Norway’s glaciers, mountains and fjords have long been a magnet for international productions, especially those in the sci-fi, adventure and fantasy genres. The country was further boosted in 2016 by the introduction an incentive covering up to 25% of spending in the territory. Popular destinations include the municipalities of Ulvik, where the mountain plateau of Finse stood in for Greenland in Isabel Coixet’s Endless Night (aka Nobody Wants The Night) and Aurland, where the fjord scenery is a favourite with Bollywood.
In the north west, the picturesque archipelago of Lofoten, on which the backdrops of hit animation Frozen are based, recently hosted Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, which shot at Trollfjorden.
Further north, Troms County is a popular spot thanks in part to the logistical support of the FilmCamp production hub (www.filmcamp.no), which has aided scores of features including Dutch director Boudewijn Koole’s Beyond Sleep and compatriot Harald Zwart’s upcoming Second World War tale 12th Man. Pushing into the Arctic Circle, Norway’s arctic Svalbard archipelago was the backdrop to Italian box-office hit Quo Vado.
Payne’s Downsizing, starring Matt Damon, was an early recipient of the new incentive, as was Working Title Films’ detective tale The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson.
Working with local producer Per Henry Borch of Oslo and Alesund-based Loopfilm, Downsizing was based out of ‘flotel’ Edda Fides, a passenger ship originally designed for oil-rig workers, during its shoot on the fjord. The Western Norway Film Commission also helped the production use the fjord for the duration of the August shoot.
Norway’s new incentive scheme has increased to an annual $6.5m (nok56m) for 2017. It reimburses up to 25% of costs spent in the country, with a minimum spend of $232,000 (nok2m). Applications are evaluated by production advisers at the Norwegian Film Institute. The next application deadline is September 14, 2017. The scheme can be combined with grants from other regional and national schemes but 30% of any applicant’s budget must come from outside Norway. Recipients so far in 2017 include Janusz Kaminski’s The Postcard Killings, Ross Clarke’s The Bird Catcher and Chinese director Yi Hong Bo’s Lost In Norway.
Full details on financial incentives in Norway: Norwegian Film Industry
Infrastructure and crews
Norway has a thriving local film and TV scene made up of some 100 independent production companies. The Norwegian Filmmakers Association, covering all types of crew, has more than 1,000 members. Most crew speak English.
Norway is slightly larger than the US state of New Mexico. It is also one of the longest territories in Europe, measuring 1,752 km (1,100 miles) from top to bottom. There are good road and rail networks but the most efficient way to travel is by air. The journey from Oslo to Bergen takes seven to eight hours by road or train or less than an hour by plane, with a dozen flights a day.
Mark Johnson, producer, Downsizing, says:
“The incentive programme was extremely important to us — it actually made shooting in Norway possible. The bulk of the crew during the Norwegian shoot was local. We brought in a handful of department heads, because they had already been working on the film for almost 60 days [in Toronto] and had a great sense of continuity. Alexander Payne and I found the local crews incredibly accomplished, experienced and resourceful.”
First person to call
Need to know
- DO contact regional film commissions for help with locations and services. These comprise the Western Norway Film Commission, Film Kraft Rogeland in the south and the Mid Nordic Film Region covering central Norway and Sweden.
- DON’T forget Norway also boasts a range of urban settings, from Oslo’s modern architectural gems such as the Opera House to the colourful, medieval waterfront of Bergen.
- DO consider a flotel when shooting in remote, water-based locations. The Downsizing shoot used the Edda Fides flotel. Full details: Mid Nordic Film Region
- DON’T forget snow lies on the ground in parts of Norway well into May, making it a perfect stand-in for wintry settings in territories where snow is less reliable. The Raumabanen railway service was used for a train scene in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince after snow failed to fall in the UK.