Switzerland is a familiar destination for Hindi filmmakers but there are still plenty of locales yet to be explored. Find out why the country has an edge over its European neighbours
Remember the scenic locations in films like Darr, Chandni, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Mohabbatein and Veer-Zaara? Switzerland has always been an ideal romantic foreign location for the Indian film industry and was introduced to us by none other than the late Yash Chopra. Many of his films feature Switzerland’s Alpine pastures, tranquil lakes, and delightful towns and cities, to convey an ambience of love, romance, happiness and serenity. No wonder Chopra was felicitated with the Swiss Ambassador’s Award back in 2010, by the Embassy of Switzerland, for his contribution in promoting Switzerland through his movies.
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is also one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations. With extraordinary abundance of natural locales and interesting places, the country is also an example of unity in diversity. It is a multi-ethnic society and includes people of various religions, cultures and languages.
Internationally acclaimed for its Alpine landscape, Switzerland, apart from humongous mountains, also offers an immense miscellany of other locations, from lakeshore scenery to quintessential villages via the cobbled streets of medieval towns. Situated in Central Europe, it is mainly a mountainous country and enjoys its landlocked position by being in the very centre of the Alps and thus in the centre of Europe itself.
Furthermore, thanks to its temperate, continental climate, the country provides a wide range of possible weather types, allowing the filmmakers to shoot all year round. Although Switzerland may not be a new location in the directory of Indian production houses, there are still many locations yet to be explored.
WHY FILM IN SWITZERLAND
• Go Anywhere
Filming permissions are easy to obtain in Switzerland and Film Location Switzerland negotiates with local authorities on your behalf. Unlike many other European countries, Switzerland has a very open approach to filming in public areas, on streets or on highways.
• Save Time
While Switzerland is tiny compared to some other countries, the diversity of its locations is amazing. Thanks to an efficient network of airports, rail tracks and roads, you can get from one location to another in record time.
• Save Money
Labour costs in Switzerland are similar to those in neighbouring countries but Swiss legislation allows longer working hours, which means tighter production schedules. In addition, Switzerland is blessed with a highly stable political environment (strike losses are virtually unheard of) and moderate levels of taxation.
• Highly Qualified Professionals
The high level of expertise shared by audiovisual professionals in Switzerland is widely recognised. As a corporation, Swiss audiovisual professionals are universally admired for their conscientiousness, their positive attitude and their motivation.
• Living Record of European History
Examples of the passing centuries are to be found in Swiss villages and towns, from its medieval fortresses to the urban architecture of the technological age. As the world’s third largest financial centre, Switzerland is also famous for its banks, its luxurious hotels and for the many international institutions to which it plays host.
CO-PRODUCING WITH SWITZERLAND
To be eligible for public funding, a film co-produced between Switzerland and another country must be officially recognised as a Swiss film. The following rules apply:
• An independent Swiss film producer must be chosen as partner, who will then apply for public funds.
• Bilateral co-production agreements exist with Germany, Austria, Canada, France, Belgium and Italy. With the exception of Canada, these agreements only cover films produced for theatrical exhibition. Switzerland is a member of the European convention for co-production and by this multilateral convention is linked to many more European countries. In most cases, the minimal Swiss participation required varies between 10 per cent and 30 per cent. If no co-production agreement is applicable – as is the case for the US, for instance – the minimal Swiss participation is 50 per cent.
• The artistic and technical participation (which includes the hiring of Swiss technicians, assistants and actors) must be proportional to the Swiss financial participation. This condition also applies to postproduction. Since there are no fixed criteria for the evaluation of the percentage, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
• Once these conditions have been met, the Swiss co-producer can acquire the official agreement from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture.
Films officially recognised as Swiss co-productions have access to the public film funding of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture. Criteria for public funding:
• Selective public funding oversees an independent expert committee which chooses and propose film projects for production subsidies. The maximum subsidy per film is currently 1 million Swiss Francs and cannot exceed 50 per cent of the production costs (Swiss part).
• Succès cinéma is a funding program based on a film’s success. For each ticket bought in a Swiss cinema, the Swiss screen writer, director, producer, distributor and cinema owner gets a bonus which must be reinvested in their next film project.
• Other funding programs include the annual competition for the Swiss Film Prize, as well as subsidies for the release of a film or for its participation in an international film festival.