Scandinavia unites to lure filmmakers

Nordic nations develop resources, promote production

Sometimes the key to success is consolidation.

Under the name Scandinavian Locations, eight film commissions from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland have created an umbrella entity to promote the entire region. At the annual AFCI Locations Trade Show in Santa Monica this month, the org will be out in force to show what these four nations can offer.

“Internationally, we are all small,” says Norwegian film commissioner Truls Kontny, “so now we are marketing ourselves as one bigger unity.”

At this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Scandinavian Locations hosted a brunch for 160 guests. After three days of exhibiting at the AFCI event, it will hold a reception at Scandinavia House in New York on April 20, inviting helmers, producers, writers and assorted film pros.

“We see the different countries more as being complementary rather than competitors,” Kontny adds. “For instance, Norway can offer fjords and high mountains, while Stockholm can offer big-city locations. Together we have everything that a producer could dream of, and this way we can have cooperation where we can help each other guide productions to the different countries.”

But locations aren’t everything. There is also a need for studios and backlots, and to that end a lot of developing and building is going on in Scandinavia. Several new soundstages are under construction in and around Stockholm. The existing studio at Kvarnholmen, just outside the city center, will be expanded into a big complex.

Another major project is the development of a major studio in Hallabrottet, close to the town of Kumla — about a two-hour drive from Stockholm — where an old concrete factory is being rebuilt as a studio. Also under construction: streets and houses resembling parts of Stockholm’s legendary Old Town.

“Right now we are building all this for a couple of specific productions, that I can’t yet name,” says Thomas Roger, development manager for Filmregion Stockholm-Malardalen. “There are no similar backlots in Scandinavia, and we all know how difficult it is to shoot in the Old Town, so there really is a need for this. The sets we are building now will be permanent because there will always be a demand for them.”

Roger will not reveal figures about the project’s cost, but says that private investors are behind it.

Things in Scandinavia are also moving fast on the post-production side as well. Norwegian Stein Gausereide, who recently worked on vfx for the Paul Greengrass film “Green Zone,” has set up his company, Gausst, in Bergen, Norway, where he is developing a digital communications system.

Swedish post company the Chimney Pot worked on several Berlinale winners, including “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” “Sebbe” and “Incident by a Bank.” The company has offices in Stockholm, Warsaw, Kiev and Dubai.

Chimney Pot has also been active in doing post work on musicvideos for artists like Madonna, the Rolling Stones, U2, and most recently on the controversial Lady Gaga/Beyonce video “Telephone.”

And in features, Chimney Pot over the past couple of years has taken the title of co-producer. “We go in just to do post,” explains Fredrik Zander, the company’s head of feature film. “We don’t want to take over their job.”

Chimney Pot works on two to three big Swedish films a year as a co-producers, basing the decision on a production’s commercial prospects.

And when it comes to the smaller arthouse scene, the company has started a collaboration with film companies in Eastern Europe. Zander is excited by prospects for the film biz in Bulgaria and Romania. Chimney Pot currently is working on Slovenian film “Circus Fantasticus.”

“In Eastern Europe it is much more common that a film is made without thought of where the post will take place,” he says.

A foreign production company that wants to shoot in the Stockholm region or on the Baltic island Gotland can apply for co-financing coin from the three regional funds: Filmfinansiering Stockholm, Gotlands Filmfond and Filmfinansiering Orebro.

For a shoot in Stockholm, producers can also rely on Made in Stockholm-Malardalen, a string of companies offering discounts of 20% to 30% on equipment rentals, film labs, post-production facilities, hotels, restaurants, car rentals, gyms, spas and other necessities or amenities. And the Film Stockholm Partnership works with local authorities, national monument and park administrations and other entities to ensure that shooting in the Stockholm region remains flexible and easy.