Austria is probably best known for its picturesque alpine scenery made famous in the iconic 1965 Disney film, The Sound of Music. In the past few years however, the Austrian film industry has also gained significant international recognition thanks to the success of features by talented filmmakers such as Michael Haneke (Amour, The White Ribbon) and Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters).
Recently, the country has attempted to develop its film industry by negotiating co-productions with other countries and funding has become more readily available.
Despite this, Austria remains a small market for films. Austrian cinemas are dominated by Hollywood films - and only about 3% of cinema admissions go to domestic productions, making Austrian films' share of the domestic box-office one of the lowest in Europe.
A variety of prominent international film productions included scenes filmed in Austria. Director Christopher McQuarrie chose Vienna in which to kick off shooting the latest in the spy blockbuster series, Mission: Impossible 5, starring Tom Cruise, in August 2014. In the same year it was announced that Spectre, the 24th Bond film, would spend four weeks shooting in locations including Sölden, Obertilliach and Altaussee in 2015. Both films have shown how professional Austria can deal with mega productions.
Already a few years ealier though, in 2011, Sherlock Holmes II captured motifs in and around Salzburg during a 2nd unit shoot; director David Cronenberg filmed scenes for A Dangerous Method (2010) in historic locations in the city of Vienna; and it were the city’s unique locations that also brought director Fernando Meirelles to the country to work on his feature 360 in 2011.
The Austrian film industry has also invested in a number of co-production funds, which were instigated to advance inward investment in the country. Some prominent examples of successful co-productions made with the help of Austrian funding include the UK/Austrian co-production Chalet Girl (2011) filmed in the alpine scenery of Tyrol, while production partners from Germany and Italy were involved in Michael Haneke’s award-winning drama, The White Ribbon (2009).
Citizens from EU-member states do not require a visa or a work permit for Austria. US and Canadian citizens working for a non-Austrian production company for no more than four weeks can work in Austria with a ‘waiver of the work authorisation’, which can be applied for through Location Austria.
Filming permits may be required to film in public areas. For example, when filming in Vienna, a ‘Film Permit Contract’ has to be signed with the relevant municipal departments of the Vienna city administration.
The Vienna Film Academy has an impressive modern film studio, which is available for rent outside school hours. The studio includes three sound stages, a movie theater, overflow rooms and workshop areas.
Austrian post-production companies have established an exemplary international reputation. Facilities with state-of-the art hardware and software have found as much recognition as have the highly-skilled Austrian film, sound editors and 3D specialists.
One of the major draws of filming in Austria is the picturesque mountain scenery, including the idyllic villages, snowy peaks, green valleys, waterfalls, lakes and rivers.
There is also plentiful historic architecture in cities such as Vienna (notable sights include the Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens, Hofburg Palace, Stephansdom gothic cathedral and the famous Leopold Museum) as well as the baroque magnificence of Salzburg.
Austria has an excellent technical infrastructure and renting equipment or facilities for filming as well as pre-/post-production requirements should not present any difficulties. There are also many well-trained and experienced professionals in all areas of expertise.
Finally, Austria boasts a successful international theatre and film industry, which means that there are a large number of international, multi-lingual actors and extras from which film producers can draw.
A full list of Austrian companies offering equipment and expertise can be found on the KFTV website.