After sampling the many possibilities offered by this Scandanavian country, Indian filmmakers looking for fresh locales might just head North for future ventures
Norway is a very unique and beautiful country. It is night for six months of the year and the remaining six months are day in this culturally rich and unspoilt European nation, earning it the moniker ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’. Hollywood has explored this landscape in its films. So from fantasy flicks like Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince to superhero sagas like Captain America: The First Avenger, Norway has been the go-to location for some big-budget films. When it comes to Indian films, barring a couple of South Indian movies, Bollywood seems to have not really explored this part of the European continent. Maybe, after seeing what is on offer, that may change.
Officially a part of the Scandanavian region, Norway is a naturally rich region. It has a vast coastline in the north with many bays, islands and fjords. From snow-clad mountain landscapes with glaciers and waterfalls to extensive pine forests, the country offers a wide range of natural beauty. Besides the mainland, a bit of Norway lies in the Arctic Ocean in the form of the islands of Svalbard.
The beauty of the country is that even the urban cities have touches of nature. The capital city of Oslo is surrounded by wooded hills and at the same time it is modern city with iconic buildings and impressive architecture. Though Norway is a modern country, it is still connected to its traditional roots. There are small farms, scattered wooden houses, narrow lanes and people still making a living from farming, hunting or fishing.
Norway offers the most variations in weather and climate. Summer weather can be like winter days while there may be clear and bright days in winter! Not just that, weather can change throughout the day. The low light and long shadows of autumn and winter alternate with the never-ending long, light summer days. You can experience the the Norwegian midnight sun as you head north to the Arctic Circle. In winters in the north, there is no real daylight and the nights are pitch dark. The only light are the stars in the sky or the colourful Northern Lights.
It is possible to get almost anywhere quickly by car, boat, train or air. National and international airports, ferries, trains and buses make it easy to travel within Norway and between Norway and the rest of the world. Norway’s main international airport, Gardermoen near Oslo, has direct connections to Asia and the US, and most European capitals.
Accommodation is usually affordable and when travelling in large groups, good deals can be negotiated. Many hotels, even those high up in the mountains, have good conference facilities which will be appreciated by major film producers. Coverage for mobile data and mobile phones is very good almost everywhere. Broadband and wireless Internet are available in most hotels and in many restaurants and cafés.
The Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) is the main film financing body in Norway, operating under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture. The NFI has a variety of funding programmes for the development and production of feature films, TV dramas, documentaries and games, totalling EUR 50 million.
Funding is available for foreign productions intended for theatrical release, in which a Norwegian producer participates as a minority co-producer. Funding can be granted for up to 50 per cent of the Norwegian part of the budget, ranging from EUR 1,00,000 to 5,00,000.
There is an incentive scheme for companies that buy services or make recordings in Norway. Administered by the Norwegian Film Institute, the 25 per cent film incentive grant can be combined with regional funding, but not with any of the Norwegian Film Institute’s production support schemes.
To qualify for the scheme, the total production budget has to be a minimum of:
- NOK 25M (EUR 2.7M) for feature films
- NOK 10M (EUR 1.08M) for documentary films
- NOK 10M (EUR 1.08M) per episode for drama series
- NOK 5M (EUR 540k) per episode for documentary series
A minimum of NOK 2M (EUR 215.000) has to be spent in Norway and at least 30 per cent of the financing must come from international sources. Applications have to be made before the start of production. The application has to be accompanied by an itemized budget for Norway. Up to 25 per cent of your Norwegian expenditure will be reimbursed after the project has been audited by a Norwegian CPA. The disbursement request must be submitted within six months of the end of production in Norway.
Location Permits & Other Resources
No general permits are required for location shooting in Norway other than the normal consent of the owner or the authority responsible for the location(s) in question. Any activities that might interfere with normal traffic need to be organised with the cooperation of the highway authorities and the police. Some restrictions may apply in national parks and military areas, but with good planning and cooperation with the relevant authorities, suitable arrangements can be made.
Most suppliers of technical equipment are based in the Oslo area. Cameras, lighting equipment, generators, grip equipment and cranes of the highest standards are available at various rental outlets. Film technicians in Norway are flexible and highly skilled. There are also a number of casting agencies that can help with finding actors, extras and models.
Norwegian Film Organisations
The Norwegian Film Institute operates under the authority of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The objectives in the area of film policy adopted by Parliament govern the Norwegian Film Institute’s activities. The objectives of the institute are to support the production, promotion and distribution of quality films.
In addition to the national film commission covering the whole country, there are two regional commissions: Mid Nordic Film Commission and the Western Norway Film Commission.
There are also three regional film funds in Norway:
- Filmfond Nord, which provides top financing for feature films and TV dramas that help develop the film industry of the Northern region of Norway
- Filminvest, which finances and co-produces feature films, TV dramas and interactive games with a significant part of the production carried out in Central and Eastern Norway
- Zefyr Media Fund, which invests in and allocates non-recoupable grants to audiovisual production, mainly in the form of feature films, drama series and computer games. It also finances international co-productions