreign film people and investors) and was formed in 2003 being a challenger for the studios above.
The studios are brand new using, mostly, the newest technology available on the market. Recently it was bought by the real estate businessman Dragos Savulescu.


They have 6 soundstages, on-site set construction (wood, metal, plaster, molding, very large format printing).

Their portfolio isn’t as rich as the others, for now having only two features made:

Contact details

Adress: 57 Stefanesti Street, Ilfov District
Stefanestii de Jos, 077175, Romania
Tel: +40 372 119 000
Fax: +40 372 119 001

See on IMDB movies produced by Kentauros: and



Mandragora International Group was founded in 2004 and exhibited a highly dynamic evolution since its creation, covering activities like the development, production and distribution of films, studios rental and other related services. Currently the group has subsidiaries in Bucharest, Paris and New York.

Mandragora Movies is one of the most dynamic movie production companies from Romania, founded by Bobby Paunescu in 2005, with the aim to produce not only feature films but also television projects.


This studio includes:
– 3,000 sqm wooden panels of green screen;
– A 250m long street, with building facades constructed on both sides at a height of 11m;
– A small square with a functional interior set (30sqm) and a position convenient for a bus station;
– A larger square with the building of another interior set (70sqm);
– Functional street lighting at a height of 9m;
– Functional illuminated shop signs which can easily be adapted;
– Sidewalks

The second studio is an exterior period set from the ‘60s, with a surface of 5,000sqm. The construction includes a large square with green space – trees, bench, and statue; a small street with full height buildings facades. The studio also includes two functional interiors of 40sqm and 60sqm.

See on IMDB movies produced by Mandragora movies:


Contact details

2-4 Cristian Popisteanu St., 010024

29 Rue des Pyramides, 75001

New York
225 West 13th Street, NY 10011



It was also established in 1992 (like Castel Film), having also its own facilities
It’s quite close to the city center (Bucharest) – about 10-20 min.

Regarding film production, it seems that this production house worked mostly at French movies.

See here their portfolio:


Contact details
Address: 6, Balota str. , sect 1 , Bucharest, Romania
Tel: +40 216 671 815
+40 317 104 027
fax: +40 317 104 026

Ion Marinescu (French): +40 744 542 225

Madalina Marinescu (English): +40 723 345 022

See on IMDB the movies produced by Atlantis Film:



Domino Film is a smaller studio which had several local and European films, TV and documentaries produced.
See here the local productions:
And here some European productions they helped:


Contact details
Address: 59, Dr. Felix Street, 011039 Bucharest 1, Romania
Phone: +40 21 317 6436
+40 21 317 6422
Fax: +40 21 312 9609

Cristian Comeaga – producer
phone: +40 722 200 509

See on IMDB the movies produced by Domino:



This company is also a smaller film production house which worked at some local and European films. It was established in 1994.
Here is its portfolio:


Contact details
Address: 52 Popa Soare Str., Et.1, Ap.4 Sector 2, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: +40 213 266 480
Fax: +40 213 260 268

See on IMDB movies produced by Libra Film:



Strada Film is also a small production company having several local films under its belt.
See their portfolio:


Contact details
Address: Dr. Staicovici 41, sector 5, 050556, Bucharest, Romania
Tel/fax: +40 214 118 099

Daniel Mitulescu

Marcian Lazar

Bianca Oana
Head of Development

See on IMDB the movies produced by Strada Film:


A special mention here….

If you are shooting on film then there is a well known lab there with which productions houses above are working with.

The company is Cinelabs
They offer not only film related services but also digital related.

Contacts details

Phone: +40 740 032 222

Customer Service
Phone: +40 740 035 555


Beside the production houses above there are many other smaller companies.
A list can be seen here: or here (but remember, not all of them can produce a feature film)


If you are looking for dedicated visual special effects (for film) production houses then here are what I found to have the best portfolio.

MediaPro Magic  (it’s part of MediaPro Group which also owns MediaPro Studios)


MediaPro Studios is the only studio complex in Central and Eastern Europe to have an in-house special effects department. The team is coordinated by Adrian Popescu and supervised by Nick Allder, Academy Award winner for Alien and a BAFTA award for The Fifth Element.


Umbrella VFX

Umbrella VFX has been at the forefront of post-production in Central and Eastern Europe. The company’s artists have pioneered the use of CG on the regional television market and since inception, they have worked on corporate and non-profit projects alike. The company development strategy opened new directions for its activity in 2007 and  currently Umbrella is present in three countries located on two continents.

 Contact details

Phone / Fax: +40.314.328.736


Address: 319th Calarasilor Ave. PoBOX:030622

CAIRO, Egypt
Address: 13th Khopho Street PoBOX:11511

Address: 14th Via Civerchi PoBOX:25036


Abis Studio

Contact details
Phone: +4021 222 68 75
Fax: +4021 223 44 93


Unfortunately, Romanian officials are not involved much in filmmaking.

There is a national authority named “Centrul National al Cinematografiei” (the National Center for Cinema) but other than organizing screenwriting contests (and awarding some state money for the winners – those scripts has to involve Romania somehow) they don’t seem to do much.

Contact details (sorry, no English version)
Address: Str. Dem. I. Dobrescu nr. 4-6, Sector 1, Bucharest, 010026
Tel: +40 213 104 301
Fax: +40 213 104 300


It doesn’t seem that Romania have laws to encourage film productions, especially co-productions (Romanian+foreign – if they are related to Romania then it may be possible to get some state financing).

There is no a “rebate law” (tax incentives), like you find in some US states or Canada. Maybe this will change soon but there is no date when. But because the work is cheaper there that compensates the lack of these incentives.

Hope these information will help you and any other filmmaker who wants to do movies in Romania.
You can contact me if you want to find out more.


Startup scene in Phoenix, Arizona – what I have found since living here (2011)

NOTE: This article was originally written in 2010 for Techcrunch (not published) and published in 2011 on It needs a serious update, which I don’t have time to do.


In my opinion, as an outsider (I’ve been living here since 4 years ago), I think Phoenix could become one spot from the technology ring which gathers places like Silicon Valley-CA, Boston-MA, Austin-TX, Boulder-CO, Los Angeles-CA, Seattle-WA, New York-NY (did I forget some other places?).

The city has the talent (ASU and University of Phoenix and plenty other smaller colleges), has the infrastructure and could have more (this is one of the most stable areas in the US – no tornados, no earthquakes, no hurricanes and for heat we have the air conditioning). What it needs is more exposure to the world, more promotion as a tech hub. I don’t know if there is a central office for promoting Phoenix as a technology hub and, after talking to some people, it seems there is none. I read a lot of tech media (news, articles, etc) and almost none are saying something about Phoenix as a technology and startups location. I hope this article will help even just a little bit.


The startup scene here is pretty much flying under the radar for now. I dug around for more info and I found out that the tech startup culture here seems to be in the phase of trying to define itself, trying to come with a corrective action towards improving the public perception about it. Most of the startups and investors here are unknown, even to the locals, which brings me back to the exposure and promotion to the outside and inside world.

How many of you know where (the leader in domain names and web hosting), (one of the leaders in content delivery networks), (identity theft protection), (semi-conductors), (computer maker), (clean energy),, (on-demand chain management software), are based? Yes, they are based in the Phoenix area (and these are quite known tech companies).

Now try this with:

Yes again, they are all based in the Phoenix area.

Or, did you know that Phoenix is also among preferred datacenters locations in US? The reasons are compelling: no natural disasters in sight (the heat doesn’t count, thanks to the air conditioning).

Here are some known data centers located in the Valley:

There are also big companies which have their data centers here, JP Morgan Chase, Toyota, Bank of America, United Airlines, State Farm insurance being some of them.

From where the power make these data centers function reliable? Palo Verde nuclear plant was the last built in US so it’s a pretty new facility. Arizona has also natural gas, not to mention the solar power (in developing). This state is a net exporter of electricity to other states.
A quick check on Crunchbase database of companies reveals that there are 18 pages of Phoenix area based companies (50 miles radius).

By comparison, there are 31 pages of Austin, TX companies, 246 pages of Silicon Valley based companies, 155 pages of New York based companies, 53 pages of Seattle, WA based companies, 29 pages of Boulder, CO based companies, 109 pages of Los Angeles, CA based companies and 84 pages of Boston, MA based companies (the search was done using the city name an a radius of 50 mile around that).

Now, there are over 4 million inhabitants in the Phoenix Metro area while there are over 280,000 inhabitants in the Boulder Metro area. You would expect more from a place where there are more people, wouldn’t you? I was expecting the same, especially that there are all the requirements needed for technology companies to start (except the promotion of the area as a whole). After all, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Phoenix on the fifth place in US as a location where to start a business.

It seems that the same situation is with the filmmaking industry here. Good locations, enough local talent and projects, several independent film studios, yet almost nobody know Phoenix as a filmmaking center. Not long ago Austin was declared the best place for tech and filmmaking How’d they do it? Filmmaking in Phoenix is confronted with the same identity problem as the tech sector (I’m involved a little bit in the film industry as well).
There are several initiatives which try to change this and do a better job in letting the world know that “hey, there is a hidden tech gem in the desert”.

One initiative is led by Francine Hardaway and Ed Nusbaum who co-founded Stealthmode Partners, which is an incubator for Phoenix startups.
Companies accepted in the Stealthmode Partners portfolio are getting coaching, consulting, and connections to the people and resources they need to reach success.
Stealthmode Partners partnered with Microsoft BizSpark program, a program that provides software, support and visibility for software startups.

Some of the startups Stealthmode partners helped are:

Francine also founded the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences which is an annual conference helping in raising the awareness of Arizona entrepreneurial community.

But she is not the only geek in town.

One of the most known gatherings of the tech and business people is at the Ignite Phoenix event It’s scheduled several times a year at which 18 speakers are chosen to speak about their project 5 minutes each. Ignite Phoenix is a product of the Phoenix Innovation Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational and community building events in the Phoenix metropolitan area (sponsored by O’Reilly Media which supports local communities hosting Ignite events in cities around the world).

Along Ignite Phoenix event, Invest Southwest capital conference is one of the biggest (if not the biggest). It reunites investors and entrepreneurs from Arizona and South-West USA. The entrepreneurs have a chance to showcase their creation in front of investors. Since its inception, 1992, the capital invested as a result of this conference reached about a quarter of billion dollars.

Showcasing a startup could be difficult for some entrepreneurs because of lack of training in speaking in front of lots of people. Thus, if they want to get that training they can attend ASU Venture Catalyst program which educate and connect entrepreneurs from around the Valley and not only. It was initiated by the Arizona State University.

Web professionals thrive when they are surrounded by their peers and that’s exactly what GangPlank, a local organization led by two young men – Jade Meskill and Derek Neighbors, is trying to do. The organization is providing free workspace and mentorship for startups or for individuals who want to build something and also contribute to the community established around it.


They are headquartered in a 5,000-square-foot facility located in a quiet business park on East Elliot Road in Chandler (they extended in Utah as well:

Another incubator is Edson Student Ventures (in cooperation with Arizona State University).
Arizona State University also has its own incubator: SkySong Center

The latest addition to the Phoenix startup community is, a newly-formed startup incubator in the Scottsdale airpark created by the founders of, a multi-million dollar software company that’s been in existence since 2003.

MIT Venture Ready Phoenix ( is a program in association with Boston’s MIT that preps Arizona startups to take venture capital funding. They’re now working in association with the AZ Commerce Authority ( to deliver the Arizona Innovation Challenge program to get seed funding to promising startups.

In Flagstaff NACET (Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology – has established a successful incubator with over 30 companies that span biotech, solar, web, cleantech and mainstream commercial sectors. With funding from the City of Flagstaff and ties with NAU they directly accounted for the creation of over 100 jobs in 2010.

There’s a podcasting dedicated event called PodCampAZ, held usually at University of Advancing Technology, Phoenix.

Let’s not forget the Code Camps events around the country which in Phoenix is called the Desert Code Camp This is a free, one-day event put on by the local Phoenix community to help promote software development in general (no matter the language, platform, or technology).

Arizona has a non-profit trade association founded to connect, represent and support the state’s expanding technology industry and the name is Arizona Technology Council, having well-known names in the board of directors, Steven Zylstra being the CEO.
And if that is not enough for some geeks they can choose other events from below:

A more complete list of meetups can be found here

If you enjoyed TED conferences you will enjoy a Phoenix spin-off called TEDx conference

As other Phoenix economic branches the technology was hit by un-employment too. If you are one of those you might want to be part of the LaidOffCamp Phoenix event.

Arizona has also an Internet professionals association: AZIPA (runs a series of mailing list tech and business related).

Other places where Phoenix geeks can go and find out more are:
– AZ Groups (brings together users of all technologies in Arizona)
– Eventification (an aggregator of technology and business events around Phoenix, built by Brian Shaler – a local developer)
– Networking Phoenix (one-stop-shop for professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, people in transition and anyone else looking to find networking events, established by Gelie Akhenblit)
– TechNews Arizona (science and technology news from Arizona)
If the tech startup scene is not that developed as in Silicon Valley, Austin or Boulders the venture capital/angel investing scene is not that developed either and that might be one of the cause Phoenix is not having that many startups.

There are few venture capital firms around the Valley (and Arizona) which invest in technology (on Crunchbase I found just two so I had to look elsewhere). Some of them invest in early stages while others in later stages (or both):

Most of these funds have their monies already invested and they don’t seem to raise other rounds (especially in this economic climate). Arizona Technology Council, together with other organizations, is trying to put together, at this time, a $50 million fund for seed and early stage investments.
The Valley funds seem to have invested half of their monies in semi-conductor related companies and the other half in life sciences (not too much in the Internet startups).

As startup incubators I was able to track down only two:

Gangplank was planning to open another one two years ago but it looks like the plans didn’t materialize.
Along these VC firms and incubators, angel investors are trying to do their part too.
One of the most known angel investor from Phoenix (at least in my opinion) is Howard Lindzon (, Wallstrip, Stocktwits, MyTrade,, AdaptiveBlue, Covestor, Disqus, LifeLock, InternetBrands, Silicon Alley Insider, TubeMogul, vSocial and others).

Other angel investors are:

There are some angel investors organization, too:



This article was possible also with the input of the following people for which I thank them:
– Francine Hardaway (StealthMode Partners
– Terree Wasley (ASU Technopolis and Invest Southwest
– Steven Zylstra (Arizona Technology Council
– Dee Harris (Arizona Angels Network
– Greg Head (consultant and angel investor)
– Jade Meskill and Derek Neighbors (Gangplank
– Morris Callaman (angel investor)
– Curtis Miller (Flatterline
– Sean Tierney (Jumpbox
– Brian Shaller (Eventification
– Robert Wallace (TallWave
– Erica Lucci (OpenRain
– Wesley Novack ((WesleyTech
– Tomas Carrillo (The Closet Entrepreneur


What can do an aspiring filmmaker who is trying to self learn the skill while working in some other field for living?

aspiring-filmmaking-adviceI was always watching movies since childhood. I even kept a list of movies I saw until it became too big.

Then, 8 years ago I started to think: I like movies quite a lot…why couldn’t I actually MAKE movies?

Once the idea got into my head I started to see what I can learn about it.
At that time I was living in my native country, Romania, in a small town which meant no filmmaking industry or not even some professionals from whom to learn.

I was working on web development so I started to find online out info about filmmaking.
First, I started to order filmmaking books from Amazon, books which some people were recommending on some filmmaking forums and websites I’ve found.

Pretty soon I realized I needed a camcorder to try to practice some of what was preached in those books, especially things related to the cinematography, editing. So I bought one (this was my first camera, top of the line for prosumers: Panasonic PVDV953 MiniDV Camcorder with 3.5″ LCD, 3CCD, and 16MB SD ).

Here is a short movie I have made at that period of time (2005) with that camera:
Straja – Romania (on Vimeo)
Then I came to US.

I knew in my country I couldn’t aspire to work in this filmmaking industry (partly because they require you to go to school, partly because the filmmaking industry in my country is not so developed…or better said, it was developed but fallen down from graces – we do have studios who are working with American and European filmmakers but they are mostly doing services for them. They are several Romanian filmmakers who got important prizes abroad but they are just a handful.).

So, I realized that in US I could one day work in this industry without necessarily going to school (and there are examples of filmmakers who didn’t go to school and are having a career in filmmaking).

But I had first to get a job here so I got one in the IT industry again, while I started to establish contacts with local filmmakers in Phoenix, Arizona (where I live) and start getting involved in projects (behind the camera mostly – I tried once to be in front of the camera and I realized it’s not for me, partly because English is not my native language).

I worked at some local projects (unpaid) and also I got involved in some other projects which were not locally (you can see them in my IMDB profile).

Of course, I kept studying and reading about different matters in filmmaking, being a good library for that (see the Movies, Movie Business and Industry, Movie Production sections…also check my board Filmvisor (filmmaking) where I collected links from the web about this).

Here are some stuff I recommend you to get, they are super useful (even if they are not cheap).

1) Film Directing, Film School, Camera Blocking, Cinematography (from HollywoodCameraWork)
Get all of their DVDs! (or they can offer MP4 videos files which can be played on iPads, iPhones, etc)

Lots of details, explanations with examples. See some of their videos as demos on the site. They have another series in the works, Directing Actors.

2) Dov S-S Simens’ 2-Day Film School
These DVDs are also very useful in explaining how the independent filmmaking works.

I am trying now to develop also some writing skills and for that I am writing not only here on Quora but also on other websites (and even in a newspaper in my native language). Practice makes perfect, they say.

NOTE: This article was published first by me on on Jan 8, 2013

How to run a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for your movie project

As an indie filmmaker the main obstacle in making our movies is the money. A good chunk of our time is spent raising money (applying for grants, talking to investors and distributors, finding other ways to get the cash, etc). For an artist, this is somehow frustrating because it deals more with the business side than with the art side of filmmaking (although some may argue that raising money is an art in itself) and the filmmakers are not businessmen, usually. badge funded
In the last three years a means of funding a movie project emerged:

It uses the crowdfunding method (basically, people donating their money for a project) and this web service became the leading crowdfunding service in the world, with over $230 million dollars pledged (from over 2 million registered backers) and more than 23,000 successfully funded projects (at a rate of 44% successful projects). No other crowdfunding service comes even close.

The most active category on Kickstarter is Film & Video, with over 32 million dollars in pledges (over 3200 successful projects funded).
The top 10 most funded projects in the Film & Video category are in the range of $176,000 to $345,000.

However, the most funded projects in all categories are projects from Design (Peeble Watch – $10 million), Games (Double Fine – $3.3 million), Comics (The Order of the Stick – $1.2 million), Music (Amanda Palmer – $1.1 million), Technology (Printrbot – $830,000).

Since I started backing projects on Kickstarter I took a look at some projects that were film related (but not only) trying to understand why some projects are funded while some other are not.

One of the best Kickstarter short movie projects I have encountered lately is called “Dust” by Ember Lab from Los Angeles (see the Kickstarter page here: ).

Why is this one of the best?

I did a bit of analysis and these are my conclusions (I recommend you to download the analysis and read it carefully).

Download the full analysis of “How to run a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for your movie project” (PDF file, 700Kb)

(right-click and Save Link as… or Save Target As… – or just click on the link to see it online)


Have something already done for your movie project
Anything you can do without needing much money (or with your money/time): storyboards, art work, pre-production stills and videos, trailer shots, etc.
You have to show backers that your movie idea isn’t just an idea, you already doing something about it.

Start the marketing of your project even before posting it on Kickstarter
Establish relationships with the journalists (local included), build a website (and keep it updated), attract fans/followers on your Facebook page and Twitter (and keep them informed), build the audience. All before you are stating the Kickstarter campaign. When the time comes and you will post the project on Kickstarter you will have already people interested in your project and who can become backers. Also, don’t forget to make those future videos for updates early on (they are time consuming).

Make a realistic production budget of your movie and figure out where the Kickstarter money can fit in
You should know how much money you want to ask on Kickstarter based on your production budget (this should include shipping and other costs associated with delivering the physical rewards to the backers: DVDs, Blu-Rays, t-shirts, posters, etc). Don’t just throw an arbitrary number. Don’t forget also that Kickstarter gets 5% of the money collected so factor that into your amount asked.

Make a killer video presentation
Don’t skimp on this and don’t make it look cheap (see again “Dust”).

Give plenty of information in the text presentation
If the text is long, break it down into sections (just like “Dust” has) for easy to read.

Choose carefully your rewards
Also, don’t forget the power of the producing rewards (associate producer, co-producer, executive producer, and producer) and the IMDB credits. Be very specific where the money collected will go.

Update your project often and let backers know
Don’t forget also the call to action (ask backers to spread the word but also remind them that Kickstarter is all-or-nothing campaign – you create a sense of urgency, especially at the end of it). You may have to educate your future backs on how to use Kickstarter to donate the money (don’t assume everyone knows what Kickstarter is and works – you can find tutorials about this on Youtube or can make your own little branded tutorial to show to them).

Go and market your Kickstarter campaign
Using the relationships you have made with journalists try to get articles written about your project on Kickstarter. Submit to social news websites (like Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc), post on Facebook and Twitter and post often (don’t forget about your friends too). This marketing campaign can continue offline too, locally.
Don’t forget about trying to get featured on Kickstarter itself.
You need to keep up this marketing campaign constantly until the funding goal has been reached and beyond (if you still have days remaining for the campaign).

Always keep, regularly, in contact with your backers
Even after your campaign is successful and you got your funding you should keep the updates coming. Backers love to know how you are doing and that their money is put to good use. It gives them a sentiment of fulfillment, accomplishment.

In the end, your Kickstarter campaign has to respond to the questions potential backers asks: Why should I give you my money? Why should I become your backer?
Ember Lab convinced me to back the “Dust” project by choosing one of their $1,000 rewards (this analysis was written in June 2012, right after the project ended its campaign, but published in September 2012).

Download the full analysis of “How to run a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for your movie project” (PDF file, 700Kb)

(right-click and Save Link as… or Save Target As… – or just click on the link to see it online)

The golden core team of Paypal (so-called “Paypal Mafia”)

There was a question on (a site where I answered a lot to lots of questions): “Who are the top 3 most influential tech entrepreneurs (or teams) in each decade the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s and why?

Here is my answer to that.

One of the most influential teams of 2000s is the, so-called, Paypal Mafia:

It was an outstanding team of 20 or so people put together by the founders of Paypal: Max Levchin, Peter Thiel and COO David O Sacks (together with Elon Musk which came after the merger of and Confinity, forming thus Paypal).

Basically, is hard to find today known startups which DON’T have or had one of these people as investors, advisors, founders or CEOs.

Here is the dream team and their actual or past involvements:

  • Peter Thiel – founder (Founders Fund, Facebook, Geni, SpaceX, LinkedIn, Yammer, Yelp, Slide, Friendster, Palantir, Powerset, Clarium Capital, IronPort, etc)
  • Max Levchin – founder (Slide, IronPort, Yelp)
  • David O Sacks – COO (Yammer, Geni, film producer also)
  • Roelof Botha – CFO (Sequoia Capital, Youtube, Joost, Facebook, TokBox, Xoom)
  • Elon Musk – short time CEO after Paypal acquisition of (Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity)
  • Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim – designer, engineering manager and engineer (Youtube)
  • Reid Garrett Hoffman – EVP (Linkedin, Zynga, Friendster, SixApart, Flickr, IronPort, Digg, Technorati, Tagged, Ning, etc)
  • Eric M. Jackson – VP of Marketing (Caplinked, WND Books)
  • Russel Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman – Lead Architect and VP of Technology (Yelp)
  • Keith Rabois – executive (LinkedIn, Slide, TokBox, Xoom, Geni, Youtube, Yelp)
  • Luke Nosek – VP of Marketing (Founders Fund, Halcyon Molecular, SpaceX, Pathway Genomics)
  • Premal Shah – product manager (
  • Dave McClure – Director of Marketing (500Startups, Mint, KISSMetrics, Twilio, TeachStreet, SlideShare, LinkedIn, SimplyHired, etc)
  • Daniel Issen – (AdBrite)
  • Jared Kopf – assistant executive (Slide, Adroll)
  • Ken Howery – pre-financing CFO and Director of Corp Dev (Founders Fund)
  • Yishan Wong – Director of Engineering (Facebook, Appbistro)


Here is an article about them on CNN Money (2007).

Now, after Facebook IPO, maybe there will be another team like that coming from the social network giant which will get involved into tech startups at the scale the Paypal original team did.
Or, maybe, other teams from other tech startups which hits it big will do the same. It will benefit the upcoming entrepreneurs for sure.

NOTE: This article was published first by me on on Feb 5, 2011.

What is the best order of operations for building a website?

After mulling on the idea and getting sure it has legs (that includes a bit of customer development) this is what I would do.
Of course, this is a general idea, particular cases needs to be treated accordingly.



  • Wireframing/propotyping your idea

You don’t need technical skills to do this. With the help of dedicated software like,, (or others) you can do it quite well and fast.


  • Refine your idea based on the wireframe you just made

You can ask your friends, your potential customers what they think and how can be improved. You can even present to investors if you think it’s necessary.


  • From this wireframe, make a Minimum Viable Product MVP

Now, you need to decide what to build as an MVP, especially if you don’t have much money to invest and you want to get out on the market.
An MVP will allow you to test your idea in the wilderness, get feedback and also can be shown to investors as a functional proptotype (not just a wireframe).


  • Build the MVP

Based on the wireframe you have done and the documentation you can start building your minimum viable product. You can either build it yourself or hire somebody else to do it (or team up as co-founders with somebody technical). This includes also the design of the website.
Don’t think too much about scalability, it’s not needed in this phase (it’s overkill).


  • Test more, improve, shout it out

Have a closed beta test of your MVP so you can improve even more.
When you are confident let other people know you are out (press included).
Considering what kind of feedback and how much traction you get you can look for investors, if you think it’s needed.


  • Add more features if needed to your MVP, according to your original vision

But pay attention on the users too (some of your original vision may get altered because of that). Be prepared for continuous change.


  • Marketing for your website

You can think more about this and marketing doesn’t have to mean “I need money for that”. You can do some things for free (think about viral marketing, ask users to do it, SEO, social media, etc).
Don’t forget about analytics of your site, you always need to know about your users and that will help your marketing efforts as well.


  • Reiterate more, be prepared for growth

Hopefully your efforts will pay off and you will see growth. That means you need to be prepared for that (jobwise also), especially for high growth in short time (it can kill you if you don’t manage it properly). In this phase the scalability needs to be paid more attention (from the hardware and software standpoint).


  • Build a good business on your website

Think now about your business long term goals and plan accordingly (well, plans can be also changed so be open minded about that). Be patient and execute steadily. Apple and the pyramids weren’t built overnight.
Consideration of an acquisition can come in place but don’t let that be your only way to “make it”.


  • Be prepared for change (if necessary)

If your original idea doesn’t work or stales then you need to think about pivoting (overused term, I know), that is, changing the direction (that means some significant changes have to be done on the product too, not just the business model). I hope you will be able to realize in time when it’s time to do it.


  • Be prepared to fold

Yes, sometimes it happens that whatever you do with your idea which is now live, it just doesn’t work. As much as you love it, it’s the time to let you baby rest in peace (especially if no one wants to buy it). Sounds like a creepy option but if you know when to fold then you will have energy to start over, with another idea.
Don’t get discouraged if this idea doesn’t work. Max Levchin tried 4 times before hitting big with Paypal.

NOTE: This article was published on on April 15, 2012

Finding a technical co-founder for your startup

Here are some places where you can find a co-founder (technical or not).
Do you have a profile there? Do you have tech people in your network? If yes you can take a look at their profile and see if you find someone interesting and contact them.
If you don’t have some of those people in your network then you will have to find them and most probably pay Linkedin to let you contact those.
You will need to apply there as co-founder.
Using this site, somebody from my city found me. We’ve met, discussed and now became friends and maybe in the future we will start something (he needed someone who is more involved with the social media and online marketing – he is pretty technical himself). The site moved to Google+ community since then.
Over 20,000 co-founder candidates at last count. And growing. Like for finding a co-founder.
Another site where you can look for a tech cofounder.


You can lookup also on this Google spreadsheet.


Hacker News
This is well known among developers, especially among those in Silicon Valley.
See here an example:
This place is swarming with programmers. Get use first with the site and see who are the experts there.
This is a site where various groups from various fields are formed and have meetings in real life. I am sure you can find groups of developers there for your city. Try to attend their meetings and talk to people. Maybe, after sometime, you can find someone who knows his stuff and you click (it’s important to have chemistry with that person, otherwise it’s like a bad marriage).
Here is an example group from Austin, TX.
Or like these groups in Los Angeles.
Register with them. They will send you tech and startup events in your area (if they have your area covered).
Almost the same as above but you have to see if there is something in your area.
This is for Silicon Valley only (it’s the entrepreneurs association from there). You have to register to get in. You can attend their meetings and through the contacts you are making there you can get maybe recommendations for a co-founder.
Worldwide network of entrepreneurs and makers, including engineers, scientists, designers, musicians, artists, etc. Many successful, funded startups have come out of CollabFinder.
The same as above.

Friends and friends of friends
Maybe this should on the spot 1.
Maybe you have friends who are technical or know friends who are and can hook you up.

Your university or other universities from your area
Maybe this should be on the spot 2.
Does your university (if you are in one) has a computer science section? You can go there and talk to the teacher and maybe they can tell you who can be a technical good fit for you. But you still need to meet that person and see if you click.

Please also read these articles about finding co-founders:
Where can I find a technical co-founder to help build a social search company?
Where is the best place to find a rockstar developer to bring an idea to life?
How have non-technical founders found technical co-founders?
– Vinicius Vacanti (Yipit founder) posts here and here
– Venturehacks
– Techcrunch
– Quicksprout
– Wall Street Journal
– Hacker News post


finding-co-founders-startupIn searching for a tech co-founder you also need to be aware of what you are bringing to the table, beside the idea.

Maybe you have connections which can help the startup, maybe you are a good “salesman” (to sell your vision to people), maybe you have marketing skills, maybe you have the money…or all of these. A tech person will ask you these and wonder about these. You have to be prepared to respond. You have to win that tech person to become your CTO. Like I said (and others said), it’s like a marriage…and, like with all marriages, it can sometime go wrong so you have to be prepared for that too.

NOTE: This article was published first by me on on Jan 29, 2011.

How feasible is it to shoot a feature film on prosumer DSLRs?

The latest developments in the DSLR cameras shows that it’s quite cost effective to shoot a movie using them.

Here are some examples:
Reverie by Vincent Laforet
Vincent Laforet blog  (well known photographer)
– Making of Act of Valor movie  and Hurlbut Visuals  (well known cinematographer)
NoFilmSchool examples
Resolve community examples
The Photoletariat examples
Philip Bloom – making of Red Tails (for Lucasfilm)
Adam Westbook examples
Searching For Sonny movie  (Engadget says this is the first feature to be shot using a DSLR )

However, as those above noticed, the DSLR camera processor isn’t yet very good (doesn’t have enough power) at processing shots in which you have lots and fast movements that’s why the shots could be jerky.
But for relatively static images the shots are very good, rivaling a lot with professional video cameras.
For the sound, you may need separate equipment (even maybe a camcorder just for that).

The DSLR are starting to be used in some high budget movies like Iron Man 2 (the shots at the car race – cheaper to be destroyed eventually).

Here is a list of past, curent and future feature films which are using DSLR.

NOTE: This article was published first by me on on Mar 5, 2011

Starting in web development

There are two parts in web development/programming:
– the front-end (what the browser is displaying to the user)
– the back-end (what happens before the browser is displaying the results to the user)

Each of these sections are big enough for a programmer to not know both very well (I am not talking about geniuses here).

To build a website, a modern website, you need to have both sections.

Before starting, you will need to get a hosting account where you can practice with your website development. Hosting is cheap these days and I recommend to buy a cheap one, just for development, because you can jump into learning and developing right away without spending time learning how to setup your own hosting environment (that takes time too).




To know how to program the front-end you need to know:
– HTML or HTML5 (HTML5 is the latest standard)
– CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – version 2 or better 3
– Javascript

HTML is the backbone of any website and it’s not a programming language per se but a markup language which uses tags <> to enclose its commands.
You can see HTML codes if you go to a webpage with your browser, then right-click, then View Page Source, or View Source. That’s how I learned HTML…by reverse engineer webpages looking into their source code.

HTML is not hard to learn. You can use a visual webpage editor like Microsoft Frontpage, Coffeecup, NetObjects Fusion or iWeb (for Mac) and create a webpage, then look into the source code to see what you have done. Play with that.
Later on, you will be able to write HTML by hand in an advanced text editor like Editplus, Notepad++ or TextPad (don’t skip learning how to code by hand, don’t rely on the visual editor too long).
After learning HTML it’s easy to pick up advanced HTML, which is HTML5.
If HTML is the backbone of a website then CSS is what give a website its look and formatting (presentation semantics, as they call it). You can compare HTML with Notepad and CSS with MS Word processor. One makes text, but the other ones makes it much prettier. That’s what CSS does, basically.

Sometimes you can find CSS code by looking into the webpages source code (like this:<style type=”text/css”>…your CSS code…</style>) but usually the CSS code is kept in a separate file (ending in .css) and invoked/included in the HTML page using a specific command (like this: <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”whatever_name.css” /> ).
If you encounter a website which has this inclusion command then you can see the CSS code by going to that .css file directly, in the browser (like
See here an example of a CSS file (it’s my site’s CSS file)

Javascript is used to add dynamics to a webpage, to a webpage otherwise static.
Like CSS, you can find sometime Javascript embedded directly to the HTML page (like this: <script language=”javascript”>….your Java script code….</script>). But mostly it will be in a separate Javascript file ending in .js (included in thew HTML page like this: <script src=’whatever_name.js’ type=’text/javascript’></script>). You can see it directly if you open it with the browser (like…).
See here an example of a Javascript file (it’s one of my site’s Javascript file).


Links for learning



You can find on Google (including Youtube) many tutorials about these. Just type “HTML tutorials”, “CSS tutorials” or “Javascript tutorials”.

Having some graphic design skills doesn’t hurt also (Adobe Photoshop or equivalent to make pretty graphics for your website).



The back-end now is even more complicated than the front-end and that because there are so many options, it’s mind boggling.
In the last 10 years the open-source movement gave birth to many programming languages and were made free to people, spawning even more open-source tools and programming languages.

You may have heard of Perl, TCL/TK, PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, Erlang, C, C++, Lisp, Haskell, ASP/ASP.NET/C#, Coldfusion/CFML. But some of these have lots of frameworks built on top of them (the scope of the framework is to make life easier for the programmer – only PHP has over 20 frameworks).

What are these back-end programming languages doing? Most of them are serving as an intermediary between the browser and the database (yes, back-end means also database).
The data is sent to this intermediary through a page written in a programming language of choice which is processed by the programming language interpreter which allows to that data to be sent into a database. Also, the same page programmed in a language can get the data from the database and send it to the browser using the programming language interpreter.

What programming language you choose it doesn’t matter much as long as you can accomplish your result.

But you, as a beginner, should choose a programming language which has these characteristics (and I am not referring at the syntax):
– the language should be popular (that means it has a big community which can offer support)
– the language should be open source (that means you don’t have to pay money for it)
– the language should stick around for longer time (that means the language shouldn’t disappear or be less used in the short term – it happened with ASP classic and Coldfusion/CFML/TCL/TK)

In conjunction with these languages also you should choose the database which you will learn. The database should also be open-source (MySQL, PostgresSQL, SQLlite).
In my opinion, for a beginner, you should choose from among these back-end technologies to help you started:
– PHP (open source, big community, lots of software built with, lots of jobs),
– Ruby on Rails (open source, growing community, hot with startups, growing number of jobs),
– Python (open source, big community, quite hot with startups, growing number of jobs)
– MySQL database (open source, big community, hot with startups, many jobs)

You have to try these and see what you like, what fits you.

Links for learning:

Ruby on Rails
– check out also the installation tutorial I wrote


MySQL (SQL is the language used to extract, insert, delete and process data in the database – you need to know this as well)

Don’t forget! You can find tutorials not only on Google but on Youtube too (so you can have a visual).


You can try front-end development and also back-end development…but in the end you will have to specialize (you can’t learn everything very well, unless, of course, you are a genius).

Learning from scratch will take you time but don’t despair. Even God needed seven days to create Earth, so they say.

Be perseverent, ask around when you don’t understand, get connected to the specific communities, go to or other communities for very technical questions, search on Google, buy some books and practice.
Practice makes perfect, they say and that’s not far from truth.

NOTE: This article was published by me on on June 22, 2011

Filmmaking Resources, the “continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it” where I joined sometime ago has also a quite strong filmmaking community (screenwriters, directors, actors, crew), besides an entrepreneurship community.

Thus, I established a board for this creative community with all kind of filmmaking resources found on Quora and on the Internet: questions and answers, articles, tutorials, other resources (video, images, text).


Here is the board, which I think it will be helpful for those looking to learn about filmmaking:


If you are already on Quora you can followed it. If you are not yet on Quora you can still read them, but you can’t post anything.

Hope you will find them useful and if yes, please let others know (you can also post them on social media services like Reddit, Hacker News, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc so even more people can benefit).