Written by David Lewis on Mar 26, 2009. Posted in On Location

Iceland's industry benefits from economic crisis

The world's press has made much of Iceland's economic collapse, but it's financial problems have resulted in a booming film and television industry. As Einar Tómasson, the Film in Iceland Agency's Film Commissioner, points out: "When Clint Eastwood shot Flags of Our Fathers in Iceland in 2005, one American dollar was worth 62 Icelandic Krona. Today, a dollar is worth about 114 Krona. This means that Iceland is more competitive than ever."

Filmmakers now have the opportunity to double their money in Iceland and still benefit from the country's unique locations, experienced crew, and possibly a 14% rebate on all Icelandic production costs.

Leifur Dagfinnson, Executive Producer at the production and service company Truenorth, is also feeling positive. Dagfinnson's says that: "We are in pre prep at the moment for a Viking movie which will be directed by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur. It will be a true Icelandic tale but done in a Hollywood fashion as the financing is coming from the USA's 26 Films." Truenorth are expecting to be involved with 80 days of filming for this big budget movie as well as their heavy workload of commercial production.

Interest in Iceland is high at the moment despite the state of the world economy. Because the cost of everything Icelandic is so low, it is dramatically increasing the volume of work. Jón Bjarni Guðmundsson, Head of Commercial Production at Sagafilm, explains: "The fact is, that because of the very weak local currency, Iceland can now offer the same breathtaking locations, same high quality service, same of everything but at a 50% lower price than just a year ago. Iceland has in fact become one of the cheapest places to shoot in all of Europe."

Iceland has always been known for its staggering scenery, but it is now being recognised as offering more. Guðmundsson continues: "This low currency has made Iceland the new ground for shooting not only visually stunning commercials and films with wild exterior locations, but also boards for interior and studio work are being budgeted and shot in Iceland at the moment."

Iceland, however, can still just be about locations. Pegasus Panarctica have just finished a shoot with Traktor and BBDO for Pepsi which is a great example of this. Einar Sveinn, Director of Marketing at the company, explains: "It was a long bidding process, where locations from all over the world were being considered. They were looking for Antarctic landscapes since the main actors in the spot were penguins. Iceland replaced their home turf with locations by our ice lagoon and locations on our biggest glacier, Vatnajokull. The competitive advantage Iceland had in this case, was that such remote looking, extreme locations can be found, quite close to a main road, with good accommodation and services close by. It was also a lot less expensive than those other very remote locations."

There is also a rumour that Iceland's 14% tax incentive will increase this year which will only strengthen the country's position in the industry. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later as a number of projects seem to be waiting for a decision to be made.

This talk of increased incentives is adding to a genuine industry buzz about Iceland the moment, despite their economic problems. Dagfinnson sums it up nicely by saying: "Every cloud has a silver lining, and this is ours."

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