The Icelandic industry hopes this new incentive will attract major productions for filming on stages, not only on location.

On June 15, Iceland’s Parliament - the Alþingi - has approved the bill submitted in May by Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Culture and Trade, to increase from 25% to 35% the non-capped refund on costs incurred during the production of audio-visual works in Iceland, with three conditions attached:

  • a minimum of ISK350 million (€2.5m) must be spent in Iceland,
  • productions must last a minimum of 30 working days in Iceland (be it in shooting days or in post-production work) with at least 10 shooting days required.
  • a minimum of 50 local staff must be hired for the project, for at least 50 working days.

Production of features and series not meeting those requirements are still eligible for the existing 25% filming incentive.

Reacting to this major boost to filming in Iceland and to inward investment in the local economy, Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, managing director at the Icelandic Film Centre told “It’s great for the crew, it’s great for the industry. Our infrastructure and competence are much stronger and wider now to accommodate major international productions. “

Producer Antón Máni Svansson (Beautiful Beings, Godland), CEO of Join Motion Pictures and Chairman of SÍK (the Association of Icelandic Producers) also welcomed the new legislation that will boost Iceland's competitiveness, job opportunities and development of services. “This bill is clearly a powerful step in the right direction for Iceland as it displays the government’s understanding of the significant economic added-value of investing in the filmmaking industry,” he stated.

However, on a personal note, he said he “would have liked to see the bill without the presented conditions, or with a lower minimum, as that would benefit a broader scale of projects”, he argued. “This is important for Icelandic culture and language, and for the smaller European co-productions where we always collaborate with the participation of key creative talents,” said the producer.

Svansson’s predecessor at the head of SÍK, producer Kristinn Thordarson of Truenorth, who worked closely with Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir on the drafting of Iceland’s Film Policy 2020-2030 and preparation of this new legislation, feels for his part, that it is inclusive enough. “Most projects backed by the Icelandic Film Centre and pretty much every series will qualify under this new law,” he claimed.

Meanwhile his colleague at Truenorth, CEO Leifurr B. Dagfinsson, is already looking at new business ventures for his company, one of the biggest production service providers in the Nordics (read our story HERE) working with all the big US studios and many streamers. “We’re now in the champion’s league in attracting the largest productions coming to film in Iceland, not only on location, but also in studio space. With the 35% tax incentive, there is an opportunity for further investment in the business of running and building stages,” said Dagfinsson who has been in talks since last year with a major US player, keen to bring a production for an 80/90-day shoot, instead of the minimum 10 required. “This is a totally different investment from their part,” he underscored.

Dagfinsson said he is looking into teaming up with the local mogul and filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, on his plan to expand his existing Reykjavík Studios on the outskirts of the Icelandic capital.

Truenorth’s CEO is also eyeing at a warehouse, close to Reykjavik Studios that could be converted into stages with full facilities - offices and support to stage work. “The timing is right now to commit to long-term plans for stage work and development,” he said.

Truenorth which co-produced with Netflix the crime show Valhalla Murders, is set to provide production services to 4-6 major shoots between this summer and next year. Those include CBS Studios’ crime series The Darkness adapted from the best-selling book by Ragnar Jónasson, co-produced by Stampede Ventures in the US, and Truenorth’s own dystopian sci-fi Eyland. Both are due to start filming in 2023.