A Weeknight Observation with the Gypsy King My goal was to go out and get drunk enough to ask my roommate if she would f*ck herself with her dildo in front of me... ...

Ted Otis in the role of a German soldier
Pin It

An American actor in Prague, part 1

It’s a chilly September morning, and I find myself standing in a muddy courtyard dressed in a forest green, leather trench coat and gloves. In front of me stand 60 disheveled and shivering men, the scene is grim. With my hands behind my back I wander into their ranks and slowly single out 10 of them. “You!” I shout repeatedly as armed soldiers whisk the men to a bloodstained platform. Another captain enters the courtyard leading a firing squad. The men start to weep as their fate becomes palpable. “Ready!!” I shout as the soldiers cock their rifles, “Aim!!” as a deadly silence falls over the scene.

• Part 1
• Part 2
• Part 3


Excellent. The director is satisfied, and we’re on schedule. It is time for the special effects team to rig the actors with squibs, small devices that mimic bullet holes squirting blood, and plenty of time to grab a hot soup from the catering tent and warm up a bit.

Today we’re shooting an Italian television movie in a city called Terezín, a fortress town built in 1780, surrounded by moats designed to be flooded in the event of attacks. I had never visited, much less filmed in, an ancient moat-city before and seeing its bizarre layout through the fog as we drove in had me extremely curious.

I soon learned that during World War II Terezín had been the site of a concentration camp ghetto with 150,000 prisoners passing through, many of them children forced to live in deadly conditions. More than 30,000 of them perished awaiting transit to Auschwitz and other death camps. The oldest known holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, a Czech pianist held captive at Terezín had managed to keep herself and son alive by performing Beethoven for the guards. To call this place haunted was an understatement.

A friend of mine had mused that it was an unofficial rite of passage for white, Anglo actors around these parts to land their first Nazi role. Done. However, today it had admittedly gotten a bit under my skin.

I was hired for this gig after filming had already begun and it was my first day on the job. We had little rehearsal and the sheer scale and authenticity of the location, the number of extras, and yours truly, playing the grim reaper had all become slightly overwhelming. Sipping my hot soup I cleared my head and quietly returned to feeling what many actors feel on a set; grateful to be working.

Tomáš Krejčí, a partner with local production house Milk & Honey Pictures, explained, “The opportunity to shoot with hundreds of extras in authentic locations was a key reason the director and our partners wanted to shoot in the Czech Republic.”

The mini-series L’Olimpiade nascosta (The Hidden Olympics), starring Irish actor Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot) and fellow veteran Czech actor Marek Vašut (Blade II), was produced using an Italian and Czech crew and would air on RAI-1, Italy's national broadcasting system and most-watched station.

I had only been in the country for a few months, and I didn’t realize many of Prague’s top American actors were hired to work on the project. I would soon discover that many of Prague’s top American actors were hired to work on every project.

Max and Woody

In the late 1920s, Václav Havel’s father and uncle teamed with jazz-age architect Max Urban to develop an opulent garden city in the hills south of the city center.

They started with building the now storied Barrandov Terraces, aka Teresa, a Gatsby-esque entertainment complex where visitors danced and dined on serpentine patios and verandas carved high into a rock plateau. Celebrities and dignitaries sipped cocktails at the popular Trilobite bar overlooking the Vltava River while others swam and sunbathed in an Olympic size swimming pool at the foot of the cliffs.

The development’s main attraction would be the Barrandov Studios. Construction began at the end of 1931, and  filming of the first feature, Vražda v Ostrovní ulici (Murder on Ostrovni Street) directed by Svatopluk Innemann, started Jan. 25, 1933.

Named after Joachim Barrande, a French geologist who discovered and spent his life exploring the fossil-rich site in the 19th century, the studio came to be modeled after Hollywood’s golden-age system, employing their own screenwriters, actors, extras and craftsmen. Eventually, up to 2,000 people from various professions were employed as the Czechoslovak state fully subsidized filmmaking at the time.

In 1939, while film studios in Germany were under threat of bombing by Allied air raids, the Nazis confiscated Barrandov and dissolved the Havels’ company. In its place, Joseph Goebbels established PragFilm, a propaganda unit that took advantage of the ideally equipped facility and expanded the studio by constructing an additional three cavernous soundstages, still heavily in use to this day.

Recently I was cast in a commercial for the world’s leading manufacturer of slot machines. I played Mr. Vegas, a flashy lounge singer that makes a surprise appearance inside a sleepy couple’s bedroom.

It gave me the opportunity and pleasure of meeting a world-famous Barrandov insider named Max. I had only seen Max from a distance but we would be working together for a full week and I was excited to finally meet. “Max” is the given name to Europe’s largest soundstage. Opened in December 2006, the high-tech structure is longer than a football field. Elevators, trap doors, advanced lighting and air circulation systems allow for the most demanding of productions. If you need to film an explosion inside Max, no problem, the smoke choked air recirculates within minutes, ready for your next shot. (I wish I could say the same of Prague’s restaurants).

One of the key reasons international productions continue to flock to Prague is the oversized stages that surround the city. Indeed Max is unlike any stage I’ve seen back in California, and I’ve seem most of them. Prague Studios in the northeast of Prague is another studio complex with impressive stages having converted old airplane hangers into a modern facility.

One month later I was delighted to meet yet another local icon named Dřevák, aka Woody. While Max is the latest and most advanced ateliér at Barrandov, Woody, or its literal translation ‘clog' holds the distinction of being Prague’s earliest existing soundstage, #4, today a cult stage favored by old-school Czech producers.

That day inside ‘the clog,’ my Danish colleagues (no, they were not wearing clogs) had me costumed as a businessman on a special set, a conference room that kept splitting in half during a fever-dream sequence. The interior of this stage is distinctive, with imposing wooden catwalks on its ceiling and walls, clearly the reason it was nicknamed Woody. Its considerable high-tech breakthrough at the time was a silent heating system that allowed sound to be recorded while filming. “Talkies” were barely five years old when Woody was constructed.

With the largest costume and property departments in Europe, Barrandov opens their doors to the public twice a year and also offers private tours. The vintage collections are shown complete with costumed volunteers providing impromptu performances and plenty of photo opportunities for visitors. We wandered through floors of elaborate wigs, medieval weaponry and armor, iconic costumes from hit films and collections of antique paintings and baroque furniture. The only area they disallowed photos was a large underground room housing Nazi themed costumes and paraphernalia, for good reason, a matter of promotional sensitivity.

The 82-year-old studio remains ground zero for film, television and commercial production and one of Europe’s most important. Film history has been made here time and again with classics like Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains, which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. More recently the father/son team of Zdeněk and Jan Svěrák also claimed a Best Foreign Film Oscar for their drama Kolja.

Join me next week as I continue to dig into the star-studded urban archeology of Bohemia. I’ll speak with some of Prague’s crucial industry insiders and also reveal a recent, fascinating film discovery unearthed right here, deep inside the European Hollywood.

- Born and raised in southern California, Ted lived and worked in downtown Hollywood for two decades before moving to Prague in 2011. He produced, shot, edited and composed music for his own television documentaries and has developed several luxury real-estate properties across Los Angeles. Ted is a longtime member of the performance guilds SAG-AFTRA and ASCAP.
Whether a King or a Street Sweeper, We All Have to...
Kristian Cohler Olšanské hřbitovy - the Olsany cemeteries

The language of the dead is whispered in serene inner voices. Find the face you could love - greet [ ... ]

Outlaw rebels; Fugazi
Keith Kirchner Fugazi promo image

Since its birth, rock 'n' roll has been a music worm-eaten with the myth of the lone, outlaw rebel.  [ ... ]

Veronica Zemanova; Beauty and the East
J. Hurewitz Veronika Zemanova

The Veronica Zemanova that is sitting with me and sipping pineapple juice is much  [ ... ]

Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and t...
Alexander Zaitchik Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War by Frances Fitzgerald

As a kid, Ronald Reagan scared the hell out of me. Originally the fear was personal, the way a clown [ ... ]

Artists of the Expat Age: Jesse Littell and Holly ...
Think Magazine "Dumb" (self portrait by the artist Jesse Littell)

Prague over the years has been known for producing some very inspired artists, and from the pool of  [ ... ]

Should I stay or should I go?
Ann Lysek Should I stay or should I go?

This quiz will help you decide whether or not you should buy furniture and sign a good long lease. A [ ... ]

A Textbook Definition of Anarchy
Think Magazine Dexter explains Anarchy

Anarchism, a movement organizsed on the belief that society should be run entirely by voluntary, org [ ... ]

Barmanské kurzy
Petra Carterová

Býti dobrým barmanem, toť věru velký kumšt!


Name Day/Svatek

Yesterday : Viola Today : Filip Tomorrow : Valdemar After tomorrow : Vilém

Our Mission

1. To make you think
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you.
2. To tell the world the truth
When you only tell the truth, you start earning trust, as journalists, our mission is to tell the truth.
3. To make you laugh
We want to make you laugh, chuckle, smirk, grin or smile as we try to find the upside of life in the face of all the evil around us.

The Power Flex yoga pant from 90 Degree by Reflex is the ideal combination of fashion, function, and performance. Our fabric is designed to contour perfectly to your body, giving you a streamlined look. We've created the perfect fabric at the perfect These Power Flex Pants are perfect for yoga, pilates, running, or any type of exercise or fitness-related activities. You can also go from the gym to running errands - all while being comfortable and stylish. Pairs well with our famous Power Flex Tan.

Bola24 adalah agen bola sbobet indonesia terpercaya

Situs bandarq indoqq dan aduq online terbaik di Indonesia

Tüvtürk randevu alma telefonla araç muayene randevusu almak için online hizmet tüvtürk araç muayene randevu istanbul ankara bursa izmir antalya telefonla randevu online web sitesi üzerinden başvuru yapınız Tüvtürk araç muayene randevu aldıktan sonra veya katma değerli 0888 233 0666 servis numaramızı dilediğiniz saatte çevirip çağrı