Exclusive: Major international producers attracted to Iceland as filming resumes

New proposals put forward to allow foreign film crews back into the country

By Chris Evans 29 Apr 2020

Exclusive: Major international producers attracted to Iceland as filming resumes

Iceland is preparing to welcome international productions back to the country in the coming months, as long as certain safety rules are respected.

The country has taken an aggressive approach to testing and tracking of the coronavirus, and as a result has seen the number of active cases drop steadily since 5 April, and more than 90% of those who tested positive have recovered.

Iceland’s film commission, Film in Iceland, has proposed a number of guidelines to the Iceland authorities to allow for safe filming to resume. These are being considered by the country’s chief epidemiologist, Þórólfur Guðnason, and his team.

The proposals include the need for production teams to be screened on arrival in the country and then quarantined in an empty hotel until they get their results. These could take just 24 hours, which would mean much shorter waiting times for crews, removing the need for the 14 days of quarantining for visitors outside the Schengen Area.

Chief superintendent Víðir Reynisson said yesterday that he was optimistic about welcoming production teams from abroad this coming summer, as long as rules are respected.

This latest announcement was sparked by Netflix content chief, Ted Sarandos, saying last week that the streaming giant is already currently in production in Iceland, and was using the country (along with South Korea) as a testing ground for filming.

“From 4 May, Iceland will allow groups of up to 50 people to work together [maintaining social distancing], which is further good news for productions, especially allowing hair and make-up teams to work again, so the film industry is actually ongoing,” Bui Baldvinsson of local outfit Hero Productions told KFTV, as they prepare to film a commercial next week with the director via a live monitor feed through the internet.

"We're in a pretty good place," adds Steve Lewis of leading Arctic production service providers The Empire Productions. "We are already able to operate almost as normal and with this announcement it would be great to start receiving some requests again."

These developments have seen an upsurge in interest from international production companies considering shooting in the country, Einar Hansen Tómasson, film commissioner at Film in Iceland, confirmed to KFTV, although he couldn‘t say from who.

"Due to the foreign travel restrictions to Iceland, the whole country is now literally empty and offers a unique opportunity, even more so than normal and that’s saying something. The biggest tourist attractions and hotspots are now free of all human interference in pristine surroundings," enthuses Baldvinsson. 

Iceland not only offers a stunning variety of locations, but also an enticing 25% incentive scheme for film and TV productions, based on local spend. Recent big film and TV projects to shoot there include NBC series Blindspot, Fast and Furious 8, and the as-yet-untitled forthcoming George Clooney movie, backed by Netflix.


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