As with other Scandinavian countries, Denmark is not the place to go if low costs and year-round sunshine are your priority. But if you’re looking for talented crews, evocative locations and a modern infrastructure then it just might be the answer. High production standards have won the country a great reputation and the wealth of creative talent (Ingmar Bergman, Lars Von Trier and Jan Troell, amongst many others) has also put the country in the spotlight and gained it international acclaim.
In terms of locations, Denmark’s capital Copenhagen is a big attraction, as is the beautiful countryside surrounding it. Farmland, forests, beaches and castles are all within easy reach of the compact capital. Copenhagen can also be used as a base to venture over the border into Southern Sweden.
In terms of crews, professionalism abounds. Crews are efficient, flexible and fluent English is spoken on set.
Denmark’s status on the world stage was established a long time ago by movies like Babette’s Feast and Pelle The Conqueror. But more recently it has been reinforced by the quality of TV drama being produced by public broadcaster Danmarks Radio. Nordic Noir TV series like The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge have been both domestic and international hits.
Furthermore, over the past five years there has been a boom in historical films shot in Denmark. With themes ranging from the Danish resistance against the Nazi occupation to post-war icons of national progress and success, historical films such as Flame & Citron (2008) have reached large audience, in many cases beyond the domestic market.
Possible benefits that may come from this are as follows. Firstly, foreign producers may be tempted to shoot in Denmark having seen the quality of these shows (echoing the situation in Sweden). Secondly, they may be interested in co-producing with the Danes. If the latter, it’s worth noting there is a Copenhagen Film Fund (CFF). Worth around €5m a year, the CFF is designed to attract international production partners and has been up and running for about six years. The Danish Film Institute also supports international co-productions.
Denmark is home to some leading brands and agencies, so it’s no surprise that it is also a dynamic TV commercials market. In 2012, agency DDB Denmark created a clever cross-platform campaign for Volkswagen entitled The Polo Principle. DDB Denmark has also been attracting attention for a run of high-profile campaigns on behalf of McDonald’s and Carlsberg.
A recent international production was a UK commercial for John West with Louis Gerard directing.
Generally speaking, Denmark has a film friendly and streamlined permitting process, with no extraordinary rules. A permit usually needs to be obtained from the location owner or public authority for all types of film or photo shoots on location in Denmark. Applications for permits must contain exact information about who wants to shoot what, where and when.
The cost of a permit varies according to the location, as well as the nature and size of the production. With regard to Copenhagen, the OFC says: “Generally, the cost level is very reasonable compared with other European capitals (but it) may at times be hard to get access to certain frequently used locations. If that is the case, the Film Commission will put its excellent government connections to work for you or suggest viable alternate locations. As far as private buildings and parks are concerned, the Oresund Region is generally very positively inclined to filmmakers. The sooner you establish contact, the better.” For the OFC Offical website please click here.
In terms of logistics, the OFC recommends all international productions work with a local location manager and a production company. “It is an advantage to have local knowledge about the required permits for carrying out any kind of production, however big or small. Working with a location manager it rarely takes more than three to five business days to obtain a shooting permit in the Oresund Region.”
When it comes to studio and film production facilities, Lars Von Trier and Peter Aalbæk Jensen’s company Zentropa and production complex Filmbyen seem to dominate the market. Filmbyen, meaning film city, is a film studio complex located in Hvidovre just outside Copenhagen. A former military base, it now houses many film-related companies.
Another subdivision of Zentropa housed in Filmbyen is Mainstream. Mainstream is one of the largest sound facilities in Scandinavia and is the studio of choice for a major part of Danish feature film soundtracks. A great number of commercials, short films and documentaries have also been sound designed there. In has at its disposal 12 sound studios, including 2 mixing stages, a foley studio and ADR studio.
Film Commission FilmbyArhus also have extensively equipped studios on offer, including studios at Filmbyen.
Denmark’s jewel in the crown is capital city Copenhagen, which combines superb historical features with contemporary architecture. Locations of note are Amalienborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, Tivoli amusement park and Grundtvig’s church. Gabled houses, narrow cobblestone streets, green spaces, canals, lakes and interesting neighborhoods such as Christiania and Nyhavn give it a distinct feel of Nordic sophistication. Examples of what is on offer can be found at the Oresund Film Commission (OFC) Locations Database, which embraces the area of Southern Sweden and Greater Copenhagen. This covers everything from cityscapes to forests, mountains and waterside locations. Not to be overlooked is Ørestad, a new town concept that is famed for its excellent infrastructure and modern architecture. Elsewhere in Denmark, Film Commission Fyn covers the very centre of Denmark with its rolling hills, orchards and thatched farmhouses and FilmbyArhus covers West Denmark with some fantastic coastal and inland locations.
Outside of the capital, you can find Kronborg Castle, Århus Teater, Legoland and Ålborg Viking, amongst other stunning locations. The OFC highlights “royal castles and hi-tech empires, dark gothic scenery and light-blue seafront vistas, bustling modern cityscapes and ancient Viking grounds”. The pastoral landscapes of the surrounding areas are bound to take one’s breath away and give your film a wonderful Nordic feel. The Faroe Islands and Greenland, autonomous territories of Denmark, also have much to offer.
One interesting testimonial from a producer on the OFC website suggests Denmark’s potential as a ‘substitute’ location: “Many are surprised to learn that it’s possible to shoot a wide range of North American scenery in the Oresund Region. Only, distances are much smaller here and costs lower.”
A world-class filmmaking infrastructure has been established in Denmark to service not only the domestic industry, but also the growing number of foreign productions that decide to base their operations there. There are plenty of excellent rental firms in Copenhagen, some of which are listed on the KFTV website. A good example is Twentyfourseven, which has “developed, anchored and delivered recording equipment and technical solutions to more than 2000 hours of reality TV and factual entertainment around the world”.
Other rental firms of note include Best Broadcast Hire, Filmgear, Produktionen.dk and Kamera-udlejningen. Post-production is also in good shape thanks to companies like Duckling, a full service post-production, 3D and VFX company founded in 1999. In terms of studios, equipment rental firms like Twentyfourseven have their own capacity.