Sweden is undoubtedly a hot territory. Local TV series like The Bridge, Wallander and Quicksand have proved popular and frequently re-made. And now Netflix is putting together an original series about the Swedish Spotify founders, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, with Yellow Bird UK (Wallander).
“The founding tale of Spotify is a great example of how a local story can have a global impact. We are really excited about bringing this success story to life and we look forward to continuing our great collaboration with director Per-Olav Sørensen and the team at Yellow Bird UK,” says Tesha Crawford, director of international originals Northern Europe Netflix.
Sweden has hosted a number of other high-profile projects recently, including Danis Tanovic’s crime drama The Postcard Killings, Japanese TV series Idaten: Tokyo Olympics Story, and before that David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Western Sweden, including Goteborg and Trollhattan, has long been a hub of production for international films including The House That Jack Built, The Square and Only God Forgives, and offers facilities including Studio Fares, the largest purpose-built studio in Scandinavia.
“Sweden is now a country that is associated with fantastic films, creative people, film shoots and interesting locations,” enthuses Mia Uddgren, film commissioner at the Stockholm Film Commission, to KFTV. “Interest in shooting here has increased tremendously. We have two large international productions planning to come in spring 2020.”
Sweden is blessed with a vast array of locations for producers to choose from. Whether it’s the beautiful island of Gotland with its magic light, snow and mountains in the north, or endless fields and a stunning coastline in the south.
“In Stockholm, you can find medieval buildings alongside modern architecture, and the incredible nature is only 20 minutes from the city,” says Uddgren. “The archipelago of Stockholm consists of more than 30,000 islands.”
It is an ultra-modern country with high-tech gadgetry and urban sophistication, but just off the superhighway you’ll find plenty of freely available wild nature and historically significant places that haven’t changed in centuries, adds Uddgren.
"We've got 'Robin Hood-esque' forests in the south of Sweden and small creeks can be found almost anywhere," adds Joakim Ottander at local outfit Parapix. "While in the far north we've got snowy mountains and beautiful flatlands that offer different beautiful scenery all year round. Abisko is a great example of this. And if you go far enough, and are lucky, you will see auroras cover the starlit sky."
The locations are also surprisingly inexpensive and it's easy to shoot in most places, thanks in part to Sweden’s allemansrätten (right to roam) ruling, which means "you don't need permission to shoot out in the wild, or even in national parks, as long as it's not private owned land, and you make sure you're not littering or damaging anything," explains Ottander.
Obtaining a permit is also usually straightforward with little bureaucracy and quick decision-making.
With a prolific local film industry, Sweden boasts skilled film and TV crews all over the country, who generally speak English. “We are renowned for our honesty, efficiency, punctuality and getting things done,” says Uddgren.
For initial support and advice, you can turn to the Sweden Film Commission. It can provide access to production services or equipment, experienced crew, and fully-equipped sound stages, including Studio Fares in Trollhattan, which is the largest purpose-built sound stage in Scandinavia.
“The people in the industry constantly travel worldwide working on international productions and we have the capacity to handle multiple big productions,” insists Joan Mefretidis at local light and grip outfit Ljud & Bildmedia to KFTV.
The Swedish Film & TV Producers is a trade association that represents around 115 independent production companies across the country, and there is a network of a dozen or so post-production firms.