Sweden could make strides in 2022, as a long-lobbied countrywide 25% incentive might finally be introduced (pending final parliamentary approval in December 2021). The proposal means the first year of the incentive in 2022 would be capped at $11.6m (sek100m), which is less than the $35m (sek300m) the local industry had proposed. Qualifying criteria has yet to be revealed and it is not known which government authority would administer the incentive.
“I have been lobbying for incentives since 2008 and this is an important step forward,” says Mikael Svensson, head of film commission at regional fund Film i Skåne/Southern Sweden Film Commission. “Finally, Sweden will be visible on the international incentive map.”
In 2019, a rebate scheme of 30% ran for one year in western Sweden, home to Scandinavia’s largest film fund, Film i Väst. “We are preparing a film commissioner to go out and attract international film productions to place their upcoming productions in western Sweden,” says Mikael Fellenius, CEO of Film i Väst. “We will also continue to fight hard for Swedish film productions to remain in western Sweden."
Even without a national incentive, production in Sweden proved resilient during the pandemic. Western Sweden hosted 17 shoots in 2020, only two to three down from the previous rolling annual average. During 2020, Film i Väst invested $10.4m (€9m) in co-productions.
Notable films to shoot in 2020 in western Sweden included Erik Poppe’s The Emigrants, Ruben Östlund’s Triangle Of Sadness, Joachim Trier’s Cannes hit The Worst Person In The World and drama series A Royal Secret.
Film i Väst’s online database includes 650 skilled film workers, 1,600 extras and a new section of locations. Trollhattan’s Studio Fares is the largest purpose-built studio in Scandinavia. In Stockholm, production has been busier than ever, with shoots in the capital including feature Black Crab starring Noomi Rapace and series Snabba Cash, both set to be released by Netflix.
“Our creative skills, efficient production and beautiful locations will now be at the centre of the discussion, instead of our lack of incentives,” says Stockholm film commissioner Daniel Chilla. “It will help us reboot after the pandemic and we will be able to keep more Swedish productions in Sweden and Stockholm, as well as attracting international productions.”
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.