Incentive schemes good for international films, but not helping local films.

The incentive schemes offered in Norway and Iceland have been one of our most reported topics of the year, and it seems they are continuing to prove a major focus for governments in Norway and Iceland.

For those who don’t know what the incentive schemes are, they are packages offered to foreign films that they’ll get a certain amount of their production costs refunded if they shoot in the country. We’ve even spoken to films that have used the funding scheme (Autumn Lights) and directors attracted to the scheme (Michael Kehoe, US director). They are certainly successful and attractive in bringing international films to shoot in the region, and it’s wonderful seeing the increased attention the areas are receiving.

Just days ago we reported that the Norwegian film incentive for international productions is planning to raise its threshold. In fact, this announcement came from Norway’s State Budget for 2017, which states its going to increase the film incentives threshold by 24% from NOK 45 million to NOK 56 million (around €6.2 million) in 2017. This decision comes as the scheme has been very successful, with two international films so far support: The Snowman and Downsizing.

However, locally speaking there will be a cut to the Norwegian Film Institute budget. The film section will benefit from an increase of NOK 9.43 million, but the television station TV2 that brought us Occupied (pictured) and has contributed funding to films like The Keeper of Lost Causes will no longer required to contribute its annual NOK 11.09 million to the annual budget. This is because TV2 is shifting to a digital system, and just a few months ago they laid off over 100 people in Bergen.

What does this mean for local film? Since TV2 can’t contribute to the NFI, that means the NFI will lose a total of NOK 3 million to their budget. This will have an impact on how they fund local films.

Norway is not the only country suffering locally but excelling internationally. We also reported this week that Icelandic films are struggling to find support from the Icelandic Film Centre, but the incentive scheme is stronger than ever.

With Finland about to introduce a similar incentive, hopefully a way in which local films can benefit from international films can be worked out. Otherwise, we will continue to see local films suffer at the hands of international productions.

Read more about Norway’s State Budget over at the Nordisk Film and TV Fund. 


Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.