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 and a steely determination to welcome — and help — filmmakers through the pandemic. In July, Film in Austria, the organisation that operates as the country’s film commission, delighted in the decision by its government to introduce a 35% incentive for film and TV production from January 1, 2023.
The automatic, non-repayable subsidy will offer up to a maximum of $4.9m (€5m) per film and $7.3m (€7.5m) per series. Any applications made will have to come from an Austria-based production service company with a 30% cash rebate for each project, plus an additional 5% green bonus, dependent on the implementation of environmental sustainability criteria. With no cap on the fund that supplies the subsidy, the cash pool will never empty, however many producers apply for the incentive.
“Austria, and especially Tyrol, offers German efficiency, the beauty of Switzerland and the charm of Italy,” says filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, who made Seven Years In Tibet in the country. “I love to return to this place where I truly admire the people, and where it is possible to make films, on location, with a remarkable level of support and infrastructure.”
The capital Vienna is awash with eye-catching locations, from former imperial residences to historic and contemporary buildings in a city whose previous residents included Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. “Austria was one of the first countries worldwide to have a Covid-19 rescue fund, so filming only stopped for 12 weeks,” explains Vienna Film Commission (VFC) chief executive Marijana Stoisits. “The Vienna Film Commission had the best year ever in 2021.”
From mid-June 2020, the Austrian federal government invited applications for financial assistance for film and TV productions whose shoots were delayed or interrupted as a consequence of Covid‑19. Assistance comes in the form of a grant of up to $2.4m (€2.5m) per production to cover additional costs incurred. For international service productions funded by Film Industry Support Austria (FISA), the grant is for up to 50% of the additional eligible costs incurred in the country due to Covid-19.
VFC boasts an ability to organise permits “to shoot anywhere, any time, if given a decent lead time”, says Stoisits. And the city is currently building a dedicated studio facility, complete with soundstage and production offices, which it hopes will open its doors in 2023.
The Vienna film incentive, which launched in March 2022, promotes international fiction and non-fiction productions (for example, feature films, fiction series and documentaries) for cinema, television and VoD platforms with a minimum running time of 45 minutes that are filmed in the Austrian capital and intended for international distribution. Productions must carry out at least two full days of filming in Vienna. Funding is available for expenses related directly to filming in the city and applied for via an Austrian production service company. Local knowledge is a must when it comes to paperwork and form-filling.
Netflix has turned Vienna into a European production hub in recent months: Doug Liman directed episodes of the streaming service’s CIA action drama The Recruit, while Extraction 2 starring Chris Hemsworth and episodes of Criminal shot in the city and surrounds.
“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 ranging from costumes to props. Crews are experienced and often speak fluent English. Production office crew exist in Austria, but 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 both air and land, partly because of its thriving tourism industry. International flights connect to several key cities.
First person to contact
Marijana Stoisits, CEO, - Vienna Film Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org