Iceland, renowned for its out-of-this-world landscapes and extreme, unique environment has confirmed its status as filmmakers favourite as it celebrates a deluge of blockbuster movies and TV productions recently filmed on the island.
With much anticipated Hollywood films including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Thor 2: The Dark World and Noah set for release between December and March 2014, Iceland is fast being recognised as the must-go-to location for directors looking for a visual feast of stunning backdrops and diverse scenery.
Iceland, often mistaken as a cold, hard to reach country, but which, in reality is less than 5 hours by plane from New York, is popular with producers and filmmakers who are attracted by its raw, volcanic landscape, geysers, hot springs, lava fields, black deserts and variety of locations. From iconic films such as Die Another Day (2002) to Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise (2013),Iceland has played the part of alien planet, raging battlefield, tropical Pacific Island, the Himalayas in scenes shot all overIceland, from Stykkishólmur in the Westfjords to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. TV productions including 2013 Emmy nominated Game Of Thrones can also call Iceland their home.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Producer Stuart Cornfeld shared his love of the country “Iceland is just an amazing place, where the quality of light is truly different from anywhere on Earth…you look off into the distance, you can see forever. It’s like going from a 35-millimeter world to a 70-millimeter world. You get a scope of natural beauty you just don’t find many places.”
Moderate temperatures and its geographical location mean that Iceland is the ultimate choice for filmmakers, with summer offering some of the longest daylight hours on the planet, a staggering 21 hours a day between mid May and mid August, providing the perfect location for length shooting days. In winter, the average number of daylight hours is five hours, which offers the perfect mix of prolonged twilight and atmospheric conditions.
Ben Stiller, the lead actor in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty said: “Iceland is a very special place. There is something about the landscape, the quality of the light and the energy of the place that makes it like no other. Shooting Mitty there made the film come alive both on screen and off. To be there every day and experiencing the extreme weather changes was really invigorating. Everyone came to work excited about what we could capture on film that day. I feel very fortunate to have had that time there. I look forward to going back soon. Pretty much every time I watch the movie I want to go back.”
Another attraction for filmmakers is the financial incentive Iceland provides. The government currently operates a generous reimbursement scheme for foreign film productions, offering a 20% refund on qualified expenditure in the country for feature films and TV projects. Einar Hansen Tomasson, Film Commissioner, Film In Iceland said: “As well as offering a simple incentive scheme with limited red tape, the multitude of landscapes in Iceland mean that every type of backdrop is accessible within a matter of hours. In addition the Icelandic production crews are highly respected for their hard work ethic and quality, making for a smooth running filming experience. All of these elements mean that film budgets go much further in Iceland.”
Popular films shot in Iceland
- Noah (2014) – Fossvogur, Reykjavík, Reynisfjara
- Oblivion (2013) – Highlands (Drekavatn)
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) – All over Iceland
- Thor 2: The Dark World (2013) – Fjaðrárgljúfur, Skógarfoss waterfall, Skeiðársandur, Dómadalur
- Prometheus (2012) – Dettifoss, Highlands (Dómadalsleið, Landmannalaugar
- Flags of our Fathers (2006) – Reykjanes Peninsula
- Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) – Snæfellsjökull
- Die Another Day (2002) – Vatnajökull (meaning Glacier of Rivers), also known as the Vatna Glacier