Norway is home to a beautiful and dramatic landscape. Access to fjords, glaciers, the Arctic, tundra, rivers, lakes, mountains, superb car roads, modern architecture and coastal villages makes it attractive for film-makers with a relevant story or scenario in mind. It’s also well-organised.
Film Commission Norway acts as a link between the national and international film and TV industry. A gateway to regional film commissions and production companies, FCN promises to “put you in contact with the right people, at the right time, at the right location.” In terms of logistics, Norway boasts a good infrastructure and short distances from inner city areas to unpopulated wildernesses, which saves time when changing location during filming.
Permission to film is also reasonably easy to obtain. While Norway is not regarded as a cheap place to produce, recent movements in exchange rates have made it more appealing to foreign producers. The government has also announced plans for a new tax incentive, which should make it a more compelling option for big budget productions.
Norway has had a steady stream of feature films, high-end TV series and documentaries in recent years. Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of serial killer thriller The Snowman - starring Michael Fassbender - was the first to use the country's incentive support. Other recent movies include the Alex Garland-directed movie Ex Machina (2015), the hit TV series Vikings and Captain America: The First Avenger, which visited Svalbard a few years ago. Other movies to have taken advantage of Norway’s breathtaking landscape include The Golden Compass and Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows.
Historically, international commercials producers haven’t been frequent visitors to Norway. But recent brands to visit have included Toyota, Marriott, Philips and Comparethemarket.com, which used Norway to double for Siberia. One possible explanation for this is the move in the exchange rate, which has made it considerably cheaper to shoot in Norway.
One domestic campaign that showcased Norway’s creativity was developed by Try/Apt Oslo for Norwegian bank DnB. The ad featured a lucky woman waking up after a heavy night to discover she got married to George Clooney the day before. A Cannes Lions Award winner, the strapline was "Some people are lucky in life. For the rest of us, saving up can be smart.”
Norway is a film-friendly location. Film Commission Norway says: “No general permits are required for location shooting in Norway other than the normal consent of the owner or the authority responsible for the location(s) in question. Any activities that might interfere with normal traffic have to be organised with the cooperation of the road authorities and the police. Some restrictions may apply in national parks and military areas, but given good planning and cooperation with the relevant authorities, arrangements can be made.” If necessary, the Commission can put producers in touch with one of its regional partners.
One of the most significant of these is the Western Norwegian Film Commission, home to some of the country’s most beautiful locations.
Also significant are Film3, which was created to encourage film-making in Lillehammer; FUZZ, the regional film fund for Bergen and Hordaland; Filmkraft, the regional film fund for Stavanger and Rogaland County; and FilmCamp, in Northern Norway.
Filmparken, located just outside Oslo, is the main centre for the Norwegian production business and is majority-owned by the Ministry of Culture. Consisting of 12,000 sq mt of office and studio space, Filmparken is home to around 20 companies offering a range of services to film, TV and commercials producers. Outside Oslo, some of the regional bodies mentioned above have a studio offering. A case in point is FilmCamp in Northern Norway, which has an 1800 sq mt studio, a backlot, offices and workshops – all close to exciting locations. FilmCamp also has a fund for productions shot in the region or at FilmCamp.
As explained in the introduction, Norway provides easy access to spectacular locations. Some of these can be viewed by clicking here (a database complied by Film Commission Norway). They range from Artic wilderness to quaint harbour towns. In addition, Norway offers interesting architectural backdrops in cities such as Oslo, Bergen, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Trondheim.
Norway’s cities aren’t very big, which makes them easy to get around when filming. One positive is that the coast is warmer than you might expect, thanks to the impact of the Gulf Stream. The country has such dramatic scenery that it can double for some surprising places, examples being the Colorado Rockies, Canada and Alaska.
“Nordic noir” film and TV productions are popular the world over and act as a great showcase for the quality of talent in Scandinavia. Norway specifically has good, efficient, English-speaking crews both in Oslo and some of the more remote locations. The centre for equipment rental is Oslo, with companies like Storyline active across sound, lighting, grip, camera and costume.
There are several good production services companies such as Pure/Scandinavia and Production Service Scandinavia that can help. There are a number of casting agencies that can help producers find actors, extras and models. Norway offers mainly Nordic looks, but some Middle Eastern looks also exist in the country.