Austria went James Bond crazy in 2015 as Sony Pictures’ Spectre became the biggest production ever to be shot in the Tyrolean Alps.
Local restaurants invented Bond-themed cocktails and pizzas to cash in on the added interest in the region. The shoot was so successful that Pinewood Studios — where the film was based in the UK — signed a co-operation agreement at the end of the year with Film Industry Support Austria (FISA) to feature Austria as part of its ‘Pinewood on Location’ website.
There has been a tightening of the entry requirements for local and international productions hoping to access the country’s financial incentive. The minimum budget threshold was raised from $1.1m (€1m) to $2.6m (€2.3m), while budgets for service productions now have to be at least $9.1m (€8m) for feature films and $1.1m (€1m) for documentaries, with a minimum $1.1m (€1m) eligible spend in Austria.
Film Industry Support Austria (FISA) offers non-repayable grants of up to 20% of eligible Austrian production expenditure (or 25% for service productions), but they must not surpass 15% of FISA’s total budget. The fund’s annual budget of $8.4m (€7.5m) is allocated on the first-come, first-served principle.
Location Austria can act as an intermediary between international and Austrian production companies to establish contact with a local producer for accessing the FISA grant. Depending on the fulfilment of certain criteria, a project may also be able to access funding from Austria’s national fund, the Austrian Film Institute, or regional funds such as the Vienna Film Fund, CineStyria or CineTirol.
Full details on financial incentives in Austria: Location Austria
Infrastructure and crews
Austria can handle two to three big productions at one time, but does not have any film studios for shooting interiors.
However, the shoots of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and Spectre demonstrate there is an extensive pool of local crew with experience in major international productions. Some 250 crew members were recruited locally from Tirol and elsewhere in Austria for Spectre’s 31 shooting days at the beginning of 2015. Some 50 local crew joined the 70-strong Indian team when the romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came to Vienna last autumn.
Chinese director Albert Wu Tiange cast local actors Pepi Pittl, Stefan Peintner, Birgit Melcher and Felix Briegel in Winter Heat, an Alpine love story set in the world of skiing. “They helped to enrich the film with their local authenticity and their great talent,” says Wu.
The Alps account for almost two-thirds of the territory to the west of the country, and it is a five to six-hour drive from Vienna to Innsbrück. The Tirol is less than two hours by car from the German shooting hub of Munich and its facilities houses. Vienna is a three-hour drive from studios in Budapest, Hungary.
Polly Steele, director, Let Me Go
“Vienna is an important character in our film and so filming there felt essential. The team at Vienna Film Commission were so generous, helpful and welcoming. It was a wonderful experience.”
First person to call
Arie Bohrer and Julia Schmölz, Location Austria
Need to know
- DO contact Jack Falkner, managing director of the Bergbahnen Sölden mountain lifts in the Tyrolean Alps, if you want to stage spectacular action sequences more than 3,000 metres above sea level.
- DO call veteran producer Josef Koschier of SK Film if you are a Chinese film-maker considering a shoot in the country. Koschier worked with Chinese partners on Hui Mei’s On The Other Side Of The Bridge (Am Anderen Ende Der Brücke) in China 15 years ago, and brought China-Austria co-production Winter Heat to shoot in the Austrian Tyrol last spring.
DO call CineTirol if you are an Indian film-maker. The regional commission has a local liaison in Mumbai and has so far helped bring more than 80 Indian productions to the Alps, which often double as the Himalayas.