Location Scouting in Northern Norway: Arctic Locations organise ‘dream’ familiarisation trip to remote Nordic territories
Five UK-based location managers recently visited Northern Norway for a familiarisation trip to the Arctic. As well as snowmobiling with Sami reindeer herders and frolicking with wolves at Polar Park’s Wolf Lodge, the group’s trip was crowned by sights of the Northern Lights. The location managers in attendance were: Harriet Lawrence (The Key Location), Jodi Moore (22 Locations), Eugene Strange (Salt Film), Kat Day (freelance), and Johnny Ludlow (Search Party Productions). Arctic Locations - the brainchild of destination management company Farout AS - organised the trip.
“Our trip to Northern Norway was an eye-opener not only into the spectacular beauty of its arctic locations, but into the possibilities afforded by local expertise and fantastic infrastructure,” emphasises Kat. “Under the expert guidance of Arctic Locations, we experienced it by air, road, snow(mobile) and sea. Stunning landscapes were the backdrop to the entire trip - snow-covered mountain ranges, glacier-carved archipelagos, dramatic fjords - but the region offers so much more.”
“What is clear about Arctic Locations is their ability to understand instinctively what location managers and productions need,” Jodi says. “It’s not just about showing us their stunning scenery - but how to get kit and large crews to these places. Their knowledge of local accommodation, travel and logistics is very impressive."
The trip took place over four nights from 13th to 17th March 2022, exploring the region’s valleys, mountains, fishing villages and fjords. Despite being situated in the northernmost reaches of Scandinavia, expert knowledge provided by the Arctic Locations team meant that the location managers were treated to a range of sights and activities deeply tied to the local cultures, histories and traditions of Northern Norway.
“We have been working as experts on the Northern Norway region for 15 years now,” elaborates Eiril Skarbek, co-owner of Arctic Locations. “We work as fixers and providers of accommodation, catering and other logistics for both luxury and extreme tourism, and cultural projects from festivals to stills, commercial shoots, and film. We believe that Northern Norway is a bit of a diamond in the rough as a location, because it combines insane landscapes and architecture with accessibility and infrastructure, which is unparalleled for such extreme payoffs.”
“As location managers we were given access to a privately-owned Cold War era submarine base, encountered wolves at Polar Park, tracked reindeer with an indigenous Sami family, and visited the studio and backlot facilities at FilmCamp, close to the Swedish border,” details Kat. “Architecturally, there is an abundance of traditional barns and fishing cabins, modern and modernist buildings (we loved 60s era Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø) and industrial warehouses. Lofoten especially seems to be capitalising on its reputation as a cultural and artistic hub, with cafes and bars that wouldn’t look out of place in Shoreditch.”
Besides capturing the wild natural outposts of Northern Norway - such as the Tamok Valley, a film location favourite - the trip also explored the man-made constructions which distinctively stylise this part of the world. The trendy Henningsvær fishing village hosts the Trevarefabrikken, a former carpentry and cod liver factory that now acts as a cultural hub with food, drink, music and an ocean sauna. Nearby, a famous football pitch and lighthouse are situated on the furthest reaches of tiny windswept islands.
“I love travelling North so our Fam Trip to the North of Norway was a dream invite,” says Harriet. “Everywhere we looked, the landscapes were wild and epic. Sharp dramatic mountains, crystal clear turquoise bays fringed with snowy mountains, beautifully colourful fishing villages clinging to the rocks, and sweeping roads through stunning wild coastal regions made it impossible to take a bad photo. It felt like we had ventured into another world - everywhere we looked was a perfect shot.”
“As with anywhere the real commodity is its people,” Kat muses. “What a privilege it was meeting locals with expert knowledge, can-do attitudes and spirits of adventure. While living - and working - north of the Arctic circle has its challenges, it unquestionably has its rewards.”
Northern Norway’s filmmaking expertise extends to Mauken’s Sami reindeer herders, who have previous experience working with the industry. Their reindeers cross army and NATO training areas, and production teams often turn to the herders for guidance when seeking to navigate the land safely. Arctic Locations have nurtured meaningful relationships with such vital contacts for years, allowing their company to arrange efficient, exciting adventures for incoming explorers.
The trip included an introduction to the region’s filmmaking infrastructure. The location managers met the Lofoten Film Collective, a group of producers who create high-end content in the Arctic. As a drone-certified business with strong relationships with the local authorities, the Collective offers an array of practical expertise to help ideas come to life. The location managers also visited FilmCamp Måselv, a resource, production and infrastructure company that supports filmmaking in the area through several on-site stages and in the surrounding wilderness.
“The most special thing about this trip to me, as a Norwegian and host, was watching very seasoned location managers truly appreciate what we always knew: that the landscape and architecture of Northern Norway as a location is truly spectacular and a fairly undiscovered place for film and stills,” explains Eiril. “Extreme Arctic landscapes contrast with great infrastructure, which makes all the places we saw feasible as spectacular locations. It was a joy hosting the trip because the LMs were so excited and surprised at every turn of the road and every new experience.”
As if to remind the group that they were experiencing life in one of world’s most northern points, the location managers were even treated to an appearance of the Northern Lights. The presence of the aurora borealis capped off their Arctic exploration with another unforgettable moment.
“We experienced spectacular views and epic landscapes that you can get trucks to… It was a life-changing trip to North Norway with great hosts,” emphasises Johnny. “Any review of our time there would be an understatement!”
“We could not have asked for better hosts who were fun and knowledgeable, and a beautiful display of Northern Lights over a fishing town in the Lofoten islands really made it a trip to remember,” Harriet reminisces. “I cannot wait to go back.”
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