Making Iceland Attractive to Filmmakers from Abroad

Vala Hafstað

“The reimbursement rate will be increased, which is our way of increasing support for the [film] industry,” Minister of Tourism, Trade and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir tells Morgunblaðið. “The goal is for Iceland to be able to compete with other states and for large projects to be done entirely in Iceland.”

An agreement on the platform of the coalition government was introduced yesterday. It includes the following paragraph on filmmaking:

“Film making has become an increasingly important part of Icelandic business and culture in recent years. The extensive opportunities within the industry affect employment throughout the country. An internationally competitive support system for the production of film and television material will be strengthened. We are going to further support the industry with higher reimbursement for clearly defined aspects, to encourage more large projects carried out entirely in Iceland and to ensure increased predictability in the financing of the system.”

Filmmakers have been calling for a higher reimbursement rate for a long time. At present, it amounts to 25 percent, but they have asked for it to be increased to 35 percent to be able to compete with countries such as Ireland, which was granted large projects for that reason, Game of Thrones among them. The reimbursement rate in Ireland is 32-35 percent.

Lilja declines to specify how much the rate will be raised, but the message is clear: “We’re going to compete with Ireland and Spain,” she states. “This is being done to compete with those large countries.”

Kristinn Þórðarson, head of the Association of Icelandic Filmmakers welcomes the government’s plans. “There have been discussions with larger companies abroad, and the message is that they’re ready to come here to film if the reimbursement rate is raised to 35 percent,” he states.

He explains that most of the time, film crews have come here to film outdoors for about ten days for each project. “But this change could make the filming indoors and outdoors of entire series possible,” he adds. “That could take eight to nine months, which would be a major change.”

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