Austria has enjoyed a boost to its international production profile over the past few years thanks to the introduction of a 30% rebate of local costs for international productions.
In the latter half of 2020, UK outfit Endor Productions reteamed with MR Film in Austria to shoot season two of period crime thriller Vienna Blood. Challenged by the pandemic, the production team was determined to return to Vienna and Lower Austria for the near 70-day shoot — having filmed the first season in the territory — to maintain authenticity and continue working with the local crew. “MR Film were key because they’re based in Vienna with access to the fantastic crews and they created [Covid-19] protocols,” says Jez Swimer at Endor Productions, producer of Vienna Blood.
Further productions to shoot in the country include Warner Bros Television’s Whiskey Cavalier, which filmed an action sequence at Heiligenblut ski resort; Netflix series Freud, which shot in Vienna in 2019; and Searchlight feature Downhill.
“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. However, Downhill line producer Jo Homewood says it was more difficult to find production office crew — they do exist 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.