A rescue package of ISK120m (€756,000) towards development, promotion and low budget films has attracted 67 applications worth more than €5m in 10 days.

The special financial package to boost the local audiovisual industry impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic is administered by the Icelandic Film Centre on behalf of Iceland’s Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

The funds are earmarked towards: 

  • development/pre-production, to strengthen projects before they start production 
  • low budget projects to boost their production and make sure they are completed before April 1st, 2021 
  • promotion and marketing of film events or Icelandic films, whose launch had to be postponed due to the closure of cinemas (now re-opened since May 4, with 50+ people per screen cap).  

Laufey Guðjónsdóttir, managing director at the Icelandic Film Centre said the government’s extra Covid-19 financial package was very well received as 67 applications worth ISK 120 million were submitted between the call for projects April 24 and its deadline May 10. “There is great need for support as many film workers and companies have had difficulties in getting assistance from other bodies (for instance unemployment payments, soft loans for companies, available mostly to mainstream businesses). The government’s package is really to get as many people to continue working during the most difficult months,” she added.

According to a recent survey from the Icelandic Filmmakers Association conducted with 130 of its members (mostly self-employed, freelancers or owners of small companies) 60 percent said they feared not being able to stay afloat for more than a month due to Covid-19. 

Commenting on the rescue package, Kristinn Þórðarson, head of production at Truenorth and head of the Film Producers Association (SIK) said: “of course we are always happy when we get additional funding but at the same time, it [the funds] could have been higher. This money will be used notably for development on film & TV projects because that is the easiest thing to do right now and it will speed things up with projects when the situation gets better.”

Meanwhile local film bodies are also lobbying the government to temporarily raise Iceland’s tax rebate or reimbursement scheme on production expenses from 25% to 35% to capitalise on the country’s expansive geography, 15% devaluation on the Iceland krona and efficient measures to combat Covid-19, including widespread testing of the population.  The goal would be to attract foreign productions and strengthen the local economy, impacted by a decline in tourism.

Iceland’s film commissioner Einar Tómasson said he has received numerous queries from foreign productions since Netflix’s Content Chief Ted Sarandos announcement three weeks ago that filming was still going on in Iceland and South Korea. Netflix’s series Katla produced and directed by Baltasar Kormákur is currently filming until July and the long-awaited fishing quota drama Black Port produced by Vesturport for RÚV just started filming last week. “The summer could be very busy for us,” said Þórðarson. 

Iceland’s ban on public gatherings was increased from 20 to 50 on May 4 and could be further raised to 100 in June. Strong emphasis continues to be placed on 2 meters social distancing. According to the latest figures (May 12) from worldometers only 18 patients mildly infected were reported, 1,773 cases (99%) have recovered and 10 have died of Covid-19 in Iceland.