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The Snowman and Downsizing benefit from Norway’s first incentive programme


- Tomas Alfredson’s Jo Nesbø adaptation and Alexander Payne’s new dramedy will be taking advantage of the Norwegian efforts to attract international film and TV productions

The Snowman and Downsizing benefit from Norway’s first incentive programme
Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole on the shoot for The Snowman (© Trond Solberg/VG)

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman [+see also:
film profile
– the UK-US adaptation of Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s novel, which has been filming since 18 January on location in Oslo, Bergen and Rjukan, Norway – has received the lion’s share of the €4.7 million (NOK 45 million) funding that the Norwegian government had allocated for the first year’s incentive programme to attract international film and TV productions.

Starring German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, US actor Val Kilmer and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, with parts for Norway’s Jakob Oftebro and Sweden’s Sofia Helin, the thriller scripted by US screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Hossein Amini received €4.3 million (NOK 40.5 million), while the remaining €475,000 (NOK 4.5 million) went to US director Alexander Payne’s dramedy Downsizing.

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Four film and TV projects with total production budgets of €40.5 million (NOK 384 million) had applied for funding from the new programme, including two Norwegian television series – but neither The Actor, from Norway’s Rubicon TV, nor Occupied III, the third season of Norway’s so far most successful (and most expensive) serial, from Yellow Bird Norge, were considered by the Norwegian Film Institute.

“There has been great interest in the scheme from both serious international and Norwegian producers, which was confirmed by the high quality of the projects submitted,” said Stine Helgeland, executive director of promotion and international relations at the Norwegian Film Institute. “The Snowman stood out, however, due to both the film’s international market potential, and the size and quality of the Norwegian project share. 

“We have worked out an evaluation method which, in our opinion, will function well for the years to come and for several rounds of funding, taking into account that both Norwegian and foreign productions of international format will be awarded,” concluded Helgeland. When considering the applications, the institute looks at aspects such as how much the projects will increase production activity in Norway, and how they will strengthen the local industry by creating greater knowledge and experience.

The Snowman is being produced by Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, with Robyn Slovo, for the UK’s Working Title, and Peter ‘Piodor’ Gustafsson for Sweden’s Another Park; it is also being backed by Hollywood’s Universal Pictures. The executive producers include Alfredson, Nesbø, Niclas Salomonsson, Martin Scorsese (who was originally on board to direct), Liza Chasin and Amelia Granger. The 160 local crew members and 1,700 extras will finish the Norwegian shooting schedule this month.

Downsizing director Payne, who has collected two Oscars (for Sideways in 2004 and The Descendants in 2011), worked with Jim Taylor to script the social satire about a man who realises he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself. The Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon and Jason Sudeikis starrer was expected to shoot in Norway from this autumn, but Norwegian line producer Per Henry Borch told local press that without incentive funding, it could go somewhere else.

Payne’s eighth feature will be staged by Hollywood’s Paramount Pictures. Icelandic production company True North, which has serviced such Hollywood titles as Batman Begins (2005), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Oblivion (2013), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) and Noah (2014) in Iceland, has set up a Norwegian subsidiary, which, according to board director Leifur B Dagfinnsson, will produce part of the film.

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