Iceland is a country whose natural, sustainable resources, landscape and rapidly growing economy provide many incentives for filmmakers.
Iceland sits on the mid-Atlantic ridge, where the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans meet. It provides a wide variety of scenery and dramatic locations, with lagoons and lakes filled with icebergs - in fact, the country is home to the largest glacier in Europe. There are numerous volcanoes, both active and dormant, moors, mountains and waterfalls. Although the landscapes may seem remote, the country is actually very accessible, with a flying time of 3 hours from London and 4.5 hours from New York.
The Icelandic winter runs from November to March, with a mean average temperature in January warmer than New York. Spring is April to May, summer June to August and autumn September to October.
The extreme, other-wordly beauty of the Icelandic landscape has attracted many filmmakers over the years, with the dramatic terrain often proving a perfect sci-fi or fantasy backdrop.
HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones has chosen Iceland locations for seven series, which has greatly boosted the country's filming profile. And the Sky Atlantic/Amazon drama Fortitude filmed large parts of the series there, using the icy landscape to 'play' the fictional Norwegian Arctic town of the title.
Other international productions to have filmed there include action sequel Fast & Furious 8 (2017), Joseph Kosinksi’s Oblivion (2013) starring Tom Cruise and Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World (2013) starring Chris Hemsworth. Producer/director Ben Stiller also chose Iceland for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), in which he also stars. And director Darren Aronofsky filmed some of his biblical epic Noah starring Russell Crowe in the country in 2013.
Working permits for EU countries are not needed. For companies and productions applying from the US, the procedure is straightforward. You can contact Film in Iceland for more details on this.
The largest film studio in Iceland is Atlantic Studios whose facilities include a sound stage measuring 2,220sqm, access to a 500 seat cinema, a pool for underwater filming, and a fully equipped gym. Support services provided include a dining room with catering, hair, make-up, wardrobe and dressing rooms. The studio is five minutes from the airport and around thirty minutes from central Reykavik. There is accommodation around the studios.
Framestore - The well-known British Oscar-winning visual effects company has had an office in Iceland since 2008 working on films like: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Sherlock Holmes, Contraband and Where the Wild Things Are to name but a few.
The dramatic geothermal scenery of Iceland lends itself to a range of location settings, often with a sci-fi or fantasy bent. For example, much of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus filmed there, as did Joseph Kosinksi’s Oblivion. The light in Iceland varies hugely according to the seasons. Daylight lasts for nearly 24 hours from May to August, whereas in the middle of winter, there are nearly 20 hours of darkness. The frequent appearance of the Northern Lights can add atmosphere to location filming too.