Auditioning for Leo's New Movie in Dubrovnik, Croatia
It was 2:00am in Split, Croatia and not only were Wes and I wide awake but we were out at the bus station waiting for our new friends and ready for another adventure. We had no expectations but knew that we'd have a fun day and would say yes to any and all opportunities that would come our way. What we didn't know is that the events that would unfold over the next 24 hours would end with us being featured on the national evening news in Croatia...
The day before our adventure, Wes and I were sitting at a cafe in Split sharing a coffee with our new friends, Alenna and Dino. Our coffee date at Bajamonti was nearly over when we saw a post on Facebook about a casting call for the new Robin Hood movie being filmed in Dubrovnik. It took very little convincing before we had made our decision: we would take an overnight bus to Dubrovnik, be the first ones in line at the audition and become stars in the film being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio himself.
Split to Dubrovnik Bus
From a budget traveller's perspective, a day trip to Dubrovnik from Split is both long and expensive. A return bus ticket cost us each 197 kuna which is just under $40 CAD. Tickets can be purchased at the Split bus terminal near the old town (next to the harbour). The waiting room at the terminal is open 24 hours a day so we were able to wait for the bus indoors and keep warm. Normally you can buy tickets at the booths in the terminal but, since it was 2am, all of the booths were closed and we purchased our tickets right on the bus from the driver. We also found Bus Croatia to be a great resource when planning travel in Croatia.
Buses in Croatia are far more common than trains so you'll notice routes all along the Dalmatian coast are well-serviced and more reasonably-priced than trains. For an additional fee (5 kuna), tickets can be reserved in advance to secure your seat which I imagine is convenient during high season and on holidays. Even though a reserved bus or train ticket will have an assigned seat, it's pretty much understood among locals that seats are first-come, first-serve. We noticed this in Poland too - no one cares if you've booked the best spot on the bus online because "you sit anywhere."
The bus journey from Split to Dubrovnik may or may not call for some Gravol. It's a curvy road to say the least and it was a tough ride to sleep through on the way there. And I can usually sleep through anything! In total, the trip took about 4 hours with a handful of stops along the way. The bus terminal in Dubrovnik is about a 30 minute walk from the old town but we welcomed the fresh air and a chance to stretch our legs before our big audition.
Don't forget your passport! If you're travelling from Split to Dubrovnik by bus, you'll need to bring your passport since there is a passport check at the border crossing in Bosnia & Herzegovina. I totally didn't clue in to this and the only reason I brought our passports was because I thought we would need them as ID for the auditions. 😂
Robin Hood Auditions in Dubrovnik
Auditions for extras in the new Robin Hood: Origins movie where being held at the Hilton Imperial in Dubrovnik. Slightly delirious from a sleepless night on the bus, all of us had fun making up scenarios in which we would blow the production company away with our skills, get leading roles in the film and in turn become best friends with Leo. Spoiler alert: none of that happened.
We were among the first dozen or so people to arrive to the auditions so there wasn't much of a wait at all. We were called into the casting room in groups of 6 where we would have to fill out a questionnaire before getting our measurements and photos taken. As soon as one of the assistants learned Wes and I were not locals in Croatia, we pretty much got the boot. Basically, unless you're living in Croatia with a valid OIB (Croatian equivalent to a SIN) and bank account, you're not eligible to be cast as an extra in the movie because the production company isn't able to pay foreigners. Naturally we offered to volunteer for the role but that didn't fly. All hope was lost. Our dreams of stardom were shattered.
Our Croatian friends were still able to audition so it was really neat to see what goes on behind the scenes since neither of us have ever been to an audition before. The questionnaire included usual details like name and address but it also asked if you'd be willing to shave your head for the movie. Or if you'd be open to a monk-style haircut.
By the time we had finished begging for the chance to audition, there were dozens of people lined up waiting from babies to grannies and everything in between. Just as we were about to explore the old town of Dubrovnik, Wes noticed a cameraman and news reporter and yells, "Hey! Do you want to interview us?" And that's how we ended up on the national news...
Exploring the Robin Hood Movie Set in Dubrovnik
The city of Dubrovnik doesn't exactly resemble Sherwood Forest so there must be a plot twist in there somewhere. There was a lot of construction all along Stradun which is the main street running through the old town and at the seaside by the old port near St. John's Fortress.
Filming Dates for Robin Hood: Origins in Dubrovnik
Planning a trip to Croatia anytime soon? As per the audition questionnaire, filming for Leo's new movie in Dubrovnik is scheduled to begin February 21 and run until March 7, 2017. Construction is well underway as the old town is being transformed with wooden huts built all along the water's edge. If you're in the area, stop by to scope out the set and you might even spot some celebs in Dubrovnik!
New Travel Limits in Dubrovnik, Croatia
An influx of tourists, cruise ships and sailing trips in and around Dubrovnik has significantly increased the number of visitors to the old city. Popularity of Croatia as a destination has grown since filming of the Game of Thrones series began and, with more films and shows filmed in Dubrovnik this year, tourists will continue to visit the country for its beauty and popular film locations.
In an effort to reduce the crowds this year, the mayor of Dubrovnik proposed a cap on daily visits to the walled-town with camera counters being installed at all entrances to regulate visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once the number of daily visitors surpasses 6,000, measures will be put in place to ensure that number stays below 8,000 per day meaning travellers run the risk of being turned away this summer. Locals to the city are of course exempt from these regulations and priority will be given to tourists with a Dubrovnik Card. To increase your chances of getting in without a problem, consider visiting Dubrovnik in the off-season or shoulder season because June-August of 2017 will likely be the busiest months the city has ever seen. You'll avoid big tour groups by visiting the old town early in the morning and evenings (after 5pm) will also be less busy. Lonely Planet has more info on the changes you can expect this year in Dubrovnik.
Wes and I will always try our best to travel in the off-season and this meant we were able to enjoy a day in Dubrovnik with no crowds at all. We visited Krka National Park in early February and saw a handful of travellers only once in the afternoon. At Klis Fortress, it was just the two of us and one other person. And on the island of Hvar we felt like the only tourists in site! There are pros and cons to both but, after two perfect months in Split this winter, we have grown to love visiting Croatia in the winter.