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Western Norway

Location versus budget… It’s a filmmaker’s eternal dilemma. Rohini Nag brings you a a fabulous destinations that don’t pinch. And for deeper insights into why they work, Q&A with Sigmund Elias Holm, Film Commissioner, Western Norway Film Commission. Here are some tempting facts and figures you might like to save for future reference

What benefits does the Film Commission or the government offer foreign film producers?

Western Norway is regularly featured as the world’s most spectacular and iconic landscape, and it is still fresh and new on the big screen. Best of all, it’s free. In Norway, no permits are needed for shooting in public places and landscapes.

Western Norway is undoubtedly one of the Earth’s most beautiful places. It is also a film-friendly region, where local communities roll out the red carpet for visiting film crews. The ‘freedoom to roam’ law allows you the right to access to all uncultivated land. There are thousands of spectacular places, and no barriers stopping you. Just point and shoot!

Norway is the land of insanely gorgeous fjords, it is the birthplace of skiing, and the land of the midnight sun. Not only is the midnight sun a wonderful sight, it also gives you more hours to shoot. In the summer season, from mid-May to end-August, the sun is up 18-22 hours, and barely dips below the horizon. In the mountains, summer ski centres open in late May, and stay open through mid-August. Impressive waterfalls cascades down the mountainsides and rivers grow strong in green and fertile valleys. The biggest cities such as Bergen and Ålesund, offer epic views from surrounding mountains.

Norway might be at its best when being itself, but easily doubles for Greenland, Alaska, even the Himalayas, Siberia and the Antarctic. At the Hardanger mountain plateau, from January to end-April, you can easily shoot South Pole expeditions or Greenland crossings. Come May and June and you can still shoot snow scenes in the mountains, and colourful summer scenes an hour’s drive down to the fjord.

How can a filmmaker approach you with a project to be shot in your region?

Norway still has a lot to offer international filmmakers, film incentives notwithstanding. Western Norway Film Commission assists international filmmakers looking for Norway’s most spectacular shooting locations, reliable production partners and co-production opportunities. Approaching the film commission is easy, any project with a good creative team and a sound budget for filming in Europe is welcome. The film commission makes introductions to experienced Norwegian production partners, and as soon as a fruitful dialogue is established, the film commission can offer support for location tours, typically covering local costs for the initial recce. www.wnfc.no and www.snowlocation.com

The Film Commission is your first port of call when filming in Norway, and offers free advice on locations, production partners and co-production opportunities. The English language website offers lots of information on shooting in Norway, as well as a location showreel.

What are the tax incentives? Are there any different tax benefits if a producer associates for multiple projects?

Norway can offer film financing opportunities for international feature projects with a Norwegian distribution deal in sight that meet certain cultural and technical criteria. The country has two levels of public funds: Regional funds offering a mix of public and equity investments, and the National Film Institute, which has a co-production scheme.

Fuzz – The regional fund in Western Norway: www.fuzz.no

Founded in 2006 by the city of Bergen, Fuzz is owned by the public, and funded by the public as well as a group of private investors. Fuzz can provide equity funding of up to €500 000 for feature films, games, documentaries with theatrical distribution, and TV productions produced partly or entirely in Western Norway. The applicant has to be a Norwegian production company. Fuzz is looking at projects with a two-fold interest: 1) to recoup their investment alongside other equity investors, and 2) to strengthen the audiovisual sector in Western Norway.

Norwegian Film Institute: www.nfi.no

The Norwegian Film Institute is the main film financing body in Norway, operating under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture. The NFI administers goverment financial support and other support mechanisms for the development, production and distribution of Norwegian audiovisual productions. The total funding amounts to approx €50 000 000 a year, of which €1 500 000 is made available to international co-productions.

The applicant has to be a Norwegian production company, and the deadline is twice a year (usually February and September). Applications are evaluated on the basis of a point system, assessing 1) the Norwegian creative and technical contribution, 2) the long-term collaboration plans between the Norwegian and foreign producer, 3) the project’s position in the Norwegian market and 4) the project’s artistic potential.

Why should an Indian filmmaker shoot their production in your region?

Fueled by increased interest in filming in Norway, from Bollywood, European and Hollywood filmmakers, the debate on automatic film incentives for international productions has been high on the government and industry agenda. The Norwegian government issued an independent report on film incentives in spring 2014, which recommended that Norway introduce an expenditure reimbursement scheme similar to Iceland’s 20 per cent model. Norway’s culture minister, Thorhild Widvey, is currently working on the governement’s address on the film policy, and news on the possible Norwegian incentive is due in late 2014 or 2015.

Western Norway Film Commission is supported by regional authorities, and offers free, fast and confidential services. The Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi also looks positively on the increasing exchange between India’s film hubs and Norway, and will facilitate where possible.

Lately, Scandinavian and Norwegian filmmakers have also been increasingly interested in shooting in India. Hailing from Western Norway, producer Maria Ekerhovd of Mer Film is now in development with the €3 million feature film ‘What Will People Say’, helmed by Norway’s Oscar entry director Iram Haq. The project aims for principal photography in the end of 2015, shooting locales in India still to be announced. The film will be a co-production with  German Rohilm and Sikhya Entertainment, who also partnered for ‘The Lunchbox’, and will become the first Norwegian-Indian co-production, and the first Norwegian feature film to shoot in India.

Which Indian films have been shot here in the past?

Kollywood director K V Anand has been leading the way bringing Norwegian locations to Indian screens. Anand chose to shoot song sequences for both KO and Maattrraan (Brothers) in Norway, stunning audiences across the globe with thrilling dance numbers on the edge of the Troll Tongue rock. Norway is still largely untouched by Bollywood filmmakers, and offers thousands of fresh and new locations, from urban scenery to the wild.

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