Norway has proven extremely popular as a filming location for big productions over the past couple of years, including Black Widow, Dune, Tenet and Bond film No Time to Die. Even during Covid, the country has managed to host several big action sequences for Paramount's Mission: Impossible 7 and is due to host the second season of Netflix original Ragnarok this autumn.
The Norwegian government lifted travel restrictions for film and TV productions qualifying under the 25% film incentive in spring, making the country one of the first to re-start local film and series shoots in late April.
Tom Cruise was seen performing impressive stunts in western Norway back in September and October for the next installment of Mission: Impossibe, including leaping into the air on a motorbike and running along the top of a speeding train. But the production still had to adhere to strict protocols on set.
"Norway is a safe place to film and we’ve had to make sure we maintain their stringent health and safety standards," Matt Spooner, production safety supervisor for the Mission: Impossible film tells KFTV. "We've attached an extra technical Covid person as a compliance officer with a medical background – a nurse who did things for the Office for National Statistics and worked in the Nightingale hospital. So they’ve got a really specific Covid background. We also added in two location assistants who have gone around supporting with putting up signs, hand sanitiser refilling machines etc. Then there are a couple of additional medical people."
Spooner is very positive about the country as a filming location. "There is a huge filming industry emerging in Norway because they’ve got so many different landscapes. You could conquer an entire script in Norway because there are so many different places you could shoot – rugged mountainous landscapes, beautiful green North Sea coast and various pretty cities, like Oslo. Then you’ve got arctic wildernesses up north. It’s a very versatile country. Marvel and Bond were there last year and Mission: Impossible 6 the year before."
Bond producer Barbara Broccoli was also impressed by Norway for the filming of No Time to Die: “Norway is a very beautiful country. The scenery is absolutely incredible… I just have to take off my hat for all the support we got in Norway and for the highly skilled film workers."
The country's 25% incentive has also been a huge drawcard. The budget requirements (about $3m for a feature film or $1m per episode for a drama) and need for 30% of financing to come from outside Norway means the incentive has been used mostly by big international films like those listed or high-end TV co-productions such as Netflix’s The Innocents or Paradox/HBO’s Wilderness.
In 2020, the incentive budget has spent $10.4m (nok103.3m) — capped at $6.9m (nok68m) for this year, but combined with previous unspent funds.
The incentive is particularly important because Norway is more expensive than many other European shooting destinations. The national incentive can be topped up by local support, for instance the Western Norway Film Commission can help productions access the media fund Zefyr. The country also boasts highly skilled crews who speak perfect English — and “the more Norwegian crew you use, the more refund you get”, says Norwegian producer Oyvind Asbjornsen.
Local VFX house gimpVille has also proved it can deliver visual effects as impressive as any Hollywood outfit following its work on Norwegian disaster films The Quake and Roar Uthaug’s The Wave. “In terms of infrastructure, skills and level of technology, we are competitive,” says Asbjornsen.
As outlined by the Mission: Impossible and Bond production teams, Norway boasts stunning natural scenery and skilled crews who speak perfect English. “We have a lot of ‘virgin’ locations for the international industry, the infrastructure is well developed and the crew are of international standard,” says Truls Kontny, head of Film Commission Norway. “This might be why we are seeing increasing demand from abroad and the awareness of what we have to offer is increasing.”
Norway is well connected internationally and local travel is easy by ground and by air. There are good rail and road networks or flight times of less than an hour between capital city Oslo and Bergen, with many daily air connections.
First people to contact
Truls Kontny, Film Commission Norway, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tina Beate Goa Fagerheim, production adviser for the incentive scheme, Norwegian Film Institute email@example.com