Castel Films' Studios are located
near a small village called Snagov,
about a 25-minute ride from
n orthern Bucharest. Snagov is
notable for being the burial place of
Prince Vlad Ţepeş [pronounced t
s e-
PEZH], also known as
Dracula . He's
reportedly buried under this
Monastery (left) on a small island
the middle of
Lake Snagov. The old
Transylvanian pe
asants believed
that the
un dead couldn't cross
running water, so they buried him
e and put a church over it. Not
that they necessarily
believed he
was a vampire...they just weren't
taking any chances. Other unruly
peasants destroyed Vlad's m
palace in the Algeş Valley, further
n orth in the Carpathian mountains.
(left) the castle set for the 1999 film
Beowulf , starring Christopher
(right) a lonely grip walks the
street on the western backlot area
(left) looking toward an old set and
into the forest behind the studio wall.
Those aren't frozen leaves on the
trees, it's the fog from the night
before that crystallized onto the bare
branches. Yup, it has to get pretty
cold to do that!
(right) Greetings from Little Amerika ! No, it's
not that faux town in Siberia where the
Soviets used to train their spies. It's the
snowed-over cul-de-sac in a pretend
American neighborhood on the Castel
backlot. The smoke behind the middle
house is coming from the studio sawmill
behind it. When they need wood to build a
set, they send a couple of burly Romanians
into the forest to chop down
some trees, and
build everything right there.

(left) How's that for respect? At Castel, they
remember every actor who's ever played a
principal role for them by stenciling their name
onto one of many sound stage walls. They do
the same for directors, DPs and art directors.
(right) Relaxing in a Bucharest pub after
wrapping for the day.

(left to right) Romanian actor Vitalie Bantas ,
Canadian Brigitta Dau, Robert's girlfriend
(name?), Robert
Radoveanu , and American
Stephen Blackehart (yours truly),
all from the
cast of
Retro Puppet M aster .
(right) S ome of the soundstages in
the distance, as seen from the
makeup and dressing facilities. To
the far right, you can see part of a
plane that had been used on a
recent film, and behind it, the edge
of the western backlot.