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Norway filming for crime thriller The Snowman

The Snowman

Crime thriller The Snowman filmed entirely on location in Norway with actors Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson, and director Tomas Alfredson.

Based on a series of novels by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, the movie follows Fassbender’s detective Harry Hole as he searches for a violent serial killer, whose horrific crimes appear to be influenced by Norway’s winter snowfall.

Norway has historically been a financially challenging film and TV location as the country lacked a national filming incentive support programme until last year. 

“There was a time when we looked at other countries including Sweden but it was finally agreed that Norway could work for us financially as well as creatively,” says Camilla Stephenson, the film’s supervising location manager, in an interview with KFTV.

The Snowman in fact became the first production to use Norway’s filming incentive programme, which comprises a 25% rebate for features that spend the equivalent of at least $250,000 locally. Alfredson’s movie was the largest ever to shoot in the country.

Filming took place in capital Oslo, in the western city of Bergen and in the central town of Rjukan.

“The book takes place in Oslo and Bergen,” says Piodor Gustaffson, one of the film’s producers. “That was a very important element for all of us. By scouting a lot here, Tomas – at an early stage – was trying to find the DNA of Oslo that he could relate to.  

“Locations such as Frogner Park (an historic part of Oslo) that we were able to use underscore relationships that Tomas developed with the city of Oslo and the city of Bergen. We were able to build [relationships] with the politicians and the municipalities, and the collaboration between the film team and both cities was enormously rewarding.  

“The backup we had – coming down to blocking streets and securing parking spaces – was fantastic. They were very, very supportive.”

The Snowman

Snow was always a central facet of the story, but some of it had to be faked as the production shifted into Norway's springtime. Two weeks of shooting took place in an Oslo warehouse that was specially refrigerated to accommodate real snow brought in from a nearby ski slope. A ‘snow supervisor’ was employed to make sure the snow was conditioned properly to look like it had fallen naturally. 

The Snowman is likely to boost Norway’s international production profile, although the country’s film fund may need to be increased beyond its current $7m a year if it is to attract larger-scale shoots. 

Norway hosted big-budget films before the incentive was launched, including Captain America: The First Avenger, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and The Golden Compass, but these projects were generally limited to brief location shoots and plate shots for visual effects.

“It is a stunning country and has a huge variety of locations to choose from – not just fjords,” says Stephenson. “The Norwegians are superb. We would happily return on another project.”

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Norway.

Images: Universal