Austria has enjoyed a boost to its international production profile over the past two years thanks to the introduction of a rebate reaching 35% of local costs for international productions and the launch of a $2.2m (€2m) fund for international filmmakers to attract productions to capital city Vienna.
From January 1, 2023, Film In Austria, the organisation that operates as the country’s film commission, oversaw the introduction of the 35% incentive (30% plus a 5% green filming bonus available) for film and TV production. The automatic, non-repayable subsidy offers up to a maximum $5.45m (€5m) per film and $8.3m (€7.5m) per series.
Recently, Vienna played host to Netflix-backed CIA crime thriller The Recruit plus Criminal, a police procedural anthology TV series set in four countries: Criminal: France, Criminal: Germany; Criminal: Spain and Criminal: UK.
Other high-profile productions to shoot in Vienna included Netflix’s Extraction 2, starring Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary hired to rescue a family from a Georgian gangster, and Prime Video’s German-language romcom series Sachertorte, which features Café Sacher in central Vienna, a popular meeting place opposite the Opera House.
Last year also saw the launch of the Vienna Film Incentive (VFI) and plans for a studio at Vienna harbour to ensure the capital strengthens its locations work and continues to attract international and local filmmakers.
VFI is set up to help foreign productions shooting in the city for at least two days, with Vienna tourist board the point of contact and processing body for the fund.
In 2022, 624 film projects of all genres and with varying degrees of technical complexity were submitted to Vienna Film Commission for processing. A total of 1,102 applications for filming permits were submitted by national and international productions, a figure that was down 15% compared with 2021.
Vienna Film Commission says applications dropped as the announcement of the new federal incentive model, which came into force at the start of this year, led to projects postponing start of production until 2023. Nevertheless, the number of international productions saw an uptick of 21%, with 162 applications for filming permits processed for 102 international projects.
And it’s not all about Vienna. Outside the capital, Austria’s eye-grabbing locations include the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, the lake and village at Altaussee, with its villas and hunting lodges, and an array of castles including the fairytale-like Kreuzenstein Castle, 20 kilometres north of Vienna, and the country’s Tyrolean Alps, which include the ski resorts of Ischgl and Fiss.
Shooting permits are usually straightforward to obtain but can be costly.
“The scenery is so stunning people might think it’s CGI because it’s so beautiful,” enthuses Jo Homewood, the Ireland-based line producer of Downhill, which filmed in the Tyrolean Alps, including in the ski resorts of Ischgl and Fiss.
The Tirol region also hosted the Bond film Spectre, including a high-speed car chase. “Tirol offers the combination of stunning Alpine wilderness and highly efficient infrastructure nearby, with an experienced local crew,” enthuses the Cine Tirol Film Commission.
Other popular filming locations include the Grossglockner High Alpine road; the stunning lake and village at Altaussee, full of villas and hunting lodges; and the vast array of castles, including the fairytale like Kreuzenstein castle, 20km north of Vienna, which was used in the Nicolas Cage film Season of the Witch.
“We offer everything from big lakes up to almost 4000 meters high glaciers,” enthuses Arie Bohrer, film commissioner at Location Austria, to KFTV.
The Opera House in Vienna has also proved a popular backdrop for movies, including Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, which required a 300-person technical team and 1,200 extras.
Permits to shoot are usually pretty straightforward to obtain, but the high costs can be a problem, as well as the need to navigate local employment laws, according to Homewood. Hiring a local production service company is highly recommended. “You need someone who understands the Austrian tax system and employment laws that can be very paperwork heavy,” she says.
Vienna is the main filming hub, with a wealth of resources. Crews are experienced and usually speak fluent English. Production office crew may be scarce as many are working on longer-term TV projects. Equipment rental is generally easy, including through Arri in Vienna.
Austria is a member of the European Union and participates in the Schengen Agreement. Its currency is the euro.
Austria is well connected internally by air and land, and has a thriving tourism industry. International flights connect to several of the country’s key cities.
First person to contact
Marijana Stoisits, managing director, Vienna Film Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org