Iceland attracts several high-end productions

The highly-anticipated Netflix/BBC film, Luther, starring Idris Elba, has been filming in Iceland and the UK. 

By Melissa Kasule 22 Feb 2022

Iceland attracts several high-end productions
Northern Comfort. Credit: Brynjar Snaer Thrastarson

Iceland is hosting a raft of high-end film and TV productions in the coming months, including the BBC/Netflix film Luther, FX limited series Retreat, Hulu series Washington Black and the feature film Northern Comfort.

The much-anticipated film, Luther, based on the popular BBC TV series, recently shot in Iceland, including on the Svinafellsjokull glacier, which is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull.

FX Productions’ Retreat is expected to shoot at Vök Baths in Egilsstaðir, East Iceland, as well as at Deplar Farms hotel, North Iceland, and at Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík.

The mystery drama will follow an amateur sleuth as she attempts to solve a murder at a secluded retreat. Series creator Brit Marling (The OA, Another Earth) and Zal Batmanglij (The OA, Sound of My Voice) will both exec produce and direct. The cast includes Clive Owen, Harris Dickinson, and Emma Corrin (The Crown). 

Local director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson's first Engluish-language feature Northern Comfort has also reportedly commenced filming on Mývatn lake. The film is a co-production between Netop Films, One Two Films and Good Chaos.

Northern Comfort centres on Sarah, a London-based career woman in her forties who suffers from an uncontrollable fear of flying. To save her newly established relationship, she must overcome her phobia and learn to let go, even if this means enduring an unexpected and wildly unpredictable flight to Iceland. Lydia Leonard, Timothy Spall and Sverrir Gudnason lead the cast.

Hulu's nine-episode series Washington Black, starring Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) and Tom Ellis (Lucifer), is being produced by 20th Television with filming underway in East Iceland, as well as at the Reykjavík Studios.

Based on Esi Edugyan’s novel, the drama follows the 19th-century adventures of George Washington (‘Wash’) Black – an 11-year-old boy on a Barbados sugar plantation who must flee after a shocking death threatens to upend his life. Brown will play Medwin Harris, who travelled the world after a traumatic childhood as a Black refugee in Nova Scotia, only to meet Wash who sends him down a challenging path of self-discovery. 

“It looks good for 2022, I’m optimistic this will be a good year,” says Iceland’s film commissioner Einar Hansen Tomasson. “There is a lot of interest, a lot of emails and calls, not only from the US but from other places. India has been in touch about a number of projects. Also from elsewhere in Europe and Asia." 

Skilled crews are accustomed to working 12-hour days, six days a week. “We have seen with a series like Game Of Thrones, HBO was always cutting down on the crew they brought in, as they found the crew in Iceland was very talented,” Tomasson asserts.

There is also hope that the local financial incentive could increase above 25% in the coming months.

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