Austria has enjoyed a boost to its international production profile in the past few years thanks to its 25% rebate and stunning mountain scenery.
Recent films and TV series to shoot in the country include Fox Searchlight’s Downhill, an English-language remake of Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, and Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life.
While Austria’s Heiligenblut ski resort in the west was used for an action sequence in the US comedy drama series Whisky Cavalier for Warner Bros Television. And Netflix shot its TV series Freud — about the early life of the founder of psychoanalysis — in Vienna in 2019.
But it is Eon Productions who have really helped to put Austria on the locations map over the past few years by shooting dramatic action scenes for Bond films Quantum Of Solace and Spectre in the country.
“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.
Austria is not known for its studio infrastructure but Bohrer insists to KFTV “there are plans to build a big studio complex in the near future”.
Vienna is the main filming hub, with a wealth of resources, ranging from costumes to props. Crews are experienced and usually speak fluent English. However, Downhill producer Homewood says it was harder to find production office crew — they do exist in Austria but many are working on longer-term TV projects. Equipment rental is generally easy, including through Arri in Vienna.
Austria is well connected internally by both air and land, partly because of its thriving tourism industry. International flights connect to several of the country’s key cities.