Three James Bond movies — Spectre, Quantum Of Solace and The Living Daylights — have filmed in Austria but 2017 is all about Bollywood. Tiger Zinda Hai, one of the biggest Indian films of the year, has been filming in what the locals call ‘Tirollywood’ — that’s to say in the snowcapped Tirol mountains. The film, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, and featuring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, set up camp around Innsbruck in the spring.
The attraction of the country for filmmakers has been much enhanced by the local FISA incentive, which can be combined with regional film funding from, for example, Tirol or Salzburg. Producers can also claw back around 30% of production costs. The FISA incentive is not yet available for high-end TV drama. “We are going to change it now,” says Arie Bohrer of Location Austria. “We didn’t include it when we were establishing this model. Nobody expected such a boom in the TV sector.”
There are also plans in the works to build a studio.
There is a 25% Film Industry Support Austria (FISA) subsidy based on the Austrian spend. To access this, all producers need to do — other than shoot in Austria — is hire a local service production supplier. The rebate, capped at $1.27m (€1.2m), is negotiable and flexible; it is possible to access it early on to cashflow production if necessary. Fiction feature films must shoot for at least five days in Austria and the budget must be at least $8.5m (€8m) ($1.06m [€1m] for documentaries), with a minimum Austrian spent of €1m of eligible production costs. The non-repayable grant amounts to 25% of the production costs eligible for support but must not surpass 15% of the total annual grant budget.
Full details on financial incentives in Austria: Location Austria
Infrastructure and crews
There is enough talent for two ‘A crews’. Three big films would be unlikely to
shoot in Austria at the same time because the country does not yet have any major studios, and filmmakers visit primarily to shoot exteriors. Productions do not usually spend more than five weeks in Austria. With clever scheduling, there will always be room for the next production. It is advisable to bring in heads of department but Austria boasts top make-up artists, wardrobe staff, lighting technicians, VFX and post-production experts and stunt co-ordinators. Most are bilingual and speak decent English.
The infrastructure is excellent because the country is very tourist-oriented. The cafés of Vienna are just a short hop from a mountain glacier. Crews can work in extreme conditions, in deep snow, but with roads, hotels and cities very nearby. There are direct flights from all over the world not just to Vienna, but to Innsbruck and Salzburg too. The Austrians have close links with the Hungarian industry. Several films will shoot in studios there while doing exterior work in Austria.
Aashish Singh, producer, Tiger Zinda Hai, says:
“We required a location that had a lot of snow in March. Austria was at the top of the list. We knew we would have support here and rebates. There was a commitment on their side to do everything to facilitate our shoot. They understand the requirements and mindset of people who come from India. Apart from the locations, which are spectacular, incentives came into play.
“Everything fell into place in terms of the creative side, the financial side and a good crew. The Indian technicians and actors had a wonderful time. It is so beautiful. We shot in Innsbruck, which is a very quiet, quaint town. Coming from Mumbai, it’s a pleasure to be in such places.”
Would he come back?
First person to call
Need to know
- DO come if you want snow.
- DO ask Location Austria about special rates on hotel rooms for film crews. You can get four and five-star hotels at $85-$160 (€80-€150) a night. Try the Hotel Sacher or the Imperial in Vienna if you have stars looking for luxury accommodation. In Innsbruck, you could book the Adlers hotel.
- DON’T come in the winter holidays from late December to mid-January. It is a bad time for shooting the mountains. In the cities, the hotels will almost certainly be fully booked.