Vísir 19th April 1978

Movie News – Iceland cheap set location

Desmond Bagley Running Blind Icelandic media article from Visir 19th April 1978.

Árni Þórarinsson and Guðjón Arngrímsson

It is likely that foreign filmmakers will be numerous in Iceland this summer. The movie column has heard many people mentioned in connection with this, but as far as it goes, four major feature films will be made in Iceland this year by foreign parties.

Wim Wenders, the German director who visited us at the film festival, said in an interview with the undersigned that he would be here this summer to shoot a science film. He has a habit of discussing as little as possible about his unfinished films in public, so in fact not much is known about his film. But he hoped to visit here in August.

A group of people from BBC Scotland will be here to make three fifty-minute episodes for television, based on Desmond Bagley’s novel, Running Blind, or Út ióvissuna as it was called in Icelandic. The producer, MacKintosh, was in Iceland recently and travelled to Lake Mývatn and Asbyrgi to explore the situation.

English director Ridley Scott has also announced that he will be here to make a big movie about ‘Tristan and Iseult’. He is young and his first film, The Duellists was made a year ago and starred Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Christina Raines and Tom Conti. The film won an award at the Cannes Film Festival.

There are also two Allied people here [Allied Film Makers Ltd], preparing a film. News about them is very vague. It has been heard that they are preparing for a children’s adventure, an alliance, and that a lot of money will be spent on it. Another story says that they are making an educational film about the Icelandic horse, and that SIS has something for them to do.

The reason why it is difficult to get reliable news from these parties is that the foreign film groups that operate in Iceland are in fact here like any other tourist.

The column contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, and none of the ministries had so much as received a line from abroad regarding these matters, neither before or after.

The filmmakers abroad just get in touch with their acquaintances here, maybe colleagues, maybe actors, and ask them to take action. Gísli Alfreðsson, chairman of the Actors’ Association, and Þorsteinn Jónsson, chairman of the Filmmakers’ Association, did not know that these unions had been asked for help.

Icelandic parties involved in filmmaking, i.e. members of the Filmmakers’ Association are even more dissatisfied with certain aspects of this development – ie. increased Icelandic tours for filmmakers.

It’s right,” said Þorsteinn Jónsson in a conversation with the column, “that we are dissatisfied with the way these matters are handled. Especially that foreigners can bring their films and equipment into the country without paying any customs or fees or taxes while the Icelanders filmmakers have to do so.”

It is estimated that about fifty teams of technicians, actors, carpenters, and assistants will be with the directors in Iceland. The directors seem to decide for themselves whether they use their own professionals or seek the help of Icelandic parties, even though the law states that Icelanders have a priority right to work in Iceland.

“Of course, there is no solution to demand that Icelanders be allowed to take part in the making of these films. But we do not think it is unnatural for Icelandic filmmaking to benefit from this in some way,” said Þorsteinn, noting that the Filmmakers’ Association was investigating how these issues were handled in neighbouring countries.

“At least we find it very unnatural for foreign parties to enjoy such obvious privileges over Icelandic filmmakers.”


Image title:

It is safe to say that the natural beauty in many places is far greater than in Iceland. However, there is no denying that many characters in Iceland could look cozy in panavision, or cinemascope and on a big screen. This picture is from Djúpavík, and is the crew of the television company that are there filming a blood red sunset.

Next article


  1. ‘Ísland – ódýr leikmynd – Kvikmyndir’: Vísir, 19 April 1978, p. 25; © DV ehf.