Music & Art Nov 22, 2013

Iceland: Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret

In recent years, Iceland has been gaining a higher profile in the international film industry, with acclaimed directors and actors heading to the diverse island for their productions. The new hotspot lures moviemakers and television producers alike with its beautiful landscape and tax incentives. The country offers a 20% rebate on production costs incurred in Iceland, making filming there an easy choice.

Lower production costs are not the only draw to Iceland. The country provides a wide spectrum of scenery, with lakes, glaciers, snowcapped mountains, waterfalls, tundras, volcanoes, and more. The varied landscape gives filmmakers the alien planets or fantasy worlds needed for the backdrop of their stories.

Filming in Iceland’s rugged climate has its difficulties, with temperatures in the winter months dipping down as low as −22 °F. Chris Hemsworth, who shot Thor: The Dark World in Iceland in 2012, said “shooting in Iceland was the most challenging” due to its cold weather. Cold weather aside, filming in Iceland is time and cost effective. In the summer season the sun never fully sets, giving filmmakers close to 24 hours of daylight shooting under the “midnight sun.”

Film in Iceland, the Icelandic Film Commission, created a map featuring the filming locations of major productions, such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Batman Begins (2005), Game of Thrones (2012, 2013), and eight others. From the Goðafoss waterfall to the black sand of Mýrdalssandur, filming locations span across the island. Movie and television show fans can locate and enter the fictional worlds of some of their favorite productions by using the map to plan their trip around Iceland. For example, this Game of Thrones touring package brings visitors to the show’s filming locations across Iceland, including the famed ice wall and stunning Lake Mývatn.

Ben Stiller, who recently shot his upcoming movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in Iceland, said, “when we first went to Iceland, I was blown away by the experience…the landscape creates such amazing, stunning imagery that, for a movie, is a great place to film.” Filmmaking is bringing awareness of Iceland to a wider audience, and sharing its magnificent beauty to people who may have never known such a place existed. Iceland has been called a best kept secret, but if filming continues, Iceland may be a secret no more.

Click here to explore Icelandic filming locations and to see all that Iceland has to offer!