After filming at Budapest’s Origo Studios, then on location in Jordan and Abu Dubai, Dune director Denis Villeneuve shot the final few days of his sci-fi epic in Stadlandet, western Norway, which doubled for the lush, storm-swept planet of Caladan. There, standing on a rocky beach with a glass of champagne in hand, Villeneuve toasted the end of production. “Friends,” he began, “from the bottom of my heart, it was a privilege and honour for me to make cinema with you. To Dune. To cinema.” Dune sits alongside No Time To Die, Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Tenet as high-profile films to have shot in Norway, both pre-pandemic and post, drawn by the country’s natural points of interest and sweeping vistas.
Surrounded by fjords and located between the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, Stadlandet was one of the finalists of the EUFCN location award 2021, the annual prize for European filming locations organised by the European Film Commissions Network (the location was submitted by the Western Norway Film Commission).
Norway is also a sustainable filming location. “We have abundant energy from renewable sources,” notes Meghan Beaton, the film commissioner for Norway. “We are world leaders in the use of electric cars, and geographically we are so convenient to the UK, where a huge number of international productions are based.”
Beaton’s commission is an independent foundation, not part of the Norwegian Film Institute, based in Bergen. “Our workforce is highly technological, lean, fast-acting and adept in English,” she continues. “Our infrastructure is first-rate. There’s better mobile coverage on Hardangervidda — a mountain plateau in southern Norway — than central London, and we have a highly developed transport network across the country.”
In February 2022, a government-backed move for all Covid-19 entry requirements to be lifted for travellers to Norway was put in place. “No testing, no quarantining, no registration,” proclaims Visit Norway, the country’s official website. The territory remained busy throughout the pandemic, famously hosting a Covid-19-free shoot for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning over six weeks in western Norway in mid-2020. The crew ‘bubbled’ aboard a cruise ship while filming. Truenorth Norway managed the production, which numbered 900 cast and crew.
More recently, Norway hosted Netflix-backed Norwegian productions Ragnarok and Post Mortem: No One Dies In Skarnes. The US streamer is also responsible for action movie Troll, directed by Norway’s Roar Uthaug, via local partners Motion Blur, which wrapped its shoot in November 2021. Earlier in the year, Sky, Cattleya (part of ITV Studios) and Groenlandia completed an adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s bestseller The Hanging Sun, with an international cast including Peter Mullan and Charles Dance.
For Beaton, Norway’s appeal as a filmmaking destination is a combination of its breathtaking nature, spectacular light, geological formations, otherworldly infrastructure projects — think the Atlanterhavsveien bridge seen in No Time To Die — and a vast variety of architectural styles — from the old to the hyper-new. “We are a highly modern, highly digitised, near-cashless society,” she says.
Crews are fluent in English. Production services company Truenorth Norway is the go-to company for any international producer looking to crew up. Under normal — non‑pandemic — circumstances, Norway can crew up three major shoots simultaneously. Infrastructure is also strong. There are multiple studios in capital Oslo, including Dagslys, Filmparken and Storyline, as well as Studio Kulturterminalen outside Bergen.
Norway is a third larger than the UK but not densely populated. Its transportation network boasts 50 domestic and eight international airports. Ferries serve even the most remote corners. “Our transportation costs are extremely competitive within Europe,” says film commissioner Meghan Beaton.
First person to contact
Meghan Beaton, Norwegian Film Commission: email@example.com